On Friendship

hands

I’ve been thinking about friendship a lot lately, and I have a few questions.  What does it mean “to be friends with” another person?  And why is it that men and women seem to have vastly different concepts of friendship?

I ask these questions because the whole friendship thing remains a mystery to me.  I’ve always been more of a loner type, like my father.  The idea of willingly spending large amounts of time in the company of someone of the same gender has never really rubbed off on me.

In my Jewish elementary school, I had a few friends, but my mother urged me not to call them that.  “They’re not your friends, they’re playmates,” she’d insist.  In third and fourth grade, my favorite playmate was Chaim, but the next year we had a fight over some trivial thing, started pulling each other’s hair, and that was pretty much the end of it.  It would never have worked out anyway.  I hear he became super Orthodox, while I defected to the secular world.

Back then, it seemed that friendship was a kind of bargaining chip, coin of the realm that could be spent to purchase favors.  “I’ll be your best friend” was often the whining refrain when one kid was trying to coax another to do his bidding.

I had what I thought was a good friend in sixth grade, but then came the macrocosm of junior high and we drifted off in separate directions.  Even in high school, a year seemed to be the statute of limitations on anything approaching friendship.

I guess I’ve always done my own thing.  I never wanted the kind of commitment that friendship implied.  It was just too much work.  Why would you want to waste hours of precious time allowing another to cry on your shoulder?  Get a life, I would think.  If you need to unburden yourself of your problems, find a good therapist.  At least they get paid to listen to your insipid whining about your evil boss and your even more evil mother-in-law.

I do realize how fortunate I am.  I have a wonderful boss and a delightful mother-in-law.  I’m sorry that you don’t.  Sucks to be you, but I really don’t want to hear it, certainly not when it’s the same dumb thing over and over again.  I don’t mean to sound cruel and heartless, it’s just that I have problems of my own and I lack the emotional energy to deal with yours also.

I must say that, despite how cliché this has become, my wife really is my best friend.  She understands me on a level that no one else does.  She knows what I’m thinking almost before I think it.  I don’t feel comfortable making any decision without consulting her — not because I feel the need to ask for permission (although it doesn’t hurt!), but because she consistently has insights that never would have occurred to me.

The funny thing about my wife, though, is that, unlike me, she has many friends.  Some of her friendships stretch back to childhood days while others are of more recent vintage.  Either way, she has the knack for the proper care and feeding of a friendship so that it stays healthy and matures over the years.  I am envious.

The gender stereotypes surrounding friendship are many.  Men friends watch sports together; women friends go shopping together.  Men friends pump fists, arm wrestle, borrow each other’s tools and go out drinking together.  Women friends gossip about mutual acquaintances, swap kid stories and meet at Starbucks to get away from the house and console each other regarding their mean ol’ husbands.

Aha!  It’s obvious now.  Male friendships are largely physical, while female friendships are largely emotional.  No wonder women’s friendships are more sustainable.  The physical can only last so long.  The emotional, on the other hand, is much deeper and has the potential to continue indefinitely.

The problem with stereotypes, however, is that they are usually false, even when accepted to the point of becoming conventional wisdom.  Lately, I seem to keep running across guys who serve as emotional support for one another.  You see this on TV all the time, from the 1980s show thirtysomething to the current Mad Men.

Perhaps I am just a sexist old fart, but despite the feel-good man buddy stuff on TV, I believe that women tend to have longer, stronger friendships because they are often better communicators.  Even in this modern age, there are still plenty of men out there who don’t feel comfortable talking about their feelings.  In my experience, it is more common for women to be willing to share openly with others and to have the kind of empathy that is the stuff of which good friendships are made.  A lot of men could take a lesson from this.

As for myself, I am forced to conclude that my lack of long-term friendships is a product of self-centeredness.  Any type of relationship is an equation in which the two sides must balance.  In terms of quantity, you only get out of it as much as you put into it.  Or in terms of quality, the GIGO rule applies (garbage in, garbage out).

On the other hand, I don’t feel as if my life is in any way diminished by a lack of close friendships.  Between our extended family and my many acquaintances at work, there are more than enough significant people in my life already.

