Friday, October 30, 2015

The Case of The Missing Mojo

Hmm. In terms of Halloween decorations, pretty low wattage in the neighborhood this year. Where's the Halloween Mojo? Could it be that some folks just aren't that into Halloween anymore? You have only to look at the SJG's front door to notice a shocking lack of boo-worthy paraphernalia. I've yet to hang the cracked Halloween pumpkin punim my mother-in-law gave us sometime back in the '90s. I've yet to prop the bloody hand in the mailbox. A day before the ghosts and goblins shlep door to door, and nothing screams "Halloween Friendly House." I am ashamed. Deeply ashamed. I better get busy. I better hop-to. The least I can do is buy a pumpkin. As for pumping up the volume on the decor? I do believe my dead grass is a ready-made graveyard, sans tombstones. My work here is done. Ding dong. Who wants candy?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is It Serious?

"So. You heard about the Schwartzbaums?"
"Irv and Goldie? No. What's going on with them?"
"I don't like to gossip, but they've been having... car trouble."
"Car trouble? Oh, no. Is it serious?"
"What happened?"
"The Kia had a breakdown. On the 405."
"Poor Goldie. She loves that Kia like the grandchild she never had."
"Who wouldn't? It's cute, zippy and affordable."
"My Volvo stalled on the freeway once. I nearly plotzed. It's a miracle I'm still alive."
"The Kia did more than stall. The front tire blew, too."
"Veysmere. Is Goldie okay?"
"She's not okay. Her feelings are badly dented. On top of which, she wasn't the one driving the Kia at the time. Irv was. He took the Kia out for a spin after he dropped her off at Hello, Gorgeous to get highlights. He promised to get the Kia washed, but instead, he went off on a joy ride and things got ugly when he transitioned to the 101. He's lucky he didn't cause a pile-up. Plus, he forgot his cell phone and there were issues with the tow truck. Goldie was stuck at the salon, worried sick. She thought Irv was dead, which, under the circumstances, she might've forgiven. And now the Kia's in the shop and Irv's sleeping in the garage in his Ford Focus, which, just between us, gets terrible mileage."
"Still, it's not Irv's fault the Kia crapped out."
"Try convincing Goldie of that."
"They need to sit down with a reliable mechanic and work this out."
"I couldn't agree more. So, how are things with your Lexus?"
"Don't ask."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hoop Dreams

These gals can hula hoop in silly outfits.

This gal can hula hoop while drinking milk.

This gal can hula hoop for eternity. 
It's tiring to watch her. 
Someone, make her stop. 

This gal can power hula hoop. 
But can she power hula hoop AND
talk on the cell phone at the same time? 
Cuz I saw a gal doing that at the gym.
It was impressive. 

Can the SJG hula hoop?
Let me think about that.
Not so much. 
Like so many things, 
I start off with the best intentions. 
Then it all turns to kaka.
One day, maybe... I'll get it right.
Listen. A gal can dream. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Bagel Technique of Confrontation

Dear SJG,
Lately, I've had a little trouble confronting the people who are driving me somewhat insane. I just don't know how to get my point across, semi-diplomatically. I turn to you, Master of Your Own Website Domain, for help and guidance.
Exasperated in Encino

Dear Exasperated,
Thanks to a recent tune-up at Mentally Yours, a lovely mental health spa that took over my neighborhood Nail Me Now Salon, I'm happy to share the Bagel Technique with you. It's a little something I ordered from the cognitive therapy menu, and I'm telling you, doll, it works. Here's how: Pick a bagel. Onion, sesame, plain. Slice it in half. Careful of the fingies! Decide on your filling. Cream cheese. Cream cheese and lox. Butter. Still with me? Good. It's time to approach the instigator of aggravation. For our purposes, let's say it's that gum-smacking byotch in the next cubicle. You've dropped every hint known to mankind. You've worn your noise-cancelling headphones. You can still hear her chomping on the Trident like a barn animal. It's time to use the Bagel Technique. The top half is your humble stab at diplomacy. The filling is your gentle heartfelt request. The bottom half seals the deal.

