STRANGE PESACH: OD YAVO SHALOM ALEINU
APRIL 20, 2014
So anyway, first off, lets just say strange things happen in Spring. Furthermore Easter is, of course, when the Magic Bunny of Fertility got schlockered in a bar and wound up feeling crucified for days afterward with a terrible hangover. It was only when the Enchanted Chicken of Galilee dropped by with nice warm Mexican hot chocolate that the Magic Bunny revived himself. One thing led to another in that place which was dark as a tomb where somebody had forgotten to lock the door and pretty soon that chicken was laying eggs everywhere, which goes to show you, if you want to be a good Samaritan, better take precautions, like a basket of condoms.
There were some Apostles and some Hindus and somehow Mary of Magdalen got tangled up in this to create what would become the French Meringovian dynasty, but that is all very confusing for the Pharoah smote the First borns, which may be an allusion to abstract jazz. Pharoah Sanders is a nice man and we really do not think he would actually hit anybody. It may have something to do with walls of sound rising like the tidal waves of Galilee or the Suez or whatever.
There was a plague of toads and then of locusts and then it rained for 40 days and 40 nights while all the Second Borns got together for a really nice lamb dinner after escaping slavery. Which is why they all eat library paste and drink wine. The library paste is supposed to remind you of bricks and the wine helps forget your troubles and take away the taste of bitter herbs, which is not a bad idea, really. God knows why you would want to stick something bitter in your mouth and chew on it, but people do it anyway.
Over at Marlene and Andre's, everyone settled in for a feast. Marlene and Andre celebrated Pesach at the Household on Otis in the usual haphazard manner. A table got laid out, actually it was the coffee table in the main room, with the usual condiments of horseradish and walnut mush and salad from the dollar store. Marlene had saved up her pennies and gotten a donation from Suan to get a lamb shank from the Encinal Market, so they had the meat and the bone at once. All the parsley was doing well, so they had the dipping greens from the ironmongery garden out back. Occasional Quentin, as the obvious childish one, got to ask all the questions, even though Adam really was younger in age.
A visitor named Baba kept insisting on her needs. "I need to have clean and kosher napkins. So give me yours," Baba said to Quentin.
Given that the household was normally chaotic, so went the Seder once again this year as per Tradition. Island-life Tradition.
Instead of asking the proper questions from the Haggadah, Quentin came up with his own. "Why did G-d let Hitler kill all the Jews?" Quentin asked, and naturally it was all at the wrong moment. Martini came in then and drank up the glass of wine left out for the Prophet on the edge of the table, which caused Andre much grief and severely put out Marlene who put her head in her hands.
"I need to sit where it is warm on account of my condition," Baba said. "Since you have the comfy chair, i am doing to take the divan and the settee for my feet."
"Is anybody going to eat that egg?" Tipitina said. She had given up on her own Catholic upbringing to attend this dinner and all of it was confusing to her.
"Where's the damn cracker I saw around here earlier?" said Marsha. "I wanna get into that sweet stuff there with the walnuts and raisins."
"That's the afikomen," said Marlene. "You gotta go find it now. It's hidden. What are you doing with the effing prophet's wine you dimshit!" This last part was screamed at the hapless Martini.
"Because there is no god and he hated the Jews," shouted Andre at Quentin. "Now read the questions we gave you on the list!"
"How can I find any damn thing in this effing s***hole of a place! It's an effing s***storm here!" Marsha said. She was a woman with a tongue on her, so to speak.
"Gimmee some more of that wine," Snuffles said, for the bum had also been invited in as the token foreigner, or maybe the prophet, although there was a lot of doubt about that last part.
The new kid, Adam, also was there. "Yo dude. Don't bogart that bottle man!"
"Why are we doing all this crap," Quentin asked. "Why is this night different from any other." Adam was younger in physical age but all agreed that Quentin was much more childlike, so to him were given the questions.
"I need water," Baba said. "You have the napkins already over there. So the water jug should be over here by me."
"There you go," said Andre approvingly. "You finally got it right. We basically doing this to commemorate our delivery from slavery."
"I dunno about that. We be free? I think we be pretty effed up." Adam said.
"Dude," said Arthur, who had returned from far off Minnesotta and his failed attempt to hook up with a gospel singer there. "You don't know nothing about slavery. Lemmee tell you about my man Malcolm X . . .".
"Adam, I am watching you on the alcohol, buddy! You gotta go to school Monday!" Andre said. "I mean it!"
"Yuck! This stuff is bitter!" Adam had a mouthful of green silage from the odd plate in the center with its four divisions and he spat the mess into a napkin.
"Dat odder stuff is schweet," Snuffles said, and he ploughed a matzo into the haroset then shoveled the pile into his toothless mouth with only a moderate amount of flying crumbs, dripping wine sauce and spittle trajectories.
