Friday, March 03, 2006

Confessions of a Thursday Night

I blush to file this post. Last night, I had the most mindblowing experience one can have courtesy of a telephone.

My husband flew to Denver yesterday morning, leaving me all alone in New York (not counting Big Babe, Middle Babe and Little Babe, Alfie the Pomeranian, Sam the Hamster and the newest hamsterettes -- Emma II and Rebecca II. More about them later.)

Separated by thousands of miles and a time zone, we nevertheless achieved intimacy by watching the Colbert Report together -- he from his hotel room, me, sprawled on the living room couch, breathlessly checking in with each other during the commercial breaks.

What woman doesn't fantasize about being with two men at once? Last night I lived the fantasy, with the help of television and telephone. It was like nothing I had ever experienced...a telecom menage-a-trois.

Post-Colbert, spent yet satisfied, I was channel-surfing when suddenly I wiped out on the shore of Larry King who was interviewing a Britney-blond Roseanne Barr. If ever one needed proof that blondes are, indeed, dumber than brunettes or redheads or even really senile people with white hair, here it was. Blond Roseanne was a LOT dumber than the Brunette Roseanne I remember.

I tuned in just as Larry King was prompting the exceptionally loud actress to talk about her turnaround sixteen years ago, after her life fell to pieces. Across the bottom of the screen viewers were reminded that she had multiple personality disorder, depression and other tsurris.* How was she able to eventually pull everything together?


Now, I am not a dedicated Larry King fan (in fact, I often don't get him) but I appreciated the twinkle in his eye when the K word fell from Roseanne's lips. Oh yeah, we're gonna have some fun. Kabbalah is Jewish, he asked/prompted the (embarrassingly enough) Jewish Ms. Barr. Roseanne seemed stuck, agreed that Kabbalah was Jewish, but then began talking about how universal it really is, how for centuries, people from around the world practiced it. Even Christians, she pointedly said.

Others have ranted about this, so I don't want to be redundant (or unoriginal), but really, what the @#$% is up with celebrities and Kabbalah???? If ever something was laughable, it is this. Imagine, an esoteric Jewish mystical tradition involving rigorous study and spiritual practice based on intimate knowledge of Jewish text and tradition suddenly co-opted by the most shallow people on earth....but really, just as a brand name. They have no clue what Kabbalah is about and the shanda** is that those huskters who are busily promoting the practice of celeb-kabbalah don't even have enough public relations acumen to realize that the more intelligently their practitioners can speak about Kabbalah, the better they will be able to sell their brand.

Maybe that's why I just saw cases of Kabbalah Energy Drink being handed out for free on the Columbia campus.

Meanwhile, the Roseanne ridiculousness was just an unfortunate cap to what had actually been a magical evening in the life of Bungalow Babe in the Big City...oh, and I mean before the Colbert-HOBB (husband of Bungalow Babe)-me adventure. But that magical experience was rooted in a very sad moment in the life of Little Babe who was home from school because of the snowstorm (that never actually happened, but what the hell).

I was at the JCC's gym talking to one of the coolest rabbis in the world, Rabbi Levi Kelman of Kehillat Kol Haneshama in Jerusalem (in the States for a visit), when my cellphone rang. It was Little Babe calling from home. Tearfully, he informed me, "Rebecca is dead."

I stopped breathing. Rebecca is Middle Babe's best friend. Wild panic overtook me for a millisecond until I realized that I would not be receiving such horrific (Gd Forbid, pooh, pooh, pooh!!!!) news from my 10-year-old son. The Rebecca in question was a rodent, his beloved hamster.

"Oh, sweetie!" My heart went out to Little Babe who loved his pets and all animals. I pantomimed to Levi the contents of my conversation and he uttered an appropriate, barukh dayan haemet.*** Promising Little Babe a funeral in full regalia later in the day, I urged him to remove Rebecca from her cage -- wearing plastic gloves, of course -- place her inside a ziplock baggie and write a nice headstone inscription for her on an index card.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by in a haze of workaholic frenzy and suddenly, it was nighttime and Middle Babe called from New Jersey, where she had been hanging out with BOMB (boyfriend of Middle Babe) since her school also panicked because of the (non-) weather and let the kids out early.

