Saturday, 27 August 2016

You’re Not My Favourite—I Lied by Naomi Elana Zener

Dearest Darling One,

We spent forty weeks cohabitating, getting to know each other as I grew each one of your eyes, arms, ears, toes, nostrils, organs, and everything else in between top to toe—it was a magical time. I was growing a human inside of me, whom I loved from the moment the pink stick turned blue. I often wondered if you’d be a boy or a girl (we didn’t want to know what we were having), what colour hair and eyes you’d have, and whether you’d be a mini-me or petit-papa.  All I could think about was how I’d have fun bonding with you while I played host to your alien self, something your father would never get to do since I was your gestational carrier providing you with a safe long-term tenancy inside my tummy. When you hiccupped, I vomited. With each kick, I got rib contusions. And, every time you twisted and turned, I farted. I farted a lot during those splendiferous forty weeks. When you finally emerged to greet the world, we got to wear matching diapers, except there was no Big Bird on mine. Nothing could’ve prepared me for that wonderful gift. At least our outfits were coordinated. But, none of that mattered—I was your mom and you were my child, and life would never be the same.

Same—it never was again. You grew beautifully, developed monumentally, and before I knew it, you were older, yet somehow I hadn’t aged a day. You rolled, sat, crawled, cruised, walked, and finally spoke. First, it was darling words like “Dada,” which preceded “Mama” despite my having been your primary caregiver—thanks for that. You brought me back to the days of my wild late adolescence and early twenties of staying up all night, except, instead my hangover the following morning was due to sleep deprivation instead of sipping on some gin with my juice. And, like Lionel Ritchie, you partied ‘all night long.’ Soon, your simple words grew more adult in nature, and before I knew it, you’d mastered sharing cute little turns of phrase—my favourite being when you’d tell me that you are my favourite child. You’re brilliant, gorgeous, generous, kind, funny, and the light of my life. Imbued with such traits, why wouldn’t you think you’re my favourite? On paper, you’re the package deal.

Although I know you think that you’re the one whom I hold in higher esteem than the other fruits of my loins whom you call your siblings, we need to cut the crap and get something straight; you are most definitely not my favourite kid. Don’t get me wrong, I do love you—each and every one of you—I am your mother for Chrissakes. But, why you’d think I prefer you over your siblings is an anathema to me. It’s not like you walk around with a hallowed halo shining above your head. Perhaps you think you’re my favourite because of your birth order, or think that because it’s too early for you to have crashed a car, stolen cash from my wallet, come home past curfew, or brought home more Ds on your report card than found on the tag inside my oversized mommy bra, but I want you to know that there’s no way you’re my favourite kid.

You burp. You fart. You swear. You say inappropriate things at the most opportune times—like that time at the supermarket checkout when you told the cashier to shove a quarter up her ass, or when you advised the waiter pouring you more milk instead of the pop you requested that he’s an asshole. You fail to walk the dog when I tell you, leaving me to discover a nice pile of shit on the kitchen floor when I go in there to make you dinner. I’m your cook, your maid, your therapist until I can afford to send you to one, your seemingly bottomless bank account, and punching bag when you’re angry. The “I don’t love you” never stops burning a hole in my ear. None of these things make mommy super proud of your verbosity. Rather, it makes me want to dig a deep hole to bury myself in each time these ‘incidents’ happen. Your cuddles are wonderful when you decide to be all sugar and spice and everything nice, but these days they are in short supply. While your scholastic aptitude leaves me with plenty to brag about, I prefer to remain mum, for the absolute tyranny with which you lord your achievements over my head in the hopes that I will reward you in some fashion—say perhaps with a car or new iPad—leaves me wishing you’d been more of a dumbass. And, don’t get me started on your friends. There’s the one who is always at our house eating our food. Nary a day goes by, when I don’t see that familiar tuchus jutting out of our fridge with its matching rotund face shoved deep inside foraging for some good eats that are clearly lacking at his house. Or, the one who calls at all hours because her parents are raising her to be their ‘friend’ instead of child, giving her a life free from limits and boundaries because goodness knows she’s never going to encounter any or the word ‘no’ in her life. I’m waiting for you to bring home one who gets straight As, always minds their Ps and Qs in our house, helps clear dishes, tells clean jokes, and is a pleasure to be around.

At the end of the day, you’re your own remarkable you, whom I do love and adore. But, quit prodding me to tell you that you’re my favourite, and stop goading your siblings with tales of how I’ve told you that you are. These lies will only lead to a future full of many hours on a psychiatrist’s couch deriding me when you’re an adult. The bottom line is this: I LOVE YOU. You’re my kid and I wouldn’t trade you for any other person or thing in the world. I love you for who you are, not for what you’re not, and I won’t love you more if you changed. Over time new challenges will present themselves in our dynamic, ever-evolving relationship, but right now and forever more, if you walk away from reading this with one clear, succinct message, it is simply this: you are not my favourite child.

Love always,

Your loving mother

P.S. In case any of my other kids are reading this, consider yourself the ‘Dearest Darling One’ to whom this letter is addressed. I favour none of you above the other.

