Sunday, June 30, 2013

Love At First Listen

I have my sinuses to thank for my first and only conversation with a rock star.  Thank you, messed up sinuses.  Without you, I never would've talked to Jim Messina at the exact moment in my life when I was obsessed, obsessed I tell ya, with Loggins and Messina.  I was in 9th grade and it was love at first listen. "Sittin' In" was the soundtrack of my last year in junior high.  "House at Pooh Corner."  "Danny's Song."  Stop, you're making me nostalgic.   So, naturally, when I went to Dr. Feder, my fancy Ear Nose & Throat doc in Beverly Hills, the man who would one day have the pleasure of removing the SJG's tonsils, and he told me that Jim Messina was one of his patients, I nearly plotzed right then and there.  I still don't know how I pried that out of him.  Did I say, "Hey, doc, any rock star patients with  ear nose & throat issues you want to brag about?" I think he probably volunteered this intel, as doctors are notorious gossips about their famous clients.  Of course, had I bumped into Jim Messina in Dr. Feder's swanky-swank Beverly Hills office I might not have had the courage to talk to him.

(Keep in mind that the pronunciation of the doctor's name is a critical part of this tale.  It's a potato/pa-tato thing.  Fed-er or Fay-der?  I went with Fed-er.)

What I needed was a more inspired setting.  I found it at the Troubadour.  Somehow I coerced my brother John to take me and my friend Kyle to the Troubadour to see Loggins and Messina.  It was 1972. Kyle was my go-to gal for big musical moments.  We saw our first concert together, James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl.  We saw "Hair" together. Kyle had to be there for my big Jim Messina moment.  We got to the Troubadour early and waited in line.  We sat so close, I could rest my teenage elbow on the stage.  And when Jim Messina came out before the show got going and started fiddling with amps and cords and rock star props, I seized the moment in a shocking way.  I let go of the shyness.  I went for it.  I yelled my love call at Jim Messina and it came out like this: "We have the same doctor!"  He leaned in closer. "What?" "We have the same doctor.  Dr. Fed-er!"  Jim Messina looked at me and said, "Dr. Fay-der?"  "Fed-er!"  We went a few more rounds, as I tried to correct a rock star's pronunciation.  We were at a standstill. That was the extent of the exchange. We called the whole thing off. Oh, well.  He was too old for me, anyway.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

We're Having A Heat Wave

I think Miss Piggy sums up our current weather best.  Stay cool, my friends.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Things To Do With Bananas

Bad Banana!
1. Watch them ripen.
2. Eat them before they go bad.
3. Accept that some of them will go bad, anyway.
4. Send them off to Bad Banana Jail for rehabilitation.
5. Wonder what you did to contribute to them breaking bad.
6. Invest in short-term therapy.
7. One or two years ought to do it.
8. Visit bad bananas in jail.
9. Tell them that one day they'll be good again.
10. Buy new bananas.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sprinkler Etiquette

Dear SJG,
Is it too much to ask my neighbors not to time their sprinklers to go off at the exact moment I walk by? I'm starting to take it personally. What's the etiquette here?
Just wondering,
Soggy Shoes

Dear Soggy,
There is no etiquette here, there or anywhere.  Etiquette went out in the '80s.  You're on your own, baby.  Good luck.
You're welcome,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The SJG Air Freshener

The Short Jewish Gal is excited to announce a new line of nostalgic air fresheners sure to take the  multi-million dollar home deodorizing market by storm.  The makers of Fabreze and Glade will be  scratching their keppies, wondering why they didn't think of this sooner.  The SJG line will include a variety of irresistible, highly-hamish aromas:

Who could resist "Matzoh Ball Soup Plug-In," continuous delivery with just a hint of guilt?  You'll feel like you stepped back in time and landed in your grandmother's kitchen in Brooklyn.  You'll wonder why you never got the recipe.  You'll feel bad about that for a while.

Want something richer?  Try "Kugel Metered Mister," to remind you of that first  moonlit Rosh Hashanah when you fell deeply in love with noodle pudding as a child, and vowed that one day, you'd make a kugel that's just as delish as Aunt Kissy's, if not better.

Maybe you'd prefer "Blast of Blintz," for those Sundays when you don't have the energy to wait for a table at Art's Deli.