But I still admire those who cultivate friendships early and then nurture them for decades.  Somehow, that seems like something special.

 

Bug Off!

yellow jacket

I do not like bugs.

I know, I’ve heard it all, they were here before us and they’ll be here long after the human race has gone extinct.  Blah blah.  I just wish they’d go somewhere else.

Whether they are insects, arachnids or arthropods, to me they are just bugs, slimy and disgusting.  And unless they’re going to help with the rent, they’d better stay out of my house.

All kinds of colorful creatures have taken up residence here in the desert.  We have centipedes, millipedes, scorpions and hairy, poisonous spiders.  Then there are the reptiles —  the snakes and lizards that play among the cacti.

Honestly, I don’t mind if the critters stay out in the uninhabited areas of sand, but they really are not needed here in town.  There is nothing quite like the feeling of thinking you may have seen, out of the corner of your eye, a lizard dart around the corner and into the kitchen.  They may not knock or ring the bell, but believe me, they manage to get in.

Even regular garden variety bugs gross me out.  This not a new thing for me, either.  When you’ve lived in New York City, you know about cockroaches in intimate detail.  I grew up squashing them, both the regular kind that just went CRUNCH underfoot and the big ol’ ones we called waterbugs that could fly and went SPLAT (and made an awful mess) when you stepped on them.  In junior high, I did a book report on a volume with the unlikely title of Nobody Loves a Cockroach… or Fly, Ant, Bat, Rat or Other Creeping, Crawling Flying Pests which Menace Our Daily Lives.  My sentiments exactly.

For some reason, as a kid I was deathly afraid of the creepy, but harmless, arachnids that we called daddy-longlegs.  They seemed to spin webs in every dark corner.  We would destroy their silky residences with a broom, preferably one with a very long handle.

I did chase after, catch and collect butterflies as a kid, but to me, those didn’t count as insects.  They were just too beautiful.  So I killed them and mounted them on Styrofoam.

Things changed for me just slightly when my mother was going to college and took a course in entomology.  I learned the name Coleoptera and grudgingly admitted that ladybugs were actually pretty awesome.

My sisters and I used to pick fat, hairy caterpillars off my mother’s rose bushes and once, we set one of them in a jar with some leaves to watch it spin its cocoon on the way to becoming a monarch butterfly.  Whenever we returned home at night, my father would be the first to enter the house in the dark and grab the can of Raid to end the lives of any critters that appeared when he turned the lights on.  He was quite surprised the time that something flew into his hair.  When the lights came on, we found an empty pupa and a butterfly to shoo out of the house.

The thing I was really scared of was being stung by a bee or a wasp.  My mother would tell us horror stories of how painful that experience was for her, and she’d been stung more than once.  Beehives and wasp’s nests appeared almost every summer and had to be removed by my father.

Aside from the wasps and hornets, the insects I feared most were the fat, lazy yellow jackets, which seemed to come after you, particularly if you were wearing a bright color.  These guys were actually wasps, and they had a way of mistaking a person’s yellow or pink shirt for a flower.

Coward that I am, I still fear being stung by one of those things.  Today, for example, I opened the door to the patio at work, then quickly ducked inside when I noticed a yellow jacket hanging around our picnic table.  I had one of my coworkers go outside with a seat cushion as a weapon to chase it away.  Don’t go thinking he’s so brave; when a cricket gets into the office, he is petrified and I’m the one who has to capture it.  Sure, it’s an insect, and my life would not suffer a bit without it, but at least it doesn’t sting or bite.

But ‘tis the season, as our desert temperatures soar above 90°F and all the little insect eggs hatch, bringing the creepy-crawlies once again among us.  Sure enough, when I arrived home after work and opened my car door, there to greet me was another of those stinging things.

It wasn’t the yellow jacket’s fault.  I was wearing a pink tie and it mistook me for a rose.

 

 

Slouching Toward Vegetarianism (or, the Journey of a Jewish Vegetarian)

tuna veggies

I am not a vegetarian, although people often think I am.

