When I was a little girl, my parents taught me a family joke, a mix of yiddish and English:
A lady goes into a butcher shop. On the top of the counter was a row of chickens. She picks one up and sniffs it under the fligl (wing), the polka (thigh) and then stuffs her nose in the cavity. Disgusted, she yells to the butcher, "Hey, this chicken stinks!"
He glares at her, "Hey lady, can you pass such a test?"
That joke was originally from my cousin, Sam Levenson, a popular American Jewish humorist. I believe that was the joke which launched his career. It was a family staple and comedy 101 of my upbringing.
One day, in kindergarten, the teacher asked the students for a joke. I told the family one and my mother received a phone call.
"What kind of joke is that to teach a kid?" asked the teacher.
Hey, that was 1960.
Later that year, I brought my Chanukah gift, a stuffed doll, to school in the same big box in which I received it. At the same time, that early morning, my elementary school received a bomb threat. Yes, we had those even back in 1960.
The principal pulled me over. "What's in that big box you just brought to school?"
"A Chanuka gift a friend of the family gave me. He insisted I bring it to school."
"Can you describe it?"
"It's round, pink and has a hat thing on top and two wires on the side and on the bottom."
The principal then phoned my mother. "What's inside that box?"
"A round doll with some wires." My mother was not apt to description.
Within seconds, the school was evacuated and a bomb squad and the police entered the premises. Us kids milled around the driveway to Circle Hill Elementary school until we spotted the police and bomb squad departing the entrance hysterical.
When I returned to my classroom, I spotted my box. It was expertly cut on all sides, exposing my round, pink stuffed doll wearing a hat and two wires on each side resembling ski poles and wires on the bottom resembling skis. Back then, kids had their friends sign these kind of dolls. I don't know why, it was the trend.
That brought a bit of hilarity at home. It reached epic proportions by the time I entered high school before it faded away, relegated to the cobwebs of parental anecdotes.
My formative years were spent cowering underneath an elementary school desk as protection against the threat of an Abomb. I've no idea why we were taught that our desks would provide cover, but that was part of my education process.
Which reminds me of the theme of Battlestar Galactica: All of this has happened before and will happen again. Not my childhood, mind you; the terrorism, the threats of imminent destruction, the inability of people to relate, the hatred, the jihad, corruption, political and economic deconstruction.
I'm just preparing myself for December 21.
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PS: I must've had a premonition because I wrote this early in the morning and published it seconds before running out of my home for a road trip. Upon arriving at the destination two hours later, I saw the news and was in shock about the massacre at an elementary school. My heart goes out to the victims and their families.