Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hanukkah Latke-Off

Dear SJG,
My neighbor Trixie Van Schwartz (so competitive!) just challenged me to a Hanukkah Latke-Off, to be held in her fancy-schmancy remodeled kitchen, and streamed live on Facebook. But here's the thing. I haven't made a real latke since the early '80s, after my electric potato peeler went rogue and took off a layer of skin on my right middle finger. Should I turn Trixie down? I'll never hear the end of it.
Latke Loser
Dear Loser,
It really depends on whether you want to end the year as a total failure, or face your spud-related fears once and for all. Here's what I suggest. Every day leading up to the Latke-Off, pick up a potato and a peeler - a normal one, not a nuclear-powered one, for Mose's sake, don't be a nudnik - and peel a bisel skin, the potato's - not your own. Then peel a little more on the next day, and keep going, one behavior modification at a time, until, check you out, you've peeled an entire eff'n potato without causing bodily harm. Mazel tov. By the time this competish goes live, you'll have mashed those fears like a short order cook at Maven's To Go-Go. You'll be ready to take that Trixie bitch down and lord it over her for years to come. If defeating your enemy doesn't scream Hanukkah, what does?
You're Welcome,
P.S. Maybe have a medic standing by, just in case.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

He Survived Doggy Day Care

At first he was afraid, he was petrified
Kept thinking he could never play without me by his side
But then he spent so many hours 
thinking I'd been gone too long
And he grew strong
And he learned how to get along...
Did he think he'd crumble?
Did he think he'd lay down and cry?
Oh no, not him!
He did survive
Oh, as long as he knows how to play he knows he'll stay alive
He's got all his life to live
He's got all his bark to give
And he'll survive
He will survive..
Hey, hey...

(apologies to Gloria Gaynor)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Plays Well With Others - Maybe

Today Sir Blakey of Sherman Oaks will surround himself with his fellow creatures at an elegant doggy daycare spa where dogs are treated like royalty, and that seems fitting, given his title. Shawn, the dog trainer ( still trying to train me to be a pack leader -- please don't tell her it's not working -- insists that Blakey needs to remember he's actually a dog, and not a short Jewish personage like myself. Oh, did I mention Blakey converted? Well, he did. It was a quick ceremony. He barked a few prayers in Hebrew and the rabbi said, "He's in! Welcome to the tribe. You may now start worrying." Speaking of worrying, when I drop him off today, it will feel much like I'm dropping one of the sons off for his first day of preschool. Except in this case, the dog is far more advanced than the sons were on their first day of early education. For instance, Sir Blakey knows where to do his business, whereas the sons were a little... oh, let's not say remedial... but if preschool taught them anything, it was how to hold it for a very long time. Preschool must've taught them more than just that. Like how to play well with others. Sir Blakey will be working on that skill today, and earning his first of many gold star doggy treats. I just hope he likes his new lunch box, even though I forgot to have it engraved. Maybe Blakey won't notice. He hasn't learned to read yet.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Must You Harp On It?

Go away, I'm practicing my harp.

Imagine, if you will, a harp in a living room, circa 1966-ish, in a humble town called Westwood. My friend Naomi (not her real name), a smarty from the get-go, took harp lessons. The harp was grand and imposing and for reasons only a therapist might understand, scared the crap out the SJG. To me, Naomi's harp sat there like a towering tchotchke of doom. The harp seemed to say, "Oh, Pluck Off, You."

I'm just going to put it out there. I didn't like Naomi's harp. Pithy thought: We often don't like what we don't understand. So, fine. I didn't understand what an eight year old was doing playing the harp. This couldn't have been her idea. This idea had to have come from her very strict, harping mother. As in, "Naomi, you will play the harp. You will be a harpist. You will travel the world, thanks to that harp. You will thank me, profusely, every time you step foot on stage. You will curtsy and say, 'I'd like to thank my mother for forcing me to playing the harp. I'm so grateful to her. I'm a harpist because of her belief in me.' "

Naomi and her stupid harp. One time, she was at my house, and we were having a fun time, doing what eight year olds did back in the '60s. We weren't texting or watching YouTube. We were playing with Barbies or playing Crazy 8's or checkers. Good clean, non-harp-related fun. And then my mom, who never forced me to play the harp, but did force me to wear some questionable outfits from time to time, came in and said, "Naomi, your mother just called. She said you have to come home and practice the harp." Worst play date ever.

So, did Naomi grow up to be a harpist? No, she didn't. How long did she play that unportable instrument? Not that long. One day, the harp was gone. I can't tell you when the men from Rent-A-Harp came and took it away. Much like the harp, the string holding our friendship together eventually frayed. But every time I see a harp, which is almost never, I think of Naomi. Naomi and her stupid harp.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hanukkah Hilarity

Morty's mother gives him two sweaters for Hanukkah. The next time he visits her, he makes sure to wear one.  As he walks into the house, his mother frowns and asks, "What -- you didn't like the other one?"
Last year, just before Hanukkah, Sara, a grandmother, was giving directions to her grown up grandson who was coming to visit with his wife. "You come to the front door of the condominium complex.  I am in apartment 2B." Sara continued, "There is a big panel at the door.  With your elbow push button 2B. I will buzz you in. Come inside, the elevator is on the right.  Get in, and with your elbow hit 2.  When you get out I am on the left.  With your elbow, hit my doorbell." 

"Grandma, that sounds easy," replied Jonathan, the grandson, "but why am I hitting all these buttons with my elbow?"

To which she answered, "You're coming to visit empty handed?"
Admiring the Christmas trees displayed in his neighbor's windows, Nathan asks his father, "Daddy, can we have a Hanukkah Tree?"

"What? No, of course not.' says his father.

"'Why not?" asks Nathan again. 

Bewildered, his father replies, "Well, Nathan, because the last time we had dealings with a lighted bush we spent 40 years in the wilderness."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Still Spinning

The call came in around 5 p.m. The news? Unexpected. Not to mention, disturbing:
"So we're not getting the Samsung, after all," hubby said, choking back tears.
"What? I don't understand. We're not getting the Samsung?"
"No, we're not."
"Why? Why? Why?"
"Because... hang on, let me collect myself."
"Take your time, honey. I know how emotional you get over appliances."
"Because the @#$%'n Samsungs aren't even available."
"Are you saying -- ?"
"Yes, I am."
"Best Buy lied to us?"
"They don't even have them in stock."
"Those bastards."
"So we're going another way."
"What way are we going, my love?"
"We're going with another Maytag."
"But... but..."
"I know, I know."
"Aren't they back-ordered?"
"They are."
"Oh dear God, why are we being tested? We're good people, more or less."
"It's a conspiracy."
"I'm not sure how much longer I can spin this topic."
"If anyone can do it, you can."
"Thank you, honey. That means a lot."
"So you're okay with the back-ordered Maytag?"
"Not really. But what choice do I have?"
"Then I'm good. I've always wanted a new Maytag for Hanukkah."
"You're welcome."

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Little Off-Balance

Why buy a boring new washing machine when you can buy an exciting one that might explode, God forbid, when you least expect it? This is the reasoning in the SJG household, where we're a little off-balance, anyway. All it takes is a lot of reassurance that "the exploding ones were recalled and no longer for sale" to decide on the highly discounted model that God willing, won't blow up the house. Rather than fix the malfunctioning Maytag with the spin cycle issue, we've ordered a Samsung -- a company known for exploding stuff -- for only a little more than the repair would've cost. I keep telling you we like to live on the edge over here in Sherman Oaks. We never know when the machines we rely on might go Ka-Boom! And we like it that way.