“You don’t eat meat, so you’re a vegetarian!” is what I commonly hear from family and friends.  To a vegetarian, however, I am definitely not a member of the brotherhood because I do eat fish.  While an ovo-lacto-vegetarian (one who eats eggs and dairy products) might bear grudging acceptance into the family even by vegans, I don’t expect to garner much sympathy when I explain that I am a… pesco-vegetarian.

I have flirted with vegetarianism since the age of 17, and my enthusiasm for that way of life has waxed and waned along the way.  After decades, I still consider myself a work-in-progress.

I was raised in a Jewish, kosher home as a dedicated carnivore.  We ate hamburgers all the time, as well as chicken, hot dogs, turkey, lamb chops and (yuck!) liver.  For a very special occasion, my mother might prepare a roast beef in the oven or a potful of flanken in tomato sauce.  For years, my favorite was beef tongue, which I’d get once in a while as a treat when my mother would cook the whole tongue in sweet and sour sauce with cabbage and raisins.  Delicious!

Of course, we lived in the suburbs of New York City, a three-minute drive from two kosher butcher shops (a little farther into town there were a couple more).

I don’t think I ever heard of vegetarians until I went away to college.  I certainly had never met one.  My freshman year of college was a rather eye-opening experience in that regard.

Two things happened early in my first semester.  First, I began eating at the dining hall with other guys from my dorm.  Not being Orthodox, this didn’t bother me any.  I just skipped the meat and subsisted happily on the salad bar, hot veggies, potatoes and lots of chocolate milk.  And tuna sandwiches for lunch.

I soon became aware that there was a small steam table set up in the corner of the dining hall to accommodate the vegetarians on campus.  I began trying out their food and I liked it!  Well, mostly.  You can only eat rice in tomato sauce for so long before you get sick of it.  The commercial food service people who ran the joint were singularly uninspired when it came to vegetarian fare.  But that was cool; I knew there’d be cake and ice cream for dessert.

I think some of the vegetarians looked askance at me, taking food from both lines like some kind of hybrid, neither fish nor fowl.

I soon noticed that there was also real kosher food available!  As in… meat!  In the lobby of the dining hall, some Chassidim (in retrospect, they were probably from Chabad) set up a little kitchen with hot steam tables full of flanken, cholent, potato kugel, etc.  I took a look one day, then said “no, thanks” and left.  I wanted to go upstairs and eat with my friends.  Besides, I wanted my ice cream!  I quickly discovered that one of the joys of never being fleishig was always being able to have ice cream for dessert.

Sadly, the little kosher kitchen soon went away for lack of interest.  I still feel guilty for contributing to that back in 1976.

The second thing that happened is that I ran into a group of hippies who were starting a food co-op.  They were very accepting of students of all faiths and attitudes toward vegetarianism, and I soon began to run with that crowd.

Almost everyone in the co-op was vegetarian, each for their own reasons.  One had religious reasons (I believe he was a Sikh, although I had never heard that word at the time) and some had health concerns, but most just wanted to save the world.  Not only did they have ethical qualms about killing and eating animals, but they believed that the vegetarian lifestyle is the only ecologically sustainable one.  Also, they saw nuclear power as a threat to mankind and some of them demonstrated at nuke plants and got arrested, but that is another story.

My new friends were open to all varieties of vegetarianism, and they introduced me to many new foods.  For one thing, I had never eaten an avocado before!  (Unthinkable in California, but more common that you may imagine in New York.)  I also tried hummus and tabouli for the first time and learned strange words like “tahini,” “tamari” and “miso.”

The following year, I transferred to a different college where thousands of students were Jewish, some of them even Orthodox, and there was a regular kosher kitchen open for dinner seven nights a week.  It cost a little extra, but I felt it was worth it.  I ate meat every day.

Still, the pull of fish and vegetables was strong.  The college had a little satellite campus downtown; I often took the bus down there after classes on Friday to eat with the graduate students.  No kosher kitchen there, but I knew Friday was fried fish night, and I was all about that.

After college, I moved back home, got a job and continued on my kosher meat-eating ways.  After working a year at minimum wage, I switched to a much better-paying job at another company, working the 7 am to 3:30 pm shift.  When I got off work in the afternoon, most days I’d head straight for the kosher deli located about a half-mile from our house.  Living at home, I was flush with money and had few expenses, so I treated the kosher deli as if it was my corner bar, parking myself on a stool at the counter for a couple of hours and befriending all the employees.  I don’t even want to think about how much money I left in that place.

