Aunt Helen and I had been getting along so well these past months. Too good to last? Of course.

It began innocently when, midst her complaint about a local take-out restaurant, I assured her “Well, it’s not the end of the world.” Within moments, smoke flew from her ears.

“Your problem is that nothing bothers you,” she enlightened me.
“And your problem,” I retorted, “Is that when nothing bothers me, THAT bothers you.”

The good news was, thought, that our colloquy ended without bloodshed. Perhaps she too was savoring the recent détente. Still, wandering with her Wednesday— from Marc’s to Jack’s to Target to Walgreen’s— I vowed that the next time she threw that salvo my way, I would barrage her with an ample list of things that distress me.

The problem is: most things just do not bother me. I truly don’t sweat small stuff. Health issues of friends and loved ones concern me. Of course. Family estrangements? Of course. Other than that, though, I usually maintain my boundaries, letting others fight their own battles. So when I see some guy ahead of me at the grocery —like the moron with 14 items in a 12-max express checkout line—these days I let it go. Or when I’m waiting for a spot in front of Corky’s and some clown cuts in front of me stealing my space, I no longer wait another two minutes for him to get out of his car, just so I can stare the man down and give him the dirty looks my father saved for Grandpa Irv.

At some level, I’ve grown up.

But not totally.

It was only hours after Helen’s muted assault and Carrie and I had just entered Champps.

“Table or booth?” we were asked
And we sat down…facing south, toward the door.

No sooner, however, than our butts touched down that I saw staring right across at us from the next booth some putz wearing a bright yellow University Of Michigan jersey. (OK, it was “maize”, with blue lettering).

Now THAT pissed me off.

For years I’ve contended while not all Ohioans bleed scarlet and gray it is downright disrespectful and an insult to our great state to patronize our chief rival. I mean—there are so many other non-OSU schools. Only someone wanting to stand out, someone craving attention does those things. (Heck, if I were attending a friend’s Catholic mass, would I show up in tefillin)?

And for decades, did I not urge Norm Diamond to purge his stores of all U of M paraphernalia? It was the right thing to do, I told him. You don’t need the money.

The thought of dining for an hour and every time I’d look up having to see that yahoo—well it just nauseated me.

Well…let it be known that last Wednesday night…at 9:30 pm…in the absence of my aunt…I made her proud.

“You mind if we move?” I asked Carrie, visibly motioning at the mumser but feet away. (She well knew, I might add, what the problem was).
“Not at all.”

So with passion and flourish, in unison…we picked up our silver, our napkins, our menus…and moved in tandem (and not quietly) to the other side of the booth—backs to the asshole. And from there we enjoyed our meal, sans the ugly visual…God in His heaven and everything again all right with the world.

And I would tell Aunt Helen, when she fired on me next, that indeed some things DO bother me.

And I would also rest contented, in serenity, knowing full well that it is never the small stuff.


  1. alan wieder says:

    You are totally wonderful and beautiful and WACKED. This following sentence, though, should live for all time.

    (Heck, if I were attending a friend’s Catholic mass, would I show up in tefillin)?

Leave a Reply