(For the past few years, my parents have been harassed by their obnoxious neighbors, the Swinfords, who claim that my parents trim — without permission!! — a bush planted between the two properties. Duke Swinford has literally run up and screamed at my father, and he also sent my father an insulting letter. The whole thing is as stupid as it sounds, but my mother used to try to feel sorry for the neighbors — until she found out that Duke made anti-Semitic comments about her friends who used to live across the street. She said, “My whole attitude has changed. I no longer feel sorry for them. Now, I hate them.”)
Me: “Your remarks on spelling are hilarious! I HAVE been paying attention; for instance, when I asked you about ‘etrogs,’ you referred to them as ‘esrogs.’”
My mother: “But wait, there’s more! You seem to know about the esrog, but do you know about the lulav? The two go together and are important elements of the Jewish festival of Sukkot (although we pronounced it ‘Sukkos’). I’m sure I’ve described how we used to celebrate this in Hebrew School. It was your mention of the esrog that prompted my actions of the other day… .
"I was watering my plants and decided to give the Lucky Bamboo a good spray in the kitchen sink. The leaves were soaked so I decided to take it outside and just gently shake off the water in the sun. But when I got out on the driveway, it suddenly came over me to literally shake the plant at the Swinfords! I shook it high, I shook it low, I faced east and then west and shook it at their house. I thought of the lulav, and shook the bamboo as if it were one!
"I knew if the Swinfords were watching they would never ask me what I was doing, but they would also wonder if I was in fact doing SOMETHING — something other than shaking water off a plant. There was a vague sense of getting back at them via this ancient Jewish ritual, almost unknown among Christians. How I wished you were there! I would only have had to say, ‘Remember the esrog? This is the lulav!’ and you would have fled into the house to look it up! From my position on the driveway, I would have heard you in the house, howling with laughter!
"Well, that was funny enough, all by itself. But when I told your father about it later he said, ‘Do you think they thought you were putting some kind of curse on them?’ Hilarious! Oh, I hope they did, the morons!"