Friday, December 8, 2017

A visit from Uncle Slappy and Aunt Sylvie.

Last night, I was surprised by a knock on my door. Given that our building is watched over by a phalanx-of-Christmas-time-tip-hungry door-people, I couldn’t quite imagine who it was and how they got outside my apartment.

I have muscle memory from the bad-old-crack-infested days of New York, where opening your front door was tantamount to letting in the Grim Reaper. So I put on my gruffest voice and fairly barked through two-inches of reinforced steel.

“Who is it?”

“It ain’t the Avon lady,” came the reply.

Recognizing Uncle Slappy’s voice—even through the armor plating—I quickly opened the door, allowing he and Aunt Sylvie into my digs.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as we exchanged a variety of kisses and hugs. “Is everything ok?”

Uncle Slappy, as he does so often, took over the proceedings. “A little bird has told me someone is turning 60. We decided to come up we should for a visit.”

I led the nonagenarians into the living room and sat them down. It two shakes of an alter-kocker’s tail, my wife was out with magma-hot cups of her famous viscous-thick coffee—coffee you could stand your spoon up in. Moments later, she returned with a platter of selected cakes and cookies. Uncle Slappy took a schtickle of cinnamon rugelach and a deep sip of java.

“First you’ll have a little taste,” my wife said, “then Uncle Slappy, maybe you lay down for a few minutes before dinner.”

“Ach. A nap I could use.”

Then, tasting the rugelach and sipping his joe, “This is why you live in New York,” he said. “The best food in the world.”

Aunt Sylvie nodded in agreement. “We get good in Boca,” she tried.

“Ach,” the old man said. “From Schmear to Eternity doesn’t have rugelach like this. They are to rugelach what a hyena is to a lion. A pale imitation.”

From Schmear to Eternity is the bagel shop closest to their condo development. Though they have a $14.95 all-you-can-eat early-bird special that’s pretty good, I had to agree with Uncle Slappy. Their rugelach leaves much to be desired.

“Boychick,” the old man began like a wily middleweight feeling out a hard-punching opponent with well-directed jabs. “Boychick, how does it feel to an old man be?”

I unraveled Uncle Slappy’s jumble of a sentence.

“I feel ok,” I answered. “But like my doctor says, Richard T. Cohen, the internist, not Richard P. Cohen, the podiatrist, says ‘at your age, if you wake up and nothing hurts, you’re dead.’”

Uncle Slappy laughed at that and spit a small flake of rugelach on the carpet.

“A wise man that Richard T., not Richard P. Cohen is,” said Aunt Sylvie.

“So I thought,” said Uncle Slappy, “we could take a little walk to get you maybe a gift. There’s nothing in Boca for a man of such relative youth.”

“You mean everything is for old people,” I clarified.

“That’s right,” said Sylvie. “Nothing for a spring chicken such as yourself.”

I got up and gave her a kiss for the compliment. Like I said, I feel good in so many ways. I’m happy in my job. My apartment is all but paid for. And my daughters are happy, healthy and on their way. But still, it’s nice to hear from someone that you’re a spring chicken.

“I’ll tell you how bad it is in Boca,” the old man continued. “Up here in the cab coming in from LaGuardia, we passed a store—‘Bed Bath and Beyond.’”

“Nothing unusual in that,” I said. “It’s a fairly large national chain.”

“Not in Boca,” Uncle Slappy said polishing off rugelach number three and getting up to pad his way to his bedroom for his nap. “In Boca…”

He paused dramatically, “In Boca,” he continued, “we have a store similar.”

“Yes,” I said. I’ve been playing the straight man for Uncle Slappy for nearly all of my 60 years.

“Yes. Deathbed Bath and Beyond.”

And with that he shut out the lights and lay down for his nap.


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