“Don’t be silly. Where do you think Double Solitaire came from? It was just here?”
Her focus remained on the game as her hands flew across the cards at uncanny speed.
“Maybe the guy who invented regular Solitaire invented it.”
“Ha. Who invented him? Don’t be a schmuck. Of course there’s God.” She seemed very convinced as she took a deep drag on her daily Kent without bothering to remove the cigarette from her mouth. She blew a lungful of smoke in my face as she quickly laid off all of her cards, the last one with a table-slamming: “I win.”
I had always suspected her of cheating but, since I could not see her hands through the miasma, I had not been able to catch her in the act.
“Are you sure?” I snorted in a pound of mucous. It was hard to believe that so much smoke could come out of a five foot gray haired old lady.
“Of course, I’m sure. You have cards; I have no cards. I win. It’s the rules. I am the winner. No two ways about it.” She counted my cards and reached into her purse, extracting a pencil stub and envelope 4 from which she withdrew several large folded papers which she very delicately unfolded and handironed. “You owe me thirty six cents.”
“Put it on my account.” I sleeved my nose.
“I did.” She wrote carefully, folded the papers neatly and returned them to their nest.
“You did? I have an account? Since when do I have an account?”
“It’s your inheritance account and I’ve had it since you were no bigger than a pupick. Each year, on the celebration of your birthday, I add one dollar additional, regardless. Every time you lose in cards or do something else that perturbs me, I deduct. Today, I have subtracted thirty-six cents from your bequest. And it grows ever smaller. Pretty soon it won’t pay for you to show up at the reading, that is, if you were planning on coming in the first place.” She snapped the clasp of her purse shut signaling the end of the conversation. She smiled as her uppers slid down a notch.
“I’ll be there, if I’m not too busy watching TV or playing stickball or something. Bequest? What bequest? You live here with us. All you have is an iron and a housedress. You can’t leave me anything if you don’t have anything.” I loved to jab her about living with us — mom, dad, and my sibling units, one male and one female; it was the only quality defense that I had.
“Mox nix. It matters not. Whatever I do or do not have, you will get thirty six cents less of it.” She leaned back and took a victorious drag on the Kent and sent a stream across my bow.
That’s when I decided that I could never have a conversation about the existence of God with Gram. There is no convincing, debating, swaying, reasoning, arguing, facts, statistics, analytics, reckoning, common sense or logic. I figured that you either believed in God or you didn’t.
Our positions were clearly defined: she did, and I was one hundred percent unsure. In a way, I admired her conviction, which was far less stressful and time consuming than my oscillation. While she ironed and watched As the World Turns, I would lay on my bed staring straight up in His or Her direction debating His or Her existence.
Gram would spend a carefree afternoon finishing the ironing; I, on the other hand, came away wondering why anyone would put wallpaper on the ceiling.
ABOUT THE BOOK!!
I was a religious mutt— a matzo brie pizza; a blintz marinara; a bagel and lox trapped inside a spaghetti and meatballs body.
Some Amazon Reviews.. (4.8 stars/15 Reviews..)
“Funny, silly, absurd and most of all heartwarming.” Toni Roche
“More tongue in cheek than any kosher deli.” Robert S. Rosenthal
“This is a pisser.” Larry Schneiderman
The offspring of a Jewish mother, begotten by a pair of good old-fashioned European Jew begetters, and an Italian Catholic father, I straddled religions for most of my youth. I was a Jew Catholic, or Cath Jew, or half and half, or half-Cath, or half-Jew, or Jewolic, depending upon whom I was trying to impress or what I was attempting to avoid.
My Gram tried to convince me that I was a Jew by virtue of the ‘mother of the Jew rule’. I remained solidly unconvinced and ambivalent.
“But why isn’t the rule: if your father was Catholic, you are too?” I always challenged the ‘mother of the Jew rule’ when I had an urgent need to irk.
“Because you are a Jew,” she said, a cigarette dangled from her lips and smoke meandered up through her glasses.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because, you are a schmuck and only Jews can be schmucks.” She had embroidered the very same saying onto a pillow, which she threatened to give to me for my birthday. She opened the clasp on her purse and snapped it shut, signaling the official end of the conversation.
That was my conundrum. This is my story.