The exchange will go something like this:
(Top half) Hey, Cleo, I know how much you enjoy your gum. I get it. I mean, who doesn't like a nice sticky piece of something so freakin' minty fresh, it's crazy?
(Filling) Sometimes, though, you snap your gum so loudly, it's really hard to get work done. Plus, nine out of ten dentists say that gum-snapping cuts 12 years off your life expectancy. Maybe more. I'm wondering if you might be willing to snap your gum only during breaks? Or only on weekends? Or only never? I vote for never.
(Bottom half) Okay, so, good talk, Cleo. Thanks for working with me on this issue. I really look forward to not hearing you snap, crackle, pop your gum ever again. Oh, and enjoy the bagel.
You're welcome,

Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween Denial

These are the times that try the SJG's soul. Send hubby out to buy household stuff at Target, and he comes back with a bounty of temptation:
"I bought Halloween candy."
"Oh, no. No! Nooooooo! Why? Why would you do such a terrible thing?"
"It's Halloween."
"No, no, noooo, it's not Halloween yet."
"It's on Saturday."
"Saturday. That's like in forever. I'm in Halloween denial."
"Is that a thing?"
"It is for me."
"I'll hide the candy. You won't even know it's there."
"Hide it right now."
"I'm hiding it."
"Right behind this tower of tupperware."
"Don't tell me where you're hiding it."
"Sorry. I'll move it behind the olive oil and the --"
"You're missing the point here. I don't know want to know where it is."
"Just don't open it and you'll be fine."
"You make it sound so easy."
"It is easy."
"Maybe for you. But for me, just knowing there's a mini-Reese's in the house is too much for me."
"Those are the best."
"I know."
"You want one?"
"Come on, you can handle one."
"Okay, maybe just one."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What Are You Going To Be For Halloween?

A conversation with the adorable boy next door:
"Carol! Carol! What are you going to be for Halloween?"
"An old kvetchy Jewish woman."
"What are you going to be for Halloween?"
"A skeleton!"
"A skeleton. How cool is that?"
"Super cool."
"Don't forget to come by on Halloween for candy."
"I don't want to get scared by the old lady."
"Am I scaring you now?"
"Then you'll be fine."

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Sense of Accomplishment

People, everyday people much like yourself, they stop me on the street, like, all the time, and they say, "Hey, you! Aren't you the Short Jewish Gal?" Such a direct question forces me to come up with a quick answer. I usually go with, "As a matter of act, I am. What's it to ya?" What it is to them, in fact, is an opening to ask me more questions. The attention is nice, I admit it. Who doesn't like attention? But all those questions mean I have to split my attention, which, let's face it, is in short supply. When I'm picking out bananas at Gelson's, my personal homeland, I need to focus. Do I go with ripe, almost ripe, greenish, yellowish? You know how quickly bananas go south. I need time to think. But the other day, while I was debating the Chiquita options, a woman approached me. Actually, she nearly rammed into me with her cart, that's how excited she was to see me.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Is It Me, Or Is The Rain Talking?

Shush. The rain is talking. What is the rain saying? Could everybody please stop talking so I can hear the Talking Rain? Thank you. Thank you so much. What's that, Rain? Could you speak up, Rain? You've said so little lately, it's hard to pick up on the message. You made a very brief appearance the other day. That was nice. You came down loud and clear. It was all, "Look at me, I'm the Rain." Then you stopped. You went away. You're so cruel, Rain. I hear you'll be back later. But when, Rain? When? Come on, Rain. Stop teasing my sinuses and giving my keppy pain. Come back. We need you, Rain. Keep talking, Rain. Keep talking. Even if I'm the only one who can hear you. And if I am the only one who can hear you, Rain, is that a good thing? Or a strong indication that it's time to go up on the meds? As in: "Doctor, the rain is talking to me. What should I do?" "Stop listening." If only I could stop. But I can't. Because I have this can of refreshing peace nectarine sparkling water right in my fridge. And it's called Talking Rain. Yeah, I swiped it during a meeting. I couldn't focus on anything they were saying. All I wanted to hear was the rain talk to me. So I took the Talking Rain home with me. Put it in my handbag and no one noticed. They were too busy talking. Not about the rain. Okay, I'm ready now. Go on, Rain. Talk to me, Rain. Please. Don't hold back. Tell me what's on your mind. I'm all ears.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

At the Pearly Gates

Sharon had lived a good life, having been married four times. Now she stood before the Pearly Gates. The angel at the gates said to her, “I see that you first of all married a banker, then an actor, next a rabbi and lastly an undertaker. Why? This does not seem appropriate for a Jewish woman.” “Oh yes it is," Sharon said. “It’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Let's Face It, SJG

Not quite ready for FaceTime.

