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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Mordechai’

I Don’t Buy It

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

There are a lot of newspaper advice columns out there. But what makes this one different is that sometimes, you don’t want to ask an expert. Sometimes you want to ask a regular guy who might not actually know more than you.

If you ask an expert, he’s going to give you real advice, and you have to follow it. But if you ask me, you can feel free to say that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and then go do your own thing. Like if you ask, “Who’s right, me or my wife?” and I say that your wife is right, you can say, “Well, I’m still gonna go with me.”

People don’t write to me for advice, they write to me for justification.

Dear Mordechai,

If I stand when I eat, do I get fat feet?

S.S., Brooklyn

Dear S.,

I don’t know if this is scientifically accurate. They really should conduct a study. I say this because I’ve seen a lot of people standing when they eat, especially at a kiddush, but I’ve never actually seen anyone with fat feet. It’s not really something you can hide with baggy clothes.

The logic behind the saying, I guess, is gravity. When you eat something, it goes all the way down to your feet, right? You learn that in biology. But I’ve got to tell you: If you sit when you eat, the food doesn’t go down and just stop at… Oh, actually it does. I see what you’re saying now. There really is no good position for eating.

But I’ll tell you this: Sitting when you eat is a good practice to get into. If you have to sit down with a plate every time you eat, you’ll gain less weight, because you’ll eat less often. It’s kind of like the Sukkos diet, where every time you want to eat, you have to put something on, go outside, roll up a tarp, sit down, and then get up and come back in for silverware. And then a drink. And then a cup. For goodness sakes.

Dear Mordechai,

My daughter brings home arts and crafts every day, and that’s great. I make a huge deal about it and I hang it up on the fridge. But it’s every single day. Should I get a bigger fridge?

S.S., Far Rockaway

Dear S.,

I don’t see how you really have any other choice. What are you going to do, hurt her feelings?

It doesn’t help either that these kids don’t make nearly enough magnets in school. For every twenty things they make that have to be hung up with magnets, they make maybe one magnet. And to be honest, it’s not a very sticky magnet.

And then the question is: How long do you have to wait before taking it down? If you take it down too soon, the kid gets insulted. If you take it down too late, the kid gets embarrassed.

See, that’s the good thing about Sukkos — all those projects could go up in the sukkah, and then a week later, you get to take it down. Or, if you’re not particularly good at hanging things, you get to watch them blow away. Either way, you don’t have to insult anyone.

I have the same issue with my daughter, especially in the summer. Arts and crafts are fun to put together, but I don’t have fun figuring out where to put it. It’s kind of like how some people enjoy shopping, but then they come home with a bunch of stuff, and where are we going to put it? We don’t have nearly enough magnets. I say that you can enjoy shopping, but every few days, you should bring it all back. The shopping part is done. Do you love finding places for things too? It’s like when your kid plays a game, and you make him clean it up. He doesn’t love cleaning, but he loves playing a game. This is part of it.

Dear Mordechai,

What should I do about telemarketers?

P.H.R., Philly

Dear P.,

Hang up. They can’t really stop you, can they? I find that the easiest way to hang up is to do it during one of your own sentences. That way, they think there’s no way you actually hung up on yourself.

Going In Circles

Friday, September 14th, 2012

When people ask me what kind of column I write for The Jewish Press, I say, “advice,” but I actually make those quotes with my fingers. I don’t think I’ve actually saved any lives yet. But this column is still great way to vent about your problems, so long as you can figure out how to put them in the form of a question.

Dear Mordechai,

The guy next to me on the road is talking on his phone while driving. Is he trying to get us all killed?

Sent from my iPhone

Dear Sent,

I would say you should stay right on him, lean on your horn, and don’t stop. Eventually, he’ll have to hang up.

This all makes us long for the good old days, when phones were attached to people’s houses, so there was only a limited distance that you could drive with them, depending on the size of your cord. Most people couldn’t leave their neighborhoods.