Not long after, some of the deli employees bought out another kosher deli in the next town and I began to hang out over there.  I simply could not get enough matzo ball soup and tongue sandwiches.

After 6½ years in the workforce, I saw my job as about to be phased out due to budget exigencies and advances in technology, so I bolted for New England to attend graduate school full-time.  I roomed, along with several other students, at the home of a pair of empty-nesters who had a huge house full of unused bedrooms.

For a while, I would periodically transport kosher meat from New York, but then I discovered that our college town did have one small kosher butcher shop.  I didn’t cook much, but I did go over there to buy kosher cold cuts when I had some extra money.

When I completed graduate school, I sat myself down to ask some hard questions such as “what do I really want to do with my life, anyway?”  That led to the further question of “is this who I really want to be, and if not, what changes can I make to head in that direction?”  One of my decisions was that I could no longer in good conscience be a party to the murder of animals for the sake of human enjoyment.

And what I was going to do about fish?  It was my mother’s question when I announced my decision.  I had to admit that I hadn’t figured that out yet.  I knew in my heart that it would be difficult indeed to give up my beloved salmon, tuna and halibut.

Initially, I experienced several episodes of what can only be called backsliding.  I had moved back to New England, but to an area where there were no kosher butchers locally.  So I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised to find that I could not seem to break free of Hebrew National salami — about the only type of kosher meat I could get.  I would go along nicely with my fish and veggies for several weeks or even a month before that old salami craving would return and I would succumb to temptation.  It took a couple of years for me to realize that what I was really craving was not those greasy bullets that I would cut up in chunks, but the garlic that they contained.  Now I add garlic to just about everything and I have been meat-free for more than twenty years.

About five years ago, however, I began questioning my fish-eating ways.  I think this whole thing started when I viewed a pretty graphic PETA video online about how fish are caught and what is done to their bodies after they are removed from the water.  When I mentioned this, several of my acquaintances made comments along the lines of “You’re not supposed to think about it so much.  Just eat it.”  Um, excuse me?  That’s when my light bulb went off:  People would not be able to eat meat if they thought for a minute about what happened to the poor animal.  But they enjoy the taste of meat and they are used to eating it, so they accommodate by simply not thinking about it.  I think this is a little like allowing homelessness to continue by averting our gaze when we encounter raggedy beggars in desperate need.  But, friends, ignoring these things do not make them go away!  On the contrary, “not thinking about it” perpetuates misery, both human and animal.

To make matters worse, it turned out that my rabbi and I had philosophical differences regarding the eating of meat.  Aside from my ethical qualms, I believe that the Torah shows that while meat-eating is permissible, it is definitely not the preferred way to go.  As far back as Genesis, the Lord gave Adam every green plant as food.  The animals he named, but it was the plants that he ate.  That is, until “the fall.”  It seems that, in a perfect world without sin, we would be plant-eaters, while sin gave rise to the killing of animals and the consumption of their flesh.  Then there is the little matter of the Jews wandering in the desert for forty years after being freed from generations of slavery in Egypt.  The Lord fed us with manna that fell with the dew, another plant reference.  But that wasn’t good enough for the Children of Israel.  They wanted meat.  The Book of Exodus tells us that flocks of birds filled the skies to satisfy the ungrateful.  Large quantities of birds were killed for food, but those who ate them died while the food was still in their mouths.

None of this persuaded my rabbi.  Yes, I know that even the kohanim, the holy priests, ate of the bovine, ovine and avian sacrifices during the time of the Holy Temple.  Yes, I know that not eating meat prevents one from fully following the laws of kashruth that require separation of meat from dairy.  As much as I believe that a Jew is obligated to follow his rabbi’s direction, I could not bring myself to do so and had to chalk it up to an “agree to disagree” situation.

No, I was definitely not going back to eating meat.  But the fish thing still bothered me.

