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All posts for the month December, 2008

TIKKUN OLAM, WITH A BRITISH TWIST

Published December 29, 2008 by jean cohen

Christmas was simply splendid.  While never my favorite celebration, the holidays spent basking in luxury on ultra posh Caribbean cruises to escape the Mid Atlantic winter cold and our bittersweet memories remain a significant part of my former life.   Last year, during my Napoleonic exile on the Garden State (Exit 145) I ate Kosher Chinese with Doo Wop Steve at the JCC Palisades while trading snide remarks with Israeli Guy at the Pork Lo Mein Without the Pork Station.  That was actually not a bad holiday either.

 

My first Christmas across the pond was totally different, but that’s good.  And I created some new memories, and traditions, that mesh with the New Jeano.

 

After Doing ‘til I dropped, I spent Christmas Eve morning cooking.  Really.  I did.  I had decided to make a traditional Italian American Christmas Dinner for Marina’s arrival on Boxing Day.  Through a Dealer I know, I scored some Progresso Bread Crumbs (slightly more difficult than getting hold of a bottle of aspirin in England).  So I made what I modestly call the Best Meatballs in the Entire Fucking World. 

 

And to prove I’m not exaggerating again, when I mentioned this to Stuart when he rang, he made me swear I would freeze a couple in a zip-lock baggie, wrap them up like a Christmas present and send them home with Marina.  And when Bagpipe Guy came over for our little ‘Christmas Party for Two’, I made him a meatball sandwich.  He was gobsmacked.  Somehow, he had gotten the idea that I don’t know how to cook. I have no idea how.  Not that he minded; beautiful and sexy was enough for him.  But, trust me, now he’s really chuffed.

 

And I’ve discovered a damned fine way to celebrate Christmas Eve.

 

The New and Vastly Improved Bagpipe Guy is amazing.  Scarily so.  He’s sooo sweet.  (God.  Do I sound like I’m fifteen, or what?)  Although we had a teensy row last week…about him cancelling a date.  He called me a ‘JAP’.  Honestly, if he’d said “That sweater is so wrong with those slacks” or “Your thighs look ginormous in that”, I would have really been pissed off.  Not that he ever notices what I’m wearing.  At least ‘til we get to the good stuff.  I just said kindly like he was clueless or something, “Well, Duh, Sweetie.  Of course I’m a JAP.”

 

BP really put a lot of thought into my pressies.  I’m not going to discuss what they were.  I was touched.  And for a change, I’m not being sarcastic or JAPPY.  I put a lot of thought into his, too.  I think he was pleased.

 

BooBoo and Cheese Boy came over later to exchange pressies, but it was an early night.  I had thought about doing The Seven Fishes to thank the Italians for my wonderful citizenship and stuff, but, hey, I made meatballs.  Basta!

 

I had to be up and ready to rumble early on Christmas Day serving lunch to the poor, the homeless and the disenfranchised at the Salvation Army in Addlestone.  (I picked out my ‘Being Charitable’ outfit the night before.)  In that small town shtick that I adore, I knew about six of the guests from Tea Lady duty at the Senior Centre.

 

Every once in a while, not too often, it’s a good thing to realize how fortunate I am.

 

We started serving tea and biscuits at about 9:00 as the guests began arriving.  There were 147 people booked for the lunch.  Scores of volunteers dashed around setting the tables, and serving the old dears as the buses delivered them.  There was a Christmas carol sing along, and then a religious service conducted by the Salvation Army Captain.

 

I was assigned to duty in the Kitchen then, where I met the Jew of my dreams.  Santa Claus is way better than the Sex Fairy.  I thought “Gee…I should have gone with ‘Friday night at Hymie’s Deli’ instead of ‘Being Charitable’”.

 

The guy who cooks the entire dinner every year.  His name is David.  He strolled into the kitchen and my Jew-o-meter shot directly to 10.  He’s Jewish!  He cooks! He’s really cute!  And he’s circumcised!  If he’s a Dermatologist or any bloody ‘-ologist’, his wife is toast!  (Why are they always taken?)

 

My task was to put a serving of carrots and roasted potatoes on each of 147 plates as we fixed them in a huge assembly line to be delivered to the tables by other volunteers.  Turkey: Check.  Sprouts: Check.  Sausage wrapped in bacon: check.  And so on.  It was hard work. 

 

We did get to eat too, sitting amongst the guests.  Of course, we got up to clear the tables and then serve 147 puddings followed by tea and coffee.  There were games, Pass the Parcel being one, and Name the Singer, kind of like Name That Tune.  Then Santa arrived, and Santa’s elves (we volunteers) helped distribute presents to everyone.

