Friday, January 19, 2018

A Gift From Beyond

Ben Starr on the bulletin board: The Air Force Lieutenant. 
The Hollywood Writer. The Bar Mitzvah Boy. 

As I continue to celebrate my birthday week, milking it for all I can, I pause to celebrate my sweet father, who passed away four years ago today. The fact that his yahrzeit falls a few days after my birthday might not seem like the best timing for a comedy writer. On the other hand, it was so Ben Starr of him to skip my birthday as his departure date. So, considerate man that he was, he waited a few days before taking off for the Big Deli in the Sky, where I imagine they serve a bottomless bowl of matzoh ball soup and corned beef to die for. Yeah, I went there. I just can't help myself. He raised us to find humor in everything, even the toughest things. I miss him like crazy. I channel him daily. He always said the secret to getting older was to keep having birthdays. He forgot to mention that he might not always be here to share them. I had to figure that part out on my own. He's forever in my heart and in my soul. Every time I think of him, I smile. His memory is the gift that keeps on giving, which makes perfect sense. He was the ultimate giver of joy and laughter, and now he's a gift from beyond.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Wardrobe Malfunction On Aisle 2

It's been a week of birthday-related overeating that may or may not have led to a serious wardrobe malfunction in suburbia. Yesterday, the SJG suffered a big one right in Gelson's, my personal homeland. Oh, the shanda of it all. Thankfully, I realized immediately what had happened and candidly told the Sushi Guy, "Oy gevalt, my zipper's down. Piece of kaka, this zipper. I blame Calvin Klein. I swear on the Torah this bupkis zipper was up when I left the house." The Sushi Guy stared at me, unable to decipher my Yiddish. "California Roll?" "Sure, why not," I said, zipping up, "and throw in some of that edamame. It's so delish." The Sushi Guy bowed as he gave me the order. If only the menfolk in my life would bow more often in my presence. Then a nice thing happened. An old woman pushing her cart stopped by and handed me a safety pin. "Listen, doll, this little baby will keep your business to yourself.  I keep a stash on me at all times." With that, she disappeared down Aisle 6, in search of sugar-free cookies.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Let Me Eat Cake

Turns out, I'm the best candidate for a surprise party. I'm so clueless, so completely oblivious to all the obvious signs -- a last-minute location change, a casual request to come early for lunch, described as "leftovers from a meeting," and how about my students' cars in the driveway -- that when I walked in the door and they yelled "Surprise!" I jumped back and screamed, "OH MY GOD!" Luring me into this surprise trap was a cakewalk (see what I did there?). I had no idea. I just went with it, easygoing gal that I'm usually not, but I'm 60 now, so why not, I ask you. Why. Not. If not now, when?
 
Here's the surprise birthday cake from Porto's. The gal in the middle? That's me, the self-anointed volunteer rabbi of my own writerly congregation. The other symbols represent wonderful stories "The Wannabe Writers," as they call themselves (trust me, they're already writers), have delved into over the past few months: a pickle ball paddle, a switchblade, a Cuban tango dancer, a U.S. Marine Corps emblem and a stack of library books. 
They even gave me gifts, including a stuffed fish (don't ask), a sign that says "Maybe Swearing Will Help" -- they know me so well -- and this, the 1st Annual Laughing At Life Award, a very prestigious trophy handed out only once every 60 years. What a great way to spend my 60th, with nice people I adore and can't wait to see every week. I'm so honored, I could plotz. Meanwhile, stop by the palatial estate if you're in the neighborhood. I have not one, but two half-eaten delicious cakes that need to be fully consumed. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Happy To Be Here

The day started with a nice thoughtful note from my dentist wishing me happy birthday and granting me permission to eat cake, but not too much, because my aging teeth can only take so much sugar before they rot and fall out mid-sentence. Then I spent a while searching for the remote so I could turn off the morning news -- no mention of my birthday and that hurt a bit, but I'm over it. I finally found the remote at the end of the bed, don't ask me how it got there, and that's okay by me. I've learned that in life, some things remain a mystery. So this is 60. I'm happy to be here, thanks for having me.

