That's me, Pattie Weiss Levy.

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

 A Word From the Weiss


Note: I wrote this blog the week before Pesach, but for some mysterious reason it didn't post. Until now.


      I can't believe we were just in Miami.jpgHappy almost Passover from NiceJewishMom.com!

       It seems almost unimaginable to me now that we took a vacation to Miami Beach and returned a little over three weeks ago. Is that even possible? Seems like a distant memory. Ever since, I have been demoralized and overwhelmed by all sorts of things.

Gefilte fish on plate.JPG

       The New England weather has been horrific, with winter continuing to rear its ugly head. Doesn’t it know that the calendar says it is officially, at long last, spring? 

        I’d felt euphoric when I’d managed to finish the book proposal I had been working on just before we left, cranking out an astonishing 140 pages. But after we returned, my literary agent said that it was twice as long as he could use – that I had bitten off more than any editor can chew, so to speak – so I’ve been going through the agony of trying to cut it in half. 

       Then there was the gross, unimaginable, unbearable thing that finally DID ME IN.

       It all started a few days before we left for Miami, when something awful happened.

        I was taking quick lunch break one afternoon when I felt something hard inside the sandwich I was eating and discovered that one of my teeth had apparently cracked.

       Cracked almost right in half.tooth with silver filling.jpg

       This turned out to be a lower tooth with a large silver filling in it, dating from when I was a child. It had been feeling a little sore for weeks. It probably didn’t help that I often snack on nuts, which are hard but supposedly healthy. Ihad suddenly given out.

       I rushed over to my dentist’s office, where they drilled out the remaining filling, filed down what was left of the tooth, and put in a temporary crown. Then, after we returned from Miami, I had several more painful procedures, all involving more drilling, more filing, and countless shots of Novocain.

       Finally, a permanent crown was put in the Monday before Passover. To make matters worse – much worse  after my husband semi-retired in September, I no longer had dental insurance. He qualifies for Medicare, and I have never required anything beyond twice-yearly cleanings, which presumably would cost me less than shelling out for dental insurance. So I had foolishly decided not to buy any on my own.

        And so that crown had cost me a whopping $1,600.


       At least I was finally done with the ordeal that Monday afternoon. Or so I thought. Late that night, I was eating some leftovers when once again I felt something hard in my mouth. Then, to my horror, I spit out two more large fragments of broken tooth.

       Had another tooth cracked already? Yikes! Would this cost me another $1,600, and would it require more shots of Novocain and countless more agonizing procedures?

       This led to another thought: Were ALL of my teeth starting to fall out, one by one?

       Followed by an even worse idea: Was I getting THAT OLD?

       I must admit that this got me so upset that I started to cry. It felt like this was the beginning of the end. The end of me, that is. Or at least the end of eating. I was afraid to bite into anything harder than some applesauce and vanilla pudding for dinner the next night.

       I also decided that it was time to break down and actually get some dental insurance.

       A little investigation online yielded the disturbing news that private insurance policies for seniors (i.e. people who are over 55, like me) are pretty pricey. What’s worse – far worse in my case – they often require you to wait 12 months before having almost any major dental procedure, such as getting a crown. (Or perish the thought, root canal.)

       I finally ended up buying something called a dental discount plan instead. It only reduces dental procedure costs a little bit. But it was affordable and better than nothing.

       Meanwhile, I kept peering into the mirror, trying to figure out which tooth in my mouth had cracked now. For the life of me, I couldn't see or feel one that was broken. The first time it had happened, the cracked tooth had been so jagged that I’d had no doubt. This was differentBut I was afraid to simply let it go. I had to go to the dentist.I had to go to a new dentist.jpg

       I actually had to go to a new dentist because my old one did not accept my new dental discount plan. This was just as well. I love my longtime dentist, but he is turning 80 soon and has decided to retire and sell his practice (yet another sign that I am getting old).

       But guess what? My new dentist’s nurse looked in my mouththen the dentist herself looked in my mouth, and finally her hygienist looked in my mouth. And they all came to the same conclusion: There was no broken tooth in my mouth. The tooth that Id spit out apparently wasnt mine!


       This brought two immediate thoughts to mind.

       No. 1, EEEEEWWWWW! Someone else’s broken tooth had been in my MOUTH!!!

       No. 2if it hadn’t been my tooth, then whose tooth WAS it?

       The food that I had been eating the second time around wasn’t something hard. Nor was it something that I had prepared myself. It was a bit of leftover pasta from my favorite local restaurant. I had gotten a dish to go for my husband, and he hadn't quite finished it. I had found his leftovers in the fridge late Monday night and finished them myself.

        So my best guess was that thosbits of tooth must have been my husband’s.

       The fact was that he planned to go to the dentist himself the next week -- the same new dental office that I was in now, because his own longtime dentist had also just retired. (If Im getting old, then what would you call my husband, who is 10 years older?)

      Yet my new dentist said that if he had indeed a broken tooth, then he needed to be seen right away. Never mind that, though. I needed to know right away if those broken bits of tooth that I’d spit out had been my husband's.

       So I called him, and he came to the dentist's office right away.

       And guess what! She (and her nurse, as well as her hygienist) all said the same thing: That broken tooth that I’d spit out hadn't been his, either!

       That left only one other possibility, it seemed.Pasta from my favorite local restaurant.jpg

       As I said, the food that I had been eating when I’d discovered the broken tooth had come from my favorite restaurant in our town. The broken bits of tooth must have come from the mouth of their chef.


