Twin grocery bags emerged through the rear view mirror.  Inside them, days after Pesach, were ten big boxes of matzoh.

I must be mellowing. For whatever reason, I handle Aunt Helen better these days. My mouth stays shut; I let things pass.  Sometimes I even laugh.

This, by the way, is no mean task. Two months shy of 98 she remains one tough lady.

It’s not so much that she’s preferred Hal to me. “”Why wouldn’t I?” she’s said to all. Or that she’s criticized entities as disparate as Cleveland’s Institute Of Music (“I tried to help them. Why don’t they want my list of composers?”) and Giant Eagle (“Don’t tell me how many stores there are. They don’t know how to merchandise.”). It’s not even her discord with others, a constant in all her relationships. No, this is just one tough broad.

Ask Cousin Norm about their recent lunch.

“We’ll go to First Watch,” he said, helping her in the car. “It’s two minutes away.”
“Might we go somewhere else?” she insisted at her passive-aggressive best. “Please. I get out so rarely.”
“What did you have in mind?” he asked—oblivious after all these years.
“Let’s go to the First Watch by Eastgate. The booths are softer.”

No good deed, of course, goes unpunished.

Still I laugh these days and, gazing back at the matzoh, I revel at her nonsense.  At least today.

It was a week ago you see. I was leaving  Jack’s  Deli with Jacobson when a big sign caught my eye. “MATZOH $3.00″.

Immediately I thought of my aunt.  We shop each Friday and as she mistrusts non-kosher bakers, each week she picks up matzoh. Like clockwork.  What a good nephew I might be by jumping on this sale.

I made the call.

With my aunt, though, it’s always what you don’t expect.  Always.

“Aunt Helen,” I said, “Matzoh’s on sale. Should I get some?” (Mid-sentence, the owner Alvie walked by. Clearly, he’d heard our discourse).
“How many you want? Today’s the last day…” he shouted. “I’ll give’m to you for $2.”
In my other ear shried Helen: “Three boxes. Get me three.”

I hung up the phone when my ego took hold.

“How many, Bruce?” urged Alvie.
“I’ll take them all, ” I proclaimed. “Whatever you’ve got!”

I had it all planned out, big shot that I am. Helen wanted three boxes and figured to spend $9.00. I could give her TEN boxes—I would tell her they wound up being a dollar apiece—and for the extra dollar she’d be thrilled, she’d have matzoh through the summer and best of all:  I’d be a hero.

Alas, like I said: with my aunt, it’s always what you don’t expect.

I wasn’t even out of Jack’s lot when my cellphone buzzed. It was her. This, (I knew), could not be good for the Jews.

“Aunt Helen?” I said. “Is everything OK?”
“Where are you?”
“At Jack’s. We just talked. Is everything OK?”
“I’m glad you’re still there,” she said. “I changed my mind. Don’t buy me the matzoh.”

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