Then some notable things happened in my family.  My divorced sister-in-law had met another man and eventually married him.  He had eight children.  My sister-in-law had three of her own.  The second youngest of my new nieces and nephews was only two years old when I met her.  At the height of my doubts about my pescatarian ways, little Clarissa, who was by then seven or eight years old, starting questioning me about why I didn’t eat meat.  When I explained in simple terms that I didn’t believe in the killing of animals, she asked me why, then, did I still eat fish.  I had a hard time explaining this one.  So, of course, she asked me again every time I saw her.

My little niece had called my bluff.

And then came Yom Kippur.  While attempting to examine my ways and motives as a ba’al teshuva (penitent) should, I realized that I was being a horrible hypocrite.  There would be no more fish for me.

My wife objected, knowing how much I loved to eat fish.  I don’t think she was too unhappy, however, as the smell of fish has always nauseated her.  We gave away what was left of our stock of canned tuna and sardines.

I became a genuine ovo-lacto-vegetarian and even took a peek over the horizon at the possibility of becoming vegan.  This lasted all of three months.

After a month or so, I realized that I didn’t feel well — ever.  Every day I felt like I was getting sick.  It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t getting much protein.  I am not a huge tofu eater or bean eater, although I do eat those things once or twice per month.  I am not a big milk drinker, and melting cheese on my veggies only took me so far.  I tried different kinds of veggie burgers.  My wife and I went out to eat a lot, which meant salad, potatoes and bread for me, or else pizza or pasta.

It should have come as no surprise to me that, as a Type 2 diabetic, my blood sugar went through the roof.  My doctor was not pleased at all and changed my medication more than once.  No wonder I was always feeling sick.

So I gave up and went back to eating fish.  Knowing I could get my protein fix by simply opening a can of tuna made all the difference.  My blood sugar level decreased to where it had been previously.

These days, although I am a happy fish eater, I still think about the ugly treatment suffered by that poor fish before it made its way into my freezer.  Perhaps someday I will try a fish-free lifestyle again by learning to cook, trying new combinations of vegetable protein and planning meals instead of just eating whatever is on hand.  But, honestly, I don’t think this is going to happen for a while.

My journey toward vegetarianism is likely to shift my eating patterns yet again in the future, with compromises reached and then renegotiated.

For now, however, I am at peace, me and my tuna.

 

Counting the Days

calendar pages

Among our many lovely Passover traditions are a few lesser-known rituals that allow us to keep the Passover feeling going after the eight-day festival has run its course.

Keep the Passover feeling going?!  Why would anyone want to do that?  Good riddance to picking matzah crumbs out of the couch cushions, a jillion hard boiled eggs and not being able to eat anything worthy of putting in one’s mouth.

Be that as it may, let’s just say that there is a bit of a letdown when we leave Passover behind (along with the need to think twice and thrice about every meal) and return to the ho-hum everyday.  Sure, we can once again fancy our snack cakes and have a bit of toast for breakfast, but there is still the loss of the feeling of festival, something akin to the post-Christmas/New Year blahs commonly experienced in cold, bare-treed January.  I suppose picking matzah crumbs out of the couch cushions could be compared, in a less dramatic fashion, to taking down the lights and dragging the tree out to the curb for recycling.

Unlike the two or three months of winter that follows the merriment of New Year’s Eve, the exit of Passover leaves us at the much more cheerful juncture of an imminent springtime.  Back in my New York days, this meant that my mother’s crocuses would pop their heads up between the house and the slate path, as if to remind us of the time of year despite the lingering snow.  Here in the desert, it is the time of year that we begin to flirt with 100° F and proceed to change the air conditioner filters in preparation for six months of sizzle.

But for those of us who dare a wistful look back over a shoulder at Passover, coming up on 14th Iyar (April 23 at sundown) is a day known as Pesakh sheni or “Second Passover.”  In Biblical times, this was a second chance to offer the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb for those who were unable to do so at Passover because they were away on a long journey or were ritually unclean at the time due to contact with a dead body.  Today, we simply eat a piece of matzah to mark the occasion, although some of the Hassidic sects prepare a meal similar to the Passover Seder.

