Sunday, April 30, 2017

Because I Said So

It's well-established that I love Sundays. I just love them. I do. Not that I always did. I refer you to the painful and prolonged Sunday School Phase, a time of idle threats and a fair amount of yelling helpful things like, "Get in the car!" "Because I said so!" "A few hours won't kill you!" "I said GET IN THE @#$%'N CAR!" Oh, dear God, it was hell getting the sons to go to Sunday School at Temple Beth Bubbala. There were tears and slammed doors and some days, I just gave up and said, "Fine, stay in your room the whole day." There was just no way to make Sunday School look fun after a week of regular school and homework, especially when, as I backed out of the driveway with my Sunday School prisoners, other kids on the block were already playing basketball and riding bikes and making my job even harder. Luckily, this combined phase only lasted 10 years. By pick-up time, they were fine and no longer hated me for forcing them to go. The pay-off was a trip to McDonald's, proving, once again, that bribery works. Somehow, we survived the Sunday School Phase, and despite all the drama, the crying, the screaming, as a family, we retained our love of Sundays. The sons still like to spend Sundays with us, so maybe we did something right, after all.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Short Month? Blame This Guy

Lend me your Ray Bans, dude.

Once again, I find myself in a state of confusion. Once again, I must recite that nursery rhyme that goes something like this: "Thirty days hath September, April..." Uh-oh. Help me out here, folks. Oh, wait, I think I remember. "June and November..." Reciting this poem to myself, because I'm what the mental health professionals politely call "calendar challenged," brings up so many keppy-spinning issues. First up: Can I get a movement going that brings back the word "hath"? It just sounds so much classier than boring-ass "have." Next time I'm ordering take-out at Gelson's, an activity I do often and with gusto, I think I'll take "hath" for a test drive: "I'll hath the kale-quinoa salad. Does that hath an equal division of kale and quinoa or are you trying to pull one over on me, the best customer who hath ever entered this establishment? If that's the case, I'll hath to call the Better Business Bureau on you. Sorry, I hath to... I hath rights, ya know."

Next up: Why do we only hath 30 days this month? Personally, I'd prefer 31, if not 32. An extra couple of days might balance out my sad sleep deprivation. If this shortage of days isn't about me, than I ask you, who is it about, anyway? I'm glad you see my point. And yet, the reasoning behind the wonkiness of the calendar is so unreasonable, allow me to shrink it down to size.
Do you see the moon? Does the moon see you? Does the moon see somebody you want to see? Are you being followed by a moon shadow? Don't panic. It all comes down to moon cycles, not shadows, and the Greeks and the Romans and the realization that 60 days weren't accounted for, so the ancient peeps added January and February. Then, many many B.C.'s later, Julius Caesar stepped in and changed everything, making arbitrary executive orders. Imagine that! Caesar made January the start of the year, not March.
"Okay, okay, I'll put March back where it belongs." 

After Caesar plotzed on March 15th, those backstabbers renamed a month after him, which was very thoughtful. I'd like a month named after me, but I'm not willing to die for it. So. July is named for Julius C. Then the next ruler, Augustus, wanted his own month, and who can blame him. He called it, what else, August. But he was a little competitive. He wanted the same number of days as Caesar's month, so he stole a day from February. Now February only hath 28 days. But every four years, just to be nice, February hath 29 days. So. When you look at your calendar, smart phone or otherwise, and feel a little cheated, a little farklempt by the capriciousness of it all, remember, it's all Caesar's fault. If he'd just kept March in its original position, things might've turned out differently.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Do I Detect An Accent?

"You sound like an alien."