"Morning. Did you oversleep?"
"When do I ever oversleep? If anything, I undersleep."
"Okay, then."
"I was putting on my face."
"Which face is that?"
"The face that needs help."
"The face doesn't need help."
"Thank you, honey. This is why I married you. But the face needs makeup when I FaceTime. God forbid I should scare the people on the other end."
"The face is fine the way it is."
"Spoken like a true hubby."
"You might comb your hair, though."
"It is combed."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


It's not every day a gal gets to wear a tiara. There I was at the Country Club's annual "Come As Your Favorite Biblical Jew" Pre-Halloween Brunch, all dressed up like Queen Esther, when, much to my surprise, I won the top prize. "Mazel Tov to the Short Jewish Gal of Sherman Oaks!  Come on up and get your free ticket to 'The Elephant Man on Ice.' " I was so overcome with emotion, I had to step out onto the veranda to collect myself. I didn't even see the golf ball headed my way until it was too late.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What's The Most Important Thing In The World?

Throughout my childhood, my dad would roam the house, issuing the following battle-cry: "What can't I stand?" And the three children who brought him nothing but joy would answer: "Happy children!" The theory was so smart and simple, so logical, I'm surprised Dr. Spock or Dr. Phil didn't think of it first. Happy children get charged up. Happy children get carried away. Happy children wind up doing dumb things and getting hurt. As the mother of two sons, I'd have to say my dad's theory was spot-on.
Happy now, sure. But soon,
someone's gonna get hurt. 

The other thing my dad used to call out to us: "What's the most important thing in the world?" "Money!" we'd yell back. That was not the answer he was looking for. Love was the answer. But then, love is always the answer. He was right about that, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I'll Take It From Here, Boys

Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday, dear Daddy --

I'll take it from here, boys.

Happy birthday to you.

Wherever you may be.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hot Flash

For so many years I've lost count, my gym was an all-gal gym, a place where hormones ran wild, social commentary flew, and female abs crunched day and night. Then they let the men join. At first, the gals were a little upset. But we got over it fast. True, the men are noisier and sweatier, but thank God, most of them stay away from the classes (unless they happen to teach them). They huff and puff and lift weights downstairs in a manly way. Which is a good thing. Their upstairs absence allows the gals to continue over-sharing our feelings about, who else, men. Here's a highlight, pre-Boot Camp, pre-arrival of our Hunky Instructor. Might've been the on-going heatwave or the promise of free chocolate come Halloween:
Pam:  I passed the cutest firefighters on the way here.
SJG:  Where?
Pam:  Laurel Canyon and Moorpark. Firefighters are so cute. I once had a panic attack and I called the fire department. The firefighters came over, and they were so cute, my panic went away.
SJG:  Who needs Xanax?
Old School: Before they had calendars

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Let's Play Telephone

As a kid, playing telephone was big fun. The first person in line whispered something silly, like banana, into the ear of the next person, who then whispered what she heard, and so on, until the last person in line said the word out loud. Somehow banana had transformed into Bad-Ass Anna. Maybe I'm remembering that wrong. Anyway, aside from the inherent hilarity, the point of the game, at least in my mind, was that people are terrible listeners and should pay more attention, or things can spin out of control faster than a rogue dreidel.
Take yesterday, for instance. Hubby's brother called the parents to check in, then called hubby: "Mom's taking Dad to the hospital." Then hubby called me. "My dad's in the hospital." "Why?" "His back." "Have you talked to your mom?" "I can't get her on the phone." Whereupon my reporter skills, mostly dormant since the '80s, rebooted. "Call the emergency room." "Why?" "It's the only way to find out what's going on." "Let's wait. I'm sure she'll call at some point." Hours went by with no updates. I filled in the blanks with worry and reckless Googling. Finally, I reached my mother-in-law at home: "What's going on?" "We just got back from the doctor." "The doctor? Not the hospital?" "Just the doctor." "Oh, thank God, we were so worried." "Sorry." "It's not your fault. There was some... confusion on our end. How is he?" "His back hurts. He'll have an x-ray next week." In terms of updates, not too terrible. We'll take doctor visit over hospital, any day of the week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The New Weather Gal

The SJG predicts a headache
In a shocking budgetary move, local TV station KSJG has replaced long-time weather gal Windy Weinberger with none other than the blustery station owner herself, the SJG.  Asked why she canned the popular weather gal's ass, the SJG turned testier than usual. "Who needs a meteorologist?  My head is a better barometer of weather patterns than anything Windy Weinberger can steal off the Weather Channel.  I could've had my sinuses reconstructed twice for what I spent hiring her away from KBCH.  All last week, the intense pressure on my left side indicated a sharp increase in temperatures by the weekend.  Was I wrong, Angelenos?  The fact that this morning, my throbbing head deeply resents motion of any kind means it drizzled last night and actual rain may or may not be on its way at some point. Trust me, people.  My head knows best.  So keep your brollies near by, and keep the hatemail to a minimum. Windy Weinberger has already landed a new gig at sister station WSJG, only because my head can't be in two places at once."

