Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bittersweet Trick-Or-Treat

Who am I?*

Most childhood Halloweens mush together in the SJG brain. I vaguely remember a princess stage, a Hobo stage, and that's about it. I'm sure I dressed up, I'm sure I ate too much candy, but the rest is a big Abba Zabba blur. I'm more sentimental about my extended door-answering phase. As a teen SJG, I loved handing out candy. Loved it. The cute kiddy costumes. The parents waiting at the bottom of the steps. This was my idea of pure gooey fun. Still is.

Memories of opening the door on Halloween stick with me more than anything else about the holiday. I'm sure this has to do with the fact that the SJG is a giver. A giver, I tell you. How many times must I remind you? I like to give. Candy. Unsolicited advice. Directions. Easy-to-return gifts. Extra helpings of kugel. But back to Halloween. My favorite memory of all time? I was in 11th grade. It was 1974. I opened the front door, expecting a few trick-or-treaters. What I found instead was this:
The Uni High Marching Band 1974
 Steve Kaplan, second row, long hair, with drum mallet
The entire Uni High Marching Band spread out across our front lawn. And there was my cousin Steve Kaplan (alav hashalom) grinning back at me. I think of Steve every Halloween. If only I could open the door and find him there in his band uniform, smiling at me. That would be sweeter than any Snickers Bar or Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

(*spooky ex-governor of Alaska)


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ready Or Not

It happens a lot in life. You do something biggish and within two minutes, the well-meaning ones want to know what you're planning for an encore. You graduate college and the nice people want to know when you're getting a job. You date a mensch and the nice people want to know when you're getting hitched. You bring home a baby and the nice people want to know when you're getting Baby #2. And don't even get me started on the sad stuff, the losses that life throws your way. The nice people sometimes say the wrong things. They try to give you a gentle nudge to move on. Maybe you don't want to move on. Maybe you want to linger a while. Sometimes there are no replacements, no substitutes. Sometimes the encore isn't an encore at all, but a baby step in the right direction. Ever since the Eccentric Elderly Pup departed, the nice people want to know when we're getting another dog. My answers vary depending on the day. The nice people ask a lot of questions, offer a lot of opinions. What kind of dog will you get? Will you get another Lab? I always say, "I don't know." Or sometimes I get all Zen on them, which really baffles them. "I'll know when I know." Oddly enough, the other day, sooner that I expected, suddenly I knew. That happens a lot in life, too. One day you don't know. The next day, you know too well. In a few days, we'll meet the dog we hope to adopt. It's a slow process. Baby steps. A meet-and-greet. An overnight. And maybe, if this sweet little guy likes us, and vice versa, adoption. The nice people call it a forever home. Sounds about right. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to get rescued.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

In The Words of Mine Russian Ancestors

"A pumpkin is only a big fat squash 
with its eyes cut out."

"Break me off a bissel KitKat."

"May you eat candy corn till your arteries clog."

"I don't care if it ruins your costume, 
put this sweater on."

Monday, October 24, 2016

I'm Monday, Damn It!

"Is this the SJG?"
"Speaking. Who's this?"
"This is Monday."
"Monday? Shut the front door. Is it really you?"
"Is there another day called Monday?"
"No, you're the only one."
"Then it's me."
"Hi, Monday. What up?"
"I understand you're not a fan."
"It's nothing personal."
"It's plenty personal. This day is all about me. It's not my fault that I come with more baggage than the other days."
"Poor Monday. Tell me about your baggage. I'm here for you, gal."
"I come with the leftovers from Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, you eat and drink, you relax, you stay up too late, maybe you see a movie, maybe you see some friends. Then you wake up on my day, the first day of the week, and you go, 'Oh, hell, why did I eat so much this weekend? Why didn't I sleep more? I look like crap. Thanks a lot, bitch.'"
"Wow. You've given this a lot of thought, haven't you, Monday?"
"Yes, I have. I'm tired of being blamed for Saturday and Sunday's transgressions. I'm really a very nice day, once you get to know me."
"Well, Monday, thanks for calling. Now, if you'll excuse, I need to haul my tush out of bed and start you."
"Spread the word, SJG. I'm just as good as the other days. I'm Monday, damn it! I deserve some respect."
"Monday?  What part of I gotta go aren't you getting?"

