Remembrances of Things Past

Hammertime.

Thanksgiving was same as every other holiday every other year since i was about 12. I say 12- even though it was the same for even longer than that but I can't remember. And when my cousins and myself were kids we put on plays and played fun games like "Monster" and "Dodge the Schnagel"....

By way of explanation- my grandma used to live in Borough Park, Brooklyn- a neighborhood that was once pretty Italian... with a hearty helping of Jews and a smattering of Irish folk. Then it turned pure Hasidic and my grandfather got a new neighborhood job as oven turner-offer for the forgetful Sabbath observers. Anyway, most of the little jewish kids wouldn't talk to me and my cousins. AT ALL. Like sometimes we would go up to them to rap about Garbage Pail Kids or whatever the fuck little kids are in to and they would just stand in front of us, staring all children-of-the-corn style before they ran away or were ushered by their parents into the house. We thought it was kinda weird/funny/scary but just presumed the kids didn't speak English.

(Don't worry- I really *am* getting to the explanation) We had one Jewish friend- Shimmy Simon- and he lived next door to my grandma. Even though Shimmy talked to us and wasn't at all weird- he was still "weird" and by weird I mean "jewish." My cousins and I were totally fascinated and created a whole almost fantasy realm where Jews exist. Like a parallel universe. The urban unicorns shall we say? So natch, we liked to play games on Saturday with Shimmy like "Touch the money!"

"Touch the Money!" involved my older cousin Michael procurring a quarter and insisting that Shimmy "touch the money!" Shimmy never won this game or even participated but that didn't keep us from wanting to play, week after week. Michael even threw in new twists like "Come on. We won't tell!" and "Look. If you TOUCH the money? You can HAVE the money!!"

When Shimmy wasn't around and we had no ambassador to the Jewish kingdom we'd play our other games. Schnagel was our word for the Hasidim. Don't ask why. I think Michael made it up. It wasn't meant to be derogatory. We just thought it sounded right- like something they should maybe really consider switching their name to. Anyway, the aforementioned "Dodge the Schnagel" was where we would stand, lined up behind my grandmas hedge and wait till any of the Jewish kids came around the corner. We'd see how long we could stand there without them seeing us- then we would duck.

I mean- not only is this a really weird piece of family history- but it doesn't even sound like a fun game! I just thought I'd share.


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