Sunday, April 01, 2007

Zany Pesach Cleaning, Scrabble and iPods

The cast:

Sabriel (Me)
Urchin (Brother 1)
Dustfinger (Sister)
Tal (Brother 2)


Cleaning for Pesach is hilarious good fun in this house. Last night, we tackled the kitchen. We manned our stations and armed ourselves with soapy water, sprays and various forms of latex close-fitting gloves. My father was garbed in an orange IBM t-shirt, his choice of armor. I was wearing my famous 'DENY EVERYTHING' t-shirt (it's from the spy museum; it's what you do when you're caught) and the boys and Dustfinger were also wearing comfortable clothes.

Once we were appropriately garbed, we stealthily made our way toward the kitchen, buckets and sprays in our hands. Dustfinger decided to play Jewish music for the first couple hours, at which point I rebelled and insisted that it was my turn. Urchin spoke up and said that he was going to be forced to listen to both of our types of music, and he ought to have a turn. Daddy supported him, but I won out. Dustfinger gave me her iPod speakers, and soon we were listening to an assortment of my music. There was something for everyone, and my sister became inordinately excited by the presence of the theme from Schindler's List on my iPod (she wanted to learn how to play it.)

However, her speakers soon failed, so they were placed back upstairs so she could recharge the batteries. Urchin had a great idea, however, and brought his speakers downstairs, hooked up my iPod, proceeded to untangle wires, and we suddenly had a party in the kitchen. It was thunderstorming outside, and I love thunderstorms, so I was having a very good time. I had been assigned the 409 (in an orange bottle, so it matched Daddy's t-shirt) and various rags, and was told to wipe down the white cabinets. I went about this task happily, every so often jumping up to change the songs. Dustfinger begrudgingly admitted that she liked some of my music.

Then she wanted a changeover from the sad pseudo-classical sountracks we'd been listening to, so I turned to the soundtrack from "Fight Club." That was hilarious.

Dustfinger: I think he stole a car right here. Yeah, he's stealing a car.

Tal: I think he's running now.

Urchin: No, no, he's making his getaway- yes, he's absolutely running away now.

Tal: Now he's going to sleep. He's in bed.

[the music becomes much creepier]

Sabriel: Yes, yes, it's rated R. It's inappropriate for you right now, but when you see it, you are going to love it.

Dustfinger: (rolls eyes) Inappropriate? What is he, a thief?

Sabriel: Not's a dystopia; you know what a dystopia is?

Dustfinger: (bewildered look)

Sabriel: You know how a utopia is a perfect world? So a dystopia is a failed version of's really good; it's really interesting- you just can't watch it now.

Dustfinger: (in Hebrew) Ha'im hu rotzeach? (quick glance at the boys to make sure they don't hear)

Sabriel: Um...kind of...

Dustfinger: (elated expresion) Ha! I knew it!

Daddy: Is he well?

Sabriel: No, no, no...he's a very ill man.

Tal: Okay, it's scaring me now.

Urchin: Yeah, I'm going to have nightmares.

Sabriel: Okay, okay. I'll change it. (goes to iPod)

Tal: I think he's stealing another car now. Or smashing it.

Urchin: No, I think he's driving really fast now.

[changeover to Daddy music]

Everyone: Bye, bye, Miss American Pie!

Enter Mother. Mother insists that the oven has to be moved right now so that we can clean behind it. Daddy is pulled in to help in this effort. The oven is sucessfully moved, and with a smile of great glee, my mother says, "You want to see chametz? Look behind this oven!" at which point I see various bits of pasta and whatnot. "Sweep this!" she commands, then walks downstairs purposefully.

Someone sweeps behind the oven; I'm still 409ing the cabinets. My sister is cleaning/ kashering the granite- she's taking wicked pleasure in splashing soap everywhere, then pouring hot water all over the place. My brothers pipe up ever so often with pleas for "Tel-Aviv pizza" to which my father responds by stating, "I didn't say we were going there; you said it!"

At one point in the night, Tal and I start dancing together. At first it was a waltz, complete with broomstick and mop, but then he finds a white rag and we do a napkin dance (that is, I don't hold his hand but we both hold one end of a napkin); I twirl and he ducks and we spin. This is slightly reminiscent of my sister and I posing in front of the mirror, then hugging each other, walking over to Daddy, our arms still stiffly positioned and saying, "Daddy, isn't this such a cute picture?" He raised his eyebrows and smiled.