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Holiday Horrified

Dear SJG,
Color me confused, but which dang holiday comes first: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas? In my neighborhood, I'm seeing cemeteries and witches, pumpkins and skeletons. In my market, I'm seeing turkey basters and stuffing. In Macy's, I'm seeing Christmas trees. Menorahs? Nowhere to be found. Did someone cancel Hanukkah? I turn to you for guidance during this challenging time.
Holiday 'Ho

Dear Holiday 'Ho,
Let me clear this up, immediately, and put your frazzled keppy at ease. According to my calendar, courtesy of Temple Beth Sheket Bevakashah, the only holiday happening right now is Sukkot. If you're smart, you'll gather up your fun size Hershey bars, your pilgrim hat, your dreidels and your candy canes and hide out in your homemade hut till the whole thing blows over.
You're Welcome,

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Music Box Always Plays Twice

"To Lana, Love, Johnny."
"What?!" I ask hubby's father.  "Back up.  Start over.  This is amazing."  "It's just something that happened," he says over dinner.  "You want stories?  I've got lots of them."  "Hang on, I'm getting a pen.  I've gotta write this down.  Okay.  What year was it?"  "What year?  I don't know.  Maybe 1950's. "  (It was 1958 to be exact.  April.  Good Friday.  Or, as hubby's father calls it, Good Shabbos.)  "Go on."  "Johnny Stompanto comes into the store."  (And by store, he means, his picture framing business on Pico.)  "He was a gangster-enforcer for Mickey Cohen.  A very charming gentleman, very pleasant.  A handsome son-of-a-gun.  Tall, over six feet. Meticulously dressed.  A bon vivant. He lived at the Del Capri on Wilshire."  "Oh, right near where I grew up."  (Important to insert myself into the story, don't you think? Of course you do.)  "He owned a little shop in Westwood, the Myrtlewood."  "Wait.  He was a gangster with a gift shop?"
Johnny and Lana, in happier times
"He liked nice things."  Here, hubby's mom chimes in, "It was a mob front!"  "How old was he?" I ask.  "I don't know.  A young man."  (He was 32.)  "So, he comes into the shop in the late afternoon, and he's got a European music box that's got damage to the top.  He asked if I could repair it in two to three hours.  He was going to the airport to pick up his girlfriend Lana Turner, and he wanted to give her the box.  I said I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I'd try.  A few hours later, he comes back.  I've fixed the box.  I tell him, 'I don't know what to charge.'  He hands me two crisp hundred dollar bills and goes off to the airport.  That night, he was dead."  (Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl allegedly stabbed him.  She was 14 at the time.) "It was in the paper the next day.  I was shocked."  "The daughter was never charged," adds hubby's mom.  "She probably had a thing for Johnny.  She was jealous of her mother," hubby's father says.  But the SJG doesn't buy it.  "That's crazy!  She was a girl!"  I whip out the iPhone and start Googling right there at the table.  I should've just called my brother John, the authority on all things Hollywood.  (This morning, he tells me, "Everyone always knew that Lana did the stabbing. The daughter took the rap because they'd known she'd get off.")  "Do you think it was the music box?" I ask hubby's dad.  "Maybe Lana didn't like it?  Maybe she noticed the repair job you did and wasn't happy?"  He laughs at that.  "They'll never know what happened," he insists, unwilling to take the rap.  "But you saw him on his last day," I say.  "I lost a good customer," he says, and takes a bite of cake.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Not That Story Again

You know the feeling. You're on the phone. You're having coffee with a friend. You're out to lunch. And then it hits you, a dejavu-ish-I've-said-it-before moment. You've already told your friend this story and that story, but the nice friend you're inhumanely boring to death is too much of a mensch to say, "Oh, dear God, if you tell me that story again, I will lose it." Relax. Now there's a way to stop you from spiraling into the same deadly details no one wants to hear, with the SJG's YouSaidIt, a stylish electro-shock watch that will zetz you every time you re-launch into an anesthetizing anecdote. Extra features include BoreTrackPlus for multi-monotony tracking. Automatically monitor how many times you've told that same story with instant text and calendar notifications and humiliating emoji faces. Customize with a variety of zetzes -- Strong, Extra Strong and Emergency Room. It's everything you need to salvage what's left of your social life. Retail: $79.95. Friends and family: $69.93.