Soon, soon, the lucky SJG will travel to New York, a place everyone thinks I'm from, and who am I to argue? My whole life, people make assumptions about my birthplace. Why do people do that? Is it the Jewish demeanor that comes along with the package? It can't be the accent. I don't have an accent, New York or otherwise. My NY-born dad didn't have an NY accent. However, when called upon, he could do a pretty good NY accent. I, on the other hand, can only do a God-awful NY accent. Come to think of it, I can do many God-awful accents upon request.
You want my Eliza Dolittle? My French Maid? My Spanish Senorita? My OMG Valley Girl? My Hey Y'all Southern Belle? My Fargo-Inspired Minnesotan? Let me entertain you. Oh. You're more of a musical admirer? For you, I present my Ethel Merman rendition of "There's No Business Like Show Business." Not your cuppa tea? Fine. How about my Babs "Don't Rain On My Parade" anthem? No? What's wrong with you? Oh, I get it. You'd rather be regaled with my Cowardly Lion "Who Put The Ape In Apricot"? That, I can do. Or maybe you'd like a non-speaking, non-singing performance? I'm always ready with my Little Tramp Charlie Chaplin Strut. I know, I know, it's a miracle I didn't make it to Broadway. But soon, soon, I'll be Broadway-adjacent as an audience member, and at this stage, that's close enough.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ready To Walk

WGA Strike, CBS Radford, 2007

"What are you doing?"
"I'm walking."
"It looks more like you're pacing."
"There's a difference between walking and pacing."
"Go on."
"Walking requires intention. Pacing is a back-and-forth exercise in futility. With walking, you burn calories and get things done. With pacing, you burn brain cells and accomplish bupkis."
"So just now, what was your intention?"
"I was practicing."
"Practicing what?"
"My purposeful picketing."
"Does that mean what I think it means?"
"Yes. In a little while, I'll start chanting."
"Do you have to?"
"It's been 10 years since I chanted. I need to warm up."
"I can hardly wait."
"Hey, hey, ho, ho... something, something.... I forget the rest."
"Your chant needs work."
"I know."
"But you're good with the walking."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Flop Dress

In my mom's closet, there hung a spectacular, sleeveless gown, white and beaded, perfect for Cinderella.  As a very little girl, I'd visit the Cinderella gown and wonder when I'd get to wear it to the ball.  One day, I asked, "Is that the dress you got married in?" "No, honey, that's Mommy's Flop Dress."  Wait a minute.   That wasn't the right answer. It didn't sound like something out of a fairytale.  "What's a flop dress, Mommy?"  "I wore it to the opening night of Daddy's Broadway play. The play flopped.  So we call it the Flop Dress." The Flop Dress hung in my mom's closet for many years.  I'm not sure if she ever wore it again. I have no idea what happened to it.

At some point, Cinderella's gown disappeared altogether.  But the Flop Dress, as it's known in my family, taught me so much about life's crazy ups and downs: I learned it's important to look incredible for all important occasions, and to celebrate the moment with all you've got, because here's the deal.  Even though you might not know it at the time, that moment may never come again.  In my dad's case, one day you've got a play on Broadway -- a huge accomplishment, don't you think? -- even though the audience howled, the critics panned it -- bastards! -- and the next, you're packing up to go home.  Sometimes the dream is just getting there, getting to a coveted place you may never visit again.  So you might as well enjoy it while you can.

I'm pretty sure everyone has a Flop Dress hidden in the closet, a fab garment that takes on symbolism the longer it gathers dust. I've worn some pretty spiffy outfits in my time.  Some of them, I kept, some I gave away, but they're still hanging in my imaginary closet, reminding me of all the moments I still treasure, hit or miss. (4-9-13)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pet Lag

Sir Blakey at rest 

Definition of pet lag : a daily disruption of sanity and humanity, characterized by extreme fatigue, spontaneous napping and incoherent babbling, occurs following repeated 5 a.m. wake up calls, head butts and punim pawing, courtesy of a demanding yet lovable canine that needs to go potty and refuses to learn how to use a toilet.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Milk It

Throughout the day, the eldest son, just back from France, as opposed to his mother, just back from Gelson's, kept declaring, "I don't have any jet lag." This surprised me, a champion jet lag sufferer. Why suffer just a bit when you can suffer a lot? When given any opportunity to kvetch, I say milk it, baby. Why? I'll tell you why. Because if you don't milk it, someone else will come along with something more kvetch-worthy than jet leg, and your sad little issue will be minimized, and dare I say, overshadowed. Where's the fun in that? In response to his jet lag free declaration, I offered my congratulations. "I thought you'd be a zombie, honey, good for you." But I wasn't about to give up. I wanted to offer him a few more opportunities to milk it. Around 3, I asked again, "How you doing with the jet lag?" "I don't have any jet lag." Around 4, I inquired once more. "How's it going?" "No jet lag." "Wow. You must be superhuman, honey." "Mmmm..." "Huh? "Ummubba..." "What's that?"

