I woke up at 4:30 this morning, slightly earlier than usual and was unable to go back to sleep. Mostly because Uncle Slappy was awake and sitting at the dining room table drinking his cup of very black coffee and eating two slices of very black toast.
Uncle Slappy likes his toast burnt. He says it reminds him of his mother's cooking. I poured myself a cup of viscous java and sat down beside the alte cocker.
"So work you're going to today?" That question may sound innocent enough, but very little Uncle Slappy says isn't loaded with buckshot or festooned with landmines.
"Of course," I sighed. "Work is what I do. There's a lot going on right now and they're putting a lot of pressure on me."
"You know," he sarcasmed, "The Joosh Holidays are coming up. Taking off you will for a little time?"
I re-jiggered the order of the words.
"Well, Rosh Ha Shannah starts Sunday, but I can't take Monday off. Too much to do."
"What about Hadoop Ha Sheem?" He asked.
"Hadoop Ha Sheem?" I repeated.
"Hadoop starts today at sunrise and runs through Columbus Day. Among the liturgical cognoscenti it is the holiest of holies, commemorating the exodus of the Jews from the 96th Street Broadway subway line on a Friday night in the fall.
"There's Ah Gut Las, which recognizes the purchase of the last seeded Challah bread from the bakery on 82nd and 2nd."
"Then there's my favorite. Tu Sens Plen, it celebrates the wandering of Jews for 40 years in the desert and their subsequent discovery of seltzer water."
I was beginning to catch on.
"Look, Boychick," the old man continued, "I'm for 50 years an eminent Rabbi. If you need a day off, there's always a Jewish holiday I can invent."
I had finished my coffee and was eager to get ready for work.
"Thanks, Uncle Slappy," I said as I went in for my shower.
"This year, Boychick," he said, "Make sure you're agency gives you off like they give off the goyim. Make sure you stay home between Christmas and the Jewish New Year."
Despite all that, I showed up for work anyway.