The obvious theme of Pesakh sheni is “second chances.”  In the time of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, offering the Passover sacrifice was one of the highlights of the year.  Seeing to it that no one missed out is a symbolic reminder that “it’s never too late.”  Resolutions needn’t be limited to the new year.  Just as springtime is the season of rebirth in nature, it is our opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to make needed changes, to break out of old patterns and try something new.

A somewhat better known ritual is the counting of days between Passover and the upcoming two-day festival of Shavuot (Festival of Weeks or “Pentecost”), which falls on 6-7 Sivan (begins May 14 at sundown).  Shavuot is the festival marking the Lord’s giving of the Torah (in Hebrew, matan Torah) to the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai.

The Counting of the Omer, stemming from the Biblical command of Leviticus 23:15-16, begins at the second Passover Seder (held last week on Tuesday night) and proceeds for 49 days, ending on the day before Shavuot.  The word omer is actually a measure of grain, mentioned many times in the Old Testament.

On the surface, the counting of the Omer represents a bridge between two festivals, a demonstration of our anticipation of the holiday to come (not unlike the Christian Advent).  But there is also deep symbolism in the counting or measuring of days.  At a time of year featuring natural renewal, we are reminded to count our many blessings.  Similarly, it is a time of reflection, of examining whether we “measure up” to being the kind of person we really want to be.  Pesakh Sheni, the day of second chances, falls during this period.

The Counting of the Omer reminds us that we need not be stuck in our ways; we can jar ourselves loose, we have a “second chance” to unstick ourselves from unhealthy patterns of behavior.  The giving of charity is associated with this season, not only because it is a traditional sign of repentance, but also because it is a concrete way of being less self-centered, of becoming more connected to the community, of giving of ourselves and caring for those among  us in need.

The flip side of second chances, of course, is the awareness that such opportunities are not unlimited.  Just as we count the days of the Omer, our own days are “counted” and “numbered.”  In other words, there is no time like the present.

As for me, I am counting the days until my wife returns from her visit to family up north.  I have five more days to go.

Hurry home, my dear.

 

Holiday Greetings

I am beginning to wonder whether religion should be subject to some sort of universal “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  Back in the days of my youth, conventional wisdom was that the three topics one simply did not discuss were sex, politics and religion.  I’m sure these things were discussed among friends, but certainly not in public.  Today, of course, everything is fair game.

I don’t mind sharing, really I don’t.  After all, I keep a blog, so I share with the world.  And you know how I like to blather on and on about our holiday traditions.  I am Jewish, my wife is Christian and we have learned a lot about each other’s beliefs over the years.  After 9/11, I became particularly interested in learning more about Islam, primarily because of the discriminatory remarks I kept hearing (openly!) were making me want to puke.

When the Christmas hoopla is all around me and someone asks about Hanukkah, I feel touched.  It is an act of kindness and generosity, and I appreciate it greatly.  If someone tells me about their Lenten prohibitions and their Easter celebration, I will listen attentively in the hopes of learning something.  And I will share a little bit about my Passover prohibitions and celebration.  I will happily explain any Jewish holiday or ritual you ask me about.  But I will not force it on you.

What I don’t do is assume that everyone celebrates the same holidays I do.  I will certainly wish a merry Christmas to those who I know celebrate that holiday.  But I will not do so to a stranger and I will not do so in a group.  It’s not that I fear offending someone, it’s just that I’d be unfairly making assumptions.

So please don’t greet me with “Christ is risen” when I see you at the supermarket at Eastertime.  Sure, I see you around town, but I’ve never thought about what, if any, religion you may profess, nor would I expect you to know anything about my faith.  I am sure you meant well, but please don’t assume.  It really does make an ass out of u and me.

I don’t have a very quick wit, so I generally smile and respond “have a good holiday.”  If I were a bit better at thinking on my feet, I would have wished the guy a zissin Pesakh.

The look on his face would have been priceless.

 

Bachin’ It, Day 4

Dirty Dishes

DW has been gone for four nights now (that’s four nights down and another seven to go), so (insert poor-me pity comments and general whining here) I got to spend Saturday night by myself, just me and my Kosher for Passover macaroons, perusing all the blogs that I haven’t had time to look at during the week.