How about a neutralizer of "Nice Coffee Cake," so you shouldn't forget all the condolence calls you've made, and remember to count your blessings, not to mention your good spoons.  Someone may have "accidentally" walked off with one at the last Sisterhood luncheon you hosted.

(Shout out to Darlene, self-described "Smug, Arrogant Jewish Gal.")

Why can't my house smell like coffee cake all the time?
Now it can!  Thanks to, who else? The SJG!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

... And Boy, Are My Arms Tired

I just flew in from Sherman Oaks, and boy, are my arms tired.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to flap and flap and flap some more, especially if your wings are made of paper?  Let me tell ya, folks, it's exhausting.   Especially when you wake up and realize it was only a dream.  But it was fun while it lasted.  So.  What does it mean when the SJG flies in dreams?  My embedded sources (see what I did there?) tell me it comes down to this:  I feel "undefeatable and that nobody can tell me what I cannot do and accomplish."  Oh, in other words:  Out of my way, bitches.  I'll take it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Such A Deal!

The Short Jewish Gal of Sherman Oaks announces an exciting new business venture:  SJGNB.  What the @#$% is it?  Some kind of "airbnb" rip-off?  A way to rent a bed, a tree house, a castle?  Well, yes and no.  I'm not interested in renting you lodging, God forbid.  I'm looking to rent you the  weird crap  cluttering my house, all the "bonus" stuff going unused.  This week, I'm having a special on the drum set sitting in the so-called guest room.  Come rent that.  It's only $1,500 an hour.  That's a bargain, people.  God only knows what we spent on drum lessons and the drum set and eardrum replacement.  What's that? You're not interested in renting my youngest son's drum set?  What's wrong with you?  Oh, I get it.  You're looking for something a little more portable.  Come rent the mountain bike propped up against the wall in the backyard.  I don't think the eldest would have a problem loaning it out.  He hasn't been on it since he graduated from UC Santa Cruz, with dreams of working on behalf of the environment.  A four-year dream that went poof after a few attempts to get an internship.  Now he works in show biz, where he belongs.  But renting the bike would be a nice way to make up for all the expenses that went into that noble quest, including the six months he spent in Copenhagen for reasons I can't remember now, but it had something to do with the environment.  So. Come rent the mountain bike for $25, 000 an hour.  Such a deal!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Search For Lost Bacon

Scrambled memories
For some, a bite of cookie unlocks a lifetime of memories.  For others, thinking about bacon unlocks a lifetime of so-called memories. Yesterday, the former birthday boy known as John informed the Rapper known as Scott D that we ate bacon and eggs every morning growing up.  The Rapper looked at me for confirmation.  "That is completely untrue," I said.  "We only ate bacon and eggs on Sunday."  "You're wrong and I'm right," my brother insisted.  "I'm not wrong.  You have the weirdest memory of things that never happened or sort of happened or happened occasionally."  "How dare you question me on my birthday," he said, sticking to his version of events.  In his mind, we ate bacon and eggs every morning.  In my mind, we ate bagels on Sunday and bacon occasionally, and scrambled eggs sometimes, and at some point, my mother switched from bacon to healthy-ish sausages.  Who's right?  Who's wrong?  We both are.  At this point, our childhood memories are a bit scrambled.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Left-Handed Birthday Smudge

What happens when the SJG writes a sweet, sisterly sentiment on a birthday card for her brother John, only to smear the entire heartfelt message with the side of her left hand.

Friday, June 21, 2013

On The First Day of Summer

On the first day of Summer 
My true love gave to me 
A bottle of Sea and Ski
On the second day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Two tanning beds
And a bottle of Sea and Ski
On the third day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Three flip flops
Two tanning beds
And a bottle of Sea and Ski
On the fourth day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Four calling cards
Three flip flops
Two tanning beds,
and a bottle of Sea and Ski
On the fifth day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Five onion rings,
Four calling cards,
Three flip flops,
Two tanning beds
And a bottle of Sea and Ski
On the sixth day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Six dogs-a-barking,
Five onion rings,
Four calling cards,
Three flip flops,
Two tanning beds
And a bottle of Sea and Ski
On the seventh day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Seven kids-a-whining,
Six dogs-a-barking
Five onion rings,
Four calling cards,
Three flip flops,
Two tanning beds,
And a bottle of Sea and Ski

On the eighth day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Eight yentas kvetching
Seven kids-a-whining
Six dogs-a-barking
Five onion rings,
Four calling cards,
Three flip flops,
Two tanning beds,
And a bottle of Sea and Ski.

