Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Chain Fiction

Pearl tried this some time ago, let's see how it goes this time around:

I highly recommend you do this without thinking much, just letting it flow. After you vomit it out feel free to return to edit.

Continue this story:

Norman couldn't stop crying. Helen limped into the room and turned on the halogen lamp. Norman didn't move. Helen pulled a metal fold-up chair next to Norman's. "Sadness or joy? I can never tell with you," she said as she rested her hand gingerly on Norman's knee.

22 Comments:

Blogger torontopearl said...

Norman couldn't stop crying. Helen limped into the room and turned on the halogen lamp. Norman didn't move. Helen pulled a metal fold-up chair next to Norman's. "Sadness or joy? I can never tell with you," she said as she rested her hand gingerly on Norman's knee....

He sniffled, removed her hand from his knee and reached for another tissue. "Damn, I hate chopping up onions," he said at the breakfast bar. "But I know these latkes won't taste good without a hint of onion in them. That was Mama's recipe...do you remember that, Helen?"

"If you're chopping up onions, and remembering Mama, that must mean sadness with a dash of joy thrown in for good measure. Ah...Mama."

"Helen! You don't have to say it so sarcastically. She did leave you her diamond bracelet, didn't she, and her Persian lamb floor-length coat. The least you could sound is grateful," admonished Norman.

"You're right, honey. I'm sorry. Here, let me help you chop some onions. That way we'll know why we're both crying!"

December 28, 2005 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Mirty said...

"You're right, honey. I'm sorry. Here, let me help you chop some onions. That way we'll know why we're both crying!"

Helen took up a knife, thinking of her mother-in-law, may the woman rest in peace. How does that work? Does someone who knew no peace in life find peace in death?

Even the gift of the Persian lamb floor-length coat was given with the usual bitterness. In her will, Mrs. Kaminetsky wrote, "To my daughter-in-law Helen, my Persian lamb wool coat, so she should finally wear something nice once in a while!"

December 29, 2005 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

(oh dagnabit... are we always supposed to start where the last person finished? i came up with "something completely different" but then saw what Mirty did...)

December 29, 2005 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Shifra said...

Helen had only worn the coat a couple of times since her Mother-in-law passed away four years earlier. A floor length coat doesn't get a lot of wear in a place like Miami Beach.
Even after all these years it still smelled like Shirely too- that smell of powder puff and bathroom soaps that are only for "guests" which was what Helen was considered even after 45 years of marriage. She never did use those soaps, she wondered what happened to them- probably tossed out after year and years of careful preservation under Shirley's watchful eyes.

December 29, 2005 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Mirty said...

Very soon, the house was filled with the delicious smell of frying latkas. The doorbell rang. The first of the Chanukah party guests!

Norman and Helen's annual Chanukah party was a tradition in Miami Beach and always well-attended. But tonight, tonight would be special.

Norman wiped his face and contemplated his wife of 45 years. Even now, he could see in her the slim young girl he married. How would she react when she found out? He had pondered so many ways to let her know, and, in the end, had decided on this one. It was either brilliant or completely foolhardy or perhaps even evil. Yes, somehow, that bridge had to be crossed. And it would be ... tonight.

December 29, 2005 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Akiva said...

Norman wiped his face and contemplated his wife of 45 years. Even now, he could see in her the slim young girl he married. How would she react when she found out? He had pondered so many ways to let her know, and, in the end, had decided on this one. It was either brilliant or completely foolhardy or perhaps even evil. Yes, somehow, that bridge had to be crossed. And it would be ... tonight.

Helen, of course, had no idea what her husband had planned. For an unusual twist on tonight's party, she had invited those young black-coated chassidic men on the street corner who were giving out chanukah menorah's to come and light the menorah at the party tonight. She thought a brief word of spirituality would tickle her guests, it being Chanukah and all.

The doorbell rang, and two of those young men were standing there, obviously somewhat uncomfortably, now.

December 29, 2005 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

The doorbell rang, and two of those young men were standing there, obviously somewhat uncomfortably, now.

Awkward silence. The young men nervously glanced at each other wondering what they had just gotten themselves into. Fresh out of Chabad's training academy in Brooklyn, these young men had never seen the high society life of Miami Beach and it's large mansions, let alone Norman and Helen's annual Chanukah party.

They had been sternly warned to stay away from these parties and stick to the street corner. Yet Norman has been so convincing, so friendly and sincere - it was obvious to them that the Rebbe would have wanted them to be there. Till they walked in. It was right there in the center of the enormous living room.

December 29, 2005 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Shifra said...

[just an aside guys, I think that akiva had helen inviting the chabadnik whereas Jameel had Normal inviting them as a surprise- To balance the story let's say that they BOTH invited them and Norman's surprise is yet to come. OK as you were.]

December 29, 2005 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Mirty said...

Darlene, Helen and Norman's oldest daughter, was there with her two kids. She saw the two bearded men and frowned. Schnorers! Tonight of all nights they had to show up?

She walked over to them. Some people would be intimidated by the dark coats and hats, but she saw that these were young men, and rather nervous. One was tall and had a strawberry blonde beard that made her think of cotton candy. The other was dark, stocky, with thick glasses.

"Look," she said. "Whatever you're collecting for, you've come at the wrong time. My Mom and Dad are always very generous. I'm sure they'll write your Yeshiva or orphanage or whatever a check, but not now. We're having a party!"

"You misunderstand, Ma'am," said the strawberry beard. "We're invited guests here."

"That's right," chimed in the stocky one. "Mr. Kaminetsky, Norman, he invited me."

"Wait, Yichiel -" said the first man, confused. "Mr? You mean Helen, Mrs. K."

"No, Shia, it was Mr. K," said Yichiel. "I studied with him when he visited Crown Heights. We planned the whole thing."

Whole thing? What whole thing, wondered Darlene.

"Excuse me Miss," said Yichiel, squaring his shoulders. "I see you have one of, um, those in your livingroom. That's not really appropriate in a Jewish home."

"Who are you to tell me what's appropriate!" said Darlene, her cheeks turning red.

December 29, 2005 at 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Excuse me Miss," said Yichiel, squaring his shoulders. "I see you have one of, um, those in your livingroom. That's not really appropriate in a Jewish home."

"Who are you to tell me what's appropriate!" said Darlene, her cheeks turning red.


Darlene turned heel and was gone.

The bochers could not take their eyes from the abomination in the living room.

They were strangely drawn to it, as inappropriate as it was. The base was an intricate piece of crafstmanshihp. The size was incredible. There were so many glowing colors eminating from it, changing back and forth.

They could look away, but they could not escape the sound.

Finally, one guest took in the situation, and, without fanfare, promply shut off the television.

December 29, 2005 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Ayelet said...

(lol! This is getting very interesting. So what happened next?)

December 29, 2005 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Now, you’re probably wondering what Norman’s surprise was, or you think you already know. But before you’re ready to absorb the shock that a seventy two year old entrepreneur sprang on his long suffering wife I need to take you more intimately into their home, into their lives.

December 29, 2005 at 11:37 PM  
Blogger Shifra said...

(Anon- that TV line was hillarious! Anyway...)

Norman Kaminetsky had always led a life of remarkable coincidence. His mother died on the day he was born. He met Helen on the day he broke up with his High School sweetheart. His older brother filed for bankrupcy on the day he made his first million.
It seemed that any good fortune that came Norman's way resulted in a tragedy elsewhere and Norman was a lucky, lucky man.

December 29, 2005 at 11:56 PM  
Blogger Lab Rab said...

It seemed that any good fortune that came Norman's way resulted in a tragedy elsewhere and Norman was a lucky, lucky man.

While Norman prided himself for systematically building a high-end clothing store chain, he worried about his aloof relationships with his family. At least his dear Helen cared for him. But Darlene always acted imposed upon just for coming three times a year - Passover, Rosh Hashana, and Chanukah. And his grandsons Justin and Darrell, aged 9 and 12, barely acknowledged his presence. In fact, where were they now?

As children often do at "grownup" parties, Justin and Darrell had surreptitiously retreated to the basement playroom. They had begun chatting animatedly about the injury to Shaquille O'Neal and the fortunes of the Miami Heat.

Suddenly, into the basement stumbled Shia, the strawberry-bearded Chabadnik. He seemed incredibly agitated, as if he had just heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had passed away.

December 30, 2005 at 1:49 AM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Suddenly, into the basement stumbled Shia, the strawberry-bearded Chabadnik. He seemed incredibly agitated, as if he had just heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had passed away.

But it wasn't that at all. It was due to a simple problem with the thermostat. While many Chabadnikim appreciate wearing a black suite there are times in which it can be cumbersome and tonight was one of those nights.

The heat was on and it must have been close to 85 upstairs and in his heavy coat it was that much hotter.

Shia didn't want to be a poor guest but he knew that if he didn't say something he would...

December 30, 2005 at 2:17 AM  
Blogger Mirty said...

Meanwhile, upstairs, Norm had caught sight of Yichiel. He rushed over to embrace the young man like a long-lost son.

“Good to see you again!” said Norm.

In an instant, he recalled their first meeting, six months ago. Norm had been flying up to New York to see a world-renowned cardiologist. This was after Norm’s heart incident. That was what he called it – an incident, not an attack. He had been playing basketball at the JCC when he felt that sunburst of pain in his chest, he staggered and fell.... Later, they told him how lucky he had been to be playing basketball with five doctors. “Only five?” said Norm.

But on the plane, he settled in for a long trip. He had some financial reports to go over, catch up on his investments. The man next to him was one of those Chasidic types, with the beard, sidelocks and all. As the plane took off, Norm took off his watch and adjusted it.

“That’s a nice watch,” said his neighbor.

“Yep,” agreed Norm. “Look, three time zones.”

“So you always know what time it is.”

“I sure do.”

“But, let me ask you this,” said the man. “Do you know what time to say Shema?”

Norm raised his eyebrow, as the young man pulled out a heavy book. He opened it up and began to half-speak, half-chant Hebrew. After chanting a few lines, he looked up at Norm and translated:

From what time may one recite the Shema in the evening?...

“Oh, um, that’s quite interesting,” said Norm politely.

The young man continued:

They say once Rabban Gamliel's sons were coming home late from a feast. They said to him: "We have not yet recited the evening Shema."

Norm chuckled. “The kids were coming home late from a party, eh? Oh, by the way, my name is Norman Kaminetsky.”

“Yichiel Rabinowitz,” said the young man. They shook hands. “What’s your Hebrew name Norm?”

“Well, it’s Nissan, but my grandparents called me Nussi.”

“Nussi,” said Yichiel, smiling. “Would you like to learn with me a little bit Nussi? It will make the long trip go faster.”

That was how it all began.

December 30, 2005 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger torontopearl said...

An interjection here: Mirty, what a beautiful-in-its-own-way phrase -- "sunburst of pain". (that's so poetic)

December 30, 2005 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger Akiva said...

While Norm was thinking of this upon seeing his friend, his grandson was having is own encounter right below him.

Shia was concerned the weird guy would pass out or something. "Hey, why don't you take off your coat and grab one of those soda's over there?" Mendel gratefully took off his coat and hat, draped them across the chair and collapsed on the sofa.

Looking across the room, he saw the boys were playing some kind of video game. It had been over 10 years since he'd played a video game, leaving his parents home in London to come and learn in the Lubavitch yeshiva in Crown Heights.

"Hey guys, what is that?" he asked. "Popop got us a new XBox 360 to play when we're here!" responded Shia, barely glancing over his shoulder as his brother continued to blast away.

December 30, 2005 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Meanwhile across town there was another gathering of friends and family.

It was a birthday party for little Jimmy Schimmel. The funny thing was that little Jimmy Schimmel was 44.

December 30, 2005 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger torontopearl said...

Meanwhile across town there was another gathering of friends and family.

It was a birthday party for little Jimmy Schimmel. The funny thing was that little Jimmy Schimmel was 44.

Now 44 is not old by any means. And little Jimmy was not exactly little -- at 6' 5" and 250 lbs, he stood head and shoulders above the rest. But his wife, Danya, a petite blonde thing, had decided to throw Jimmy a little kids' party. They were going to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Spin the Bottle, Twister and other party games from their childhood. The snacks would be the junk food and candy from their youth, as well. But the best part of the birthday party was that in a couple of hours, a small tour bus was going to be parked outside their front door at the curb, the guests would climb on and Jimmy and Danya and the rest would take a scenic driving tour of places from Jimmy's past 44 years.
It would definitely be a party worth remembering.

December 30, 2005 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thanks to all for the good work and play. Anyone feel like it may be a good idea at this point to post the story so far as one post so it's easier to read?

POINTS OF CLARIFICATION

I think the original statement that SHE invited the Chabad rabbis to the party is best to be taken as a typo or just plain changed to he. The story seems to flow that way, that Norman invited them. There has been no reaction either way by the wife about this, so let's just go in that direction allowing the surprise to be something relating to the Chabad and allowing for Helen to react one way or another.

Also, the grandson's name is NOT Shia. The grandchildren are Justin and Darell (named so by LabRab). The Chabad Chasidim are Shia (strawberry blonde beard) who went downstairs and is suffering from the high temperature of the house, and Yichiel - who is the one who knew Norman from before.

We have a discrepency as to how Yichiel and Norman met and where that learned. I think this can be easily tightened up by saying that they met on the plane and learned on the plane (and maybe later by phone, or internet, or in FLA). So we just need to edit the line where Yichiel says that they learned in Crown Heights. (Although they may have learned there after the plane ride. It just needs to be made clearer in the story.)

Darlene was introduced as the oldest daughter. At this point to me she feels like an only daughter and I think keeping it that way can help streamline things. Rather than needing to develp more children and grandchildren we may be best served if our efforts focus on the people who already exist. (If you feel strongly about there being more children just bring them in carefully. At this point you'll have to justify where they are, why they haven't been mentioned in the family dynamic.)

Again, great work everone - keep it up!

December 31, 2005 at 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems the chain is continued at a new post at:

http://rabbifleischmann.blogspot.com/2006/01/i-can-never-tell-with-you.html

January 1, 2006 at 2:00 AM  

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