But the truth is this kind of multitasking is nothing new. People have always been doing other things while driving, and people have always been doing other things while talking on the phone. Before we spent all our driving time staring at our phones, we were eating, finding something good on the radio, shaving, clipping our toenails, blindly groping for things our kids dropped under the seat, and passing back open drinks. And back when we had separate devices for phoning and computing, we would only half pay attention to the people we were on the phone with, who would think they had our full attention until we mumbled, “Uch, where are all the jacks?”

“Um, are you playing solitaire?”

“No, I’m… playing jacks.”

It’s not like the really old days, when phones came in two separate pieces – one for the ear and one for the mouth — and the wire was six inches long, so to talk on the phone, people had to lean over them and use both hands. Maybe that would solve the problem.

Or maybe not. People text with both hands too.

Dear Mordechai,

Why does everyone in my shul walk so slowly during Hoshanos? I need to get to work.

Sent from my iPhone

Dear Sent,

I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be suggesting we all walk faster while holding lulavim.

No shul I’ve ever been to has ever managed to do any better. They could bring in city planners to figure out the best route around the shul, and they could move tables and put up traffic signs, and people will still take shortcuts across corners and merge back in, which, in the end, makes the line go even slower. .

Half of them don’t even realize they’re merging. They’re just looking down at their siddurim and following the tallis in front of them.

Somehow I always end up with a guy in front of me going really slow, and a guy behind me leaning on my back. Or else the guy behind me is a kid, and every time the guy in front of me makes a short stop, the kid pokes me in the back with his lulav. Not that I blame him. The poor kid, with his tiny hands, can’t hold a thousand-page Artscroll machzor and a lulav and an esrog that is bigger than his hands. None of us can really hold all that and turn the page (because somehow you always have to turn the page. That’s the other nice thing about the Artscrolls).

So you figure, “Look, the chazzan is saying everything out loud, 3 words at a time. Why do I need my own siddur?” But then as soon as he’s done, there’s a whole paragraph that you have to say by yourself, and it’s going to take you ten minutes to get back to your seat, because the chazzan, when he finishes, is somehow right back at his shtender, but everyone else is on the exact opposite side of the shul from where they need to be. So yes, you need to have a siddur with you, so you can say the paragraph while blindly making your way to your seat.

We don’t have this problem on Simchas Torah. We go around the shul then too, but people are running, they’re holding each other’s shoulders, weaving in and out, and everything’s fine. And this is on top of Torahs and piggyback riders and sticky hands from all the candy. And I’m not even talking about the kids. But on Sukkos, those same people can’t manage to make it around one time.

Awkward Timing

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” where we answer any and all questions sent in by readers. It’s a lot like all the other “ask the expert” columns, except that, whereas the other experts are interested in giving you a well-researched answer, our interest is more in meeting our deadlines so we can get back to looking for our car keys. Most of the time, we tackle advice questions, but once in a while we have to take a break from those, because of the lawsuits.

Dear Mordechai,

Why do garbage trucks always come in the wee hours of the morning?

A.S., Monsey

Dear A.,

They want to beat traffic.

I don’t know how it helps, though. It’s not like they don’t stop in front of every house anyway.

Actually, it depends what you call “wee.” To me, the “wee hours of the morning” is anytime before noon. I think they like seeing you run out with your shirt half buttoned and one shoe on, screaming “Wait!” and holding a full, dripping garbage bag over your head, like they’re not coming again in three days. This is why they always make enough noise to wake you up.

For years, I always assumed that garbage trucks went around all day, and that they just passed my house early in the morning. But so far I’ve lived in several different places, and wherever I’ve lived, they somehow managed to get there between the hours of 5 and 8 in the morning. So I’m beginning to think those are the only hours that they work. I guess they know that if they did it during the day, people would be chasing them down the block half dressed all day long, and it would take them forever to get anywhere.

Another reason they take garbage early in the morning is that in total, it amounts to less garbage for them to take, because:

A. Chances are you’ll forget to bring out the garbage the night before, and

B. If you do remember, the garbage will sit out on the curb all night, and the longer it sits there, the more chance there is that people will drive by and say things like, “Hey, a broken toaster! I can use one of those!”

