Happy Jew Year everybody! For the record — I looked it up on a Chinese menu– it’s 5773, the sort of number that suggests the end of the third quarter of a blow-out basketball game.
When Guido and I first moved to south Florida in the 19th Century, she found a job in a quick-print shop on Commercial Blvd owned by a Chinese couple whose major activity was printing menus for Chinese restaurants from Pompano to North Dade. Guido had managed print stores in Philadelphia for a few years — she even met Ben Franklin, although he’d retired from the business many years before. “Funny guy,” she told me. “The kind of lecherous old bastard that gets away with it by making you laugh.”
Some of the Chinese restaurants also ordered promotional calendars they’d hand out at the end of the year. Guido noticed that most of them took notice of the Jewish Holidays, especially the important ones in the fall like Rosh Hashanah and Young Kipper (yeah, I know). She asked Kit, one of the owners, what the deal was.
“You no Jewish?” Kit had asked her, somewhat surprised. Back then Guido regularly wore an earring with Jewish lettering she’d received as a gift, and, a heavily freckled redhead, she’s often mistaken for Jewish or Irish or something other than the mostly Eye-Tie mongrel she is.
“I’ve been called worse,” Guido replied. “But no.” Pause. “My last 50 married boyfriends were,” she absolutely did not say.
Kit nods. “Jews good customels!” he exprained, um, explained. “Jewish High Horidays big take-out days for Chinese lestaulants. Jews hurry home from wolk befole sunset, sclambre off to shur, lun come home vely hungly fawl take-out! Rots of egg lorr and sweet and sowah shlimp. Big favolite!” He smiled.
Ironically, it’s thanks to Kit and his wife Jenny, who were just wonderful folks, that I no longer care much for what passes for Chinese food in restaurants: they would take us to dinner quite often at their clients’ restaurants, where the chefs would prepare genuine Chinese cuisine for us. It was so much better, so different, I can’t go back. The closest we came to this experience was the hot Chinese breakfast we ate in San Francisco a few years ago.
That aside, I’ll gladly take a greasy fried eggroll over that repulsive lump of ground fish matter submerged in pus that appears on dinner tables at Jewish holiday celebrations (is it true that “gefilte” translates to “pond scum”?).
Anyway, this being a religious holiday, what would that famous Jewish fella Jesus Do? I think he’d say, Happy Horidays to all!