Adam got shut off from the wine and after that things went a bit
smoother. And Marsha told her story of escaping across the wide country from
the servitude of Jersey, her beating by her husband there and her shame and
her battle with the booze, and Javier talked about crossing the vast Sonora
Desert and then the Border at the Rio Grande and working in the fields with
los Migras and sleeping under the trucks to get away from the sun, and so it
was learned that each of us had been slaves in some form, either in Egypt or
some other place and had crossed the vast ocean on dry feet and soaked straw
and clay bricks with the hot salt of tears and sweat. All knew exile and wandering
and the pain thereof.
this year in fear and shame, next year in virtue and justice
The matzo bread was found by Adam after a great deal of clambering under Andre's shirt and so the proscribed was allowed now and with each glass of wine the far off hills began to skip like rams and old stories were told and so, although it was not a perfect Tradition, it was a Tradition of that household, this year in fear and shame, next year in virtue and justice, with the next year always getting postponed until the next and this sort of delay had been going on since the time of Moses when they refused him a Visa to Palestine.
"Hey, I led the people through the desert for 40 years and kicked serious ass over that golden calf idol thing, I deserve entry to the Promised Land."
"Sorry dude. Go back to the desert and do not pass Go, do not collect 200 shekels. You should'na busted up those tablets I gave you. Talk about a law breaker! Your papers are not in order."
"Oy, I knew it; G-d is a bureaucrat! Vey iss mir!" Wailing, sackcloth, ashes. The whole bit.
"When I invent Germany, then you really will be sorry. You stiff-necked people I parted the Red Sea for you and got you out of that Egypt where the cockroaches are as big as housecats. I have no idea why I chose you."
"I am not so sure it is to advantage to always be Chosen. 40 years in the desert without even a decent map."
"Okay so I relent a little bit. I give you a peek on what the place looks like. The place your family gets to settle -- maybe with some quibbles with the neighbors -- every neighborhood has got to have neighbors. So there! See that . . . !"
"Oy, mein Gott, mein Gott! Iss beautiful!"
"Hey what did I say about taking my name in vain? There you go again, Moses. You always get yourself into trouble."
"All right you said that, but you never wrote it down . . . ".
"Yes I did!"
"On those effing tablets you broke in a rage, you imbecile! Moses, Moses, Moses! In you I have entrusted the patriarchy for five thousand years worth of generations and this is the way you act."
"I don't get to go in for just, like a little bit?"
"Not even a short vacation?"
"Maybe some fruit from a tree there . . . ".
"Don't go there Moses. I am still sore about the last time fruit was involved."
"How about like one of those house-swap deals like they do . . ."
"NO!" Voice of thunder. Mountains cracking. Skies clouding over.
Jesus Contreras, in order to avoid that terrible dream in which he became the actual original Jesus, who suffered all kinds of mean, nasty, cruel things like scourging and thorns and piercings and crucifragem and heaps of insults on top of that even, and Jesus, our Jesus (pronounced hay-zoos), went through all that in his dream last year, so he made the effort to stay up all night. So Jesus went to hang with his buds at Silvio's place and they all sat around watching Incredibly Strange Wrestling and drinking beer. Naturally, this sort of thing petered out for most of his homies in the early hours of the morning, precisely the most dangerous time for dreams.
In terror, Jesus snapped abruptly awake amid all his snoozing mates and made a beeline in the dim light of the DVR screen to the bathroom where he ran into Maggie, the Irish girl who had fled her hometown of Wicklow so as to escape getting sent to the Magdalene Launderies on account of getting pregnant out of wedlock. The boy absconded and the child died. In any case Maggie stood there in her nightshirt, woozy from Trazadone, and Jesus stood there, unsteady from beer and lack of sleep and anxiety.
"What's your problem," Maggie said.
"I can't sleep," said Jesus. "And I gotta piss."
"Don't let me stop you," Maggie said. She was an Irish girl with red hair and cut short.
Jesus stumbled to the loo and managed to get most of the stream into the pot, splashing a bit, and all was fine until he reached for a paper towel with his pants still down and fell over into the tub, taking a towel rack and a shampoo shelf with him in his wooziness. In a tangle there he freed himself from his pants and the towel rack and that is when Maggie came in wondering what the hell as the entire house was then asleep save for those two.
"What the hell are you doing?" Maggie said.
"I am taking a piss if you mind," Jesus said.
"It looks like you are trying to bathe with the laundry." Maggie said. "Are you all right?"
"I fell," Jesus said, plaintively. "So is the nature of man."
"Let me help you, you sodding fool," Maggie said.
So that is when Maggie disentangled Jesus, but without finding his pants and when they went back to find where Jesus was to sleep, Jorge had already taken the cot in a drunken stupor, so Maggie offered her bed and so that is how Jesus got through the final hours of the terrible Easter time -- by sleeping with Maggie in her bed without his pants and when both of them awoke the following morning there was a resurrection of a kind that was handled in the usual way. As is the nature of man. And woman.
The Editor strolled the aisles of the Island-Life newsroom, shutting off this and that desklamp with a feeling a great change was coming. Soon there would be another parting of the Red Sea, another passage across the desert. The moon was waning, but still glowed with three-quarter force from that red eclipse of last week.
We may have suffered and survived disaster, come through the desert, bearing the ache of longing, but yet more is to come. Something may have arisen, but there remains more to save. Spring erupts as it always has with tremendous force, scattering seed pods hither and yon. And the girl on the ferry with the dancer's tights and short skirt still haunts the dreams of Denby as he trolls for another gig to take him out of this place, this broken place of dying dreams that always smells of cheap wine and cigarettes, old, like a beat-up truck. In his musical dreams he always inserts the key to the place, but the engine doesn't turn.
From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.
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