Dear Mordechai,

Why do there seem to be more Hatzolah calls on Shabbos?

Y.S., Queens

Dear Y,

Obviously, it’s because you’re in charge of your own kids. And by “in charge,” we mean letting them watch themselves while you take a nap. When do you suppose they came up with that contest to see who could jump off a higher step? There is only one way that game ends. Unless there’s an adult sleeping in the basement.

Another reason more people call Hatzolah is that Hatzolah members are more up-to-date on what you can and can’t do on Shabbos. For example, let’s say your kid is hurt – would you be able to drive him to the hospital? Or do you have to make him drive himself? Hatzolah knows these answers. My heart actually goes out to the people who live where there is no Hatzolah, and are never sure what they’re allowed to tell the non-Jewish ambulance drivers straight out, and what they have to hint to them.

“My son broke his arm.”

“So you want us to take him to the hospital?”

“Um… My son broke his arm.”

“Okay, I think the father is going into shock. Load him in as well.”

Dear Mordechai,

Why do things never work out when you try to show someone something?

A.J., Silver Spring

Dear A.,

I blame their negative energy, and the look on their face that says, “Really? This guy dragged me away from what I was doing for this?” And it never helps that he starts off with, “Okay, but this better be quick.”

This also happens when you’re trying to show someone something cute that you just discovered your kid can do. Your kid doesn’t want to perform for this guy. It’s usually something mundane that you would never make a big deal about if a bigger person did it, and the kid knows that. He’s thinking, “I didn’t learn to walk so I could perform. I learned to walk so I could stop dragging lollies across the carpet. I never would have shown you if I knew you were going to sell tickets.”

Gone With The Wind

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” – the column where people blindside me with questions, and I have to answer them, even though, oftentimes, answering questions only leads to more questions. Especially the way I do it.

This month, in honor of the summer, we’re going to answer some questions about travel. It’s important to go on vacation once in a while, so you have some relaxation, unless you count the stress of getting ahead on your work before vacation, catching up on your work after vacation, and driving long distances with your kids having border disputes in the back seat.

Dear Mordechai,

I haven’t flown in a while, but I heard they changed the size regulations for carry-on luggage. What should I do? Buy a whole new set of luggage that is one inch smaller?

Nervous Flier Far Rockaway

Dear Nervous,

You might be able to get away with your bigger suitcase, as long as they give you a smaller plane. The last time I flew, I bought a new suitcase, because the one I had was a half inch wider than regulation, and I’d heard that the airlines are very strict about these things. Like if your suitcase is too big, it’s going to be hanging out the back of the plane.

But then I got to the airport, and it turns out the plane I was taking was very small. Okay, so it wasn’t that small. It’s not like it was just me and the pilot, wearing goggles and scarves and yelling to each other over the motor. But I was able to stand up in the aisle and reach both sides of the plane. Until the flight attendants asked me to stop.

But my point is that because the plane was so small, no one’s carry-on could really fit in the overhead bins, so the flight crew didn’t bother measuring anything – they just told us they’d put it under the plane, for free. So the half inch would not have mattered.

So my advice is to request it. Just say, “Hi, could you please get me on a small plane, so I can put my carry-on go underneath the plane, instead of right over my head?” Those should be your exact words. If you do that, the size of your suitcase won’t be a problem, because chances are airport security is going to take it out into a field and detonate it, just in case.

But if you find out that your plane is bigger and that they are measuring luggage, you can always buy something smaller from the airport’s luggage store for 400 dollars.

Because really, for what other reason could there be to put luggage stores in an airport? Is anyone coming in with armloads of clothes and toiletries tumbling out of his elbows, and going “Suitcase! I knew I forgot something!” Is it for people showing up who already have suitcases? What are they supposed to do with their old ones? Are the stores for people who land at that airport and realize their suitcase was lost midflight? (I say “midflight”, like it fell off the plane.)

“What am I going to do? I lost my suitcase!… Oh, never mind. They sell suitcases right here. I’m good… Wait. These are empty.”