Sunday, April 23, 2017

SJG In Retrograde

When things go wacky, why not blame Mercury in Retrograde? Everyone else does. For the SJG, this week has been what the astrologers call a mixed bag of bupkis. I've decided to blame Mercury in Retrograde, because according to my highly placed sources, it's happening right now! But what does it all mean, anyway? I'm so glad you asked. I'm the only one you know who's qualified to answer this, for the SJG is a former fake astrologer.
Maybe you know this about me.  Maybe you don't.  But I used to make up the horoscopes for ’Teen Magazine.  I was just out of college, a humble editorial assistant. When I wasn’t walking the publisher’s dog, making coffee, sorting through mail and answering the phone, I was concocting the anonymous monthly horoscope column. They pawned it off on the absolute lowest gal on the editorial food chain. You could not get any lower than me. I was the consummate flunky in every sense of the word. Every month I consulted a pile of worn-out astrology books for inspiration. Say I read that Sagittarians must tame their restless energy and need for personal independence. ’Teen readers would get a dose of the following nonsense:  “Good news! Success awaits you… as long as you don’t let that restless energy lead you astray. Stay focused and your smallest efforts will be rewarded!” After awhile, I got pretty good at it. My horoscopes weren’t half-bad. Letters poured in praising my astonishing accuracy.  One month, I even got it right for an entire class of fifth graders. That’s a lot of zodiac signs to tackle. I had hidden powers. Who knew?
So here's what the SJG knows about Mercury in Retrograde.  The planet slows down and appears to stop (spoiler alert:  optical illusion!) and move backward.  If you buy into this mishegas, you may feel totally meshuggah.  But just in case...  Don't leave your house.  Don't answer the phone.  Don't do anything.  Don't sign your name to anything.  Don't turn on anything electronic.  Don't talk to anyone. Just sit there like a big lump of angst and wait till it passes.  You're welcome. I'm here all week. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

How We Got Here

In honor of Earth Day, I'm re-sharing with you my sweet daddy's theory of how the Earth came to be. One month before departing for the Big Deli in the Sky, where they serve a bottomless bowl of matzoh ball soup and corned beef to die for -- see what I did there? -- he finally figured it all out, after reassuring us he wasn't going anywhere for at least 20 years: 

"So, how did we get here? Who decided, okay, I'll make a place and we'll call it Earth?  Maybe he was the producer, the money guy. And then someone else in the room, one of the writers, said, 'Earth?  Why are we calling it that?'  And the producer, said, 'Why not?'  No one had a good comeback, so the producer kept going.  'We need some people on Earth. How are we going to get people?  Hang on, I know. We'll start with a fish.' And then the same writer who thought Earth was a dumb name, said, 'A fish? Why a fish?' 'Why not?' the producer said. 'So this fish was swimming around in the sea and said, 'I'm tired of being a fish,' and walked out of the water and became a man. Wow. Then one day the former fish got lonely. So the producer, let's call him God, said, 'Listen, give me a rib and I'll make a woman for you.' And the former fish said, 'Why do I have to give you a rib?' 'Because I said so,' God said. 'You can give me a rib or I'll rip it out. Your choice.'  So the ex-fish said, 'Fine, I'll give you a rib, just make sure the woman is pretty.  I'm not giving up a rib for a dog.' And God said, 'I'll see what I can do. But I'm not making any promises.'" -- the late great Ben Starr

Friday, April 21, 2017

Where You Lead, I Will Follow

Just Blake and his shadow 
out for a walk on a very blustery day.

See how he humors me?

See how he poses with the roses?

@#$%! There goes my hat again. 

