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Gift Wars – December 2011


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Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” It’s pretty much like your typical ask the expert column, with one minor difference (if you want to get technical): I’m not an expert on anything.  Just ask my wife.  A lot of these “experts” kind of talk to you like they know more than you, just because maybe they do.  Is that the type of person you want to ask?  Or would you rather vent in the general direction of someone whose life is just as messed up as yours, and won’t judge you, unless your question is really weird?

We’ll start off today with a really weird question that someone sent in, although I would never say so to his face.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            I was at Kosherfest (a kosher-food trade show) last month, trying and tasting kosher products, but I couldn’t find a single wig on display.  Are wigs kosher?

JB, Brooklyn, USA  

Dear J,

Thanks for your question, and thanks for telling me which country Brooklyn is in.

Yes, wigs are definitely kosher, if by “kosher” you mean “a Jewish thing”.  In the Goyish world, wigs and toupees are extremely socially awkward.  In fact, if you work in an office with a lot of Goyim, at some point they’re going to talk about it behind your back:

“Um…  Is she wearing a wig?  I don’t want to say anything.”

“Quiet!  She’s right there!”

“I mean it!  Is she bald, do you think?”

“I don’t know.  I’m pretty sure that’s a ponytail bump in the back there.”

“You think that’s weird?  That other guy is wearing a potholder on his head!  With his name on it!”

Ok, don’t look at me like that.  Every guy has, at some point, used his yarmulke to hold a pot or unscrew a light bulb or take something out of a toaster, or open a pickle jar.  (Okay, that last one is just ridiculous.)  Mostly it’s yeshiva guys that do this, because even if they remembered, when they bought food, that they also needed to buy a pot, there’s no way they remembered to buy something to hold it with.  They didn’t even buy something to stir what they were cooking, and have been using a series of rapidly-melting plastic forks.

Come to think of it, even if you’ve never used your yarmulka for this, it would actually be a great use for that pile of old yarmulkas under your bed.  You can just keep them in your kitchen drawers.  You already have your old undershirts under the sink for polishing silver, and your kids are using your old Shabbos shirts as smocks.  Pretty soon the entire house will be covered in Totty clothes.

And no, I don’t know what to do with old sheitels, weird swimming-pool pranks notwithstanding.  But if you think I’m going to answer the question you were really asking back there, you’re crazier than I am.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            What is the most unfortunate item you’ve ever gotten as a housewarming gift?

AS, Philadephia  

Dear A,

A houseplant.  Especially since I have kids.  I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but it’s basically like getting a big pot of dirt to keep in the house until it tips over.  Like there’s not enough dirt in my house. 

“No!  There’s also leaves!”

People like getting each other houseplants as housewarming gifts, because it has the word “house” right in the name.  But my feeling is that if Hashem wanted plants to grow inside, He would have planted them inside, like He does at the mall.  The only way to keep plants alive inside is to make them think that they’re outside – to keep them huddled up against a window, remember to open that shade every day AND NOT SPILL THE DIRT.  And that’s besides the fact that the average person can only remember to feed either his kids OR his plants.  Not both.  And the kids make noise when they’re hungry.  So it’s not looking good for the plants.

Seriously, though?  The only people I know that have successfully kept houseplants alive have decent-sized houses with lots of windows and no kids living at home.  Having a house full of plants is the socially acceptable alternative to having 27 cats.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            I have a sibling who I never really got along with, but now that we’re both grown up and have kids, I would like to show her that I’m an adult now.  What should I get her for Chanukah?

LR, Maryland  

Dear L,

A houseplant.  Especially if she doesn’t have a house.  You can tell her it’s an “apartment plant.”  Come to think of it, you can just bring her a pot of dirt and tell her there’s something planted in it, even though there isn’t.

But you should definitely get her kids presents, because it’s important to have a relationship with your nieces and nephews, and besides, your sister will never tell her kids, “No, you can’t use the drum set that Aunt Chavi got you.”

In fact, some people actually have decades-long wars going on with their siblings.  They get you a Fisher Price Corn Popper, which is which is basically a stick that also makes noise, and you get them a big wooden alphabet puzzle with 26 pieces for their two-year-old who likes throwing things.  They get you something with glitter, so you get them something with makeup.  They get you glow-in-the-dark play dough, so you get them a set of 300 building blocks that fit in the original box only if you put them back in exactly the right order.  And so on, until you’re shipping each other massive-indoor ball pits and pet elephants, and of course she snitches to your parents, who fly in from Florida and tell you that you’re not allowed to get her kids presents anymore.  Not that this happened to me.

Really, though, you shouldn’t let this escalate.  It’s better to just get her something she needs, like maybe some real potholders, for goodness sake.  Or some smocks for her kids.  And, of course, a set of fingerpaints to go with it.

 

That’s it for now, thank goodness.  Feel free to send in questions on basically any topic.  Seriously, it doesn’t matter which one.  I’m not an expert on any of them.

Question everything!

Mordechai

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