Sunny Days in DC

Jack of All Trades, Master of 3-ish.

We went to Florida. I’m fairly certain the entire state regrets it.

My dad has very bad asthma, which explains why he and my step-mom have a condo in Boca Raton, Florida, also known as the OTHER Jewish homeland. They invited us to come down for a long weekend, because they had clearly kicked puppies in a previous life, and felt the need to atone for it. Whatever… SUCKAS!!!

The husband and I packed up El Bebe, a few thousand of our most important baby accoutrements, and high-tailed it to the sunny south, where, ironically, it was overcast almost the entire time we were there. Of course, lack of sun was the LEAST of anyone’s concerns, because, and I’m setting the scene here for you: *I* was invited down to an Orthodox Jewish community. An ELDERLY Orthodox Jewish community. It went about as well as you would imagine.

The best flight we could get was a Friday (shabbat), so we fucked the rules and flew out on the sabbath. Max was actually BEAUTIFUL on the flight down; he fell asleep during take off, and woke up just as we started to land, and stared happily out the window as daddy held him to watch the city lights at night. Of course, this was 10PM, a full three hours past his bed time, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

We grab our bags, with Max smiling and flirting at every.single.woman in sight, which is basically fate’s way of saying, “invest in hair dye, bitch, you’re gonna be dodging a LOT of pregnancy scares in about 16 years.” My dad and step-mom can’t drive on shabbat because….. I don’t know. It has something to do with G-D, and not lighting a spark, but then also not wiping your ass with proper toilet paper because Jesus favors bidets. It’s all very confusing when you don’t really care. My parents had told us to keep an eye out for a driver who would meet us and pick us up. A white ford Taurus. Sounds legit! Then, a dude smelling like cigarettes, pungent body, and a thousand other things I don’t even want to GUESS at pulls up. Fine. Your car, I don’t care if you smoke cigarettes when I’m not in it. He helps my husband pack the things in the trunk, and I carefully load Max into his car seat. Then, with all three of them safely in the car…… he pulled away.

Seriously.

That motherfucker LEFT ME STANDING AT THE GATE.

“HEY ASSHOLE!!” I yelled, but I’m fairly certain is was my husband in the care saying, “Uhhh…. so… that’s my WIFE back there…” that actually got the guy to stop. I ran after them, hopped in, and chose to ignore the fact that HOLY SHIT, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?! And that’s when I saw it… the toupe. If you washed a cat’s fur with lye, shaved the cat, then crazy glued that shit to a base, you would get this dude’s toupe. And it just stared at me from where I sat behind him, for the entirety of our ride (approximately 45 minutes). Max, thankfully, fell asleep, and the guy driving seemed partially deaf, so my husband did the heavy lifting of the EXTREMELY awkward conversation.

Him: “I had to go to a special minyan to get permission from the Rabbi to drive on shabbat.”

Husband: “Oh…. ok…. thank you?”

Him: “………….”

Me, in the only actual EFFORT you will witness during this entire trip: “So….errr… are you from Florida?”

Him: “No. I’m a lawyer.”

Me: “Ahh…”

Whatever. We got to my parents’ place, tucked in the wee little Peanut, and got ourselves to bed. Huzzah!

The next day was the ACTUAL sabbath, which meant that we couldn’t turn the tv on or off, couldn’t turn on lights, and just sorta hung out and went on walks. It’s actually LOVELY in the summer, when the days are long and you can hang out and chat and be outside. But then dinner rolled around. My step mom had made a BEAUTIFUL dinner with all the trimmings and had food galore for Max who, in his very first statement to the group on exactly HOW he was related to mommy, proceeded to strip off his pants, stand in his pack-n-play, and sing to the group.

My son: celebrating the holy sabbath the way G-D intended, without pants.

The husband and I laughed, and I’m pretty sure my parents thought it was hilarious, but deep down inside thanked G-D that their friends weren’t there to spot the little kosher shmeckel that had made its debut.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful, except that I learned my stepmother has an ENTIRE table that can only ever have meat placed on it. Like, you can’t pour yourself a bowl of cereal and be all, “I’m just gonna have me a bowl of my cheerios right the fuck here…” NO ASSHOLE!! THAT’S MY GADDAMN MEAT TABLE YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!!

I don’t even know how you make a table a “meat table,” but if you have any theories, I saw we hash this out in the comments section. WORK THE PROBLEM, PEOPLE!!

In case you were worried, there was a dairy table too, so we survived just fine.

