Thursday, December 16, 2010


Last night Harry wanted to go see Santa. He is nine and has been mulling over this for some time. He still believes, but Darla told him he’s too old to sit on Santa’s lap, and there are kids at school who have told him Santa isn’t real, so he feels a little self-conscious. Mo believed until she was 13, I think, when she wrote him a letter saying she had been told he didn’t exist but she still loved him and believed in him and could he please just leave some proof, like come wake her up, it would only take a minute. Dar loves the idea of Santa but can’t help reasoning: Who can fly around the world in a sleigh with reindeer in one night, come on.

So we went to see Santa. The only other kids in line were two infants and a three year old on a leash. "See Harry?", Dar shrugged and held her hands up. I shot her a glare, while Harry walked away with his hands in his pockets and his head down.

I found him leaning on a column around the corner. “Come on Bub, you don’t have to sit on his lap or anything, you can just go over there and say hey how’s it going.”


We’re here. Might as well just say hi.

I don’t want to.

Really? You might feel sad if we leave and you didn’t even wave at him.

I’ll just email him.



Ok. Well let’s go say goodbye then.

I started to walk back to Santa’s throne, but he didn’t follow. I looked over at Darla who was trying on sunglasses at the Kiosk and looking in the mirror, turning her head this way and that. I walked over closer. Dar! I whispered. She turned her head slowly towards me like I was an annoying paparazzi. Go tell Harry you’ll come say hi to Santa with him.

She looked at me with her big Elizabeth Taylor goggle sunglasses.

If you’re rolling your eyes, I can’t see.

She took one last look in the mirror, took off the glasses, placed them slowly back on the table and brushed by me in Harry’s direction.

Be nice, I said. I walked over to Santa. As far as Santas go, this guy was the top of the line: real white beard, little chubby, twinkle in the eye. He was sitting by himself.

Santa? I whispered and he looked over at me. I actually got a little nervous myself. The guy’s a superstar. “My boy’s feeling a little shy. He really wants to see you but he’s worried he might be too old.”

Where is he? He got up out of his chair. Dar was walking him over; she had her arm flung around him like they were buddies back in Nam. I pointed with my thumb.

What’s his name, he said quietly to me. I told him.

Harry? He said and waved him over. Hi Harry. Come here, lad. He leaned on the white fence that divided his little area. I thought maybe in real life he might be a farmer, or a plumber. His voice was high, a little strained. He definitely did some sort of physical labor.

Dar kept her arm around Harry and walked over, like he was a helpless crippled child who couldn’t get by without her help.

Hi "Santa", she said.

Hello, what's your name?


He looked at Harry who was still looking at his feet.

Is this your sister?


How old are you son?


Nine! That’s fantastic. And what do you want for Christmas.

A Playstation 3.

Anything else?

Harry shook his head.

And you’re a good boy?

He nodded.

“I can see that. Your mother told me you are. Come here a second, son.” He let Harry in through the gate and put his arm around him and walked over to the throne. They were talking but I couldn’t hear because the photographer came over and began trying to talk me into a series of photos for 46.99. I shook my head and he said, Just a meet and greet?

Yeah, just a meet and greet, I said. I was trying to see around him to catch what Santa was saying, but by the time he moved, Harry was walking back towards me with a coloring book in his hands. His head was up and he was practically laughing. He could barely speak.

Did he tell you it was all a charade? This from Darla.

Dar, stop. I looked back at Harry, What’d he say, sweets?

He said you’re never too old for Santa.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bumper Car Conversations

I hadn’t been to a club in a long time, long enough that when the bartender told me my water was $7, I had a tourette’s-like reaction. Inwardly I was saying: wait, does that mean I should leave $10, but I can buy an entire case of water at Von’s for 3.99, how do people do this?, oh no I’m an old lady fussing about money! Outwardly I was completely cool and relaxed: Here’s my gold card babe, start up a tab. Inwardly: Oh my god I just said babe. Shit, I think I’m at my limit on that card. Maybe I should take it back and give him cash, no I need that for the valet, dammit. Outwardly: Thanks (subtext I’m cool and I totally belong here) Inwardly: I’m not cool at all and even when I suck in my stomach I have a muffin top.

It was my sister’s birthday and her husband was throwing her a huge party; there was going to be a burlesque show too. Everyone was happy and ready for fun and screamed when they saw each other. I looked around for someone to go up to and scream with, but I had already said hello to both of my sisters. I looked around and saw my brother taking photos of everyone.

Let me see, I said pointing to the camera.

He let me have a look at the photos. He never takes a single bad one, but still he said, I can’t see what I’m doing. He asked me what was up with our other brother, “I mean do you think he’ll ever get over it with Dad, do you think he’ll go, you know…”

To his funeral?


Really that’s what you were going to say? Dad’s funeral, Jesus I don’t know.


No, I mean, I don’t know…no, I don’t think he will.

Come on, how can he, I mean he has the same last name, that’s who he is, so he gets to say “I’m right”? What is that?

I don’t know; maybe he’ll go. It’s impossible to tell. It’s like 9/11; will you go to the roof or out the front door. There’s no way of knowing til it happens.

What the fuck are you talking about?

What the fuck are you talking about?

We laughed and each walked away in the opposite direction.


I sat down next to a beautiful couple. The guy looked like a young Spike Lee and the girl, his wife, had a perfect face with freckles and her hair pulled back tight. We had met once before at my sister’s house. She just had a baby and we talked about that. The guy kept interjecting but his face was still and serious, he was busy watching everyone else. At one point I asked him what his name was.

He said, you don’t know who I am?

No I don’t, I laughed. His wife laughed too.

I work on the same show as your brother-in-law.

I don’t watch TV.

Shit. (He still didn’t crack a smile but his wife was really giggling).

We didn’t say anything for a bit and then I said, I thought you were a super model.

He smiled and we clinked glasses.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

You Wish

Two years ago Harry went through a brief obsession wanting to be Jewish. When I say obsession I mean he wanted me to make latkes, celebrate Hanukkah and change his name to Eli. In addition he talked about being Jewish every day. He’d say “I’m Jewish” with emphasis on the last syllable, which I misunderstood for an attempt at a Catskills comedian’s accent. I later realized (how could I have missed it?!) he was saying he was Jew—ish. I fully encouraged his conversion because I once had an obsession of my own.

When I was 8 and we still lived in an apartment in the city, I was the only one of my friends who wasn’t Jewish: Saranne Rothberg, Shari Aronson, Debbie Ginsberg, Carla Elkman, Andy Appelbaum, David Epstein and Jimmy Gottlieb. These were my people, well except for Jimmy; he was a teenager and didn’t want to have anything to do with us but he also had glasses that were at least a half inch thick, bad skin and a sour disposition and wasn’t welcome in many other circles, so he’d occasionally hang with us.

We’d go to brunch together on the weekend at the Commissary, which was the restaurant in our building. It was exciting to be able to go by ourselves, I felt like a grown up, especially because I didn’t have any family members around to bust me on the fact that I was pretending (through my accent and food choices) to be a full-fledged Jew. Bagels, cream cheese, whitefish and lox: is there anything better. At home I began reading my books upside-down and backwards. David’s mother Hilda gave me my own Hebrew book and laughed till she had tears when I’d read it out loud.

What did I care, I was Jew-ish.