When my big sister was in fifth grade, she came home one day with a new trick.
“You take a paper,” she demonstrated, “and you fold it back and forth, like a fan.” She expertly turned and folded, then pinched and held the “fan” in the middle to form a sort of bow.
Holding the bow under her nose as a huge mustache, EG assumed a wicked expression and said in deep, cruel, tones, “You must pay the rent.”
Back to the mustache. “You must pay the rent.”
Hairbow: “I can’t pay the rent!”
Now she held the bow under her chin as a bowtie. A gallant voice proclaimed, “I’ll pay the rent.”
“Why thank you!” Hairbow gushed.
Mustache wrinkled his face in anger. “Rats! Foiled again!”
Hairbow sighed with pleasure. “My hero…”
We watched, enthralled, and then got to work on our own mustaches.
Erev yom tov was not my best day.
In the best of times I am not super organized. On a day when the List Of Things To Do was scratched in favor of simply running around like a chicken without a head, trying to do everything, get everyone everywhere…well… you can imagine.
I had dropped off two kids at the sefarim store and allowed just-gotten-permit-sister to drive me to the cleaners with only two screams as we almost-crashed. Or almost-almost-crashed. I jumped out of the car and made sure Tatty’s credit card was still in my pocket. Oh no, it was drizzling again. A look in the car window confirmed my fears. My hair was…. “pre-shower” would be too kind a description.
Soon, soon… I thought, yom tov will be here… it will be done…
I opened the door to the cleaners and almost stepped right out again. The line of customers stretched from the counter to the door. I had never seen this place that way. Sigh. Sukkos comes only once a year, right…
Well, at least it was all men, I thought with relief. Nobody here to recognize me on my bad hair day.
The line crept slowly forward. A man in a raincoat was telling jokes to a group around him. The laughing was nice. His smile was kind, too, I thought.
I checked the time again. Five minutes, ten minutes… I imagined the little kids in the sefarim store, growing bored, waiting to be picked up, anxious… my sister in the car, getting antsy… my mother at home, wondering where everyone was…
I tapped my foot and obsessively watched the progress of each man or boy in line. One less… and another done… twenty minutes.
The nine-year-old boy ahead of me grabbed his huge pile of shirts and turned away. Yes! My turn!
I stepped up to the counter and gave my phone number to the man behind the counter. His identical twin whisked a neat bunch of gleaming plastic onto the rack. Ahhh… the sight warmed my heart. Freshly pressed clothes does bring simchas yom tov.
I slipped the card out of my pocket and slid it onto the counter.
“No credit card,” the man informed me. “Only cash.”
I blinked. “But… but don’t you usually take credit card… over twenty dollars?”
“No credit card,” he repeated shortly. “Not today.”
I stood there dumbly. “But… I don’t have anything else…”