 

I did get a chance to chat with David while we were all clearing up.  Hey, he might have a brother, cousin, uncle…whatever.  I told him about the Thanksgiving Dinner for Sam, and he said he’d definitely help out when we do it next year.  We exchanged details, and I got a sweet email the next day.  He’d read my blog and made some funny comments.

 

I got home from the Salvation Army, and was too damned tired to get changed so I went to Christmas Dinner at Pinkie’s in my Being Charitable outfit.  Terry cooked and it was a proper British  Christmas dinner.  Did you know they eat cabbage on Christmas?  Yeah, I didn’t either.  I wonder what that’s about.  We exchanged our pressies, drank a lot of wine, and I had a brilliant time.  I had to make it an early night again.  Marina was arriving the next morning, and Bagpipe Guy was picking me up at the crack of dawn to pick her up at Heathrow.  Is he not simply amazing?

 

So I did a mitzvah, met a Jew, was reminded that I truly am blessed, and had a damned fine happy Christmas.

 

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MERRY CHRISMAKAH

Published December 23, 2008 by jean cohen

Booboo pointed out this morning that it’s a week since I blogged.  “I know” I told her.  “I’ll be glad when Christmas is over and the ‘do’s be done’.  I can hardly write about them when all my time is spend either at them, or dressing for them.”  I confess.  For the Quiz this week, I was so tired I wore the same outfit I wore to Sam in the afternoon.  Shocking, isn’t it?  I put fresh makeup on and changed my boots at least.

 

And yeah, we didn’t win—again.  Since Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both fall on a Thursday, we’ll not have the pleasure of beating our heads against a wall for two whole weeks.

 

So I’ve been ‘doing’.  I’m not going to bother describing them all in meticulous detail.  They were fun; I had a nice time.  And I looked very nice.

A few dates with one of the Peters—also very pleasant.

 

I’ve finished my Christmas shopping and everything is wrapped.  That was kind of a novel experience.  I put up my Chanukah Bush (yes, I know there’s no such thing as a ‘Chanukah Bush’; I’m the first kid on my block with one…maybe even in England.)  A friend gave me a beautiful ornament for said Bush—it’s a pair of glass slippers.  Because a Princess never has enough glass slippers. 

 

I displayed all the Christmas cards I received as I was advised this was the done thing.  When BooBoo was over, she was checking them all out.  “Wow!  You know an awful lot of Gentiles” she commented.  “Ain’t it the truth” I agreed.  “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten quite so many cards inviting me to ‘Enjoy the Birth of Jesus’.”  It is a deliciously and quite deliberately ironic touch that my menorah is right in the middle of the cards.

 

This next part is so tedious.  I would skip it if I were you.  I had to close the comments section of the Blog again.  Yeah, Repo Man’s been posting again.  Well, it was one post, which he put in twenty times (not an exaggeration).  I don’t know if he meant to say the same dumb stuff twenty times or if he’s too clueless to realize the post’s been entered without a SatNav to help him.  Doesn’t matter.  That’s why there’s a delete button.  Basically, it was more of the same meant to be mean and spiteful insults, but with a few interesting variations (maybe somebody helped him write it).   

 

I saved a copy before I deleted it; I’ve saved all of them.  Advertisement: For only Five Quid, the idiotic ramblings of Repo Man can be yours to enjoy too!  Suitable for Do’s and parties that need livening up.  D Rating…at least the spelling, punctuation and grammar.

 

This is a short blog, because time is short.  I’ve got commitments on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Marina arrives on Boxing Day, there’s a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, and a barbecue at Ed & Claire’s. 

 

I’ll blog again when I can; I’m sure there will be plenty to report.

 

In the meantime, Happy Holiday of Your Persuasion.

 

 

      

 

 

I DO MORE DO’S

Published December 13, 2008 by jean cohen

I’m getting majorly tired of dressing for another Do, and there are still about six more to go, plus the impromptu ones that just happen.

 

Boodles, for lunch on Saturday was, as always, a Masterpiece Theatre kind of treat.  Eileen and I started unfortunately at the Ritz again, ostensibly for ‘a coffee’.  But somehow we ended up in the bar drinking their special Ritz champagne and almost missed the Boodles thing as we lost track of time.

 

And the Ritz lost my favorite Louis Vuitton scarf in their cloakroom.  I had a sissy fit and was already planning the Champagne Weekend I was going to demand in exchange when they located it.  I could have replaced it; it wasn’t that special.

