flewellyn: (Default)
So, my sister's visiting, and she came over to my place for dinner to meet several friends of mine.

After she left, my friend Ed, with whom she was staying, called:

Ed: Hey, is your sister there?

Me: No, she just left for your place. Why?

Ed: I needed to ask her some questions.

Me: I believe the answers are "three", "yes", and "I was really drunk".

Ed: Hmm..."How many times did you have sex?", "Did you have anal sex?", and "Why?" That works out perfectly! Thanks!

flewellyn: (Default)
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Tricky question. I think the earliest memory I have that is a coherent picture of a scene, rather than a flash of partially-integrated sensation, is sitting at the dinner table in my family's old house in Bloomington, IL, on shabbas dinner. It was before my sister was born, because there were only three of us there, my parents and me. And I remember that my mother wasn't pregnant yet.

I have more memories of while my mom was pregnant with my sister, including trying to sit on her lap and finding that there was no room, and patting her belly and saying hello to whoever was in there (didn't know the sex until my sister was born).

And of course, I remember seeing my sister in the hospital, as well as my mom after giving birth (she was eating some hospital food, and I wanted her cake), and the day they brought my sister home from the hospital. Oh, I remember that day very clearly.
flewellyn: (Default)
One morning, my father, soundly asleep, suddenly announced in a Churchillian accent, "Never has one doughnut, like one idea, had such importance."

He was promptly awakened by my mother's hysterical laughter.
flewellyn: (Default)
Well, yesterday (the 13th) was my mom's birthday. As usual for that date, I couldn't get out of bed until noon. Fortunately, my boss understands.

She would have been 54. I had to do the math in my head to figure it out.

It's not as bad this year as it has been in the past. I'm still reasonably emotionally balanced, if a bit melancholy.

We'll see how I feel in 13 days, on her yahrtzeit. Were I Christian and inclined to superstition, the "13 days after the 13th" anniversary of her death would have creeped me out. As it is, it's just helpful to remember.

At least it's warming up. The snow might be gone by the time I go up to the cemetary.

Y'know, she woulda had to go and die in March. Even prior to that, I never liked March. It's never been a good month for me. And this just made it worse. Not that I blame her, of course. It's just bad timing.

Of course, when is good timing for a loved one to die, anyway?

Well, we'll see how I feel on her yahrtzeit.
flewellyn: (Default)
My family, growing up, was not a neat family. We weren't absolute slobs, but...oh, who am I kidding? We were absolute slobs. We kept surfaces clean for eating, and clothes clean for wearing, and dishes clean for eating off of...but that was about the sum of it. Vacuuming happened if and when my sister remembered; the garbage was taken out (by me) irregularly; clutter would pile up until somebody remembered to do something with it (usually shove it to the side); and, of course, when laundry was done, there was the inevitable debate on natural selection.

"Wait, what?" I hear you asking. (Actually, I don't, but let's just pretend, okay?) "What in the blue peeping hellacious eyes of Samuel W. Scratch does natural selection have to do with laundry?"

So glad you asked.

You see, as my father documented in his famous-among-lunatics home-taped nature documentary, the common household sock, or Hosius socka, has a rather odd lifecycle. It is mostly a parasitic organism, living its short life on the feet of wandering mammals, from which it feeds on the skin of the feet. Once it has fed, it drops off onto the ground and then begins the long, slow process of migrating across the floor, moving in a sluglike fashion, towards the hamper, at which point it jumps up and seeks out a mate in the pile. The products of this union, in turn, emerge from their nest in the dryer and then attach themselves to the nearest host, whereupon the cycle begins anew.

This process leads to a number of interesting phenomena. Obviously, the most common one is the sight of exhausted socks, flopped on the floor, pausing to catch their breath before resuming the arduous voyage. Another point of interest is the genetics: socks that mate with others of similar color will, of course, produce more of the same, but when you get socks of different colors mating, the results can be quite bizarre. I speak here, of course, of striped, polka-dotted, and multicolored socks, which arise mostly because the genes for various colorations are mostly codominant, except for the "white" gene, which is recessive. (Argyle socks, I believe, are the result of a mutation involving exposure to ionizing radiation, excessive inbreeding, and copious amounts of Scotch whiskey.) The migration, being quite an ordeal, often causes injuries to the socks, some of which can result in actual holes in the body (or "socka bifida"), which can be fatal if untreated.

