Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Germ Factory
She always makes fun of Husband and me for this exact issue. Her version of science, pre-1940, indicates
that she only gets sick from cold not from germs. Of course, she spent World War II living in the Polish forest without a coat, so maybe that's understandable. But basically, if she can't see it, it doesn't exist. Meanwhile, she's sick all the time. My family - I blame Husband - goes with modern scientific theory: cover your mouth when sneezing, don't share germs on purpose.
My mother doesn't believe in any of this. Loudly. Her standard answer, perfected over the forty-nine years of my life to an ear-splitting shriek is, "You think you're so smart, Linda! Well, I raised all seven of you and managed not to kill anyone!"
So she comes over for the Chanukah party and there are a lot of seating options. She can sit at the long, long kitchen table, far away from the food serving area. She can sit on one of the couches, also far, far away from the food serving area. But no. She sits on a bar stool, right on top of the food serving area, the better so that she can pick at the food. With her fingers.
In my larger family, the family with the seven sisters, for some reason hands are serving utencils. There's some connection here with dieting that I haven't quite figured out yet, like if they pick, pick, pick at the food with their fingers - no plate - the calories don't count. Because if someone says, "Did you have a piece of cake?" The answer can legitimately be "No." No piece of cake was obtained. The cake was just picked at until crumbs remained on the platter, but no legitimate slice of cake was placed on a plate and consumed, like a real human being. So, no calories.
In my family, platters of meat disappear this way, containers of potato salad are demolished, and, yes, cakes vanish into thin air.
So my mother sat there, sick, picking at all the food, glaring at me if I glared at her, refusing my offer of a plate or for me to make her a sandwich, seat her at the table, a choice chair perhaps - anywhere! Then I noticed everyone at the party was picking except my little family of germophobes.
And I thought, okay, obviously I'm the lunatic here. What did it matter anyway? Since we knew this was going to happen, husband and I, Bar Mitzvahzilla and Daughter made sure and isolated ourselves from those germs: we ate before the party.