And so it begins...
Joel and I were talking tonight about documenting some of the inside jokes from our childhood so that our children would someday know what it is that we periodically find ourselves laughing at when it would seem to the casual observer that there is absolutely nothing obviously funny happening. So here we go, attempting to list phrases we used, expressions we misused, and jokes we have abused. Included are some comments we have turned into family rules, and stories from family members that have evolved into family folklore.
Nathan’s hot dogs are world famous in the Rosenzweig household. My father grew up in Brooklyn and sold ice cream from a carry around cooler on the beach at Coney Island in the 1950s. He grew up with Nathans - and so it was written. Now my kids love Nathan’s, although they possibly like the attached arcade more than the hot dogs and fries. You just have to love the little red fork.
A Jewish Goodbye
“Are they still leaving? We said goodbye at least three times and I could swear I watched them walk out the door.” Is there really a jewish goodbye? If you were to attend a Homefield gathering you just might come to the conclusion that Shalom does not in fact mean Hello, Goodbye, and Peace, but instead means Hello, Hello Again, and Hello in case I didn’t already said Hello. The problem is that there is always just one more thing than needs to be done, such as locating missing car keys, wrapping up some leftovers in an oversized pyrex, or recounting just one more story. Now that my brother an I have our own children there in a new dimension of items to be misplaced in the milliseconds prior to getting into the car when we leave Bubbie’s house. Did I already tell you that one? Don’t answer, I’m going to tell it again anyway. Non-Jews may leave and not say goodbye, but Jews typically say goodbye and then ever leave. Buh Bye.
A Jewish Sandwich
My parents hosted Joel’s bar-Mitzvah at our home. My Bar-Mitzvah celebration was at a long gone restaurant called Finally Michael's, very fitting. Having a December birthday, my Bar-Mitzvah was scheduled in January, in Boston. Do I need to mention we had a blizzard? Shocking, I know. Joel’s Bar-Mitzvah was in October, so short of a freak hurricane, the weather was not going to threaten this event because we were prepared with tents on our front lawn. My cousin Bryan was inside the house at the buffet, selecting a collection of corned beef, roast beef, pastrami, and turkey to decorate his bagel. As he was building his masterpiece, along comes my father’s college buddy Paul, to provide some apparently much needed critique on my cousins sandwich making skills. Now to put things in perspective, Bryan was about to turn 16, and was almost as tall as my 6’4 uncle Steve, only Steve had the physique of a basketball player and Bryan was the formidable guy on the high school track team who threw the shot put about 50 feet. Point being, Bryan was no stranger to making a decent sandwich, but clearly he was committing an atrocity in front of Paul. Paul, like my father was a New Yorker, and you would get no argument from a group of linebackers that Paul was a large man. “Kid, that is not a Jewish sandwich”, announced Paul as he then grabbed what could easily have been another 1/2 lb of deli meat and stacked it on Bryan’s sandwich, “now that is a Jewish Sandwich!”
What year are you in?
It just seems that all the really wise guy comments are just begging to be released when you are a teenager at one of your parents parties. It is 1984 and I’m a sophomore in high school when my mother’s friend walks over to strike up a conversation with me and innocently asks “What year are you in?” Now this was the equivalent of Manny Ramirez getting a tip from the catcher that Mariano Rivera is going to throw a change up right into his power zone. Does Manny take a cut and bust some car windows on Lansdowne street? I think he does, and in my case, I took my swing. “What year am I in? I’m in 1984, what year are you in?”
F’d up by a Rosenzweig. Everyone else will claim this is F’d up beyond all recognition (or repair), but let me assume you that if it is screwed up by a Rosenzweig, it will still fit the original definition of the term.
Flipped a Bit
A person acting illogical or crazy, much like a computer would behave if there were an internal memory error such as an unexpected change in state of one bit in the system memory. Joel and I both worked as Software Engineers at Intel so we were fortunate to have coworkers who appreciated computer geek humor. Redo from start? I don’ think so.