 

I wore my mink up to town.  I’ve been warned not to; Brits are excessively fond of furry little creatures.  I don’t mind the dirty looks and blithely ignore the snide remarks.  “You’re brave” Eileen commented.  “Yeah well I just tell the bleeding hearts to save their righteous indignation for crappy servers in restaurants.  That’s seriously wrong.  And look at me.  Do I honestly look like I want to win ‘The Most Badly Dressed Woman in Britain’ Cup?”

 

Another ‘first’ for me; we wandered Carnaby Street, shopping in the exclusive boutiques.  I almost bought a pair of ‘to die for’ boots in this funky shoe shop.  I wanted every single pair of shoes and boots in there. I tried to ring Pinkie to see if she wanted this pair of adorable pink ones.  Lack of space, not to mention the 300 quid price tag, deterred me.  Eileen quipped “At that bloody price, Mary Quant ought to come over to your’s and pull them off when you’re done wearing them.”  We went to Liberty too, and I managed to find a few small Christmas pressies there, and they weren’t even for me.

 

On Sunday I dragged Pinkie to a party at the humongous home of the Chair of the synagogue.  It was a small turnout, but she got to meet Cousin Bernie, who was there stag.  Jane had the flu.  “I see what you mean” Pinkie whispered, “He’s hot!”  Sadly, the desirable ones are all spoken for.  I wonder if the flu is a life-threatening illness?

 

A friend from shul’s husband did die this week.  “Michael died on Tuesday” I reported to BooBoo.  “I need to send a shiva basket or something.”  “When’s the funeral” she asked.  “It was Wednesday in North London” I told her.  She was gobsmacked.  He’s already buried?”  It takes positively weeks to dispose of a dead body here usually—Christian ones, that is.  The restaurant servers must be in charge of funerals too.  Of course I couldn’t find a place that even knew what a shiva basket is here so a sympathy card and a box of chocolate Santa Clauses will have to suffice when I pay my shiva visit.

 

What else happened this week?  Oh!  I know!  The Eagles beat the G-men.

 

Note to Muffin Man and Mule-ess:  Yo!  Whassup?  Yeah.  That’s it.

 

The Eagles aren’t really that good; the Giants just had kind of a bad week. What with Plaxico shooting himself in the leg accidentally.  And then the cover-up at the hospital, and transporting the discharged weapon back across state lines to New Jersey.  Even I’m smarter than to stick a loaded gun in the waistband of a pair of sweat pants and take it clubbing in New York.

 

But, hey, the G-men already won the NFC East outright; we need help, and a few Ws, to earn a wildcard slot.

 

Note to Georgia:  Sorry!  Crush the Brownies Monday night…

 

Monday was the Volunteer’s Appreciation Lunch at the Senior Centre.  Big Yawn.  Tuesday night I had dinner at the Grotto with Lulu and Monkey Joe.  And Spanish Joe and Edwina.  That is not a misprint.  We ate food at the same table as Edwina.  It was an extremely enjoyable occasion.  (I am a fucking liar.)  Lulu and I went outside for a fag to discuss our options.  We came up with: 1) Stay and eat yummy Thai food even if Edwina was present; 2) leave and get a kabob at the Roach Coach; or 3) go back to mine and starve, but at least drink lots of Zinfy.   And the meal wasn’t even good.

 

Just to get this over with, I worked an extra shift at Sam, I had lunch with Jennifer in Woking, I had coffee with Peter #2, I worked another shift at Sam, and we lost the Quiz again, but we had fun.  And somewhere in between all that, Bagpipe Guy came around for…   Shit.  You know what for.

 

THIS LAND IS MY LAND…AT LEAST THIS BLOCK IS

Published December 10, 2008 by jean cohen

Wow!  British people sure like Christmas, or at least any excuse to celebrate.  “The Pound dropped again against the Dollar.  Let’s have a Do!”

 

There’s still three weeks to go till Christmas, and I’m Do-ed out.

 

Since I was heading up to London on Tuesday anyway for the Do at the American Embassy, I thought I’d go up early and do some shopping.  I rang my friend Eileen.  She didn’t feel like shopping.  But she had no objections to tea at the Ritz followed by multiple glasses of champagne.  Great.  Now I had to remember I’m American—at least inside the Embassy.  Outside, on the sidewalk, I’m Italian; inside, which is technically officially absolutely really legally being in America, I’m a real live niece of my Uncle Sam.

