I think I’m a reasonably nice, decent human being. True, I have a few quirks, for example, accidentally setting my “Jewfro” on fire a lot, getting shingles when in the presence of a scale, and assuming a toe blister could be cancer.
But, overall, I follow the commandments as best I can, give to charity, help my friends, say please and thank you, floss and ingest a tub of fiber daily.
However, there’s one huge blip that no doubt will be a blot my permanent record card when I get (hopefully) “up there.”
Not only am I a hopeless hoarder, I’m a secret sneaker.
Food. Not only am I a hopeless hoarder, I’m a secret sneaker (I’m not talking Adidas).
Not my fault. I no doubt inherited it from my Polish bubbe, who, till her dying day, carried around, not a purse, but a “setchel” in which she stuffed enough food to support a family of five, should Cossacks accost Jewish cars on the Long Island Expressway.
And of course, all that talk of bomb shelters in the 1960s didn’t help an already meshugge maidel. To this day, instead of counting sheep to fall asleep, I count – food. I drift off with thoughts of how many meals I could make for my sequestered loved ones while waiting for the radiation to evaporate.
I admit this peculiarity has been the cause of some embarrassment (for those around me). So, I decided it was time to finally get this off my guilty chest by telling those I trust -- you, my dear readers. So here it is. Have rachmones.
First … there’s the take out buffets. I live in Las Vegas, “Buffet City.” Like Miami, we have “early bird” prices – all you can eat for $5.00 (if you don’t mind eating lunch at 9 a.m. and dinner at three). You can also take out. They give you a cheesy carton with three compartments that are no doubt designed by Styrofoam engineers in Tai Wan to hold one broccoli floret, a spoonful of rice, and two skinny chicken pieces.
Despite barely passing geometry, I’ve somehow created a new Law of Physics that would scare Newton. Here it is: “The contents of a chintzy carton can exceed its capacity by five pounds if food is layered by a slightly meshugge Jewish woman with a strong rubber band.” I’ve actually mastered shoving in five meals by the principle of “careful placement” – rice on bottom, piling up the meat or fish, filling the corners with veggies. If you need proof, it’s on my bathroom scale.
You know where my disorder has gotten inflamed most? Hollywood. Agents’ parties and green rooms are like hitting three cherries on a one-armed bandit. It started when I was invited to a major macher agent’s holiday party. Tables were laden with food for the taking. So, I took … and took. True, he wasn’t my agent, and frankly, I didn’t like him. But … no excuses, I’ve vowed to come clean.
Hey, did I see a sign that said: “No take out” (I looked)? So I “took out” – a little. In my purse. I’d bring home say, a brownie or two, some candy, or a small piece of brisket for my son. In fairness, I always waited till the end to make sure the 1,000 wealthy people were duly fed. But, if there was something that had dried out, why should it be thrown away, right? Writers are always hungry, so my circle of pals challenged me: Could I get a slightly ripe three foot cheese wheel in my evening bag? (I did ask a waiter who was fine with it, and was duly punished with a bag that is still so farshtunken it’s flattened three purse snatchers.)
TV shows have green rooms for waiting guests. Now, here you’re supposed to fill up. However, geography counts. On the East Coast, the green rooms are filled with ganza deli, subs, and sides. As I get a little nauseous before a show and don’t want shmutz on me in front of millions, in New York I take my portion “for later” after asking permission. On the West Coast, as everyone’s on a health kick and weighs 80 pounds, the “spread” is carrot sticks and rice cakes. In Los Angeles, the fare makes me nauseous, so I don’t care. (Even I won’t stoop to stuffing cardboard food.)
Do I even need to mention doggie bags (“Darling, you’ll throw in a little bread with that?”), or the fact that in my own lifetime, I’ll never have to buy: Sweet’N Low, soy sauce, straws, ketchup, or mustard, or that you can have a nice lunch at Costco, “tasting?”
So, should you and I share this peculiar strand of DNA … by all means give back. A lady on the express line is short 25 cents? Pay it! A senior citizen is shlepping groceries? Open her trunk! A driver is farshimmelt and needs to cut in fast? Let him! One size-fits-no-one clothes? Donate.
The way I figure it, the Man upstairs keeps an accounting, and please God, according to His math, living a life trying to do mitzvahs should white out hoarding a few soy sauce packets – even if they’re enough to blanket Beijing.