On the ninth day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Nine ladies schlepping,
Eight yentas kvetching,
Seven kids-a-whining,
Six dogs-a-barking,
Five onion rings,
Four calling cards,
Three flip flops,
Two tanning beds,
And a bottle of Sea and Ski

On the tenth day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Ten shrinks prescribing,
Nine ladies schlepping,
Eight yentas kvetching,
Seven kids-a-whining,
Six dogs-a-barking
Five onion rings,
Four calling cards
Three flip flops,
Two tanning beds
And a bottle of Sean and Ski

On the eleventh day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Eleven spa appointments,
Ten shrinks prescribing,
Nine ladies schlepping,
Eight yentas kvetching,
Seven kids-a-whining,
Six dogs-a-barking,
Five onion rings,
Four calling cards,
Three flip flops,
Two tanning beds,
And a bottle of Sea and Ski

On the twelveth day of Summer
My true love gave to me
Twelve slummers slumming,
Eleven spa appointments,
Ten shrinks prescribing,
Nine ladies schlepping,
Eight yentas kvetching,
Seven kids-a-whining,
Six dogs-a-barking,
Five onion rings,
Four calling cards,
Three flip flops,
Two tanning beds,
And a bottle of Sea and Ski

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Member of the Family

It was the sob heard round the house.  "Mom!  Did you hear who died?" This from the youngest.  And then the phone rang.  "I feel like I lost a member of the family." This from my mother-in-law.
The death of James Gandolfini, from all reports, a shy, big teddy bear of a guy in real life, a genius on stage and screen, has hit everyone hard. When I saw him in "God of Carnage" in New York, I had trouble catching my breath.  It took me half the show to calm down.  I couldn't believe he was right there, just a few feet away.  The whole shlubby thing... the grin... the eyes... it was working for me.   A neurotic mob boss.  A Brooklyn dad arguing over a playground brawl.  No matter who he portrayed, he got under your skin.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How To Live Longer

1.  Don't read articles about how to live longer.
2.  Don't read articles about why left-handed people don't live as long as right-handed people.
3.  Don't read articles about why people who toss and turn at night don't live as long as great sleepers.
4.  Don't read articles about why people who worry obsessively don't live as long as carefree people.
5.  Don't read anything ever again.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Criminal Mind of the SJG

Turns out, not all parking lots are happy places.   Some parking lots are zones of aggravation, put here to eff with your well-being.  Some parking lots sit in judgment off your worthiness.  You push the big, germ-covered button and hope the ticket spits out and the mechanical arm opens.  Sometimes you get the ticket.  Sometimes you don't.  The times you don't get the ticket are usually when the parking attendant has vanished from existence and you're on your own.  You can either sit there and wait for several hours and be late for your important meeting. Or, you can hope the SJG crosses your path and helps you out of a jam. I had already parked and was making my way into the building when I noticed my friend, the devastatingly handsome Jim (and I say devastatingly handsome not because I'm contractually obligated but because it's 100 percent true) idling at the parking lot entrance, ticketless, and rapidly losing hope.  I immediately took action and laughed at his misfortune.  I pointed out that last time we were here for a meeting, the elevator didn't work for me but worked for him.  This time, the parking thingy worked for me and not for him. What was the universe telling us?  That we're all pawns in some larger game?  That -- okay fine, I'll get to the criminal part.  My devious mind started clicking. I told Jim to back up carefully and drive "in" through the exit.  The arm was up, there were no spikes threatening tire damage.  "Are you sure?" he asked me.  "What's the worse that could happen?"  He followed my sneaky instructions and we made it to our meeting on time.  "I never would've thought of that," he said, as we walked toward the elevator.  "It takes a Jew to get out of a tight spot."

