Monday, March 24, 2008

Feliz Purim

My amazing ability to channel out (read: inability to notice or concentrate on) the things around me was one of the things that my husband found particularly cute when we were dating. As some unwritten law of relationships goes, it is the very thing that drives him particularly crazy now. But that's not what the post is about.

One of the ways this channeling out thingy declares itself is in my not knowing my neighbors. At all. I know that they are my neighbors because they appear where my neighbors supposed to appear - on the porch next to ours, in the doorways of houses next to ours, in our own yard saying hello - but I wouldn't be able to pick them out of a crowd. I know my landlady really well because I have to climb down a set a stairs every month to bring her a check for an obscene amount of money, which is now called a bargain due to the present real estate market. But this post is not about real estate either.

So on Purim we exchange packages of food (shaloch manot). This Purim was particularly hectic, and giving a package to my neighbors was not something that occurred to me in the morning. Then some time in the late afternoon it hit me that it would be a nice gesture. Our (or more precisely, our landlady's house) is adjacent to another two-family house owned by an Israeli family, and they have Israeli tenants on the second floor. So I prepared a package for the landlord, and rang the bell. There was some scurrying around behind the closed door, then the woman who obviously didn't expect anyone at this hour (wet hair, bathrobe, etc), opened it. She looked positively scared and seemed to not quite comprehend what I wanted from her. I tried to not look directly in her direction, threw at her the package and ran off with a "Happy Purim" wishes. I hate being caught in the middle of a shower, and didn't enjoy doing this to her.

So after I brought the food package to the neighboring landlord, hubby said it would be nice to bring one to his tenants, since apparently hubby is friendly with them. Again, this was news to me. I got the package ready and went out to deliver it. I knew the family wasn't home, so I had to leave the package by their door. I thought it was right next to the landlord's when all of a sudden stairs to the second floor porch caught my eye. I had seen my neighbors on this porch numerous times, so I knew that the door on the porch led to their apartment. So where did the second door on the first floor lead?

After I left the package on my neighbors' second floor doorstep, I ran to hubs and asked him whether the adjacent house was a two or three family house. The look that hubby gave me was worth more than the words could express and much more than we have in our savings account. "Didn't you live here for about a year?" he finally said. "It is a three-family house. We have a landlord and his Dominican tenants living on the first floor, and our (??!!) Israeli friends (??!!) living on the second."

Dominican? As in most likely Catholic? As in on a Good Friday (which happened to coincide with Purim this year)? I obviously rang the wrong doorbell! That explained why the poor woman looked so shocked when I presented her with my food. I would be shocked too if someone for no reason dumped food on my lap and ran off. Very, very grateful, but nevertheless shocked.

At that point I suspended all my food-giving and started getting ready for Shabbat. When all of a sudden a bell rang and a girl (who looked like she could be my neighbor's kid) brought us a basket with goodies. They were all kosher and made in Israel, so I guess I rang the right doorbell after all. Phew. The neighborhood peace is preserved, the inter-religious conflict averted.

Short Recap in my favorite art form: MasterCard Commercial.

Cost of ingredients and goodies for shaloch manot: about $150.
Time spent baking/preparing them: don't know, all I know is that I went to bed at 3 am the night before.
Finding out who your neighbors are: priceless (and still on my "to do" list).

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