"I'm really sorry, Mom, but could you come and pick me up???" she asked, plaintively.

I looked out the window where our red Dodge Caravan was parked, covered in ice and snow. Ugh. Actually, I was just settling in for a night of relaxation and Little Babe was looking sleepy to me. Cleaning off the car and driving it on icy roads over the GW was not really what I had in mind but yet, there was Middle Babe in New Jersey and HOBB was in Denver, so it looked like I would be shortly scraping ice.

As I got ready to drive westward, I realized the silver-lining of this excursion. Rebecca the Hamster!!! She was as yet unburied, lying fetal-curled within a Target-brand zip-lock bag on the windowsill of our front hallway! Lovingly, Little Babe had included some pine shavings for her comfort and a beautifully-written headstone inscription that began, "Dear Reb. I wish you weren't dead. But you are."

Little Babe's pet deserved a proper burial...and she would be getting one. In New Jersey.

Ten minutes later, Little Babe, Rebecca the (dead) hamster, Alfie the Pomeranian and I left the overheated confines of our apartment and headed into the arctic air. Yes, it took about 15 minutes to de-ice the car, and yes, my hands froze. Still, I was glad to be able to perform this final mitzvah. (Judaism takes proper burial very seriously).

Here's where my values got screwed up a bit. As we were driving to the highway, I was suddenly saddened by the thought of Rebecca's empty cage and realized that Petco on Broadway was probably still open at this hour. "How about stopping at Petco to look at the baby hamsters?" I suggested to Little Babe who was quietly mourning Rebecca in the back seat.

"YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" he yelled enthusiastically. Fifteen minutes later, we emerged with not one, but two new baby dwarf hamsters, which he immediately named Rebecca II and Emma II, after Emma the first who was killed this past summer by Felix the Evil Cat, Big Babe's (former) feline.
Little Babe's face shone with joy. Though delighted to see his mood lifted, I did worry about transmitting the ethic of a beloved pet as an instantly replaceable commodity.

Once in New Jersey, we tracked down Middle Babe and BOMB at a Chinese restaurant. Mooching off of their tea and fortune cookies, we planned Rebecca's funeral. BOMB suggested a local park. Little Babe and I had practiced the service on the drive over the bridge and we informed Middle Babe and Bomb that the funeral would be New Orleans-style, in homage to Mardi Gras and the city's rebirth after the devastation of Katrina.

And so, it came to pass, that around 9 pm, Little Babe, Middle Babe, BOMB, Alfie and I stood shivering in a semi-circle next to a naked tree (elm? oak? birch?beech? redwood? do Jewish people know anything about trees??) in a snowy park in Teaneck, NJ, singing Kol Ha-Olam Kulo Gesher Tzar Meod (The Entire World is a Narrow Bridge), an appropriate dirge, followed by Glory, Glory Halleluyah, in both English and Hebrew. That was the NOLA part of the funeral. Placing Rebecca the hamster in the snow, we all participated in covering her burial baggie with snow and said nice things about her, such as that she didn't bite us and didn't poop too much when we let her run around the apartment.

With the atmospheric sound of a New Jersey Transit train running in the background and Alfie straining the leash, overwhelmed by the unfamiliar scent of New Jersey's dog population, we stood in the pristine snow, paying our respects to a small, furry friend, accompanying her on her journey to Hamster Heaven.

*troubles, woes
***Blessed be the True Judge. What one says upon hearing of a death.


Bunny ~N~ Early said...

RIP Rebecca

Esther Kustanowitz said...

You know "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying?": "Well, it's been a long, been a long, been a long, been a long day..."

Wow. From intimacy-by-Colbert to burying a dead pet in Jersey: that's quite a journey. Something about burial in Jersey seems very Sopranos to me. But I watch too much tv.