I’m kidding. My parents were awesome, as one must be when dealing with me, as I am under medicated a delight. Finally our day of departure came, and we said our goodbyes and gave lots of kisses, and packed my son onto the plane…. where he pooped himself as soon as the golfcarts of food came down the aisles, so I was stuck with him until a flight attendant took pity on me and told me to take him to first class.

Interesting story: they let you take a baby to first class, but they wont let him buy mommy a couple of drinks. Frigid jerks.

But, long story short, we’re home now. Which is good, because I couldn’t shlep my computer with me to blog, but I also felt awkward writing words like “motherfucker” on my dad’s computer.

….because that’s technically true…….

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In which I come of age all over Luke Skywalker’s face…

“The Graduate it on.”

“I’ve never seen it,” I text back.

“You’ve…. WHAT?!” My friend is horrified. She’s been opining on the symbolism of the water metaphors for the last five minutes, and I’ve been trying to wrangle Max so he doesn’t eat our cat. “It was my COMING OF AGE film! I would do a young Dustin Hoffman so hard!”

“Uh huh. Graphic.”

“What was yours?” She and I are similar in a lot of ways; we’ve finished the other person’s sentences before… but there are some areas where we could not be more different…

“My…?”

“Coming of Age film?”

“Cantina scene: Star Wars.” I’ve placed Max into “Baby Prison,” which is what we call the pack-n-play in our house. He’s chewing on a blue elephant.

“Never seen it” she writes back. I am FORCED to explain exactly what she’s missing, and how that scene completely changed my life forever:

For so many people, Star Wars was an eye-opening experience. Whether it was the magnitude of the story, the first time they realized that a Sci Fi epic could speak to them, the Good/Bad dichotomy, or the concept of a group of Jedi warriors who eschewed worldly connections in an attempt to develop the inner self. Star Wars sparked imaginations.

For me, it was a wholly different experience. I went to private school in Brooklyn, because the Public School I was supposed to go to had to finish investigating how a student managed to strangle a teacher with his own tie. Shockingly, my mom felt that an alternative to public education may be the best option for her small, White, Jewish child.

But it’s not like I fit in there, either. It was an expensive school, and most of the kids there were wealthy. They were neat and clean and tidy. The school was neat and clean and tidy. It was in a former church, so everything smelled of old wood, old books, and old money. I smelled like the Grand Army Plaza stop on the 2/3. But it seemed like this was what you aspired to; clean and neat. You got your clothes from United Colors of Benetton or Gap, and your backpack had your initials monogrammed on them. Well, I didn’t, but that’s what everyone wants… so I figured, that’s what I want. I guess. Right? Sure.

And then, one day, I guess because it was raining, they showed us Star Wars in a darkened classroom. And there, right past all the boring bullshit that I couldn’t have given less of a damn about (fucking sand creatures and robots? PASS!), was the Cantina scene.

THAT. I FUCKING WANT THAT, I realized. It was yet another moment in my life where I looked around and realized that nobody else was seeing what I was seeing. This was the instant that both Luke Skywalker and I realized there was life outside of our limited experiences. And not just people living off of his planet, but REAL FUCKING LIFE was happening just beyond the horizon of his tiny world. This was that first moment. And guess what? Real life is dirty, and it’s a crossroads, and there are different types of people, and sometimes they fight, and they’re rude, and yeah – they probably smell.

When I was a teenager, my mom took me on a road trip to California. Our car broke down in Death Valley, and we ended up taking Peterpan bus service back. It. was. Amazing. Someday, I’ll write a post ONLY about that trip, because it was life-changing, but for now: Cantina scene. Bus stops full of people traveling from one side of the country to the other. People talking to each other, and making deep friendships with lifespans shorter than a fly’s. Highway diners. Stretches of road that lasted for days… it was dirty and hot and you’d better hope you liked the people on your bus because before cell phones, those were the only people you had to talk to. Everyone has a story, because people without stories don’t go anywhere or do anything; they’re not on your bus. Your bus, your bar, your ship is going to be filled with people who have histories and needs and motivations. They’re happy, they’re sad, they want to meet you, or they want to be left alone. They have enough money to buy a plane ticket but are too cheap, or they stare enviously at your sandwich until you pretend not to be hungry and split it with them.

That’s the Cantina scene to me. It’s unsanitized life, but it’s honest and forces you to realize how much you miss by only meeting people who dress in Benetton. That one scene in that one movie added dimensions to my tiny world that just can’t be summed up in words. In fact, in high school we were asked to write about our concept of a Utopia. I narrated the Cantina scene. I failed the paper. It’s the one F I ever got, and the only time my mom ever approved a crappy grade.

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