However, the most interesting thing to note when discussing the migratory and mating habits of socks, and the salient point here, is naturally the question of human intervention. The arduous nature of the migration of H. socka serves to weed out the sick and old from the herd, as with many other species. If humans intervene and place the socks in the hamper directly, this removes an important selection pressure from their environment. Clearly, this would be bad for the overall health of the species. So, as my father argued in his groundbreaking (and patience-trying) documentary, the only ethical choice we have is to allow nature to take its course.

I will not repeat my mother's response to this, my father's greatest contribution to science since his seminal work Evolutionary Regression and Table Manners: Why Forks? Why?, but I will say that it was, sadly, not very scientific.
flewellyn: (Wild Boy of Avi's Room)
In the last month or so, I've had many friends and acquaintances, both old and new, tell me that I am "weird" or "strange" or "an odd duck". This news, I must say, I greet with the same level of astonishment as I would a revelation that the sky is, in fact, an azure hue.

In other words...duh.

I come by my oddity honestly, though. I think, in an attempt to be informative and (hopefully) entertaining, I shall provide some of the background of, well, what my family was like. This is, keep in mind, only one tale of many.

When I was a sophomore in high school (and fully bearded, I might add; the icon is from that time), it came to the attention of my mother that spaghetti noodles will stick to the wall when fully cooked. We hadn't heard about this before, and being of a scientific bent, we decided to test it one night, at the dinner table.

It happened to be Friday night, so as was traditional for my family, we had gotten a Challah, ordered Chinese (the same order every week; the lady who ran the Chinese place knew us by name), invited our friend Steve over, and made a big pot of noodles for the food. After my father had said the usual Shabbas blessings, and we'd started to eat our Challah, my mother brought up the desire to test our spaghetti for doneness.

So, she picked up a noodle in her fingers and flipped it onto the wall of the dining room. Sure enough, it stuck fast.

Now, naturally, the rest of us weren't going to miss out on this activity. So, my father, my sister, friend Steve, and then I followed suit. Of course, having just one noodle each on the walls was rather...errm...unsatisfying. So, with great deliberation, we decided to repeat the process, until, finally, after fifteen minutes or so, all four walls and the ceiling were covered with noodles.

It must be said, at this point, that the cats were very confused. "Foodlike items on the wall?" young Yitzak seemed to say as he sniffed a low-hanging noodle, "Weird!"

(One thing that isn't often said about throwing pasta on walls: if you leave it there overnight, you can flick it off the next day with no effort, and it leaves interesting grooves in the paint.)

So, that was our great pasta experiment. However, we didn't leave it at that. The ceremonial Spaghetti Toss became a weekly ritual, a part of our Shabbat experience as central to winding down the week as ordering the Chinese food or having Steve over. We continued this sacred rite for the remaining two years we lived in that house, eventually having to just strip the paint and redo it when we moved out.

What can I say? We're a bunch of pastacephalics.
flewellyn: (Default)
This is a story from my youth, about ten years ago, when I was 15. I was at the zoo in Syracuse, New York (incidentally, one of the best I've ever seen), with my mother and my sister. We were, at the time, observing the lions, several females and a large, powerful, and proud male.

Along with us was a large gathering of first-grade students, six and seven years old, with teacher and several mothers along for the field trip.

Now, in the midst of this, without warning, the male lion suddenly decides that he wants to have some fun, and mounts one of the females. In full view of everyone. Obviously, he did not care, for he was quite a man indeed!

This same cavalier attitude towards lion congress was not shared by the teacher of the first grade students, or by their parents, who were trying, in an obviously embarassed manner, to shoo the kids along to some other exhibit. Much coughing ensued from me, and from my sister and my mother.

A small, blonde, adorable girl next to me, about six at the most, turned to her mother with huge, innocent eyes and said, "Mommy, what's he doing to the girl lion?"

Before anyone else could answer, an equally small boy next to her turned and said, at full volume, with great pride, the following words:


I believe I am guilty of understatement when I describe this as the most beautiful moment in the history of the universe.


flewellyn: (Default)

July 2014

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