Uncle Slappy called as I knew he would, it being New Year's Eve. They aren't given to parties, Uncle Slappy and Aunt Sylvie and there's more than a good chance that they will be in bed by 10, partly because, like me, Uncle Slappy has had more than his fill of popular culture, and popularity in general. If you really must know, he'd rather read William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" for the 89th time than make small talk, drink and wait for the ball to drop. There's nothing wrong with those things, it's just not what Uncle Slappy and Aunt Sylvie are all about.
"Boychick," he began "a Happy New Year. You have plans, tonight? You are making the rounds?"
"Actually, I think we'll just watch a movie. To tell you the truth, I just started a new biography on Bach, and frankly, I'd rather spend the evening reading that."
"I'll tell you what I learned this year," the old man began. "I figured what I'd do if I had ten billion dollars."
"Ten billion is a lot of money."
"The first thing I'd do is donate one billion dollars to the Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue. With conditions."
I knew I was being set up for a joke. But that's ok, when you're close to Uncle Slappy, it comes with the territory.
"The condition would be that they install an automatic rain machine on the roof. I want it raining right at the entrance to the museum day and night. I want it to rain in front of building 24/7."
I laughed. "That sounds like a plan," I said. "Any particular reason for the rain? Is it art? Does it make a statement? Does it symbolize our race's 6,000 years of suffering?"
"No," the old man replied. "After 50 years of being a Rabbi, I figured something out."
I let his pause sit there. I know better than to rush him.
He finally spoke. "I like to hear Jews complain."
With that he wished me Happy New Year and hung up the blower.
I won't complain.