|The Story||The Authors|
Geraldine was having a really tough time being Geraldine. It wasn't so much that the Bagel Gnomes had taken her prisoner, they hadn't, in fact she had ended up going with them at their insistence. They felt rather awful about the mix up with Assistant Principal Hadley, God forgive them, but it was just part of their nature. The smell of the food had just gone to their heads. And it was Zabar's lox. That was enough to drive anyone a little bit out of their senses. (Thank God! He didn't have any of the whitefish salad on him or there would've been no saving him!)|
When the repentant Gnomes finally caught up with them, Hadley had been taken away to clean up and dress and Geraldine was brought to the kitchen for a nosh.("Oy, so thin you are, here have a nice knish. Take two they're so small. You need some kashka with that. Now eat, such skin and bones, tsk tsk tsk...)And so she had whiled away a few hours with the womenfolk as they grumbled amiably about their husbands and fed her. And fed her. She could hardly breathe, they'd stuffed her so full. She felt guilty about it.
In fact she started to become acutely aware of her guilt. Adam was out there lost and alone and probably hungry himself while she sat in the womblike warmth of this kitchen burping quietly to herself. She wanted terribly to get up and leave and find him, but she was also afraid of offending the gnomish womenfolk who were being so kind to her. Even thinking about leaving brought huge waves of unresolved guilt washing over her bloated belly.
"Such a nice girl. No, you are! I poured you a bowl of my famous chicken broth. Everyone loves my broth. It'll help settle your stomach. Drink it. it's good for you"
Geraldine started to protest her inability to swallow another bite and once again a nauseating wave of guilt engulfed her. She sipped some of the broth. It ebbed. But she had to leave and find Adam. More waves of guilt.
"What's the matter, dear, you look sad. Don't you like our company?" Geraldine's insides writhed with spastic electric eels of shame and unworthiness. She was completely at their mercy.
As you no doubt know, one side effect of guilt is that it puts the body into a state of semi-shock; ancient Fight or Flight/Sit n' Spin instincts take over the human metabolism. And in anticipation of an imminent Ice Age or another decade like the 1970s, the body retains fat. Every bit of it. |
Geraldine considered none of this as she devoured the warm, maternal thickness of her twentieth matzoh ball. The old women kept ladling them into her soup. "My name is Geraldine," she burped; "So don't call me Barbara Streisand."
"Barbara Streisand!" exclaimed Ruth Goldsteiner (who seemed to be a sort of uncrowned queen among the Jewish mothers) "Such a singing voice! I saw her at Radio City when Herb and I were first dating..."
"Oy, are you hard of hearing or something, Ruth? That tone-deaf bitch couldn't sing her way out of Cold Spring Harbor College For the Hearing Impaired!" This nugget of wisdom was uttered by Edna Benlevi, a stout, indescribably buxom, chain-smoking bleach-blonde divorcee whose face was still swathed in bandages from a recent facelift.
As the two women began their inevitable argument, Geraldine sank into the deceptive warmth and security of her soup. I can't believe I caused this, she thought. Everywhere I go I make bad things happen... People argue and fight... What's wrong with me... I'm just so awful... My name is Geraldine so don't call me yar-yar-yar-yarmulke... Great tears began to roll down her cheeks, and it was the sound of her blubbering sobs which finally broke up the tiff between Ruth and Edna. "Mein gott!" they exclaimed in unison. "The poor shicksa she's crying!"
"And it's no wonder too, the way you, Edna Benlevi, disparage the goddess Barbra herself! Why shouldn't the schiksa weep? Oh! how I can stand to sit day after day in the same room with such a heartless creature such as you who isn't moved by "Evergreen" or God forbid, "The Way We Were". You have no heart Edna. No heart! It's as shriveled and dry as a smoked fish. Oh and such talent Barbra has. Such talent! She directs her own movies, I tell you. Neil Diamond can't do that! Mandy Patinkin doesn't do that. No heart, edna."|
There was a leaden silence in the room broken only by the gut wrenching sobs of Geraldine. Ruth Goldsteiner had crossed the unspoken line. Agreeing or not about Barbra was one thing, but never, but never talk about Neil that way in front of Edna Benlevi. Edna pulled herself up to her full indignent height of 4'3" and let loose.