Monday, January 15, 2018

It's My Party & I'll Kvell If I Want To

True, my birthday isn't till tomorrow, but that didn't prevent me from throwing myself a surprise party and emailing my people the following invite: "Come, celebrate my magnificence, bring me a nice expensive gift, eat, drink and leave." They did just that. And they all went to public school!
Pre-celebration of, who else, me, with my sweet sons, hubby and daughter-in-law. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am one lucky lil Jew.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Art of Surprise

The SJG of S.O. has learned so much in the past 60 years that it would be selfish of me to deny you a pearl of wisdom now and then. If I didn't share, you'd probably turn all resentful and give my blog a less-than-favorable Help! review and we can't have that, can we? The answer is no, in case you were wondering. So today my wisdom pearl, as opposed to my wisdom teeth, which went for big bucks on eBay -- so glad I saved them! -- has to do with surprise parties. When throwing such soirees, proceed with caution. Surprise parties are very hard to pull off. Here are some examples of the best, the well-meaning, the sweetest and the most terrifying.
Best:
The surprise party for my grandpa. I can't remember how old he was, but I was little so maybe he was turning 70-something-ish. Lots of people I didn't know, and some I did, including family members we weren't collectively estranged from (yet), gathered in their home on Highland Avenue. The plan was simple. Grandpa would come home from work and we'd whisper, not yell, but whisper "surprise." My Grandma Shorty, who generously shared all her worry genes with me, thought screaming SURPRISE!!!! when he came through the door would cause instantaneous plotzing. So we whispered surprise and the look on his adorable face was wonderful.

Well-Intentioned:
The surprise party I went to a million years ago with hubby, for the wife of one of his work pals. To say she wasn't expecting us would be an understatement. We yelled "Surprise!", she went into shock and started crying and spent the rest of the party locked in the bedroom. The husband was trying to cheer her up after a tough turn of events, and it backfired. A very awkward evening I've never forgotten.
Sweetest:
This surprise party, I didn't attend, it was millennials only, but knowing my wonderful daughter-in-law threw it in honor of the eldest's 30th filled me with enough joy to get me through the entire year and well into the next. Her planning was impeccable. He had no idea what was about to happen when he walked through the door. The youngest recorded the moment and it was 100 percent surprise of the highest order. It was his first surprise party and he loved every second.
Terrifying:
This surprise party, I also didn't even attend, but heard about at the surprise party I did attend last night for a dear friend who didn't look all that surprised when she came through the door. That's all I'm going to say, other than to repeat my previous comment: surprise parties are very hard to pull off. The terrifying tale comes from the guest of honor's hilarious mother, who told me this story as we waited to surprise her daughter: "I'll never forget a surprise party I went to for a friend of mine who was turning 60. She walked in the door, we yelled surprise and she had a heart attack. The paramedics came and took her away. We stayed and ate the food, which I remember wasn't all that good."

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Diagnosis: Low Battery

"Hello, and thank you for calling Napple Support, where everything's old, including you. This could take a while, so we recommend you grab a little nap so you're more-or-less refreshed by the time you finally speak to a human. To improve your waiting time, please select the type of music you'd like to listen to as you nap. Press 1 for Lawrence Welk. Press 2 for Nat King Cole. Press 3 for Paul Revere & the Raiders."
"It's just like me... to say to you... Love me do, and I'll be true... And what I'd like... for you to say... Is you'll come home... to me each day..."
Twenty minutes later:
"Napple Support. Margo speaking. How can I help you?"
"Hi, Margo, how's ba you?"
"Good. And you?"
"Not bad. Could be better."
"How old is your battery?"
"That's a little personal, don't you think, Margo?"
"Maybe. Not really. They pay me to ask."
"My battery is 60 years old, come Tuesday."
"What are the symptoms?"
"Well, things have slowed down a bit. Takes longer to launch myself out of bed. Once I get going, I function okay, kina hora, poo poo poo."
"Are you on Wi-Sigh right now?"
"I am. Instead of napping, I just sat here sighing till you picked up."
"Napple understands."
"That's nice to hear.
"So, we're going to run a diagnostic."
"Should I be worried?"
"Not at all. We just need to analyze what's wrong with you."
"Can't you just put me down for a long-lasting battery? I still have things to do."
"First I need your serial number."
"I didn't know I had one. Where is it?"
"It's on the lining of your pupik."
"Pupik? Not pipik?"
"You say pipik, I say pupik..."
"Hang on, I may need some assistance. One sec... Hubby, can you come here? Hang on, Margo, he has to schlep from the kitchen... Honey, can you tell me the serial number on my belly button? Margo, are you there? It's S...J...G...123. Thanks, honey. Got that, Margo? SJG123."
"Okay, sit tight while I run the program. This could take a while."
"What doesn't, Margo?"
"Would you like music or silence?"
"Silence sounds nice."
"Okay, back in a jiffy."
20 minutes later:
"Hi, I'm back."
"What's the diagnosis?"
"A little low on battery."
"Is that it?"
"A little neurotic, but in a good way."
"How long have I got, Margo?"
"You've still got some juice left."
"Whew."
"We're ordering you a new battery, but it could take a while. We're on back order. In three days, someone from Napple will call you and tell you very little, then send you an email telling you even less. Then at some point, you'll get an appointment, which you'll probably want to reschedule, and then you'll be back on the waiting list."
"What I do in the meantime?"
"Don't overexert yourself and keep recharging."
"Words to live by."