Don't worry, I got it back. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Land of Lavender

Who can resist a freebie?  Generally speaking, the SJG.  There are those who spend lunch at Costco, munching the complimentary hors d'oeuvres.  And then there's me.  I look at the tiny slices and cubes of who-knows-what in their little plastic cups, and I think, uh, no thanks.  My problem:  I don't see a free morsel of yum, I see a conspiracy, a pandemic, a Stephen King bestseller. I think, "Great way to poison an entire population."  This is sick and twisted, I realize.  I blame my suspicious nature on my Russian heritage, based primarily on one word:  "Run."  It's not just Costco and Trader Joe's goodies I avoid.  It's the free crap that comes in the mail, too.  Cute little boxes of cereal.  Demitasses of toothpaste.  A munchkin bar of soap.  I see these no-cost items and think, "Great way to poison an entire population."  What is wrong with me?
"I hear she's not into freebies."
So yesterday, when the invitation arrived to "Relax in the Land of Lavender," complete with a soupcon of wondrous body lotion, I decided to dig down deep into my soul and find a bisele trust.  I thought, oh, SJG, get over yourself.  Not everyone's out to get you. And besides, this sample comes from L'Occitane, for @#$%'s sake.  What's the worst that could happen?  Anaphylactic shock?  A rash the size of Sherman Oaks and parts of Encino?  Nothing a bucket of hydro-cortisone can't cure.  Empowered by my new-found attitude, I took a nice bath, I tore open the nice freebie, I slathered it on with abandon.  And instantly, I was transported.  I was right there en Provence, in a lush field of lavender.  "Aw," I said.  "How lovely."  I went downstairs and within seconds, hubby said, "What is that smell?" "It's me, my darling.  Your wife of 36 blissful years.  I just got back from the Land of Lavender.  You like?"  Between wheezes, he managed to say, "It's kind of strong."  "Too strong?"  "Little bit," he said, right before passing out.  Talk about a buzz kill. Sheesh.   "Back in a mo', sweetheart."  I went upstairs, took another bath and threw the sample of French lotion in the trash.  See?  I should've trusted my instincts.  When it comes to freebies, sometimes, it's better to pay retail.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Brief Musical Interlude

It's not often someone picks up a drum and performs a brief yet impressive solo mitten drinnen (in the middle of everything), as Grandma Shorty used to say. But last night, Joanie, my favorite 80-something jazz hands flasher, suddenly grabbed the drum conveniently located in the corner of the dance studio, and got busy. Her musical stylings? Simply riveting. Doug Rivera, our fearless teacher, Carrie and the SJG applauded, wildly. If you can't go wild in dance class, where can you go wild?
"Who knew you were a drummer?"
"Oh, I drum all day long."
"Do you now?"
"I'm always tapping my fingers on the steering wheel or on the counter."
"Another hidden talent." I said. "What else can you play?"
"Are you sure?"
"I used to play ukulele."
Not Joanie on ukulele

"It was very big when I was teenager. My mother bought me a beautiful ukulele. I still have it."
"Do you still play it?"
"No. But I should."
"I played piano for years," Carrie said. "I was terrible. My brother played the trumpet. He was terrible. But my dad played piano for Al Capone."
"Back up. What?!"
"In Chicago."
"That's crazy."
"And he drove the priest to give last rites at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre."
"I'm learning so much."
"My dad played trumpet, too," she said. "But when he enlisted, the army replaced all his teeth with fake ones."
"That was very common back then," Joanie said.
"Without his real teeth," Carrie said, "he couldn't play trumpet. He lost his 'trumpet' lip."
"His trumpet lip!" I said, not really sure what that was.
"But he still played the piano."
"Are you musical?" Joanie asked.
"I played piano for five years as a kid. I did a lot of cute little recitals. I can't remember anything. Other than 'Heart and Soul.' But I can still play guitar, sort of."
And there you have it. A brief musical interlude. If anyone out there is looking for entertainment -- a lousy piano player, a spontaneous drummer and a not-very-good guitarist -- the So-So Trio is available for weddings, bar mitzvahs and classy backyard soirees. We'll play for a free cocktail or two.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Mirror Has Two Faces

There comes a time in every short Jewish gal's life when she looks in the mirror, screams briefly, and sees someone different. Her face looks weary. Her eyes look tired. Her hair looks choppy and questionable. When a gal, a short Jewish gal, let's call her the SJG, looks in the mirror and sees her current punim reflected back, as opposed to her much younger punim, that short gal starts to wonder if, despite the punishing aging process, she can still be the same short gal she's always been:

Kvetchy? Impatient? All-knowing?

