Friday, March 02, 2007

New Ways to Waste Time

These are the things that keep me from doing what I'm supposed to do which, right now, is completing a 1500-2000 word profile of San Francisco appellate attorney Dennis Riordan:

1) Purimschpiel (sp?) -- Part of our new commitment to Judiasm (almost entirely generated by our choice of school for the Jawa) is an awareness of Purin, the fun Jewish holiday. As you may or may not know, in general, Jewish holidays are not celebrated, they are observed. There is no Yom Kippur Bunny.

Purim is different. Despite following the classic Jewish holiday script (summarized as "They tried to kill us, we survived, lets eat."), Purim is a celebration. I remember this vaguely from my own childhood, during the few years we actually went to temple. And hated it, by the way. Purim, if I recall, involved weird fruity baked things masquerading as candy, people dressed up as characters from the Purim story, singing, dancing, all of the things I love best.

In our present life, Purim is the best day of the school year. It is the day when you recycle last year's Halloween costume, which no one except your best friends has yet seen, since Halloween is not officially sanctioned in Jewish Day School. There is a carnival, a talent show, and the Purimschpiel.

The invention of our school itself, Purimschpiel, as far as I can tell, is a chance to re-tell the Purim story as filtered through the eyes of Baby Boomers. Queen Esther and Mordecai set their tales to the tunes of Beatles songs, and for every kid dressed as a punk or a rapper (zero, actually), there are 25 dressed as hippies.

Ah, San Francisco. Haman comes out in a Prius instead of a chariot, and at the end of the story, George Bush is burned in effigy.

I made that last part up.

Regardless, all of the children look very cute, and the Jawa's teacher manned rhythm guitar, which was pretty cool. Zelda dressed as a geisha.

2) Chasing Shack all over the world: Yesterday, I returned home from the gym to find a message on our answering machine: "Hi (in cool-sounding Irish accent), my name is Mary. I have your dog, Shack, here. I found him in front of my house."

I called Mary. She lives 6 blocks from us, almost on the border of Noe Valley. Endemic to our status as upward-striving middle class people, he escaped when the cleaning lady left the front door open. She must not have noticed, however, because there was no note. So Shack went on a vision quest, arriving at Mary's house around 10:30.

I ran to Mary's house, still in my workout gear.

I don't blame Shack. Mary's house was much nicer than ours, and her little toddler who was obviously having the time of her life. "Now the girls (pronounced guhrls) are going to want a dog of their own," said Mary as Shack jumped up onto her daughter. "Did you like having Shack here?" I asked her. From behind her pacifier, she nodded: yes.

After thanking Mary profusely, I put Shack on his leash, attempted some kind of weak scolding, and set off for home. Shack, infused with a sense of freedom and all that means, ran the entire way with his leash in his mouth. When we got home, he continued running, this time in circles, from the living room to the bedrooms, pausing to growl at me, around the coffee table, until he collapsed from exhaustion.

What did Shack see during his Glen Park adventure? Who did he see? What did people think upon seeing a Corgi out for a morning stroll, sans owner or leash? It was six blocks before someone finally took some action. What made Shack decide to head North? He went in a direction we never go.

I guess he was just curious. But you know what that did to the cat.

3) Crossword puzzles: At this point in time, you can compare my enthusiasm for crossword puzzles to that of Sonny the bird for Cocoa Puffs. I do two of them a day, sometimes three, even though it means I have to suffer through the San Francisco Chronicle to get my puzzles.

Sandra Bullock is disgusted with this new habit. I gave up drinking Coke, only to find a new compulsion. This one is more time-consuming.

4) Eating breakfast: this morning, already throw off track by the purimschpiel, I decided to go to the post office and then eat a proper breakfast at this place in Noe Valley that I've never been to. It has a U-shaped counter and an old sign. Good enough.

Two seats away was Rob. He wasn't eating, just drinking coffee and drawing. He wasn't eating, I later learned while eavesdropping on his conversation with Lisa, the waitress, because he was committed to a diet that was "like a journey toward natural." I didn't hear the specifics, but whatever they were, the journey had blessed him with an overall "smoothness." Everything was smooth, his breathing, his sleeping. His head, I might add, if mine weren't well on the way toward smoothness itself.

Soon after Rob revealed his smoothness, Lisa dropped off my two scrambled eggs and hash browns. "These eggs," I thought, "are like a journey toward heart disease."

A snowboarding guy walked in and sat on the other side of the U. He was there for one reason: to talk to the other waitress, not Lisa. Both Lisa and the other waitress were young and attractive, which was surprising, given that you would expect most places with U-shaped counters to be staffed by Alice, Vera and Flo. Maybe you would expect that if you watched too much TV instead of working.

Lisa was living with her boyfriend in a studio apartment, which was working out well because they'd bought this big bookshelf / room divider at IKEA. Whether the new guy knew this or not, he was interested in Lisa's co-worker. So they played their little game. Her body language suggested that she was interested. His order of a cheesburger at 10:30 in the morning suggested that he was willing to do whatever he needed to do to advance this relationship.

Eventually, he got up and went to buy a snowboarding magazine, then returned wearing large sunglasses. The waitress went back to his spot on the U and stood there talking to him.

Ignored by both of them were two of the most disheveled, yet not-unclean old men I've ever seen. They sat near the cash register and said things like, "Can you believe there was an earthquake last night? Near Lafayette!" and "120 tons of rocks falling down Telegraph Hill!"

With all of this going on, do you blame me for not working? Who can work when there's so much to see?

It's not going to get better, not today. Even though I have a Monday deadline, I am going to go back to school to watch the Jawa -- actually dressed as a Jawa -- play the Star Wars theme on his saxaphone for the talent show that they don't call a talent show because, I guess, if you suggest that the performers have talent, that must mean that the audience does not, and we're all talented here.

And special.

120 tons of rocks falling down Telegraph Hill. I can't even imagine.


Blogger Dave K said...

Can you be positively sure it was the cleaning lady? It could have easily been the butler, chauffeur or groundskeeper.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Lefty said...

ah, dave k bringing the class warfare!

"you can take what you want, but i won't give up my cleaning lady."

s. "my husband is not capable of cleaning the house to my satisfaction" bullock

10:12 AM  
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