Texting While Kvetching

Dear Malachi, Forgive me, I don’t want to bother you. I know you are very busy with schoolwork. I don’t mean to be such a nudge, but I am a mother. How are you? I haven’t heard from you in a long time. You know, children have to keep in touch with their parents. Cuomo said that.

Hi, Mom. I’m doing fine. I texted you just this morning. Are you and Dad okay?

Dear Malachi, We are doing as best as can be expected under the circumstances. You know how we are. We’ll manage. It is not easy being the vulnerable ones. In front of the whole country, yet. I know what they are saying about us. I know what they mean. You don’t have to be Albert Schweitzer to figure out what they mean. Wait until they get old and see how they feel. It is your father I am concerned about. “Wash your hands,” I tell him. “Don’t touch your face,” I say. “You’re like a broken record,”he says to me. So, I give him a pair of pink Playtex Living rubber gloves and do you think he would put them on? No. You know your father, he thinks he knows better than everyone else. But he’s good at social distancing. At home. He knows how to do at that. Outside, though, not so good. He’d be out there right now touching  things if I didn’t take his shoes away from him.

Good for you, Ma.  Could we talk later? I have to get back to my homework.

Dear Malachi, I know. I won’t bother you. I was watching Fauci on TV. He’s very smart. Frieda says she thinks they’re going to fire him. He’s so short though. Nice looking man. Italian, I think. I hope he doesn’t get it like all the other Italians. And the Chinese. And the Spanish. And all those people on the cruise ships. How do you think they got it all the way out there in the middle of the ocean? Did you ever ask yourself that? Out in the middle there? Could it be something in the food? Nothing is safe anymore. Why do you think they have all those insurance company commercials on TV? Just to get people scared of everything. And what is with that yellow ostrich commercial? Do you get that? Your father thinks it’s so funny. But I don’t get it. And all those ads for plaque psoriasis with all those elbows they show. Have you ever seen so many elbows? We need to see elbows with people dying all over the place? Is that one more thing I have to worry about? How do you get that anyway? They never tell you that. No, they just want you to think you’re going to get it. That’s all you see on TV anymore, happy people with these diseases, kissing and hugging. I see all that kissing and hugging and dancing and all those old men with their neat white hair and no wedding ring with those young chippies with good teeth and big boobs they have at Beaches like there is nothing going on in the world. I look at that and I think it’s like spring break on Medicare. They’re like Viagra ads without all the side effects, which by the way you don’t see any more of. Those Viagra ads. Made me sick. I will text you after I watch the Cuomo news conference. He’s Italian too.

Yes. But please don’t watch so much TV. You should read a book. Or call your sister.

Dear Malachi, My sister. Funny you should mention her. You think she would call me? You think she would Facebook me? No, she Facebooks all her friends in Westchester. They have it there too you know, but not so bad. You know why? She says it’s social distancing. That’s the thing everyone is saying. So she tells me we should move to Westchester. As if we could afford to. She says she and Morris, her second husband, her first one was Morris too, are safe because where she lives, they have two-acre zoning. Two-acre zoning. You get that? Like if everyone one had six-bedroom houses with two-car garages and a pool they wouldn’t get the virus. Like we should have thought of that before. Can you imagine that? I need that from her like I need a lokh in di kop, a hole in my head. My flesh and blood says that to me. Not, “Sylvia, is there anything I can do for you?” Not, “how is Malachi?” Or, “do you have enough paper towels?” Which, by the way, kills me. You think you can find paper towels in the market? What are they doing with all the paper towels anyway? And your rich sister in her high rise with her picture window and her Peloton like in the commercials? You think she would pick up the phone and call her mother? She’s working from home she says. Too busy to find out if I am alive, still. Sure, everything looks great from the twenty-seventh floor. I have to go check on your father. He is too quiet. He’s either dead or he is snooping around looking for his farkakta shoes again. I have to keep changing the hiding place. I should go. I am going to make a smoothie with the leftover strawberries your father bought before all this happened. At least we have strawberries to eat. You want I should make extra for you? Your father can’t have one.He’s allergic. I’m making a lemon cake too.

Sure, Ma. I’d like a smoothie. And, could you bring me an egg salad sandwich on rye toast with lettuce and a pickle with it? I have a class I’m doing on Zoom until 2:15. You could just leave it outside the bedroom door. Just knock and I’ll get it after  you go back into the kitchen. Thanks. Say hi to Dad for me and tell him I will see him in just seven more days. I have my Poli Sci class now. I love you.

Dear, Malachi. I love you too. Your father does too. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face. We don’t have any rye bread. Only blueberry bagels.That was all that was left on the shelves. We should all live and be well long enough to taste a real one.

8 thoughts on “Texting While Kvetching”

  1. Joe, you crack me up! I chuckled in so many places. You captured both the authentic Brooklyn Jewish mother culture and the times we are living in. So right on ! Love the reference to the yellow ostrich and all the other ads. You are the only writer I know who publishes regularly and each story is a gem. Still waiting for that anthology! Connie


  2. Joe what can I say. You keep bringing back wonderful memories with all of your stories.

    Kvetching is such a great word. When I hear it, and a note here that it must be said properly, I have this image in my mind of adults I knew as a youngster.

    I think kvetching is an art form. Only a few master it properly.

    Thank you for your stories and the memories.



  3. Joe, Kudos for keeping your sense of humor while writing this wonderful story about the plague. Keep up the good stories–I love them. (I too was surprised to learn that Malachi was in the next room!


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