The brothers have grown tall, dark and handsome. It's a little scary, actually, how much they've changed. Urchin's voice is deeply masculine, for example, while Tal's dances between the high and low ends of the spectrum. They completely trounced me over Shabbos; that was pretty funny. They took quite a lot of joy in that, actually. Tal is getting quite good at giving analogies. I was trying to get out of answering who Na'aman was exactly by describing who he was in the context of the story- "he had tza'raas! he was cured! he gave Geichazi presents!" Tal says, "Look, Chana. 18+1 is the same as 15+4, but neither of those tell you the exact answer, 19. You're just telling us how to get there, but you're not telling us who Na'aman was." Dustfinger is confused. "Oh, it's math," my father teases, "so you won't understand it." Dustfinger glowers menacingly, then suddenly bursts into bright smiles. My father remarks that my real Tanakh competition is in the house...not in that college I go to... *smiles*

Oh! And Tal has become a master of sarcasm! He has such good comebacks that I just stop and blink. Hmm, I think. What to say to that? So I just join in the "Ohhhhh," at which point my sister informs me that I'm "dissing myself." I'm quite aware of that, I inform her, but I think his comeback is just too awesome; there's nothing I can say.

Speaking of my sister; her renditions of high-school life are simply hilarious. I was cracking up all Shabbos, hearing about the divisions and the cliques and "exploding teachers." Yes, yes, did you know that teachers explode? Pop! Poof! And then they're gone...

Today was amusing. I woke up at 10:20 and wandered downstairs. I see Urchin in the kitchen holding a mop and busily mopping the floor. What the....? "Why didn't you wake me up?" I demand. "You should have woken yourself up," he says brusquely. Tal wanders in. "Set your alarm, why don'tcha?" he asks. "My alarm is in New York!" I say. He shrugs. "Whose problem is that?" he asks matter-of-factly and goes downstairs.

"Did you guys go to minyan today?" Urchin nods. "We rode our bikes," he says, and I smile. "You brought your chains?" "Well, they're wires, not chains, but yeah."

At some point he brings up Dustfinger. "Yeah, the music was on so low and we were not even talking and we woke her up and she was like-" his eyes widen and his lips curl up to make a BRRR sound; he shakes his head quickly. "like BRRRR." I start laughing. Tal wanders through the kitchen, off to do something very important. Or not, as he's decided Gamecube is important.

My parents stop by to make a dropoff of assorted groceries. My mother is very concerned about my incompetency. "It'll be fine; I can leave it with Sabriel," she says. "You'll be all right with it?" "Assuredly not," I answer in my best Calvin-and-Hobbes imitation. "You should expect nothing from me, and then you'll be pleasantly surprised when I don't fail." My father grins. My mother continues looking deeply worried. "Lox in the downstairs fridge, remember." I repeat this over to myself, my new mantra. "I'm not going to remember this," I mutter. "Fish in the downstairs in the downstairs fridge..."

Dustfinger makes her appearance and starts ordering all and sundry to do her will, that is, to put the food away in the precise way she desires. We all stand at attention. "Yes, sir," we answer, handing her candy or drinks or other interesting foods. Urchin has decided to be decidedly methodical, and after having stacked the drinks five different ways, returns them to their original position. This drives me nuts, but it's how he works.

All right. Now we bring up bowls and various forms of amusing plastics. I kick my brothers off of Gamecube, insisting that they learn how to play Scrabble Anagrams (how do I make that TM sign? Oh well. It's my friend's game.) Scrabble Anagrams is excellent. Here's how you play:

    1. Assemble a bag of Scrabble letters (without the board) and a large dictionary

    2. Take at least four people

    3. Sit in a circle

    4. Have one person begin turning over letters, placing them in the center.

    5. The object of the game is to make words of those letters. They have to be at least four-letter words. As soon as someone calls a legitimate word, he takes it for himself, and the bag is passed to the next person in the circle. That person is the new Turner.

    6. You can steal other people's words. You can't steal them by adding ING or S or D, but you can by changing the word with an addition of a new letter. Like, 'RATES' can become 'WATERS.'

    7. When there are no more Scrabble letters, you count up the points you have (from all your words/ stolen words.) Whoever has the most points, wins.

Anyway, we started playing, and it was excellent...although the brothers rightly insisted that I ought to learn how to play Settlers of Catan.

Oh, I've just been called over the intercom. "Chana, why aren't you downstairs?" Tal questions. Guess I'd better go....


Anonymous said...

Ha, we're such a hilarious family! I love it!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sabrial or what ever you call your self. There were a lot of mistakes in this. First of all, Tal did most of the talking, and i rearanged the drinks about 2-3 times. oh there is a lot more mistakes but those are ones that for sure make me know that Sabrial has short term memory. but it is still very funny and amusing. best wishes on correcting this.

Anonymous said...

Something is not right? Are you sure you know what you are writing or are you just guessing on everything. I mean i was cleaning chairs when Urchin was in the pantry and you got the order all wrong. Is this just an April Fools Joke?

Stubborn and Strong said...

if this story have any small truth, it shows that you have amazing family that you are proud to part of it. Enjoy every minutes before you go back to Stern!

M.R. said...

Dude, you only need two people to play scrabble anagrams.
We play with two sets of scrabble tiles (mixed up).