 

I got really, really homesick.  It might have been all the Stars & Stripes, or George W’s picture.  Or the hunky Marine at Security who said, “Place your purse on the conveyor belt and then walk through the metal detector” in the cutest Midwestern accent.  (A ‘purse’ is not a purse in Britain.  It’s called a ‘pushchair’ or ‘nappy’, I think.)  “Ooh” I said, “Could you repeat that again? It sounded so ‘home-y’”.

 

It was odd but nice to be around so many of my countrymen after so many months in Britain.  I don’t even notice that everyone has an accent anymore, it sounds commonplace to me now.  Then suddenly I’m in a huge reception hall dotted with portraits of every past ambassador to the Court of St. James, and everyone is speaking ‘American’.  Not a single person said ‘I need to spend a penny’ or ‘We’re going on holiday for a fortnight’.   They said stuff like ‘Who lit a firecracker under the Phillies’ asses?’ (except that guy from Boston; he’s a sore loser) or ‘Has Donovan still got game?’  “I don’t know” I kept saying, “I think he’s got Randall Cunningham syndrome”, which everybody got. People here generally don’t… Get. 

 

I met the new Vice Consul, who’d just arrived a few weeks ago.  She’s from Hawaii, Honolulu specifically.  I’m not allowed to say any more for security reasons.  This is, for a change, absolutely true.  All of it.  Okay…her name is Debbie.  And I made her say ‘Hawaii’ twenty times just because I love how native Hawaiians pronounce ‘Hawaii’. 

 

The party was lovely, yummy nibblies and excellent California wine.  It was a totally awesome experience, and great to be in the good old US of A for a few hours.

 

And that’s not even all.

 

Bagpipe Guy came to London to pick me up and chauffeur me back to Weybridge in style.  And as you’re probably wondering…Hell, yeah!  That was pretty awesome, too.

 

I covered an afternoon shift at Sam on Wednesday, and then had to boogie home to shower and change for the Sam Christmas Do.

 

While I was in the shower, one of the Peters left a message on my machine that it was too cold to walk so he’d pick me up and drive me to the restaurant.  “That is so sweet” I thought.  “I wonder which Peter it’s going to be?”   I pondered for a bit, then the Lincoln penny dropped.  (I’m still feeling ‘American’.)  Obviously it was the Peter from Sam Bric-A-Brac;  I didn’t tell either of the other two Peters about the Do.  Come to think of it, I haven’t told any of the Peters about the other two—or Bagpipe Guy. 

 

It was a fabulous Do; there were about forty volunteers from both Sams, including Mike and Mike and Paul (who accepts donuts from strange women) and staff from Headquarters.  Lots of people took pictures.  I’ll post some when I get copies. 

 

Thursday was my regular shift at Sam and, in the evening, the Quiz.  Pinkie was on nights so it was just Cheese Boy and me.  We lost, badly.  End of that subject. 

 

BooBoo and I went shopping on Friday morning—Christmas and a proper food shop.  I had to be back early; I needed to change and get geared up for a lunch date with the new bloke, Richard.  He was very nice and attractive.  There was only one tiny problem…him.  If he was 5’8”, I’m the Jolly Green Giant.  Oh well, at least his name wasn’t Steve.  Munchkin Guy is a non-starter, though.

 

As I had to go up to London again on Saturday for another, and really posh, Do at Boodles, I went to the Friday night service.  It was the monthly Oneg and Dinner afterwards service so Mr. Waitrose and I whipped up a wonderful dessert. 

 

I was given an honor at Shul.  I was asked to light the Shabbat candles and give the blessing.  I was honestly moved to tears.  And as you all know, I’m not particularly sentimental.  There I was, in a synagogue in Britain, saying the blessing amongst people I have come to know and, in some cases, like.   I was ending a week of non-stop social occasions, and again with people I know and enjoy being with.  It hit me.  I’ve done it.  I’ve transformed my life and, in the process, myself.  Okay, I’ll stop now.

 

After shul it was a quick coffee with friends as I had to put in an appearance at another friend’s Leaving Do at the Grotto.  For some bizarre reason, Sarah is moving to Devon, which is the wilderness.  Yanks, think ‘I’m getting away from it all!  I’m moving to Devil Kill, North Carolina.  Hit me with your best shot, you hurricanes.”  Pinkie was there, Zinfyingly waiting for me to turn up.  But I was quite responsible since I knew I had to get up in the morning and head to London again.

