Welcome back to “How Should I Know?” — the advice column that is perfect for these uncertain times, as it itself is never really certain.
Is there a good system for getting in and out of stores these days, as far as not touching anything that’s not yours without gloves and not touching anything that is yours with gloves?
No, there is not. Though I am slowly figuring out a system. The first time I went shopping, I burned through three pairs of gloves. I’m learning, but by the time I have a system that works, this thing will be over, iy’H. A large part of this system involves standing outside my car when I get to a store and making sure everything is exactly where I need it to be:
- When I get out of the car, I take out the credit card I’m going to use and I put it in my shirt pocket. It’s easy enough to kasher one credit card when I get home.
- I write out a shopping list on a piece of paper that I toss as soon as I get out of the store. That goes in my shirt pocket, too.
- Anything that normally lives in my shirt pocket gets transferred to my back pockets, because it’s not like I’m sitting down in the store.
- My car keys go in my pants pocket with the key fob in a position that makes it possible for me to push the button through my pants, which I rarely put near my face.
- I try not to think about what women do without pockets. When my wife goes shopping these days, she carries around a cloth bag that is by now steeped in bathroom cleanser.
- The only things of mine I touch with gloves once I’m in the store are my shopping list, of course, and my one credit card, which I touch once I’m at the checkout. Which is also when I generally realize that I left my supermarket card in my pants pocket below my keys in a rubber band with 25 other cards.
- As far as my phone, I don’t call my wife from the store anymore. I don’t love kashering my phone, and I’m not dialing the number in gloves and then holding it to the side of my face. Which I also don’t kasher. I refuse to get any more hand sanitizer in my eyes. So the official policy is that I get what I can, and if I forget something, I tell her they were out. Shortages.
- Lying for shalom bayis is a gray area. But I can’t call my rav from the store either.
- And anyway, getting the exact item matters less when there’s no way we’re having company.
- After I put my groceries in the car, I take off my gloves. Then I wonder how I’m going to get the groceries out of the car when I get home without my gloves. Or open the front door of my house with gloves.
- When I get home, I honk the horn, and my kids run out in gloves and bring the groceries in. They will do this especially if they’re in the middle of class. They might even bring their class with them.
- At that point, I try to kasher the bag handles, so we can put the bags away for a later use, and then say, “Forget it. Even the laws of kashrus don’t go this far.”
- Alternatively, you can go the other way and put all your groceries in quarantine for 14 days after you buy them, if you can plan that far ahead. Good luck with the milk.
What am I supposed to do with my kids this summer? Is there a Zoom camp?
I think there are some, actually. Though I hope for their sake they actually thought things through. Eight weeks is a long time in Zoom World. Sports will be difficult. As will swimming. I’m picturing a lot of counselor plays. And Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation videos.
You can have the learning in the morning, at least. The rebbeim can do Chumash baseball, like Rabbi Akiva played with his talmidim, followed by Mishnayos kickball, Gemara punch ball, halachah soccer, and Mussar volleyball. But what about the afternoons?
I’m also picturing a lot of arts-and-crafts instruction using items you have around the house. Empty toilet paper rolls, mostly. Like maybe a speaker for their phone!
They could still have Color War, to an extent. Mostly just the Color War chants, with your kids yelling into the phone as loud as they can. (“I can’t heeeeeeeeeeear yoooouuuuuuu!” “Well, turn the volume up on your phone!” “Oh, that’s better. Thank you, whoever said that!”) They can even pretend this was all one big Color War breakout.
They can also do races, on the honor system.
There can also be a treasure hunt where someone from the staff sneaks into each camper’s backyard in the middle of the night and hides something. Or buries something.
And of course they don’t have to leave out the part of the summer where they ask for tips.
Is there any way I can actually have people come to my daughter’s wedding? Her Zoom L’Chaim was very nice for the guests, but to the people at the vort it was like lugging all the guests around in a pet carrier.
Actually, there are other options. Just a couple of weeks ago, I went to something called a “Drive-by L’Chaim,” which, frankly, sounds dangerous. Basically, the two families stand outside the kallah’s parents’ house, and cars drive by containing people they know, and also strangers wondering what the hold-up is. The ba’alei simcha, in masks and gloves, toss a pekelah into each car. Drive-by l’chaims!
(This is also how I pick up school materials these days.)
There were a lot of details to work out beforehand:
- How many of the traditional vort things do you do? Do the chassan and kallah drive up late?
- Is there dancing? Do a bunch of cars drive in a circle very slowly, with the chassan’s car and the kallah’s father’s car in middle—bumpers locked, going around?
That said, I say that every L’Chaim should be a drive-by L’Chaim. For one, it would get rid of the discussion of what to wear. It’s also easier in that you don’t have to play that game that people play at vorts called, “Which one is her chassan? Is that the chassan? Is that the chassan?”
No, the chassan is the one guy in the middle of the road who’s under 40.
I think we should bring this entire concept to weddings. Can you have a drive-by chasunah? There’s a whole chuppah people need to be there for. You can have a drive-in chasunah in a parking lot, where everyone’s in a car, sealed off, in rows, and the kallah’s parents drive her down the aisle to a stage, either in one car or in three, holding candles, and the kallah’s car gets a sun shield in the front window, of course. Then the kallah drives around the chassan seven times, and if she doesn’t run him over or get into an accident, they get married.
Though I just know that if I go to one of these, I’m going to end up sitting behind a 15-passenger van.
And of course before that there’s the backwards dancing … and a badeken … and then the chassan backs his car over a glass … Instead of clapping while dancing, I guess everyone could keep honking their horn.
I think this is a great way to bring weddings back. We can have the seudah at a drive-thru, where all the cars line up and they give you food through a window. First you pull up, and they ask, “Chicken or fish?” and you pull around…
No alcohol would be served, of course, but it would be nice if there was a bar that served different types of fuel, if we’re all going to have our cars running for four hours.
I don’t really see any problem with this. Except that wedding photos will be ridiculous.
My teenagers are looking for a summer job this year. Any suggestions? They’re driving me crazy all day, and I need to work. Some of us have jobs.
I guess they can ask the Zoom camps if they’re hiring. Other than that, though, teenagers likely don’t have many opportunities for a summer job, unless they’re in the medical profession. No one’s looking to telecommute a teenager.
My teenagers are asking me that right now: “How are we gonna make money?” And I’m like, “O.K., this is what adults have been worried about for like four months now. Welcome to the world. You were all, ‘Yay! We get to stay home and have classes in bed!’ Now you’re all, ‘But what are we gonna do for money?’”
Teenagers: they eventually get there.
Though I suppose everyone who has older kids and younger kids can just kill all their birds with one stone by paying the older kids to be counselors for the younger kids. Basically, take your entire camp budget and give it to your teenagers and say, “I don’t want to see anyone from 9–4 every day.” Literally everyone wins. Teenagers can get creative. Last week, my older kids occupied themselves by trying to get my youngest to climb onto the roof of the garage. Then they spent like an hour trying to coax him back down.
Point is, there’s no reason you can’t send your kids out to the privacy of your own backyard. Unless you’re worried about murder hornets.
Have a question for “How Should I Know?” I can’t actually take it from you. Give it to the teenager I hired to follow me around.
Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of seven books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.