I’ve always wanted to start a post with “DW.”  You see, DW writes her journal on another blogging site that shall remain nameless here and when I go over there and look around, I see many bloggers of the female persuasion referring to their hubbies as DH.

Now, what does the D stand for, you may ask?  I’m hoping it’s dearest, darling or some other such affectionate claptrap.  I cringe to think of the possible alternatives.  I bet the term of endearment is just a front, a ruse engaged in by the Secret Society of Women Bloggers.  I’m sure the D really stands for dumb, dufus, damned or some other cleverly disguised put-down of the inept, clownish and clueless males who occupy their households for the sole reason that the DWs, out of the kindness of their hearts, don’t put them out with the cat at night.

Not long ago, DW gently suggested that I might be happier crossing the Rubicon, moving to the other side and blogging on the site that she uses.  In the name of honesty, I’m pretty sure DW made the suggestion because she took pity on me after I began cussing and foaming at the mouth when I couldn’t get my WP formatting to do what I wanted it to do because I am a mushwit who never bothered learning how to code basic HTML properly.  Frustration is my calling card and tantrums are my forte (I’ve been fine tuning them since the age of four and I’ve gotten pretty good at it, if I must say so myself).

What really got my hackles up was when my attempt to do something as simple as bolding a heading somehow translated from the beginner’s <b> and </b> tags into something called <strong>.  I have to admit, for a minute I felt pretty good.  I am strong!  I am Tarzan of the Apes!  I began beating my breast and emitting jungle calls until I realized that, no, the code was not a reflection on my corporeal or mental fortitude; it just meant that I am a mushwit who can’t code for crap.

Fortunately, WordPress has thought of this.  Hence, there are little buttons labeled B and I for bold and italics.  Spoonfed like pablum.  I love it.

DW headed up north to be with family for Easter and for the dedication of our little grandniece (see yesterday’s post).  Originally, I had planned to go too, but, as my father is fond of saying, work is the curse of the drinking class.  I was going to use some of my vacation time, but there was this project, and it involved multiple company locations, and then I somehow got volunteered to be on these committees, and — well, I won’t bore you with the details.  So here I am, bachin’ it.

Now, under normal circumstances, I would take full advantage of my period of bachelorhood to eat out in restaurants every night.  Or at least until DW starts sending me texts replete with ominous warnings about how I’m running up the Visa.  Not this time, though.  It’s Passover!  This means that I am stuck in a double bind:  I can’t eat any of my usual foods and I can’t go out to eat either.  Passover consists of eight days of extensive food restrictions.  If you read my Passover Pity Party post, you know what I’m talking about.

I am very fortunate indeed that DW is so kindhearted.  She makes me feel loved.  Prior to her departure, she made sure that I am well set up for meals, even cooking a pile of carrots and potatoes and divvying them up into Gladware containers so that I can microwave them.  We made a trip over to the Coachella Valley and bought jars of my Passover soup that I can just heat up and cans of Passover tuna to take to work for lunch.  I really need to learn how to cook.  Nah, too lazy.

My protracted laziness is not limited to cooking.  It also extends to doing laundry, vacuuming and performing a strange ritual that DW refers to as washing dishes.  This last pursuit must be done by hand due to the fact that our local water smells bad and is harder than a baguette that’s been left sitting out for a week and a half.  Or, I should probably say, harder than a matzah.  One foolish enough to try using the dishwashing machine ends up removing the dishes at the end of the cycle and washing them all over again by hand.  Unless you like to eat off baked-on crud, that is.

The last time DW absented herself for an extended period of time, I merely ran water and dish soap in my dishes after use, and left them sitting in the sink.  Upon returning, DW wondered why the house smelled like a cesspool.  Until, that is, she saw a sink full of soap suds under which lay a large pile of dishes bearing the residue of moldering food.  Even for DW, who is familiar with the depth of my laziness, this was the penultimate.

This time, however, we were prepared.  DW left me with a large pile of Styrofoam plates and a box of plastic forks, spoons and knives.

I guess I’d better haul the trash down to the dumpster, though.  It is just possible that I may have eaten fish three or four nights ago, which is probably why the house is starting to reek like the dock of the bay.

Air freshener, anyone?