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Tale of the Fallen Blintz Souffle

I said it last Father's Day.  I said it again this Father's Day.  Allow me to quote myself:  "Kugel travels better than blintz souffle."  Here's what happens.  You make a nice kugel.  You take it out of the oven.  You kvell. "Boy, that kugel looks delish." You wrap it in foil.  You leave.  You could be headed over the hill.  You could be headed to the moon.  That kugel will still look great with or without the benefit of gravity.  A blintz souffle?  Not so much.  A blintz souffle looks pretty for precisely two seconds.  There's barely enough time to kvell before it deflates into an ordinary casserole.  In those two seconds. something happens. Something I can't explain, but I think it's a gravitational pull toward shame.  It's a Jewish dish, after all.  The blintz souffle is sending you a message to stay humble.  "What?  You think you're so fancy with your souffle?  Fine.  We'll give you two seconds to feel good about yourself, and then, we'll take it away.  Who's fancy now?  Not you."  So, why did I make it for Father's Day?  Why didn't I make a kugel, the more attractive choice?  Because my mother-in-law got there first.  This year, she made the kugel.  Two kugels at a Father's Day brunch seems a little redundant, not to mention, competitive.  Good idea to compete with my mother-in-law?  I'm going with no.  So, I went with the sunken souffle. No one seemed to notice, until I pointed it out, repeatedly.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Here I Come To Save The Day

Yesterday, in a brief, ill-advised moment of sisterly goodness, I offered to help my brother John, who's hosting Father's Day today.  (Better him than me.)  What soon followed was a To-Do List of Demands.

Dear Sister,
Here's what I expect you to do today.
1.  Paint house.
2.  Redo kitchen.
3.  Redo bathroom.
4.  Set up for brunch.
5.  Whine.

Dear Brother,
Here's what I am willing to do today.
1. Whine.
2.  Organize plastic forks.
3.  Nosh on rugelach.
4.  Sit and watch you work.
5.  Go home early.

Dear Sister,
Does that mean you're not coming?

Dear Brother,
I'll be there when they finish the 405.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where's My Medal?

Be patient.  It's coming via Pony Express. 
The Short Jewish Gal is getting a new medal to go alongside her many Mommies and Academy of Kvetchers Awards -- an honor from The Society of Extreme Worriers.  The internationally-acclaimed blogger, who spends vast amounts of time fretting, nagging and enabling, was just named a Member of the Order of the Seriously Neurotic  (MSN). Her award, for service to her family, who've given her a lifetime supply of small, medium and large stuff she continues to sweat, no matter how many times you tell her all that worrying doesn't change anything, caps 55 years of asking the same question over and over again: "Why Me?" Contacted in her palatial home in Sherman Oaks, the SJG had this to say about the esteemed honor.  "Thanks a lot for this nice medal, guys. You have no idea how long I've waited for some kind of recognition. And the satin banner pegging me as Mrs. Seriously Neurotic was a special bonus.  I will wear it everywhere I go, including the shower.  Or is that a bad idea?  Do I have to get it dry cleaned?  Was it made in the USA?  I won't wear anything produced by forced labor.  You should know that about me.  Although my own labors were plenty forced, let me tell you.  They kept yelling,  'Don't push!'  'Don't push!'  To which I screamed, 'How am I supposed to get this thing out of me without pushing?'  I'm still waiting for an answer.  In the meantime, I continue to push my sons.  If it weren't for me, they'd still be in kindergarten, learning how to read and hold a pencil.  Sometimes, you've got to push the ones you love, or they never get anywhere.  Am I right?  But enough about me.  In one sweeping gesture you've done what years of therapy couldn't.  You've given me a medal for my assorted unresolved issues. You've made me very proud. So, hugs and kisses for that. Mwwwwaaaaaah!"

Friday, June 14, 2013

National Let's Play Hooky Day

Did you know that today is National Let's Play Hooky Day?  Well, it is. What's that?  It's not on your calendar?  It's not on mine, either.  I just made it up. How dare I be so bold as to make up a national holiday? How dare you use that tone with me.  I'm the Short Jewish Gal.  I'm allowed to make up stuff.   Not to mention, if the Donut Lovers of America get a national day, why can't I?  Please don't question my logic. Just roll with me.  You heard me.  Call in sick today.  I'll write you a note.  I'll forge your mom's signature, too, for a nice negotiable fee.  Why are you resisting me? Just take the day off, already.  Don't worry about the economy or your mortgage payment or why you ordered that deluxe set of diamond-studded widgets you saw on QVC when you were a little bit farschnickert. You need a day not to think about your poor decisions. So, follow my lead, people. Just tell the boss the SJG gave you permission to kick back and put life on pause, because, let's face it, sometimes life throws too much life at us and we need a break.  Who's with me?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

