Remember the Raid On Aunt Helen? You know: that gallant but ultimately unsuccessful 2012 mission to retrieve Hindy’s coat. Time for an update.

Carrie, (the decoy three years ago) and I–we’d been dating ten weeks at the time — are now engaged. Aunt Helen, still holding the coat hostage, is now 101 and going down swinging. Still, as the saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

My brother and I got into a debate a few weeks back. Just how much money, we wondered, if any, does our aunt still have? Oh, there’d been rumors way back that Grandma Bogart had been getting a pension from the Polish government or the Russian army, or something or other. But still, our aunt, even in her hay day, was merely glorified clerical.

Ed. Note 1: Yes, she’d managed a record store… but clearly those were times when women were grossly overworked, underpaid, and accepted whatever was offered. Arthur Newman Records? Recordland? Walking distance from her home…on a bus line — how much could she really have garnered?

The more we chirped about it, the more intriguing the subject. The more our interests were piqued, the more of a game it became.

“She’s been after me to bring Carrie to change her overhead light bulb,” I advised him.
“You’re there every day!”
“Yeah, but she’s afraid to have me stand on her bed. She says Carrie’s better suited for that.”
(Wheels were turning)
“What if you came with me”, I offered, “And while you’re on her bed screwing in the new bulb I can be in the other room rummaging through papers?”
“You’re an idiot,” he deadpanned.
“Does that mean you won’t do it?” “No, of course I’ll do it. I just said you’re an idiot.”

The operation proceeded last week. Interestingly enough, while I, perhaps instigated, my little bro called some shots:

Driving down Cedar, but minutes from her house…

“I’ll be on the bed with both of you standing by,” he directed. “After a minute or two I’ll tell you you’re in the way—that you should just go in the other room.”

(He was on a roll).

“You go through the buffet drawers and see what you can find,” he continued, “She’ll stay with me to make sure I don’t fall!”

Like a lady that’s seen 944 Chanukah candles could catch a falling nephew.

Ed. Note 2: That’s counting each Shammash.

Eight houses from her home, however, it occurred to me: what we really needed was a code H could shout out if our aunt started to leave his side. That the last thing we wanted was her walking from the bedroom and seeing me snoop.

“Remember when Seinfeld was switching the telephone message that George had left for that girl? What was the word of warning?”

(He looked puzzled).

I was driving on…we were approaching … I was drawing a blank…he didn’t care.

“Who, I wondered inwardly, would remember the word?”  Three syllables, I sensed, but I couldn’t come up with it!

I called Jason. Voice mail. And Walt. Voice mail. And Burnside. Same.  We were now in her driveway now, as I dialed up Lester.

“Everything OK?” he asked (from the middle of his workday).
“What was the code word Jerry and George used when they changed the tape?”
“Tippy toe”, he shot back.  “Tippy toe.”
The flag was up!

Ascending her stairs and bidding hello, we entered her boudoir. To Hal’s right stood our aunt; to his left, poised toward the door, stood I.  Gamely he toyed with the fixture.  (I mean really, how difficult is it to unscrew a light?).

“Bruce, you’re standing too close,” he complained. “Just go in the other room.”

—And for the next five minutes I scrambled through bureaus,  sifted through papers, and came up empty. Wherever her records were, I’d deduced, they were not to be found. Ah… but Hindy’s coat? Would I ever have another chance to scour closets for the garment my cousin left behind?  In 1990.  At Michael’s Bar Mitzvah!

Perhaps…just perhaps!

Time running — after all it was only one bulb H was dickering with — I bolted from the dining room to the front of the house… and I rummaged through the closet —salivating…anticipating that indeed this day I’d uncover the holy grail.  I could feel it, I could.  I could feel it.  Surely it was in there!  What could go wrong?

“Tippy toe!” my brother shouted. “Tippy toe!”

4 Responses to “RAID ON AUNT HELEN 2”

  1. H says:

    And then along came Jones.
    Tall thin Jones.
    Slow walkin’ Jones, Low talkin’ Jones.
    Along came long lean lanky Jones.

  2. Joel says:

    BTW, it’s 4444 candles (2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9=44×101=4444)

  3. Up From Dysfunction says:

    You know, it SEEMED materially low. I guess i forgot the permutations we were taught in eighth grade. Ah, but what does that say about my brother H, the statistics major?

    Good Shabbos!

  4. H says:

    Correct. She had her first Hanukkah before her first birthday. This December will be her 102nd Hanukkah.

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