Monday, October 12, 2015

How Jews Celebrate Columbus Day

Dear SJG,
What do Jews eat on Columbus Day? Are there any restrictions I should know about? I'm having a few over for dinner tonight to celebrate this important holiday. I'd hate to offend them. They're the only people still talking to me.
People Pleaser

Dear Pleaser,
To Jews, Columbus Day is just another holiday to question and feel guilty about. They have no idea if it's a real thing, a made-up thing, a good thing, a bad thing. Where's the proof? If it's not in the Torah, why should we care? For all we know, the real hero of this bubbe meise is Mordechai, the Santa Maria's tailor and the only one brave enough to ask, "Did anyone bring some Dramamine? I'm feeling a little queasy." And yet, according to my friend Laurie Wiener Morgan, a maven on so many things I've lost count, Mordechai may not have been the only Jew on board. Supposedly, Columbus schlepped a number of Jews who were escaping the Spanish Inquisition. So, inviting members of the tribe to break bread on Columbus Day is a smart move on your part. If you want to score extra points, don't forget the party favors.  Matching T-shirts that say, "They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat," across the front will go far. After that, all you have to do is serve something delicious and stay away from politics.
You're welcome,

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Thank You For That

As everyone knows, or doesn't know, but should know, not that I judge, the reward for doing a mitzvah is to do another mitzvah. You do a good deed, go do another one. Not to be confused with pay it forward. That's when someone hands you money and instead of spending it on yourself, you spend it on the son who needs a new pair of Air Jordans. Why should he go without? What's that? I've mixed up the concept of pay it forward with the concept of enabling your children? So sorry. Let me circle back to my point: What's the reward for doing half a mitzvah? For that's all I did yesterday. Half a mitzvah. It wasn't a full mitzvah. Or was it? You decide:

Saturday afternoon, I took myself to the movies. This wasn't the original plan. But then, when do original plans ever come to fruition? We make plans and the Big Guy busts a gut laughing. The plan was for hubby and the SJG to go to the picture show. That was the plan, alright. Seats for two, please. On the aisle? Right this way. Pay online and hit print. Then came the phone call from the Big Shot friend who had another kind of ticket to dangle before hubby. Tix to the Dodger Game. Hmm... I wonder which one he picked? So, fine, I went by myself to see "The Intern." I sat there in the dark. I enjoyed the movie. I disappeared into Nancy Meyers Land. I didn't have to shush anyone. My definition of nirvana. And then I left. This is where the half a mitzvah comes in. As I moved toward the parking structure, trying not to faint from the 100 degree October heat, a gal came up to me. There was desperation in her eyes, a look I know all too well.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Long Distance

"Papa, can you hear me?"

That moment when you reach for the phone and dial Daddy.

Sheesh, you don't have to rub it in. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall Fashion Tips

"I can't believe she left the house looking like that." 
"She's taken schlumpy to a new level."

Exciting developments in the wardrobe of the SJG. The summer schlep-wear has been replaced by the fall schlep-wear. Slightly-stained tank tops I should be ashamed to wear out of the house, or even in the house, have given way to aging Gap T-shirts I should've tossed or cut up into rags. Unflattering drawstring shorts have been callously shoved aside by faded sweatpants that do my figure no favors. The secret to looking this schlumpy? If I tell you, I'll have to kill you, and at this point, my criminal record is more-or-less clean. The main thing is, don't think of your personal lack of style in negative terms. Think of your crappy-ass clothes as casual wear that's seen better days. Today's fashion tips: Stay comfy, my friends. Rotate the schlep-wear so you don't bore your family. Keep them guessing what you might blindly throw on your body this morning. Never look at yourself in the mirror. Never. But if you accidentally catch a glimpse of yourself, keep the screaming to a minimum. You don't want to scare the dog. And remember, by the weekend, the temperatures will climb back up into the '90s. Welcome back, drawstring shorts. Come to mama.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Here Comes The Boom

Every night at 7, we watch "Jeopardy!" just to make sure our brains are still working. Between hubby and the youngest and the SJG, we manage to get maybe 5 questions right. It isn't a lot, but it's enough to remind us that we've retained some information along the way. These days, "Jeopardy!" is our drug of choice, our big obsession, thanks, in great part, to 23-year-old paralegal Matt Jackson, the son of a liberal Jewish mother and a conservative Christian father. This guy just keeps winning. And winning. Eight nights in a row, so far. He's got a scary stare and an unsettling smile he only flashes at the beginning and end of the show. It's hypnotic and deeply disturbing. And when he gets a tough answer right, he smacks his fist and says, "Boom." Tonight, kina hora, he'll win again. And, God willing, again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

On The Prowl

Why are you looking at me like this is your breakfast? This isn't your breakfast. You've already had your breakfast. This is my breakfast. Capiche? My breakfast. Are we clear on that?

