Friday, November 13, 2009

Olly, Mesopotamian History, Key Food & Maccaroni

This morning began advantageously when I overheard a teenager talking to his mother on the train. "I refuse to live under these conditions," he stated, his face turned up in a snarl.

From what I could glean from the conversation, he had to switch high schools (to a less expensive school) and his mother expected him to get a job. He felt, for his part, that she ought to look into getting a better job. He was also quite angry with his father, whom he claimed had never worked a day in his life. I was simultaneously shocked by the way he talked to his mother and sad that he was so angry.

Fortunately, when I switched over to the bus, two lovely ladies were having a most entertaining conversation. Part of this included this lady with corkscrew ringlets stating that she had been traumatized at the age of three when her mother took her to Macy's to meet Santa.

"I remember pushing through layers of tulle," she informed her friend. "And then when I got there to sit on Santy's lap, I started screaming. Shrieking my head off. Traumatized by that experience ever since. As I told my mother later, it doesn't even make sense that we went- we're Jewish!"

At the end of my busride I went up to her and her friend and thanked them for being so entertaining. "I've been staring at your skirt the whole time," the lady frankly admitted. "I love it! I love the sparkles and the glitter."

But that's nothing compared to sitting in class in Revel and laughing out loud (after failed attempts to stifle my glee) at Lightman's advertisement:


-Consonant Clusters
-Feeding gods optional
-Come meet your friends! Nebuchadnezzar, Zechari, Shmuash-ashmi-ukun-Shashim and the rest!

To explain the reference to beer, it has to do with the fact that date beer was drunk by Hittites and I was laughing at the idea of using that in a sentence. I could just see it...DATE BEER, the Hittite Special, now available in all Hotel Lobbies for use during the anything-but-blind-because-I've-checked-you-out-so-thoroughly dates.

Here's an interesting answer the professor provided to one of my questions this evening:
    Theogony- all of these cultures believed in the birth of the gods. Stories of how the gods came to be born but basically they usually have derived as a result of watery primordial mass which was identified by two names: teamat and apsu (spelling? sweet waters and salt waters, one male and one is female) and the waters commingled and then the gods came forth from that union. The world was created out of the carcass of Teamat when Teamat and Marduk waged war against the younger gods. So gods are born into the universe and thus are subject to all biological forces, etc. Lesser gods used to serve the older/ more powerful gods. That became very tiresome so they had man created to keep the younger gods happy. There’s magic in the world and gods can be affected magically- spells can be put upon them, you can force them to do certain things and they are not the source but rather Shamash, who is god of justice/ law does not create the laws. Laws are part of the cosmic order- they are from the beginning. He just has access to them in the same way that Aea who is god of magic doesn’t create it but he knows that force intimately and therefore he knows what those forces are and has a way of controlling them but not to a certain extent- guardians of the law. Don’t create those forces, those forces superseded them – forces of fortility with Inana is not that she gives fertility or creates it but rather she is involved in the forces of fertility. So you have to access her to release those forces. Because gods are governed by biological forces/ rhythms they grow old, die, can be killed. Gods eat, procreate, give birth to younger gods.
After class, I decided it would be an intelligent idea to sling my laptop over my back, walk down a frightening hill (187th on the way to Broadway) in heels and go shopping for Shabbat at Key Food. Whilst there, I consistently ran into a good-natured blonde lady named Ilana.

"I'm sorry; it seems like I am stalking you!" I told her after having to walk past her again.

"If only you were male!" she joked. "Those are the kinds of stalkers I need!"

I laughed and we struck up a conversation. She had an interesting friend standing beside her. He has a sweet tooth and the lady tried to convince me to persuade him not to buy Yodels. However, since I have a sweet tooth, that wasn't going to work out. Curious, I then inquired as to who this man was and discovered that he is fantastically interesting. He's lived in lots of places (Baltimore, Ohio, Israel, New York, Toronto, etc), done lots of things (everything from Jewish History to engineering school), and best of all was fun to talk to. So of course I invited him over for Friday night dinner but alas, he shall be in Brooklyn.

However! It happened to be that I ended up behind this fine fellow in line at the register. When the Key Food man made the unfortunate mistake of charging The Engineer for my chicken, I paid The Engineer the requisite $11.02. I then proceeded to ring up my groceries and noticed the man standing as I packed them up.

"How do you plan on getting those home?" he inquired.

"I figured I would carry them all," I admitted.

"Would you like help?" he inquired.

"Oh," I breathed. "Could you?"

"Absolutely," he smiled and hoisted three bags instantly while I worked with the other two or three. We trekked up the Hill of Death (you try walking up from 187th and Broadway in high heels) while I discussed what I was going to do to repay the man. So I suggested feeding him hamburgers, but he seemed to be more the type of person who enjoys dairy food. Thus, upon his carrying my groceries all the way to my door, I had him sit down, introduced him to my roommates and vice versa and made some fresh maccaroni and cheese. I even foisted an apple upon him, all the while lamenting that he was not coming over for Shabbat when he could really have taken advantage of my culinary talent. I'm allowed to say that because said talents are really all taken from my mother, who, there is no question, is a chef.

Since it's Olly and The Engineer that we are talking about, of course he and I got to talking about God, his philosophy, the fact that he studied at the Cardozo Institute (Yona, I think you would like this guy!) and so on and so forth. Between quizzing him about his life and interests to exploring his theology, I had a mightily enjoyable time. And he was an excellent sport about it!

But lest you think the story is over yet, let me's not. Far from it! For after he walked out the door (I had to make chicken soup, after all, and watch "Glee" and "Grey's Anatomy"- I'm all caught up now) I realized that he is related to a guy who asked me out at one point in my life. And then I cracked up, because how random is that?

Huzzah for Thursday evenings and the nice people you meet at Key Food.

In other news, I really like Menachem Butler's way of referring to me, namely, as "Sister Chanah'lah." I feel like a cross between a nun and a Carlebachian. It is awesome. Menachem Butler, you rock my socks off.


Anonymous said...

Fun post!
You have interesting adventures alright.
Good shabbos!

Ephron said...

"You cholesterol freaks - both anti- and pro-fat - might like to know we have finally discovered the Hittite word for vegetable oil. It is ßaknaß. If you pronounce the Hittite s like an English "sh" (which is how we think it was pronounced), this word sounds as mouth-watering as the item probably was. In a Hittite prayer uttered after offering to the gods a pastry loaded with sweet oil and a pitcher of cold beer, the worshiper says, "O gods, let your stomach be ßaknawanza (filled with ßaknaß) and your brain intoxicated with beer!" Sounds like it might have been fun to be a Hittite god, what?"
The Oriental Institute Hittite Dictionary Project