Can she look in that mirror and admit that at some point, she must let go of the changing table she used to diaper her sons on?  Can she accept that the changing table isn't going to change anything or anyone anymore, plus, it doesn't really fit with the Tuscan-style decor?

Can she continue to be the same gal she was before the summons for jury duty arrived yesterday like a sharp smack upside the head? At what point can she convince the court that her lifelong philosophy is the only one that matters:

"Your honor, I've decided I shouldn't mix in."

Monday, April 17, 2017

The SJG's 7-Day Guide To Detoxing

It's true, and feel free to quote me and pay me a royalty later. Every now and then, we must cleanse our souls of ickiness. We must rid ourselves of toxic forces. We must do some super New Agey metaphorical weeding. It took about 59 years, but I've finally figured out a low-cost, non-surgical way to restore my inner glow and make my psyche sparkle like new. And now, you can, too. Here's how, bitches:
Day 1: Avoid self-involvers
Day 2: Avoid non-apologizers
Day 3: Avoid buzz-killers
Day: 4: Avoid attention-grabbers
Day 5: Avoid nit-pickers
Day 6: Avoid energy-sappers
Day 7: Avoid finger-pointers

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Chaim The Bunny

Chaim the Bunny couldn't wait to compete in the SJG's Annual Egg White Scramble, but he wasn't sure if he was up for it.  Lately, he'd been feeling a little schva, a little schleppy. God forbid, he should drag his tail while the other Jewish bunnies were hopping their tushies off. So Chaim's mommy Chana took him to get diagnosed.  Dr. Krolik took one look at Chaim and said, "Someone's been over-thumping with the tootsies. You've got bunions. No wonder you don't feel like hopping." "But Dr. Krolik," Chaim said," "the Egg White Scramble's on Sunday.  I can't miss it." "Well, I'm afraid this situation calls for a specialist." He gave them a nice referral, and off they went to see Dr. Fuzzy, a fancy orthopedic surgeon in the hutch down the hall.  Dr. Fuzzy examined Chaim's back feet and said, "I've seen worse.  But listen, you're in luck. I've got an opening in my schedule right now."  Quick like a bunny, Dr. Fuzzy rushed Chaim into surgery, removed his back bunions, and he was good as new, more or less.  On Sunday, he took second place in the Oy Vey Relay.  "I probably could've used a few more days to recover," he told his mommy on the way home.  "But it was worth it just to see the look of misery on Yossele's face when he came in fifth."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Don't Forget To Smile

Dear SJG,
In a few weeks, I'm flying to New York. I'm a little terrified about "reaccommodation." Do you have any tips on how to avoid getting schlepped off the plane mid-air? Should I bring a parachute just in case? Please guide me.
Insecurely Yours,
Jittery in  Jacksonville
Dear Jittery,
They tend to "reaccommodate" you before take off, not mid-air, so leave the parachute at home. Here are a few handy survival tips:
1. Don't forget to smile. Smilers are treated better than non-smilers.
2. Don't forget to take your attorney along for the ride.
I'd loan you mine, but I've got Heidi Von Hearsay by my side 24/7. You just never know when a pesky legal issue might pop up.
You're Welcome,

Friday, April 14, 2017

139th Annual Matzoh Hunt

Not true! It's plenty fun.

On Good Friday, April 14, 2017, the Short Jewish Gal will host the 139th annual Passover Matzoh Hunt on the South Lawn of her sprawling Sherman Oaks estate. This year's theme is a lot like last year's theme: "Gimme Gelt!" More than 35,000 adorably rambunctious pishers are expected to join in the search for the afikomen. In an exclusive interview, the SJG admitted, "Listen, it's not that easy to find new places to hide a bunch of broken matzoh, but I feel confident that this year, I've outdone myself. The kids really have their work cut out for them. I won't give anything away, other than to say checking under all those 150-pound rocks may prove challenging. I've already thrown my back out twice." Today's event will feature the beloved Matzoh Ball Toss (don't worry, the matzoh balls are room temperature), cooking safety demonstrations, including "How To Chop That Apple and Slice That Brisket Without Losing A Finger," pre-recorded Passover music, the Haggadah Hora, and storytelling galore. You want to know how Moses parted the Red Sea in time to get to his grandma's seder? Ask the SJG. Passover ends on the 18th, so quick like a bunny, get your tickets for 139th Annual Matzoh Hunt. They're selling like hot kugel, but if you hurry, you can still score a couple for your kinder.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Four Questions of Easter