Dear Mordechai,

My wife and I are taking the kids on vacation, and we’re bringing along everything we own, apparently. How do I pack my car so it all fits?

M.F., Cincinnati

Dear M.,

Forget things. That’s what I do.

I’m not kidding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve showed up at my in-laws house for Shabbos without my suit, which was still sitting near my front door in a suit bag. In fact, most of my current suits were bought last minute on a Friday somewhere in Massachusetts.

But if you want to try to get everything in, you’re going to need to develop a strategy, taking into account such factors as how important it is that you see out the back window. I say that once you’re done backing out of the driveway, it’s no longer your problem.

The best strategy, probably, is to put in the bigger items first, followed by the smaller items, followed by your wife coming out of the house with her suitcase, which is the biggest item of all, which you now have to put on top of your hat, the food, and one of your kids. And then you realize you forgot to work in the stroller. It’s a lot like playing Tetris, only when you do a good job, the whole row doesn’t light up and disappear.

Big, Hairy Problems

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” – a humorous advice column that is pretty much like any other advice column, except in terms of helpfulness.

Like all other advice columns, we try to answer your questions, but if you stump us, we say, “That’s beyond the scope of this article,” and we move on with our lives. That’s a nice way of saying, “We have no idea. There are people you can pay by the hour for this sort of thing.”

This week, we begin with a question sent in by every father ever.

Dear Mordechai,

I’m a father, and I’m eating pretty much the same foods I was eating as a teenager, but now all of a sudden I find myself gaining all kinds of weight. What’s happening to my body? And is it just me?

C.K., Far Rockaway

Dear C.,

It’s definitely not just you. Why do you think I don’t use an actual picture of myself at the top of this column? Join the club.

Literally. There’s a club. Granted, it’s a health club, but you get to hang out with other people who are in the same shape as you (pear-shaped). The only downside is that most of the space is taken up by exercise equipment.

The truth is, you might think that you have basically the same habits you always did, but that’s probably not true. For example, now that you run your own household, you arrange your life primarily around making sure you have to get up as little as possible.

So you should probably eat a little healthier, to compensate, but eating healthy is a lot of work. With most unhealthy foods, part of what makes it unhealthy is the preservatives that allow you to buy a ton of it and then come back to the closet several months later and say, “Hey! We have cookies!” It’s a nice surprise. Of course, this never happens, because you usually eat them as soon as you get home. Who forgets they have cookies? But sometimes, I do forget that I have vegetables, because they’re all the way at the bottom of the fridge, in a drawer that is almost always stuck, and when I do find them, months later, it’s never like, “Hey! We have vegetables!” It’s more like, “Oh. We had… What was this?”

“The drawer says “vegetables.”

It’s a good thing it’s labeled. No one ever has to label their nosh closet(s).

Veggies go bad, so you have to keep buying new ones every week. Plus you have to wash them and peel them and cut them and check them for bugs. Cookies never have bugs.

So eating healthy is a lot of work, and if we wanted to do that much work, we’d exercise. But exercise also seems like a lot of needless work. You pick up a weight and then put it down in the same exact place you got it from. What are you accomplishing? If I ran a health club, I would make my members feel like they were accomplishing something. They’d come in the morning, and I’d say, “Okay, today we’re moving all these exercise machines into the other room.” And the next day, I’d say, “Okay, today we’re moving all the machines into the first room.” No one ever goes in two days in a row, especially when I’m constantly asking them to help me rearrange my furniture, so no one would be the wiser.

 

Dear Mordechai,

I want to shave my beard for Lag Ba’Omer, but my wife wants me to keep it. What should I do?

M.P., Passaic

Dear M.,

You think I’m going to get in the middle of this?

Actually, I am. Marriage is all about compromise. So I would say you should shave about half your beard, and then walk around like that for a while. Before long, she’ll be begging you to just shave the rest.

The truth is that beards come highly recommended by at least nine out of ten rabbis. Sure, if you’re not used to a beard, it can be very uncomfortable and scratchy. But they say that if you keep it long enough, it will start to grow on you. And beards do have their advantages. For example, you can stroke it while you think about stuff. Also, people with beards tend to look smarter. Probably because they spend more time thinking.