File Search

File me under "special"
"Hi Daddy, here's something you don't get asked every day.  Do you have my birth certificate?"
"Let me check.  I'm walkin'.  I'm walkin'.   I'm opening the file cabinet.  A lot of files in here."
"Anything marked 'Carol's Birth Certificate'?"
"I'm looking. I'm looking.  Here's a file... important documents."
"I bet that's it."
"Here's Mom's birth certificate.  Gloria June Kaplan."
"Sweet Mom."
"Here's Peter Steven... here's John Robert..."
"Where's mine?"
"I'm looking, I'm looking."
"Look some more.  I need to renew my passport."
"Are you in a hurry to get out of the country?"
"At this rate, I may never leave Sherman Oaks."
"Hang on.  I'm looking.  Here's Grandma's citizenship papers.  Here's Grandpa's."
"How cool.  What about my birth certificate?"
"You were born under special circumstances."
"You always said I was special."
"Sometimes Daddy lies."
"So, how's it coming with my birth certificate?"
"Here's my birth certificate.  Ben Starr."
"No middle name?"
"We were too poor to afford one."
"Ta-da!  Here it is.  Carol Susan.  January 26, 1958."
"January 26th?!  What happened to the 16th?  Are you saying my entire life has been a lie?  That I'm actually 10 days younger?"
"Wait.  Sorry.  I read it wrong.  January 16, 1958."
"Thank God.  All the forms I would've had to fill out."
"Born in automobile on ramp of hospital."
"How many people can say that?"
"Not too many.  Like I said, you're special."
"In a good way?"
"What other way is there?"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cheat Sheet

He had big dreamy eyes and wavy hair.   "Can I borrow your homework?"  The Short Jewish 9th Grader waged a tough internal debate. "Uh..." "Please, Carol?  Come on."  "I don't know."  He touched my arm. I was a goner.  "Okay, but bring it back tomorrow."  "I could kiss you."  But he didn't.  He had eight other girls in rotation.  He took my English homework, which I'd slaved over for hours, and disappeared.  Right away I sensed I'd made a big mistake, a mistake I couldn't undo.  We hate when that happens.  The next day, Mr. Dreamy Eyes returned my homework.   He touched my arm.  "You saved my butt."  I smiled, shyly.  Sometimes a smile is enough.  For a brief moment, I felt good.  I'd done a mitzvah for a handsome bad boy.  When would I get a chance like that again?  Cut to:  Fifteen minutes later.  The teacher beckoned me forward.  "Carol, did you let Robert copy your homework?"  "Umm..." "Robert, come up here, please?"  A moment later, Mr. Dreamy Eyes sidled up next to me.  He smelled good.  Like French Fries.  He'd obviously ditched 3rd period and gone to American Burger.  "Robert, did you copy Carol's homework?"  Mr. Dreamy Eyes looked down at the floor.  "Umm..." Two umms may not make a right, but in this case, they added up to a yes.  "I want you both to go home tonight, and write I will not cheat 500 times."  Well!  Color me ashamed.  Color me stupid for letting Mr. Dreamy Eyes take me down a dark road.  I had a brief period of deep remorse.  And then I got busy.  I rallied up some friends and doled out their assignment.  "I want you each to go home and write I will not cheat a 100 times."  The next day, I turned in pages and pages of mea culpas in different handwriting styles and waited for the teacher to notice.  I'm still waiting.  As for Mr. Dreamy Eyes, I have no idea whether he turned in his cheat sheets or not.  All I know is this:  He never cheated off me again.  Or talked to me, come to think of it.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shedding Season

Snoopy must be shedding, too.
Here a pile, there a pile, everywhere a pile of doggy hair.  It's shedding season at the home of the SJG.  Clumps of Dusty collect by the front door and the stairs, under the kitchen table and bar stools.  I sweep and sweep and before I've even put the broom away, more clumps have congregated, forming their own Labradorean temple.  Once again, I must Let Go and Let Dog.  I must admit I can't control my dog's shedding ritual.  I must learn from his shedding and let go of my own mishegas.  I must admit I'm powerless in Dusty's presence.  Whatever he wants, he gets.  The outcome isn't in my hands, but, as usual, in my dog's.  My job is not to judge, but to allow Dusty to be whatever he chooses to be, which, at this time, is a Supreme Shedder.
Let Go and Let Dog.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Who Knew?