1. Why is it that on all other Sundays, we order an egg white scramble, but on this Sunday, we get a pink one, instead? 

2. Why is it that on all other Sundays, we eat Ghiradelli squares, but on this Sunday, they're shaped like silly rabbits?

3. Why is it that on all other Sundays, we schvitz at the gym, but on this Sunday, we find a sign that says Closed?

4. Why is it that on all other Sundays, we dance the boogaloo, but on this Sunday, we do the bunny hop?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

She Said "Oui"

The future Mrs. and Mr.

"Honey," I asked via VatsNu? "Now that you've posted it on Facebook and Instagram and thousands of your closest personal friends know, is it okay for me to mention it?" Ten hours later, on account of him being in France, he granted permission. "Of course," the eldest said, "go ahead, sweet Ma."

And so, I can share it with you, nice people. The SJG is going to be a mother-in-law. I ask you, is anyone better mother-in-law material than moi? Oh, you are? And you, too? Well, put another napkin on the Pinterest-inspired table, I'm joining your club. Assuming you'll have me as a member. 

Pardon my extreme kvelling, but it's not every day that your eldest son, the boychick you birthed in a cornfield in Tarzana, schleps all the way to France to give a gorgeous gal an engagement ring. They met here. She was doing an internship for a wine distributor. Then back to France she went, to finish her masters in international business. Somewhere along the way, these two lovebirds decided to bring the SJG vast quantities of joy and get hitched. Turns out, getting hitched involves two governments, a ton of paperwork, an immigration attorney and a lot of waiting for permission to marry. And you know how good my family is at waiting. Not good. Not good at all. If this doesn't test our limits of patience, nothing will. But today, I can share my joy with you. I've been waiting to tell you since February. Talk about self-control. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

It's The Yeast I Can Do

An early morning text from my childhood friend Nonie. Good thing I'm already up at 6:06 a.m. "Hi, any good recipe ideas for matzoh ball soup? I have never made it.... Happy Passover."  I text back: "The best recipe for matzoh ball soup is to ask my mother-in-law to make it."  
A Jew took his Passover lunch to eat outside in the park. He sat down on a bench and began eating. Shortly thereafter a blind man came by and sat down next to him. Feeling neighborly, the Jew offered a sheet of matzoh to the blind man. The blind man ran his fingers over the matzoh for a minute, and exclaimed, "Who wrote this?!"
A cranky man named Herbert sits at the Passover seder table. He speaks: "Why do I hafta sit at the kids' table? This stinks!! This really stinks!!" Moral:  No seder would be complete without the bitter Herb.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Definition of Awkward

"Five, not six, Ma! Five for Passover. Don't ask me why 
she isn't coming. She hates us, that's why." 

Today is National Siblings Day and the first day of Passover. Coincidence? The SJG thinks not so much. Some of us, maybe even many of us, are estranged from a sibling and/or a whole klump of relatives. Which means that on National Siblings Day, those in self-imposed exile won't be breaking matzoh with us on Passover, and to that, we must say, "Tough Torah. It's their loss." At some point in the past, those in self-imposed exile made a big tzimmes over something, or they thought we were the tzimmes makers. In any event: Cue The Estrangement!
Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

Maybe I've told you this, maybe I haven't, but when the SJG thinks of Passover, I get a little uneasy. Passovers at my grandparents' house were always a strained affair. For reasons that were never explained, my father's sister decided to sever ties with everyone, including her own parents. So every Passover, we'd sit on "our" side of my grandma's gigantic dining room table, and my aunt in absentia's husband and three daughters would sit on "their" side. It was the only time we saw them all year. Getting through those seders without mentioning "you know who" was the definition of Awkward. Luckily, the tendency to pretend everything's okay when it isn't has only stayed with me for my entire life.
"Elijah! Is that you?"