My guess, though, is that she’s doing this for your own good. In my experience, when your wife says you look good in a beard, that’s code for, “You’ve put on a few pounds.” Beards are slimming, because when you see a fat guy with a beard, you can pretend that he’s really skinny, and that half the width of his face is actually just layers and layers of beard. That’s why Santa has a beard. You didn’t realize he was fat, did you?

Lifetime Guarantee

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Ever since I’ve started writing “You’re Asking Me?” people have been writing in to ask for advice, like they expect me to have all the answers.  Seriously.  Don’t these people have any friends?  Or anyone else they can ask?

 

Our first question today comes from someone who does have friends, but doesn’t want to ask them straight out.  And she’s hoping that those friends don’t read the newspaper.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            I’m having a family over for the last days of Yom Tov, and they don’t eat anything on Pesach.  What should I make?

B.H., Toronto

 

Dear B.,

Nothing.  Seriously nothing.  By the last days of the Yom Tov, they’re not coming to you for the food.  They’re coming to you despite the food.  They don’t want you to put out food that they will then have to force themselves to eat.  They only came to you so they themselves don’t have to figure out what to make.  Or have Pesach leftovers that they have to deal with after Pesach, when it suddenly, somehow, all expires at the same time.  I would say just put out some matzah and drinks and maybe something for heartburn.

Pesach food has become an obsession with us.  Nowadays, we start cooking weeks before Pesach, but when the Jews were leaving Mitzrayim, food was the last thing they thought about.  They had 210 years, and they didn’t start making food until 17 minutes before it was time to leave.  “You know,” they said, “We should really pack some snacks for the road.  We might be out for a while.”

Think about it like this: Why can’t you ask your friends yourself?  It’s because they’re going to say, “No, no, you don’t have to make anything.”  You think they’re trying to be nice, but they’re not.  After all those days of Yom Tov, no one’s really interested in eating anymore.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            Have you ever wondered what it means when you buy, say, a plastic chair for your porch, and it says, “Lifetime Guarantee?”  Nothing I own has ever lasted a lifetime.

Mendy Hecht, Monsey

Dear Mendy,

Obviously, it’s not talking about your lifetime.  If you go your entire life without breaking the chair, who exactly is breaking it after you die?

The product is guaranteed for the lifetime of the product itself.  When the product dies, so does the guarantee. Because honestly, how on earth can the manufacturer possibly know how long you’re going to live?  The guy builds plastic chairs.  He’s not a fortune teller.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            How come my wife’s old clothes go into the dress-up box so my kids can walk around in high heels and snoods, while my old clothes go under the kitchen sink to be used as cleaning cloths?

A.H., Monsey

Dear A.,

There are two reasons this happens:

1. Women are in charge of deciding what gets to be used as rags, because guys would never think of using rags or sponges at all.  Most of the time when I do dishes, I scrub the plates with my fingers.  It’s the women who decide that we need rags, and whose clothing do you think they’re going to use?  Yours.  Because that way it makes them feel like you’re contributing.  And

2. Your wife stops wearing something when she loses a button or develops a tiny, unnoticeable stain or something called a “run.”  Whereas you assume that all clothing comes with a lifetime guarantee, so long as you don’t grow out of it, and will cheerfully wear things until they have dissolved to the size of a small dishtowel, which makes them perfect to use as cleaning cloths.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            How do I get the sanitation department to take my old garbage can?  The can came with my house, but the wheels are missing, and it no longer stands upright.  In order to use it, I have to prop it against the other garbage cans.  It’s always rolling around my yard and making noise and I want nothing more than to get rid of it.  But no matter what I do, the sanitation people just won’t take it.  I tried bringing it to the curb, leaving it empty, leaving it full, laying it down, putting it inside another garbage can…  I even tried leaving a note on it that said, “Garbage.”  But they just took the note.  What do I do?

S.B., Brooklyn

Dear S.,

Cut it in half.  Lengthwise.  If you don’t have the tools to do this, you can leave it at the curb during a serious rainstorm, and it will blow away.  So will the can that you lean it against, but that is a small price to pay, right?

