Saturday, May 03, 2014

"The Pervert Loves Jazz" is not a rock opera

Pesach was pretty awesome. Jerusha was polite, cousin Yonina was tolerable, my mother kept her distance, and I had a blast with the kids and cousin Yaffa. The food was great, nobody monitored and complained about my intake. I got a fantastic new pair of glasses fairly inexpensively thanks to a Groupon. Yaffa & I went shopping together, and while we were there, she downloaded it and got herself a foxy new pair of prescription sunglasses. We saw the new musical "Aladdin," which was quite good. It was relaxing and fun.

But there was one minor incident.

My nieces & nephew love playing a card game called Anomia. (Here are the directions.) Basically, you each get cards with both a category of something, like citrus fruits or breakfast foods, and a symbol, like a green arrow. If you and another player each have a green arrow face-up, you have to give an example of something from their category. The first one to spit out a noun wins the other one's card.

It's astonishingly difficult. I would find myself explosively shrieking, "LEMON!" or "Pan... waff... SAUSAGES!" because you can't name anything that was previously named. More and more I became aware of the huge similarity between my behavior/demeanor and my mother's. It's been so long since I spent time with her, I forgot how much I resemble her most annoying traits. Which probably explains at least in part why my friend Alona loves my mom and why I'm so angry at her.

I don't want to be like my mother. Yes, she's financially very savvy; she had me start an IRA at age 16, and when I called to check on it recently, the Vanguard phone rep seemed a bit gobsmacked with the sum of my post-2009 portfolio. Apparently I had the foresight to invest in Europe before they switched over to the Euro, and then just left everything alone for decades so it could grow in peace.

Yes, she put braces on my teeth and sent me to Europe and Israel, paid for my expensive private university and part of my grad school education. She took me to the pediatrician and tried her hardest in every way but one: She brought a degenerate pervert (let's call him DP) into my life and my home. And that has had almost as many disastrous consequences as her positive actions.

One of the "Anomia" categories is "jazz musicians." The kids don't know too many jazz musicians. Frankly, I don't either when under pressure; it took me almost an hour (after the game had finished) to remember the name "Thelonious Monk." My aunt, my mother, and my niece Malkah were sitting at the dining room table, and I was in the kitchen cleaning something up, when my niece asked for names of jazz musicians for the next round. I poked my head in.

"DP loves jazz," said my mother with a shy, proud smile. Like it's such an honor for her to pay him to live in her house and sleep in her bed. Like he's such an amazing, wonderful person. Like it's an outstanding achievement attained by few; like he could actually play an instrument, not just a cassette.

I don't like hearing his name. It's like hearing the megillah reader say "Haman." So I made some noise.

"Great! The pervert loves jazz!" I said, walking into the dining room. "Fantastic! The pervert loves jazz! Good to know! How could I forget?"

I hadn't forgotten. In fact, when the category came up, I remembered DP playing his jazz cassettes and delivering interminable pointless monologues about the time he and some friends of his I don't know and don't care about heard that performer back in the 1970s, the decade he exhibited his only sliver of accomplishment by getting a bachelor's and master's in English.

"'The Pervert Loves Jazz' -- is that a rock opera?" asked Malkah. During the game, the only rock opera I could think of was "Tommy," although thanks to the news coverage of Neil Patrick Harris now I could cite "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" with relative ease.

"No, sweetie, it's not," I said, and changed the subject. She was disappointed; I need to make a list of rock operas and jazz musicians and email it to her and her siblings.

My mother was upset. She went into the kitchen and washed a bunch of dishes.

Yes, I know I need to get a therapist already.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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