Mine is a family notorious for bringing every argument to its – hopefully favorable – outcome, no matter what it takes. Sometimes the argument is conducted in installments, court-style. Thank you, we are not considering reality TV. One guest, so dear that he’s considered as family, recently told us what a privilege it had been for him to have a whole bunch of Kirschenbaums to himself during an oddly guest-less Passover meal, and see how they do it, with a lot of noise and doggedness, and lots of love and hugs and kisses.
Golden rule number one: Never mind the obvious one, abuse of any kind, let’s not even go there. No, the golden rule, has always been, is and always will be, no name calling no matter what no matter who no matter how furious you get. That rule was instituted by me eons ago, and today after living up to it many good years, I breached it. Let me first tell you something: I felt wretched about it, and still do.
I have had the same assistant at my house for years. We will call her R. She was one of the reasons I took up Spanish, in a great and unrequited desire to communicate in order to form a better team. Over all I would say we really are a good team, but sometimes some incredible things happen in the kitchen backstage which leave me, to put it resignedly and philosophically, bewildered. More to the point, here’s what happened today: I transferred the cooking liquids of a gorgeous roast to a small saucepan to reduce, and when I turned around, the saucepan was empty and cleaned, liquids gone down the drain. In my rage I cried and screamed and my husband, who usually gives very rare signs of knowing his way to the kitchen, came running, concerned, and asked, what happened, what happened? And my answer was just this, “I think I have to get used to the idea that sometimes some people do the most stupid things”. My assistant, who all these years had NEVER given any sign of understanding one blessed word in English, recognizing the dreaded S word and its direct relation to her as I meant it in this context, burst into tears, protested she couldn’t allow anyone calling her stupid, forced an angry fist into a recalcitrant sweater sleeve, and flew out the door, swearing this just DID IT.
Need I say I was not proud of myself? I ran after her, and found her on the stairs by my door, looking inconsolable. My first impulse was to match her inconsolable mood, and I told her that her negligence had caused a terrible problem for me. But of course there was no way my inconsolable mood could possibly hold a candle to hers, and I backed out as soon as I saw the obvious meaning implied in her scornful look, which begged the question, “You call this a problem?”. All I could say was sorry sorry sorry sorry, and was pleased to see this was another word she did understand after all. I was glad to see her go back in, get out of her sweater, drop her purse on the couch, tie the apron strings behind her: Back to being a team! Chop chop!
If anyone tells you they had a great roast Thursday at my table, it will be a great testament to my creativity and my talent at saving the day with a dish. Trying to save the day in some other areas, I presented her after the day’s work with a beautiful present.Thank G-d for small favors!
The pain inflicted by hurtful words dies hard, so I hope this is an adequate pre-Rosh Hashanah confession, in a good tradition of introspection and atonement. Here’s my war cry: Fight all you want, but don’t call anyone names: It never helps, and it always hurts! And it is… G-d help me, I almost said stupid again!