Monday, April 20, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
In honor of the start of Passover, I thought I'd share my own experience of my first Seder dinner with my family. For those of you who don't know, Seder dinner happens on the first two nights of Passover, which lasts for eight days. Everyone at the table reads from a book called a haggadah, which tells the story of when the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians under the rule of the Pharaoh Ramses II.
During the Seder, four glasses of wine are served (grape juice for the kids--unless they're the sneaky type) to represent the four stages of the flight from Egypt. Now, in most Jewish households, the four glasses are reduced to four sips, because it's only symbolic anyway and well, four glasses is a hell of a lot of alcohol--even for religious purposes.
My mother has always been somewhat of a teetotaler, has always been greatly affected by liquor, even in small amounts, so it was with great surprise when, after taking the obligatory sip of wine, a familiar motherly voice shouted, "Damn it, if we're going to do this thing, we're going to do it right! Now everyone start chugging!"
Passover just got a lot more interesting.
A fifth glass of wine is poured for the prophet Elijah, in anticipation of his return, upon which the Messianic age will begin. The Messianic age is the time when the messiah returns to earth and restores peace and prosperity to earth. This sounds great in theory, but for those who aren't pure Jewish (such as myself), the whole peace and prosperity to the earth thing gets a bit overshadowed by the fact that we won't be here to enjoy it. Bummer.
Near the end of Seder dinner, the head of the household ceremoniously opens the front door to invite Elijah in so he can enjoy that glass of wine set out for him on the table. As tradition dictated, my father got up from the table and opened the front door, just out of eyesight from the dinner table. No sooner did he crack open the door, when we heard a loud "Whoosh!" blow past and hurried steps racing through the door.
"It's Elijah! It's Elijah! Oh man, why did he choose us? Only one of us is even Jewish!" my mom screamed. My six-year-old nephew dived for cover under the table and cried.
"Everyone settle down!" my dad bellowed, "It was the cat. I can't believe we left her outside this entire time. She's a wreck!"
Upon hearing the happy news, my mom said, "Well then, I guess Elijah won't be needing this!" and downed the fifth glass of wine.
After peace had been restored and more glasses of wine poured, my nephew set out in search of the afikomen--a piece of matzoh that is hidden at the start of the meal. When the afikomen is found, the "finder" (usually a kid) receives money from whoever at the table has a ten.
Of course, the adults at the table use afikomen time to kick back and relax--usually not with Elijah's cup of wine, but we were new to the whole Seder scene. After an hour had gone by, however, we began to get a little worried. "Hon, where the heck is the matzoh?" my mom asked my dad.
"I wish I could remember."
"Oh, you're useless!"
"Well, I'm not the one who insisted on drinking a bottle of wine! Excuse me if my afikomen-remembering-skills are down."
"Would someone please go help the poor boy," my mom sighed.
The hunt was on as me and my semi-drunk sisters searched every nook and cranny of my parent's mammoth 21 acre spread. Two hours and a hangover later, we still hadn't found the afikomen. We slowly, painfully, walked back to the table in defeat.
My sister slumped down in her chair. "Man we are so bad at Seder."
The cat jumped in her lap. "How's it goin', Elijah?" she joked. "Hey... what have you got in your mouth, cat?"
Seeing as she had found the elusive matzoh, my dad had no choice but to award the cat the prize money. She gladly accepted in catnip.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
"Put her down!" I yelled. "I saw you with that Long Island Iced Tea. You are way to intoxicated to be throwing people in the air like that!" Of course, he was also too drunk to hear a word I was saying, so I said a little prayer for my friend and went back to dancing. I had no choice! "Just Dance" was playing and I had to abide. Don't judge me.
No sooner had I just sung "what's goin' on on the floor?" along with the genius that is Lady Gaga, when a guy started dancing with me. He was cute, but short. He kind of reminded me of Little Mac, the boxer from that old Nintendo game, Punch Out:
In any case, I didn't have much of a choice but to dance with him--the guy was super strong (obviously all those matches with King Hippo had paid off for the little guy) and had a good grip around my waist. I shrugged and went with it for a while. He was actually a good dancer. He dipped and twirled me around like a pro. I was just about to tell him I needed to take a break and get a drink, when I felt myself being lifted off my feet and suddenly rocketed up over the masses.
"Shitballs!" I screamed. No, I am not making this up. Apparently, under extreme duress, I take to screaming like a ten-year-old playing dodge ball at recess.
No sooner had the strange choice of swear word left my lips, when I was thrown back down, so that my head was inches from the floor, and then violently lifted upright again, feet finally back on the floor where they belonged. Obviously these guys had been watching way too much Dirty Dancing.
"What the hell was that?" I yelled.
"My signature move."
"Yeah? Well, this is mine," I said as I started to walk away. I'd gotten maybe a step away when I felt myself being lifted off the ground again. Son of a ...
"Aah! Put me down! Put me down!" But it was too late. I was airborne once again. And I hate flying. Despite being scared out of my mind, I was pretty impressed that he could lift me so high. I'm not exactly the 100-pound lightweight I used to be--in fact, I'm not sure I ever was. I think I must've been born with a slice of birthday cake already in hand.
Despite my protests, I ended up dancing with this guy for a good hour or so, getting lifted off my feet no less than six times throughout. Afterward, he got my number and I went home, thankful to be off the Market.
I had just settled in for the night when my phone buzzed. It was Little Mac. "Come out to Marlborough St. There's an after hours going on and I want to see you," he'd texted.
It was 2 am and I was on the couch watching Zoolander with a huge bacon and pineapple pizza, some of which had landed on my nightie. There was a less-than-zero chance I'd be making it out for a party in my condition, so I ignored him.
Now what happened next I can only describe as pure booty call desperation, a move so strange I couldn't make it up if I tried. I received a text that I will never erase, for on my darkest of days, I will be able to look at this text ... and laugh my ass off:
"Every once in a while you run into the potential for greatness. Tonight is the realization of the greatness. You should be a part of it."
Not only is this text remarkable for what it's saying--whatever the hell that is; I still haven't cracked the code--but it was also perfectly spelled and punctuated. None of this "2nite is the reelzashen of gr8nes" crap--at two in the morning! And after who-knows-how-many Red Bulls and vodkas. What can I say? The copy editor in me was astounded.
Needless to say, I ignored the text, but I have to say--I appreciated the effort. I mean, how many girls can honestly say they had once run into the potential for greatness? Sure, I didn't realize the greatness, nor was I a part of it, but I'd had the chance, damn it, I'd had the chance.