No? Alright. Allow me to clarify. The ding of the toaster means Mommy's breakfast. Mommy's. Not Dusty's. Mine. Not yours. Mine. Oh, fine. Here's a little taste. But that's all I'm giving you, beggar boy. Back off. Hit the road, you.

More? You want more? Sheesh. Absolutely not. Don't whine. One more taste and that's it. I mean it this time. You heard me. Look. All gone. Wait, here's a crumb...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Speak Up

Favorite line from "Airplane," uttered by Barbara Billingsley of "Leave It To Beaver": "Oh, stewardess, I speak jive."

Favorite line uttered in a dream last night by the SJG, apropos of bupkis: "I speak bagel."

Monday, October 5, 2015

That Sinking Feeling

Ethel Mermaid by Suzanne Staud

Dear SJG,
I'm a professional mermaid. That's right. You heard me. A professional mermaid. Plus, I can belt out a tune like nobody's business. What? You didn't know you can make a comfortable living as a singing mermaid? Well, you can. Unless someone steals your tail. Without a tail, you're not much of a mermaid. You're just a gal in a very tight dress. Do you have any idea how much a tail costs? A good one will set you back $2,700. This morning, I woke up on the bottom of the sea, on account of not having a tail. It's a good thing I'm part-amphibian or I'd really be in trouble. I think Esther, the flapper one rock over, stole my tail. But I don't know how to prove it. Any ideas? I don't do well on dry land.
Ethel Mermaid

Esther W., Suspected Tail Thief

Dear Ethel,
Condolences on the missing appendage. The only way to prove Esther is guilty is to set up a Mermaid Cam and catch her with your tail between her legs. 
You're welcome,

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I Married A Monkey

Here we are, Hippy Girl Adjacent and Monkey Hubby, on the way to my brother's Why-So-Early Halloween Party.

We entered at our own risk. That's just how we roll.

Spooky Mishpocha, or what? As Grandma Shorty stares down at us, portrait-side: Vague Approximation of Hippy Girl, Adorable Mother-in-Law as Baton-Wielding French Gendarme, Oh-So-Very Scary Clown Brother, Half-Hidden Manchester United Fan and Monkey Hubby.

Oh, look, more people who put little effort into their costumes, with the exception of my brother: Beer-Swigging Manchester United Fan, Increasingly Scary Clown, Wendy Peffercorn and Squint of "The Sandlot," aka Lovely Girlfriend and Eldest Son, and of course, Helmet Hair Hippy Girl. And with that, Why-So-Early Halloween comes to a close. And I only ate three fun-size M&M's. I'm saving myself for Actual Halloween. How's that for will power, bitches? Peace out.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Great Beyond

For months, Mrs. Pitzel had been nagging her husband to go with her to the seance parlor of Madame Freda. "Milty, she's a real gypsy, and she brings the voices of the dead from the other world. We all talk to them! Last week I talked with my mother, may she rest in peace. Milty, for twenty dollars you can talk to your zayde who you miss so much!" Milton Pitzel could not resist her appeal. At the very next seance at Madam Freda's Seance Parlor. Milty sat under the colored light at the green table, holding hands with the person on each side. All were humming, "Oooom, oooom, tonka tooom." 
Madame Freda, her eyes lost in trance, was making passes over a crystal ball. "My medium...Vashtri," she called. "Come in. Who is that with you? Who? Mr. Pitzel? Milton Pitzel's zayde?" Milty swallowed the lump in his throad and called, "Grampa? Zayde?" "Ah, Milteleh?" a thin voice quavered. "Yes! Yes!" cried Milty. "This is your Milty! Zayde, are you happy in the other world?" "Milteleh, I am in bliss. With your bubbie together, we laugh, we sing. We gaze upon the shining face of the Lord!" A dozen more questions did Milty ask of his zayde, and each question did his zayde answer, until,"So now, Milteleh, I have to go. The angels are calling. Just one more question I can answer. Ask. Ask." "Zayde," sighed Milty, "when did you learn to speak English?"

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Things People Say

"My father never lived to see his dream come true of an all-Yiddish-speaking Canada." -- David Steinberg
"Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies."  -- Milton Berle
"Hi, Mrs. Collier. I'm a Jew now. How are you?" -- Charlotte on "Sex and the City"
"What you don't see with your eyes, don't invent with your mouth." 
-- Jewish Proverb
"God, I know we are your chosen people, but couldn't you choose somebody else for a change?"-- Shalom Aleichem