Super Jew to the rescue!
This is the exact poster that hung in my dad's office in our home on Lindbrook Drive.   It always made me giggle, no matter how many times I looked at it.  The idea of a Super Jew comic hero with super powers was super empowering, even if it was only the stuff of fantasy.  And yet... hubby opened up the current issue of AARP... hey, it comes with the membership... and discovered that Superman is...
"probably Jewish."  What's with the probably?  Let's go with Superman is Jewish.  According to the authors of "Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero," the creators of the Man of Steel (Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel) gave plenty clues.  Superman's real name is Kal-El, Hebrew for "vessel of God."  On top of which, his "origin story" is "straight out of Exodus."  Much like Moses, Superman's real pop "launched him to safety and adoption by gentiles."  There you have it.  What more proof do you need?  Superman is a nice, Kosher beefy Jewish boy with unbelievable strength.  Somewhere, his mother is kvelling, not to mention, worried sick every time she wonders what in God's name he's up to now.  In fact, the SJG has it it on good authority that Superman's Kryptonion mamala just sent him the following text: "So you're faster than a speeding bullet.  So you're more powerful than a locomotive.  So you're able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. That's terrific, honey.  But it's enough already.  You've made your point. Come home.  The kugel's getting cold."

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It's Raining Priscilla

Give me a disco ball, give me a night on the town with my brother John, give me "Priscilla Queen of the Desert," and I'm one happy SJG.  Give me the Tony Awards tonight and I may have to be hospitalized, it's almost too much joy.  But I will survive.  (See what I did there?)  Here's a tiny snippet of the fun.  Get your tuchus to the Pantages, bitches!  (Too harsh?)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bad Father's Day Gift Ideas

"If some people wanted to get someone a gift for Father's Day, what might that be?"
"Definitely not a shirt."
"What about a Nespresso machine?"
"What is the hell is that?"
"A fancy coffee maker."
"So a Nepresso milk frother is out, too?"
"A waffle-maker?"
"A shoe buffer?"
"A personal butler?"
"An impersonal butler?"
"A Porsche?"
"Now you're talking."
"What color?"
"What if they don't come in purple?"
"A nice metallic green will do."
"How about a gift certificate?"
"Kindle or Trader Joe's?"
"Trader Joe's."
"What will you say when you get it?"
"For me?"
"Perfect.  Let's pretend we never had this conversation."
"By the time I hang up, I'll have forgotten it, anyway."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Let It Go, Or Don't

Or hang on to it and let it fester
The relationship started off so nicely.   There were jokes and winks and clever asides.  But somewhere along the way, I can't pinpoint exactly when, it's too painful, the quips stopped, the gestures turned hostile.  The SJG didn't see it coming.  I thought things were going well, although in hindsight, there may have been a few red flags I chose to ignore.  I asked for bread.   He brought attitude.  I asked for grilled shrimp.  He brought ungrilled.   I intervened on my own behalf.  I flipped through the self-help book in my brain.   "Let it go.  Just.  Let. It. Go."  So fine, I let it go.  I didn't say, "What's with the snark?" I kept my grievances to myself.  Well, not really.  Have you met me?  I ranted to my friend, the belated b'day gal.  "What the eff's his problem?"  She shrugged.  She's far too healthy to get dragged into my issues.  "He seems nice enough.  Try some of this humus."  But soon, even the belated b'day gal had to concede that something was up.  When he brought her "surprise" mini-sundae, there was no happy b'day song to go with, no fanfare.  He slammed the "surprise" on the table, and left in a huff.  "What the eff's his problem?" she asked.  I love when the belated b'day gal swears.  It happens about once a decade.  She's not like the SJG.  She's a happy, centered shiksa who looks on the bright side.  "He's an angry waiter," I explained, and proceeded to flag him down.  "Yes?" he asked.  "Spoons," I said.  What had started as friendly banter had devolved into chilly, one-word exchanges.  And then, a sudden turnaround.  He must've sensed my disappointment.  How could he not?  I was projecting it across the restaurant.  Plus, he was worried about his tip, or lack thereof.  Without warning, he went all nicey-nice.  "Can I get you ladies something else?"  I remained aloof.  The damage was done.  "The check."  Will I see him again?  I hope not.  But then again, you never know.  The bread was so good, so fresh, so warm, I may have to go there again.  When it comes to matters of the stomach, I have little self-control.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Can You Spare A Chair?

