Columns - 1999

    The royal flush

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    This month I will regale you with one of the many ideas that occurred to me in the bathroom. Hey, for all you know I was brushing my teeth or hanging a clock. Of course, some people would say that it explains alot that what I write is conjured up in the bathroom. I ignore those three people, except to say that if they don't like it they should stop getting people to read my column to them.

    This is another of my ideas that came to me in the shower. Okay, just assume I was installing a new showerhead or cleaning the tile with your mother-in-law's toothbrush.

    Most of my ideas come to me at work, in meetings, or during services. Don't tell my boss, though she might be impressed to learn that I'm putting forth some creative effort while at work.

    I hate getting ideas at services. I can't write them down. I also hate it when the Rabbi has an interesting sermon, for two reasons. One, I stay awake, which is one of the causes of my sleep problems.

    Two, I have to come up with ridiculous mnemonics, like "make fun of Exodus twenty-four, as soon as you get out the door", to remember stuff until I am safely away from synagogue property where I can blasphemously write things down without incurring a lightning strike on the synagogue property. (I have a new Celica, so I can outrun lightning on the expressway.)

    Though you have to wonder why that should be something to worry about, unless you're my grandmother and having a slow day. If nobody's allowed to use electricity on Shabbat, you'd think there'd be nothing to worry about.

    But the focus of this column is, in no small part, another recent cause of my sleep problems. Let me tell you a story.

    I returned from Alabama the day after Thanksgiving to find that my neighbor of the month hung a bunch of Christmas lights on his porch and apartment wall to officially welcome the shopping season. Unfortunately his holiday extended, in Technicolor (tm), across the sidewalk and through the tree right in front of my front door.

    Intolerant, you call me? Especially living in California, land of the free, home of the Giants (not the Braves)? But wait, just like on 3 a.m. infomercials (which I've become quite acquainted with lately), there's more.

    The first night when I got back, mind you I was tired after flying all day and having a performance forty miles up the peninsula that night, I did my part as a Card-Carrying Californian and was tolerant. After a day I realized that I was not the one who needed to be tolerant, and that I didn't want to leave my blinds closed for over a month just to avoid the light shining in every room of my humble townhouse.

    So I decided to do what Pete Rose did to Jim Grey and turn myself into the victim here. (The difference being I really was an innocent byrenter in the first place, and Jim Grey's timing stunk.)

    Now I don't know my neighbors. I work by day. Well, I go to the office anyway. And I've been working on shows almost every night for a year. My neighbors change more often than my rent does. (See, mother? No underwear joke.) But I didn't want our first encounter to be "Hi, I live next door, please remove your lights from the tree and thanks for not complaining about my piano," or anything similar. My rent just went up, let's make the complex earn their obscene amount of money (I'd rather give them the underwear).

    At press time, the complex is asking him to remove the lights. Hopefully, it will all go well. But there is word that there might be resistance from the tenant. The complex does not like the lights, or any displays according to the lease, so hopefully they will persevere. Otherwise, one must wonder if any nearby tenants with credits for lighting over one hundred stage productions, might know how to remedy the problem. (Hey, it was the complex's idea. Honest.)

    If the situation gets more entertaining, you will certainly hear about it. If we survive the impending apocalypse, that is.

    Look, I'm not a bad person. I'm not intolerant. I'm playing two supporting roles in a production of "Annie", including playing a reputedly anti-Semitic president who rolls onstage with a loud "Merry Christmas!" so don't tell me that I won't sell out for a decent stage role... I mean, don't tell me that I'm intolerant... Never mind.

    But I'm getting great reviews. "One might have to be reminded that he is not the real McCoy," said one reviewer. Great. But I was playing Roosevelt, not McCoy. Of course, the fact that I can pull off a character forty years older than me in a manner "so convincing, both in vocal quality and gestures," is a bit disturbing. But at least they decided that my hair wasn't grey enough for the part without dying it.

    To show how community-minded I am this apocalyptic season, I will take advantage of several Christmas sales. Before that, however, I will share with you the recently unearthed original lyrics of a popular seasonal song:

    Drecked up halls with lots of tchatchkes,
    Fa la la la la la la la la
    'Tis the season to eat latkes,
    Fa la la la la they're not matzah.
    Vhat? You vant... Oy vay! Falafel?!?
    Leave my kitchen right now! To your room!
    Troll for five cent colored candles,
    A wop bop a loola, a wop bam boom!

    Fasting days have barely passed us,
    Fa la la la la la la la la
    So, what's new? Get off your kishkes!
    Baseball sure does miss Tom Lasorda.
    These great sales go on forever,
    I bet it's warmer in Florida!
    Oy, vhat is this wind and weather?
    Turan tura, turan tura, turan tura!

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley who still denies being the second gunman on the grassy knoll... especially if someone takes out his neighbor's lights in the next few days...

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.