Thursday, November 27, 2014

Philip Roth on the Upper East Side.

Philip Roth isn't writing anymore. He gave up it up a couple of years ago. After 30 or so novels and nearly every writing award worth winning, Roth's earned the right to hang up his pen.

However, had he for whatever reason shown up at my family's Thanksgiving, he would have gotten plenty of material.

Much of that material came, as you might have expected, from Uncle Slappy. He's most usually in rare form when he has a forum and our holiday meal was no exception. Especially as he was egged on by the Rothian countenance of my mother-in-law, Millie, and my wife's Aunt Shirley.

Each of them, let us say, has their quirks. But we accept them. What's more, as my wife reminds me they aren't, either of them, getting any younger.

Here's what went down. My wife would bring out a dish, say string beans with slivered almonds. She would start the conversation, I guess, innocently enough.

"I got this recipe from Aunt Fritzi." she would say.

Millie would chip in. "I have that recipe."

Not to be one-upped, Shirley would add "I have that recipe, too."

"I looked at that recipe the other day," Millie went on.

"I've had it for years. I've never made it," Shirley said.

Then for dessert my wife brought out an Eastern European cookie, mandelbroit.

Millie began again, "I have that recipe, but I've never made it."

"I have it, too," Shirley would say.

"This is a good recipe," Millie complimented, "I'm glad I have it."

Uncle Slappy could suffer in silence no longer.

"You have these recipes, but you never make these recipes. You came, as you usually do, empty handed."

"From New Jersey, we came," said Millie.

"You say New Jersey like you crossed over from Antarctica on a kayak," Uncle Slappy said. "The kids sent a car-service."

"Still. We won't be home 'til ten."

"You're a regular Buzz Aldrin," Slappy said.

Just then, my daughter Sarah brought out an apple crumb pie she made. She had brought it home to New York from Boston, where she lives.

"It's my Mom's recipe," she said, playing along.

"I don't have that one," said Millie.

"Me neither," said Shirley.

"Me. I have it on my iPhone," Slappy said.

And he cut himself a big slice.

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