       As horrifying as this was, and as disgusting as it was, I now felt relieved that I did not have a broken tooth myself, after all. I would not need to undergo any more painful procedures. Plus, would not need to pay for any more dental work (other than the unnecessary visit I had just made to this new dentist, which had set me back the reduced rate of $81).

       Still, I felt that I needed to say something about the incident to the restaurant in question, even if it was my favorite place, and was a very reputable restaurant at that.

       I called at once and spoke to an assistant manager. I assured him that I was not just some lunatic. I was a longtime devoted patron, but felt that I needed to say something. He was mortified to hear my saga and said that he would speak to their CEO, or CFO, or whoever was at the top of their food chain, and I would hear back that night.

       I did not hear back that night, though. Which was just as well. Because later that night, while racking my brain for any possible alternative explanation, I suddenly came up with a brand-new theory of how this latest dental nightmare may have come about.


       (Warning: Before you read any further, I feel obliged to warn you that things are about to get graphic – as if they aren’t graphic and gross enough already -- the way TV networks often warn you to remove small children from the room during the evening news.)


       My husband has long had a habit of reusing items such as aluminum foil, plastic bottles, and plastic zip-lock bags. He can be a bit of a cheapskate, if you ask me -- although if you ask him, hes just being frugal, as well as environmentally correct.

       With this in mind, I asked him where he had gotten the little plastic bag in which he had stored the leftover pasta that Id eaten when I had found the broken bits of tooth. He pointed to a little pile of used plastic bags perched on top of our microwave.

       I recalled that when my original tooth had broken in my mouth, about six weeks earlier, I had put it into a little plastic bag in order to show it to the dentist. Afterwards, I had brought it back home. I don't know where it went after that, but I couldn't find it now.

       My new theory: My husband had put that bag into his pile of used plastic bags, not realizing  that it wasn’t quite empty, and then he had put his leftovers in it on Monday night.

      When I asked my husband if this was possible, he replied that it was ridiculous. He would have noticed that there were bits of broken tooth inside the bag, he said.

       HmmmMaybe so. But isn't my explanation far more plausible than the possibility that the chef at a nice, upscale restaurant had spit half a tooth into my takeout food?Champagne not Manischewitz.jpg

       I didn't know WHAT I was going to say to that CEO or CFO or whoever if and when he called me the next day. But I decided to head the whole thing off at the pass and contact the assistant manager the next day. When I was told that he would not be in for several hours, I left the only message that I could think of. In the inimitable words of Gilda Radner as her SNL character Emily Litella, "Never mind!"

       Meanwhile, I kept laughing about the whole ordeal so much that I was no longer what you might legitimately call depressed. Plus, I started eating again, although fewer nuts. (The dentist says that almonds, in particular, can break your teeth. So, I fear, can an eight-day diet consisting primarily of unleavened bread, a.k.a. matzo.)

       I still have to get back to that blasted book proposal now, and try to cut it in half. HALF! I think that I would rather have more Novocain instead, as well as a root canal.

       But I need to finish it in time to start cooking for Passover early this week. And if can, then well be drinking Champagne at our seder this year instead of Manischewitz.

3:37 pm 

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That's me. The redhead on the right. But that is NOT my baby.

     No, sir, that's not my baby. How could any mother smile beatifically while her own child wailed? Never mind that neither of my offspring ever cried so plaintively, as far as I recall (not while I was there to nurture them through their every perceptible need... although my son still complains that I often dressed him in garish and girlish color schemes, scarring him FOR LIFE).
     Besides, I'm distinctly beyond prime delivery age ("Kitchen's closed!" as my mother might say), and my kids had departed the diaper stage by the dawn of the Clinton Administration. Now in their 20s, both are currently living on their own, in not-too-distant cities, although each manages to phone me daily. In fact, to be exact, several times a day, then sometimes text me, too. (That may sound excessive, and emotionally regressive, but I subscribe to the Jewish mother's creed when it comes to conversing with kinder: Too much is never enough.)
     Two demanding decades spent raising two kids who are kind, highly productive and multi-talented, who generally wear clean underwear (as far as I can tell), and who by all visible signs don't detest me are my main credentials for daring to dole out advice in the motherhood department.
     Presenting myself as an authority on all matters Jewish may be trickier to justify.
     Yes, I was raised Jewish and am biologically an unadulterated, undisputable, purebred Yiddisheh mama. I'm known for making a melt-in-your-mouth brisket, not to mention the world's airiest matzah balls this side of Brooklyn. My longtime avocation is writing lyrics for Purim shpiels based on popular Broadway productions, from "South Pers-cific" to "The Zion Queen." Then again, I'm no rabbi or Talmudic scholar. I can't even sing "Hatikvah" or recite the Birkat Hamazon. Raised resoundingly Reform, I don't keep kosher, can barely curse in Yiddish, and haven't set foot in Israel since I was a zaftig teen.
     Even so, as a longtime writer and ever-active mother, I think I have something to say about being Jewish and a mom in these manic and maternally challenging times. I hope something I say means something to you. Welcome to my nice Jewish world!   
In coming weeks, I will continue posting more personal observations, rants, and even recipes (Jewish and otherwise). So keep reading, come back often, and please tell all of your friends, Facebook buddies, and everyone else you know that NiceJewishMom.com is THE BOMB!
The family that eats together (and maybe even Tweets together): That's my son Aidan, me, my daughter Allegra, and Harlan, my husband for more than 26 years, all out for Sunday brunch on a nice summer weekend in New York.

Comments? Questions? Just want to kvetch? Please go to GUESTBOOK/COMMENTS.