before (BEE four) noun. in this instance, before
refers to when families, or individuals, went by their last names -- generally in the Old Country
prior to emigrating to the USA
. so as not to be identified with any particular ethnic, religious, nationality, etc. the last name was changed to appear more 'American
' in order to 'fit in.'
Mordecai: 'Ma, This is Sue, the woman I told you about.'
Ma: (To herself: 'Oy vey!) What a lovely creature! I didn't catch the last name dear...'
Mordecai: (To himself: 'Oh fuck!')
Sue: 'Smith. Mrs. Goldfarb.'
Ma: 'Lovely name, what was it before
Ma: (To herself: 'Jesus Christ, a fucking shikse
! My son has brought home a courve
, I hope the neighbors didn't see her.')
Sue: 'Before - what Mrs. Goldfarb?'
Mordecai: (To himself: 'Jesus Christ! How do I explain this one?')
Ma: 'You'll have to excuse me, I've got (the) shpilkus
. Lovely to meet you Sue.'