From the SJG Dictionary:
spare a chair - 1.  a request for a chair after a brother realizes he doesn't have enough seating for the upcoming Father's Day brunch.
2.  a request for more than one chair.
3.  quotes:  "I'm coming by today to get the chairs." "I can't, I don't have a chair to spare." "Lies!" "Okay.  I have chairs.  But I can't spare all of them."  "You can and you will." "But -- "  "You heard me."  "But what will we sit on?" "Your normal chairs."  "And by normal you mean -- ?" "The ones that don't fit in my car."  "So... you want all the folding chairs?" "You got that right, sister."

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Birth of the Baby

"The Birth of the Baby: Part 2"
I was a freshman at UCLA.  My dad, the one, the only Ben Starr, was on the writing staff of "All in the Family."  He co-wrote one of the most beloved episodes, when Gloria gave birth.  I got to go to the taping.  A personal thrill for the SJG.  My dad has fond memories of Jean Stapleton.  "She was a lovely person.  Much more sophisticated than her character.  I would chat with her occasionally and was always impressed with her sensitivity."  Here's a great clip of Archie and Edith in the waiting room, followed by, what else, the birth of the baby.  I don't know about you, but I haven't seen this since 1975, first when I sat in the audience, and then again, when it aired on TV.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How To Survive The Hora

.... looks nothing like this.
The creaky bones, the swollen feet, the mangled fingers, the sore everything.  What happened?  Oh, right.  I danced the Hora last night, and lived to tell the tale.  When the Hora became an Olympic event, I can't tell you, but it's a brutal, unforgiving dance, a collision of body parts and directional challenges.   There's a lot of screaming, a lot of "go that way, not that way, let go of my hand, you're crushing my fingers."  The question best left unanswered:  "How many times are you going to step on my toe?" There's no accurate estimate.  Last night, I stopped counting after 25, right before I hobbled away and numbed the pain with champagne.  And then there's the hoisting of the Bar Mitzvah boy on top of a chair, followed by his parents, siblings and anyone else willing to let an assembly of weak backs determine whether they walk out of the party in one piece, or exit via ambulance.  "Look out for the chandelier," I yelled, watching keppy after keppy come "this close" to traumatic head wounds.  Not that anyone heard me.  When did the humble Hora spin out of control?  When did it go from being a fun, celebratory gravevine of matzel tov, to a competitive blood sport, a triathlon of oy veysmere?  I'm not sure exactly, but I blame the deejays. They haven't figured out how to transition smoothly from "The Harlem Shake" to the Hora, and I doubt they ever will.  Add a tiny dance floor to the mix and it really gets dicey.  So, how to survive the Hora?  Sit it out. Don't do it.  Stand in the back.  Bring props, if necessary.  Removable leg casts.  A walker, maybe.  A note from your doctor.  "Can't dance the Hora.  Don't ask her."  Or, go ahead and dance the Hora.   Go ahead and risk your life.  Just don't say the SJG didn't warn you.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Joy of Hebrew

Today, the middle son of my cousin will wear a yarmulke and a nice tallis, purchased at the temple gift shop.  He will say various things in Hebrew, none of which the SJG will understand, because no one ever forced me to learn it.  That doesn't mean I haven't forced my own sons to learn Hebrew.  I spent years and years schlepping the boys I birthed back and forth to Hebrew school against their will.  My chant: "You'll do it because I say so."  Do I miss those bonding moments, those years of schlepping and threatening and finding excuses for them to miss a day or a week of Hebrew School because they had (insert sport) practice and would be dumped from the team if they didn't show up?  Let me think about it.  Hang on.  I'd like to take a few minutes to reflect on this and get back to you.  Alrighty, I'm ready to answer.  No, I don't miss it, not for a second.  What I do miss is watching them get Bar Mitzvahed. A high point of my life.  It was all worth it, all the crying, the schlepping, the threatening.  Of course, I can re-watch it on video, assuming I can find it.  

And so, on the way over the hill and through morning traffic to reach the synagogue today,  the SJG will once again force the former Bar Mitzvah boys to practice Hebrew in the car.  They will moan and groan and say they don't remember anything.  But, as God is my witness, they will practice the aliyah, the blessing read before and after the current Bar Mitzvah boy reads from the torah, along with hubby and the SJG. We will sound good, we will sound prepared.  We're all in this together.