Of course, if you’ve already spray-painted your address on it, you have a problem, because people are going to keep bringing it back.  Maybe you can use more spray paint to change the number on the can, and have it be someone else’s problem.

Clean Jokes

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Welcome back to “You’re Asking Me?” where we answer questions sent in by confused readers who thought they were writing in to Dr. Yael. That said, I’d like to thank all the readers who wrote in. I’m going to attempt to address your questions, not so much because I know the answers, but more so that I have an excuse to get out of cleaning for Pesach.

Dear Mordechai,

I find that I’m very overwhelmed by Pesach cleaning. Do you have any suggestions?

Nervous in New Jersey

Dear Nervous,

What on Earth were you thinking buying the biggest house you could afford? My advice is to not think of it as cleaning the entire house – on a deadline. I say that you should start, a couple of months before Pesach, with something small and manageable, like a single drawer. Take everything out, make piles, scrub down the drawer, and then put everything back in so it’s parallel. Then move on to the next drawer. If you keep doing that, little by little, eventually you’ll realize that you’ve been cleaning for six weeks and you’re still on the same set of drawers, and you have yet to come across something that is actually chometz, or even food for that matter, and you have no idea what you were thinking starting with your pajama drawers, because how often do you change your pajamas?

So you pick up the pace, dumping out entire drawers, throwing out visible food, shoving everything back in, and promising that you’ll get back to them after Pesach. Which you will not, because if you ever had a chance to clean out entire drawers when you didn’t have to, you’d also have a chance to put things away properly to being with, rather than shoving them into the drawer and hoping they’ll find their way the right part of the drawer by themselves. And before you know it, it will be Pesach again.

But my point is that in the end, you’ll come into Pesach panting and sweating and realizing that amid all that fury of dumping and shoving, you didn’t have time to be overwhelmed.

 

Dear Mordechai,

I’m flying to my in-laws for Yom Tov, and I’d like to bring along some food for the Seder. Is there anything I can bring along that will make it through airport security?

Pat Down, JFK

Dear Pat,

Not really. A bottle of wine has too much liquid, matzah will be confiscated as a sharp weapon, and we don’t even want to think about what they’ll do to you if they find marror. Potatoes, maybe? Last year I ran into someone at the post office putting some stamps on a box of round matzah. Though I doubt it was still round when it got to where it was going.

 

Dear Mordechai,

I’m making Pesach this year, due to an incident last year when my in-laws, who don’t eat gebrukts, received a box in the mail on the first day of Pesach containing what was basically matzah meal. Anyway, this is our first time making Pesach, and I’d like to know what I’m getting myself into. What would you say is the most annoying part of making Pesach?

T.S., Monsey

Dear T.,

Honestly? I like that my house actually gets cleaned once a year, and I like that I’m forced to make foods that are out of my comfort zone.

What’s annoying is the part before Pesach where half your house is chometzdik and half your house is Pesachdik. You’re cooking in the dining room or eating out of a random room in the basement, you can’t bring Pesach stuff into this room, you can’t bring chometz into that room, you need to be on your guard the entire month to remind your kids about where they can and can’t bring food, they have more cookies to eat than ever before but there’s nowhere they can actually eat them, and your entire kitchen is Pesachdik except a couple of shelves in the fridge, so you have to take foods out of the fridge and move them around without putting them down anywhere. You spend all day cleaning for Pesach, but have to break in middle to figure out which chometz to serve the kids for supper, such as a random “this is what we found in the freezer” supper that consists of two hot dogs, three chicken wings, three types of French fries and a frozen bag of what was probably once soup. Should we have noodles? We’d have to make them on the travel range, and then strain them off the edge of the back porch without dropping any in the backyard, because the colander is too big to wash in the bathroom sink, which is where we’re doing all our dishes for the week. Sometimes we have to wait in the hall with a pile of dishes because someone is in there. Why on earth did we buy so many noodles?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/clean-jokes/2012/03/09/

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