Friday, June 14, 2019

Uncle Slappy and the walnuts.

A few weeks ago, after a long drive home from visiting my 31-year-old daughter up in Boston, I opened the door to my apartment and heard the land-line ringing insistently.

The Harass-for-Profit telemarketing industry with the support of our so-called public-servants, places an estimated 2.5 billion robocalls a month—that’s almost 1,000 a second, if you do the math, which you probably shouldn’t.

I suppose like those ad people who retarget us and cookie us and track our every movement, if you asked the various politicians and other flim-flam artists behind these calls they’d tell you they’re providing a public service because people want to hear about their electoral options and time-shares situated alongside a mosquito-infested toxic swamp.

Nevertheless, unusually, it wasn’t a robocall, it was Uncle Slappy. The only person besides robos to actually call my house phone.

“Boychick,” he began. Uncle Slappy needs no introduction and seldom makes one. “Boychick, she’s trying to kill me. She’s trying to send me to an early grave.”

“It would hardly be early,” I reminded the old man, “you’re 91 now.”

Uncle Slappy retorted with the classic Yiddish rejoinder. It worked when Shecky Greene used it. It still works today.

“Ninety-one, schminety-one, Mr. Wisenheimer. She’s trying to kill me.”

“Who is, Uncle Slappy?” I assumed the cleaning woman had upset his universe again by not ironing his handkerchiefs.

“Your sainted Aunt Sylvie. The one everyone assumes has put up with me all these years. They don’t know what she’s doing to me.”

“I can’t imagine…”

“Then you have no imagination, Mr. Smartypants.”

I was chastened by that but said nothing. Fortunately, Uncle Slappy continued.

“Remember last November around my birthday Aunt Sylvie bought me an Apple Watch.”

“Well, Dr. Cohen said you should walk more.”

“Dr. Richard P. Cohen, the cardiologist,” Uncle Slappy clarified. “Not Dr. Richard T. Cohen, the podiatrist.”

“He’s a good man, Dr. Cohen.” I’ve been seeing Cohen, the cardiologist, myself and for nearly 40 years. Like every other one of Dr. Cohen's thousands of patients, I could lose a little weight.

“So, every morning, come fahtutz or come schmutz, out for a walk I go. Usually to the shuffleboard courts and back two times. That’s a mile.”

“That’s good, Uncle Slappy. You feel better?”

“Like a spring chicken I feel. Unfortunately, an already-cooked spring chicken, served with a side of creamed spinach. Rotisserie, maybe”

He paused for his laugh like an old vaudevillian then continued.

“So, I shouldn’t get woozy, Aunt Sylvie packs for me in a little Ziploc baggie a handful of walnuts she gets down at the Costco.”

“You can save a lot of money at Costco,” I lied. “The other day my wife bought me a package of 3,000 razor blades and must have saved 17-cents.”

“I understand. Back when I was in my 70s, Sylvie bought a canister of walnuts about the size of a World War II depth-charge. There must have been 1006-pounds of walnuts inside. I’ve been eating these walnuts since Spiro Agnew resigned.”

“But think of the savings,” I said.

Uncle Slappy ignored my stab at commentary.

“I’m out for my walk, and in the heat with the global warming, a little dizzy I feel. So into the Ziploc baggie I take out a few walnuts.”

“They helped, I hope.”

“No,” Uncle Slappy said, “they hurt. They were rancid like Socrates drinking hemlock. Still in my mouth a bad taste I have. Two hours later.”

“So you made it home and threw them out?”

“Ach, and waste food? I suppose you waste food. But you're Mr Big Shot advertising moneybags. And I'm just a retired Rabbi living on my 401(K). That's K as in kvetch."

And with that the old man hung up the blower.

I looked at our land-line. I brought the receiver up to my eyes and thought hard about ripping it from the wall.

No comments: