A Traditional Jewish Christmas

The end of his brother’s marriage left The Curmudgeon with nothing to do and nowhere to go on Christmas day for the first time in more than twenty-five years.  Cultural instinct is a powerful force, though, so without even giving it any real consideration, The Curmudgeon thought “Mmm, Chinese food!”

First he called his brother – who, not so coincidentally, also had nothing to do on Christmas day for the first time in more than twenty-five years.  No luck:  brother had Chinese food the night before.  While The Curmudgeon has never found having eaten Chinese food one night a reason not to eat it the next night as well, he grudgingly recognizes that not everyone feels that way.

The Curmudgeon is a bit of a promiscuous eater of Chinese food.  He lives in an area in which you can scarcely throw a stick and not hit a Chinese restaurant – not that The Curmudgeon makes a practice of throwing sticks out in public.  He has one set of Chinese restaurants he uses when dining out and several more he uses for take-out, depending on what he wants to order on any given night.

So he called his orange chicken Chinese restaurant.  He gets take-out from this place about once a month, but when he called, the phone rang – and rang and rang.  He was just about to give up amid the heartening thought that maybe, just maybe, the proprietor had decided to treat his employees like human beings for once in his life and close his establishment and give them off for Christmas.  But no, after eight rings,  a familiar voice, that of the owner, answered.

“Can you call back in ten minute?”

The Curmudgeon heard a great deal of noise in the background.  He wasn’t sure he was hearing right, so he said “hello” again.

“Can you give me ten minute and call back?”  Taken by surprise, The Curmudgeon said “Sure” and hung up.

Apparently, The Curmudgeon wasn’t the only Jew interested in a moo shu Christmas.

But he had no intention of waiting ten minute.  He called Chinese restaurant number two, his designated chicken chow fun restaurant, and placed an order to go; he was told it would be ready in ten to fifteen minutes.

A proprietor who understands plurals – a Christmas present for the grammar-fussy Jewish boy.

The Curmudgeon arrived fifteen minutes later to another surprise:  he had never seen more than two or three of the restaurant’s fifteen or so tables occupied, but there, before his very eyes, were people sitting at each and every table – and all of them looked like they could pass for members of The Curmudgeon’s family (except for the strange-looking old guy with the Elvis sideburns).  He went to the counter and asked about his order, and he could see from the owner’s reaction that it had never gotten from the front desk to the kitchen.  The owner went off to “investigate.”

Returning, he announced “One minute” after asking The Curmudgeon to repeat his order.  That’s what poker players call “the tell:”  the sign that he had no idea what the order was.

Three minutes later the proprietor returned.“Two minute,” he announced, raising the interesting question of whether a non-native English speaker loses his plurals under duress.

Ten minute, er, minutes later, the chicken chow fun arrived and The Curmudgeon was off for the four-minute drive home.

The chow fun was excellent.  Some Christmas traditions never die; they just go on a quarter-century-long hiatus.

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