On those Passovers long ago, my family wasn't just waiting for Elijah, we were waiting to leave as soon as possible. Eventually, my grandma got too old to do Passover and we were all spared the annual awkwardness. The last time I saw my cousins was at my grandfather's funeral. By the time my grandma passed away, they were estranged from her, too. What was up with those people? I can't tell you because no one ever explained it.
Passover is about freedom. And yet, for some people, the shackles remain. They're enslaved by past hurts and never-ending resentment. After my father died, my eldest brother decided to follow in the footsteps of my ex-aunt and cut off ties, also without explanation. History repeats itself.
So on National Siblings Day, I salute my wonderful brother John, "the middle son," as my father called him, the one who sticks by me and keeps me going, who makes me laugh and shares my love of musicals and so much more.
What I'm trying to say is this: Happy Passover. Happy Siblings Day. May you learn to live with your estrangements as well as I have (more or less). And remember: If today isn't a great day to eat an extra chocolate dipped macaroon, what is?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bring Out The First Brisket

It's Sir Blakey's first Passover, which can only mean one thing. The Rescue Pup doesn't know from brisket. So here he is, standing watch, hoping for a taste.
Hubby tosses him a sliver, tiny but delish, and continues with the ceremonial brissing of the first brisket. This year, I tried something new. I made two smallish briskets instead of a giant one. Passover-wise, I like to part ways with tradition. I'm such a rebel. Somewhere up there, Grandma Shorty is shaking her head. "What do you need with two briskets? Just make a lot of dry chicken and no one will notice." Are you kidding, Grandma? This group notices everything.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Two Minute Passover Haggadah

I know, I know, you do an authentic seder that lasts hours and hours. You and your family reenact the Exodus from Egypt and post it live on Facebook. My people aren't that patient, or just between us, interested. My people are of the "cut to the chase, let's eat" variety. Many years of hosting, not to mention attending, Passover seders have taught the SJG that my tiny yet meaningful tribe can't even get through a five minute seder without turning it into a Borscht Belt routine. So last year, I came up with the speediest haggadah on the planet, with a little help from the Internet. It is my gift to you. You're welcome. 
Welcome to our Seder! It’s time to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt.
Baruch ata adonai eloheinu melech haolam, borei pri hagafen.
Let’s say another prayer:
Baruch Ata Adonay Elohenu Melech Ha-olam, She-hechiyanu, V’kimanu, V’heegianu, La’zman hazeh.
[Holds matzoh high ]
This is the poor man’s bread that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. They didn’t have time to let it rise. They had to get the hell out. This year we are here, next year let’s celebrate in Jerusalem. (Or Sherman Oaks.) This year we are slaves, next year may we be free! Woo hoo!
Now, let’s say the four questions:
1. What's up with the matzoh?
2. What's the deal with horseradish?
3. What's with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What's this whole reclining at the table business?
Here’s the short answer. We were slaves in Egypt. Moses said to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” Pharaoh said, “No!” Then God punished him with 10 plagues… too disgusting to mention. Frogs, blood, etc. We didn’t have enough time to wait for the bread to rise, so we made a big batch of matzoh and fled. Not that it was easy. First Moses parted the Red Sea and then we got a little lost in the desert. But only for 40 years. The matzoh, the horseradish, the bitter herbs… all represent how we struggled as slaves to break free. Tonight we recline to celebrate our freedom! Woo hoo!
[Raise glass]
Everybody Drink! Everybody sing!
Everybody sing DAYEINU:
Day-day-einu, Day-day-einu, etc.  
So. What’s with this cup of wine that nobody drinks? That’s for Elijah, the prophet who may or may not show up to announce the arrival of the Messiah!
Welcome back, Elijah! Come recline with us!
Every year, we come together on Passover. Why? I’ll tell you why. So we can feel like WE left Egypt, too. Message received! So let’s thank God (or, if you prefer, the Universe) for the miracles of the Exodus. Looks like we made it after all!
In conclusion, they tried to kill us, they failed. Let’s eat!