Sunday, January 4, 2015

For the Sake of Humor


It seems that lately my family has invented a new recreational sport, namely, having a laugh at my expense. I’m worried that this is a trend for the new year. Mirth manufactured via a misinterpretation, misrepresentation, or mangling of something Mom did or said is gaining momentum. (That sentence is way too alliterative, I really ought to separate those “m”s.)

The first instance of making a joke by maligning Mom came to my attention the week before Christmas, when my daughter posted on her father’s Facebook page “I know that Mom cancelled Christmas, but is there a little something you want that I could get for you?” Wait, what?! Mom cancelled Christmas?! First of all, I’m not that powerful. If I can’t get Oprah to read my novel, then how would I manage to talk Santa into curling up by the fire with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” instead of flying around the world in a magical sleigh? Case in point, Christmas came, didn’t it? What actually happened, for the official record, was that I negotiated an agreement with the family this year that involved minimizing gift expenditures so we can save our money to travel for family get-togethers in 2015. Ron and I, our children, and our children’s “others” (one of whom became a legitimate wife in 2014) have agreed to meet up in SoCal for a long weekend over the summer. I will have the money to pay for this weekend because I didn’t spend it on Christmas. Other projected travel is associated with our deal. I call it the 2014 Treaty of Bypassing Best Buy. (What about alliteration as a trend for 2015? I prefer that to dissing the Mom for a  cheap laugh.)

So you see that I did not cancel Christmas. I simply masterminded a family pact to have a non-consumer holiday. After my daughter’s post on Facebook, a thread of comments  ensued speculating about how Grinch-y I am. Sheesh. I am not a Grinch. I have more hair than the Grinch. I am not a Scrooge. I have less money than the Scrooge. I love Christmas. It’s my favorite goyishe (i.e., non-Jewish) holiday. I have personally watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” more times than Bush was filmed saying “mission accomplished” before they got a credible take they could use. Christmas is a sweet, old-fashioned holiday that brings out the best in people. I adore the Christmas spirit. Do not believe everything you read about me on Facebook, particularly if written by a member of my immediate family.

I was again misunderstood when I lost miserably in a cutthroat card game of Philadelphia 1500 on Christmas Day. On the previous evening, which was Christmas Eve, because I am (take note) incapable of cancelling Christmas, my son Sudi bested me and Ron at this card game and my darling son found it amusing to put the score sheet, demonstrating my dreadful score, in my Christmas stocking. This gift runs a close second to a lump of coal, however it is in keeping with the Treaty of Bypassing Best Buy, so I left the score sheet in the stocking. Yael arrived on Christmas Day, and the four of us sat down to a game of 1500. Sudi once again won, in a close race, surpassing my score in the very last hand, despite the fact that my chosen card-playing team name was Seabiscuit. He celebrated by grabbing a refrigerator magnet from the side of my stainless steel refrigerator and sticking the score sheet to the front of the fridge. An aside about a very important law of physics is necessary at this juncture. You may or may not know that magnets do not stick to stainless steel. For this reason, I do not have any magnets holding anything to the front of my fridge, only to the sides, which are made of a magnetic variety of metal. I trust you can imagine my astonishment when Sudi’s magnet held the score sheet to the stainless steel surface on the front of the fridge. “How did you get that to stick?” I blurted, with a level of shock and surprise equivalent to that of the original cavewoman who inadvertently invented fire. “It’s magnetic!” Sudi replied, which dissolved Ron, Yael, and Sudi in laughter. “Is that why you don’t have any magnets on the front of your fridge?” Yael asked, gasping, holding her sides. “Because you didn’t think they would stick?”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I am not the ding-dong I appear to be. When I originally bought my fridge, no magnets would stick to the stainless steel front. Seriously, magnets do not stick to stainless steel. If you don’t believe me then google it. I demonstrated this to my children on Christmas by attempting to stick a magnet to a stainless steel serving dish. It would not stick. But my children were having too much fun laughing at me to follow the calculus of the complex rocket science involved in my demonstration. (Perhaps I should have googled it for them.) Here is the backstory. In the recent past, my original fridge succumbed to a premature meltdown comparable to the melting of the polar ice caps. The meltdown was so rare that the refrigerator repairman took photographs to accompany the article he intended to write for The New England Journal of Refrigerator Diseases after he hauled my old fridge away. Fortunately, my warranty covered replacement and I received a brand new fridge that is a newer model. Unbeknownst to me, until Christmas 2014 following a (disastrous) game of 1500, the new model has a new feature. Some type of metallic material has been added to the stainless steel on the front of the fridge so that now, not previously, but now, magnets will stick to it. My children, however, are having too much fun saying, “it’s magnetic,” and then falling on the floor laughing, to listen to my backstory. I am quite certain that far into the next century my great-great-grandchildren will turn to one another at Christmas and say “it’s magnetic,” and laugh their heads off without even remotely remembering how or where the expression started.

I became 100% certain that I have become the preferred brunt of family jokes when I received my brother’s holiday letter in the mail. He wrote, “Today is the first night of Hanukkah. This year, Aunt Amy, now a certified nutritionist, sent the kids seaweed instead of Hershey kisses. As the excitement dies down, Anna and Ben head off somewhere gagging on seaweed.” This is a remarkably backstabbing stretch of the truth. It is true that I sent the kids seaweed. HOWEVER, I also sent them a LOT of extremely high quality expensive organic delicious dark chocolate in many flavors, including orange and mint. Some with almonds. Some were a variety of dark chocolate peanut butter cups so supernaturally tasty that you could possibly see God (or at least Elvis) if you ate more than two in a row. I dare you to find an experience like that at your local grocery. But does my brother mention this blindingly delicious chocolate in his poison-pen holiday letter? No. He informs everyone he knows, including all his relatives (who also happen to be my relatives) that I sent his children seaweed, and nothing but seaweed, for Hanukkah. I am considering writing a rebuttal to my brother’s holiday letter. In it I will point out that my nephew happens to like seaweed snacks as much as I do. If you have never had a Seasnax onion-flavored seaweed snack then put it on your shopping list and slam a refrigerator magnet on that puppy, my friends. (I have it on good authority that the magnet will actually stick to your stainless steel refrigerator if you are lucky enough to have the newest model because IT’S MAGNETIC – brahahahah.) 

When I kvetched (i.e., whined, groveled, complained, wallowed in self-pity; and, in this case, played the Jewish Mom Card) to my brother for mis-portraying my Hanukkah gift, he defended himself (can you believe this?) by saying that he took some literary license for the sake of humor. “It was much funnier to omit the chocolate and say that you just sent seaweed, wasn’t it?” he asked. Unfortunately, I had to agree with him that it is often worth the literary license to go for the humor, but I am really not sure how much I am willing to personally sacrifice for the sake of humor. If 2015 continues in this vein, we could be in for a lot of laughs at my expense. It will take a copious amount of high quality dark chocolate to appease me if this is the case (take heed my malicious brother and children). Excuse me, it just occurred to me that I might be able to discover an important new law of physics if I can attach seaweed to the front of my stainless steel refrigerator with a magnet and I must go experiment.



I googled "seaweed and dark chocolate" and found this photo of a variety of 
dark chocolate with seaweed flakes embedded in it. Yum. 

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