 

To save time, and dithering, I had wisely picked out Saturday’s Going to Another Posh Do in London outfit in advance, as well as Sunday’s Going to Another Posh Do on a Private Gated Estate in Weybridge.

 

WHEN YOU CARE ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST

Published December 5, 2008 by jean cohen

Somebody famous said ‘good girls keep diaries; bad girls never have the time’.   Yeah, we’re way too busy. 

 

Where to even begin this week’s adventures?  What to include and what to censor?  I’m back to the dilemma that too many people know more than they should about my life because they read it here.  So I skip stuff.  But if anybody gets insulted anyway, gee…that’s too bad.

 

I had a date with Peter on Friday, and a lunch date with Peter on Saturday.  Not the same bloke.  I’m juggling three Peters at the moment.  It was a bit cataclysmic when they rang—right in a row–  the other day, especially given my confusion issues.  “Hi, Jeano.  It’s Peter.”  “Shit!  Which one are you? Give me a clue”

 

Thankfully, I have a date on Sunday with a new bloke…called Richard.  He’s already scored five points in the Dating Jeano Index by not being called Peter or Steve. 

 

Saturday night was Leyla’s Birthday Do at the Ashtree.  My date was called Pinkie.  The Irish Lad had unselfishly agreed to drive us over and pick us up in exchange for an entire Sunday watching soccer and getting pissed at the pub with Steve-o from Strange-o. 

 

After frantic texting and phone calls about what to wear (it was the third time I changed; synagogue, lunch, then the party) we were rather late.  Cheese Boy had rang about six times to ask “Aren’t you dressed yet?”

 

On the ride to Ashford, Pinkie and I drew up battle plans for Sunday.  We were going Christmas shopping.  I had unearthed my trainers from under a pile of boots (where do they all come from?) for maximum mobility at the mall.  And she presented me with the latest card.

 

Pinkie, for some unknown but lovely reason, has been sending me greeting cards.  Maybe to cheer me up.  Perhaps I am sad and have just been having too much fun to notice.  Anyway, the cards have been hysterically funny and on point with the stuff going on in my life right now.  There was one for making up with Bagpipe Guy, one about Marina, and a Mills & Boon one for all my ‘guys’.  The Saturday night one was about…you figure it out.

 

It had a couple on the front, dressed in turn of the century clothing, standing next to their bicycles.  The caption read ‘Thanks to SatNav we can get lost so much more accurately’.   The pink message inside said “I hope you avoid ANYONE with a satnav unless his first name is Bagpipe and his second name is Guy.”

 

The Irish Lad innocently inquired if BP Guy had a satnav.  I admitted that I had no idea.  Tee’s such a devil!  “I’m sure he knows where he’s going” he teased, “I heard Bagpipe Guy can locate your tiny clitoris without any help from a satellite.”

 

Note to myself:  Don’t repeat idiotic comments made by Limpweed Guys to the Irish Lad when you’re pissed.  Even if he’s pissed too, he never forgets a fucking thing.

 

Despite some serious celebrating at Leyla’s party, Pinkie & I managed to hit the shopping center at Woking on Sunday morning.  Eamonn, bless his little materialistic heart, efficiently did his Christmas wish list on Power Point to save confusion or too many sweaters and socks under the tree.  Amy was assigned to guard me and make sure any presents bought were for other people.

 

“Jeano, what are you doing?”  “Um, I’m looking for a top for BooBoo.”  “Jeano, Jeano, Jeano!  You’re looking in the size twelves.  Karen’s not a twelve.”  “I’m getting ideas.”  

 

Amazingly, after hours at the mall, Pinkie and I went to a Trunk Show on Sunday night.  Pinkie is not as strict as Amy.  “Oh…it’s stunning!  Buy it.”  She said that a lot.  So I did.

 

Fortunately, it was Cheese Boy’s birthday and we were going out to celebrate so I had to leave Pinkie and all our stuff at the shop.  I am not responsible for anything she bought after I left, unless it’s that utterly divine white leather number that I lusted after.

 

The Boy was moved to tears and laughter by my card and gift.  The card said, “Age doesn’t matter unless you’re a cheese” on the front.  Inside I wrote, “…or a Cheese Boy” and then some mushy lovey dovey stuff.   His pressie?  A beautiful coffee table book on Ingrid Bergman, his all time fav.  (I love Sam!)

I have been writing this in fits and starts ‘cause I keep having social engagements.  And I’m bored with it.

 

Coming Attractions:  A Do, Another Do, The Cocktail Party at the Embassy, Bagpipe Guy, a date, another date…and so on.