Uncle Slappy and Aunt Sylvie arrived last night on the 4:40 non-stop from Boca, which put them in to LaGuardia at just after 7:00. Uncle Slappy called me on his cell and I pulled the Simca around to waiting area "C." Before long, they and their luggage were settled in and we were heading West on the Grand Central toward Manhattan.
"Mort Gershman," Uncle Slappy began, "now he's a man who knows how to get ready for Thanksgiving."
Aunt Sylvie looked out the window. After 56-years with Uncle Slappy, she's used to having him hold court.
"Who's Mort Gershman," I asked, innocently enough.
Slappy answers as he always does, "He lives two units down with a view of the pool." If you ask Uncle Slappy, two-thirds of the world's remaining Jewry lives two units down with a view of the pool. "He was an attorney in New Brunswick. He's a bit of a trombenick," Slappy said.
"A trouble-maker," I clarified, not sure how my Yiddish would fare against Slappy's.
"Yes, a trouble-maker. All last week by the pool he was helping the alte-kockers get ready for Thanksgiving. He was selling drugs by the pool."
"Mort Gershman is a pusher?" I asked.
"He was walking around the deck with loose Prilosecs in a baggie. Selling a single pill for $5 or three for $10. 'This will make your Thanksgiving fantastic,' Gershman said. By all accounts, he was doing a land-office business."
"I have persistent heart-burn myself," I added, "Prilosec works wonders."
"That's what you think," Uncle Slappy corrected.
I skirted through three lanes of traffic on the Grand Central and exited on Hoyt Avenue, the last exit in Queens. From there, I sped down 31st Avenue and made my way to the Queensboro Bridge--now named for ex-New York-mayor Ed Koch. The Queensboro is free whereas the quickest route, over the Triboro--now named for Bobby Kennedy--costs $5.17 with E-Z pass. It offends Uncle Slappy to pay the toll.
"Every once-in-a-while a customer would tell Gershman that Prilosec does nothing for him. He's still got heart-burn like Vesuvius. Well," said Uncle Slappy, "Morty was prepared for that."
We were clacketing over the Queensboro Bridge. My 1966 Simca doing all she could to hold onto her nuts and bolts.
"Gershman had taken Tums and turned them into powder with a small mortar and pestle. Then he mixed the Tums with baking soda and put a few grams into small celluloid envelopes."
We headed up First Avenue, hitting the lights just right and making it all the way from 60th to 82nd without a stop.
"'Smoke a little of this,' Gershman would advise. It's crack for stomach-acks."
I pulled into our garage and helped Sylvie and Slappy out of my car. I lifted their valises from the trunk.
"Tums cut with baking soda. Crack for your stomach-ack."
Slappy put his arm around me as we walked through the garage into my building.
"Don't tell Sylvie," he whispered. "I've got two bags with me."
"Two bags," I repeated.
"You wouldn't happen to have a pipe, would you?"
Slappy padded into the guest room. Leaving me shaking my head.