The Salad Makes the Meal
It was a get together with the cousins and my uncle Steve took us out with him to pick up pizza to feed the troops. I loved pizza, and salad only inhibited my ability to consume more slices of pizza. My uncle insisted that we order a large salad to go with the pizza because “Salad Makes the Meal!” Probably good advice for a healthier lifestyle to consume salad with every meal, but at the time we found the comment really funny. Every time I’m with my brother at a meal and we see a large salad, which is fairly frequent since we’ve been working at the same company for the past 8 years, we will glance over at each other and say “salad makes the meal”, no matter how nasty the meal.
As my dad tells this joke, an Army sergeant receives a telegram that the father of one of the privates has passed away. The sergeant calls the platoon outside and has them line up. He calls out, “Private Cortez, take one step forward, your father has passed away.” The private is crushed and sinks his head in sorrow. A captain witnessing this approaches the sergeant and tells him that this was the most insensitive display he has even seen, and that he better be more sensitive the next time there is such devastating news. About a month later, the sergeant receives a second telegram stating that Private Cortez’s mother has passed away. Remembering the warning from the Captain, the sergeant calls the entire platoon outside and has them line up single file as they did the last time. “Men”, he announces, “I have a telegram here with some very important news. Would everyone who’s mother is still alive please take one step forward.” The majority of the platoon starts to step forward when the sergeant yells out, “No so fast Cortez!” Let’s just say we’ve utilized this expression when it is apparent someone is jumping to an honest, but incorrect assumption about something where we just happen to have information that would drastically change their conclusion.
Flying Lox Box
Why can’t you keep jews in jail? Because they eat lox. Growing up in Massachusetts offered a limited selection of bagels and lox for breakfast on Sunday mornings. Limited of course relative to the selection of lox and bagels on Long Island. Instead of visiting a local bagel shop, we could often pick up bagels and lox at the supermarket. I’m sure this frustrated my parents to no end, both New Yorkers, to not get fresh hot bagels and hand sliced lox, but hey, it is still lox and bagels. At the supermarket, lox was not hand slices and packed with folded wax paper, but instead packaged in a vacuum sealed plastic wrapper and then placed in a cardboard box. The box of course when tossed in the air from the kitchen counter to the refrigerator was instantly transformed into a flying lox box. One of my first projects while working for Intel was the development and adaptation of an operation system called SPOX for the Intel Architecture - called IA SPOX. Toward the end of the project I received a shrink wrap copy of the product, and would you know it, the software was packaged in a box. I tossed the box over the cubicle wall to my buddy Roger and announced “here comes a flying SPOX box”. I’m sure he had no idea why I found this so funny.
My grandfather Kenny had a long list of stories and expressions. Most were completely inappropriate for children, and a good portion were not appropriate for adults. His advice before I started my undergraduate studies, “Don’t let college get in the way of your education”. Prior to visiting new York City, he told me not to look up while walking around the city. “I don’t want to look like a tourist, right?”, “No, don’t look up or a bird could sh*t in your eye.” OK, good advice, I guess. “Hey Sidonda!”, he would yell in a crowded stadium. “Hey Sidonda, Hey Sidonda”. Kenny grew up in Philadelphia and raised the family in Brooklyn. He was yelling, “Hey sit down there! You are blocking the view”. Now of course I can call out “Hey Sidonda” and people think I must be calling to someone in the front row.
How do you keep kids on the right track in life and teach them to stay away from drugs? My father had a rule about drugs, don’t take drugs unless they are prescribed by a Dr. My brother and I suggested a list of potential doctors. He vetoed the following from the list: Dr. No, Dr. Demento, Dr Jeckle, Dr. Pepper, and Dr. J.
How much did my parents love New York? They once told me about a radio contest. The grand prize was an all expense paid trip for 1 week in New York. And the prize for the runner up? Two weeks in New York. Every trip into the city is memorable and sometimes overwhelming. As Kenny would say, I spent a week in new York one day. Yes, that would sum it up for me. Beep Beep!