P.P.S. April Fool’s (even if it’s not the right date)! Each one of you is my favourite. It’s your dad who’s not. Love you lots.  XOXOXO

© 2016. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

A Mohel Story by Naomi Elana Zener

White on white was the d├ęcor. There were no plants. There were just enough Phillipe Stark white Ghost chairs for each person sitting in the waiting room. Aesthetic was everything. Colour came only from the nervous couples waiting eagerly in the reception area for their names to be called. One couple wore matching his and hers Lacoste polo golf shirts, with hers stretched to the max to cover her burgeoning belly. Another was decked out in power suits, having booked their workday around the appointment to be there. The majority was dressed casually, while others looked as though they were there to be interviewed. Despite their dissimilar attire, they all shared one thing in common: a frantic desire to ensure that they got what they came for, a surgical appointment on a date of their choosing. Above the barely audible whispers were the swagger-filled rhythmic tunes of Frank Sinatra. After all, the office was home to the best hands in the business needed to exude the same charm, sophistication, and confidence boasted by its owner. This was the office of Schmeckels by Dr. Peckle after all – the best Mohel in town. If one had birthed a masculine heir, it was known citywide that your first choice physician to perform the circumcision was Dr. Peckle.

Born Cyril Myron Pecker, he felt it was too ironic to keep his name once he entered his medical residency in urology. It also didn’t help that his fellow mature colleagues continually referred to him as “C. My Pecker.” After spending the early years in his career hunched over one prostate exam after another, delivering the dire news that man’s best friend had betrayed him by developing cancer, Dr. Peckle looked to the heavens for an answer. And, the universe responded when he attended the bris for his nephew where he was called upon with his masterful surgeon’s hands to remedy the hack job done by the Mohel hired to perform the Jewish ritual – a family doctor who took extra training to perform the procedure. Handshakes, pats on the back, and words of encouragement from his relatives that he could make a killing at performing circumcisions for not just the Jewish community, but anyone who wanted a foreskin-less penis for their son, Dr. Peckle did some quick math and packed in his prostate cancer practice. Trading timeworn penises for the newly born, he never looked back. Within a few years, he’d developed the reputation of being the country’s preeminent circumciser, traveling near and far, even internationally, to perform the ritual.

“Sundeeps, please go into Dr. Peckle’s office,” a buxom blonde secretary called out from behind the protective Plexiglas, which separated her from the desperation filling up the space on the other side. “The rest of you, please wait until you hear your name.”

Out of the group of people anticipating their consultation with Dr. Peckle sat two couples that stuck out like sore thumbs. It was fair to say that the Silverberg-Smiths were a fair deal older than the others by a solid ten years. Plus, their son, who was running around the waiting room, was a fully developed toddler. The other couple, the Jones’, shifted uncomfortably in their seats, the wife wearing oversized dark sunglasses in a windowless room, and her husband sporting what was clearly a fake moustache and baseball cap. Furthermore, their traditional Jewish orthodox attire of long sleeved-shirts, black long skirt for her, and plain black slacks for him, betrayed their given name. These were no Joneses.

Dr. Peckle’s consultation with the Sundeeps was swift, much like his removal of foreskin. The Sundeeps were in and out in less than five minutes. They understood that Dr. Peckle’s time was precious; it was not something to piss away. Looking at each of the Joneses and Silverberg-Smiths, and the clipboards sitting in their respective laps, the curvaceous keeper of Dr. Peckle knew that they would eat up more of the good doctor’s time.

“Jonses, you’re next. Please go in,” the secretary advised.

Dr. Peckle was a short, lithe, silver fox, outfitted in scrubs to remind his patients that he was in fact still a surgeon, even though his procedures were performed in kitchens, condo party rooms, synagogues, family rooms, and restaurants everywhere. His cap-toothed, whitened smile greeted the Joneses.

“Jones is not our real name,” the extremely pregnant woman advised. She removed her dark sunglasses, and elbowed her husband to remove his fake facial hair and hat. “It’s Jackobowitz.”

“As in?” Dr. Peckle began.

“Yes, that one,” Mr. Jackobowitz advised. “He’s my uncle.”

“I don’t understand. Why are you here?” Dr. Peckle asked.

“We know we’re having a son, and we want you to do the bris,” Mrs. Jackobowitz stated.

“But, Dr. Jackobowitz is an excellent Mohel. Won’t using me cause problems with your family?”

“Frankly, I don’t give a damn,” Mrs. Jackobowitz spat. Her husband stared at her with condemnation for swearing. “Don’t look at me like that. I went on and your uncle has a lousy record – he only scores an average 3.2 rating out of five. And, he’s just a GP. Dr. Peckle is a urologist.”

“In all fairness, your uncle has very good hands. I refer patients to him all the time when my schedule doesn’t work for them.”

“You see, even Dr. Peckle thinks we should use him. Think of the pain you’ll cause if we don’t,” Mr. Jackobowitz pleaded. “Honey, the only difference in paying $1000 to go with Dr. Shmeckle and having it done by my uncle is $1000. I could buy you an even nicer push present with the extra cash. Excuse me for wanting to save a couple bucks. I think my opinion matters too.”

“Excuse you, but I engineered that penis in my uterus for forty weeks. I’m his whole world. You’re just a fucking sperm donor. So, no, your opinion definitely does not matter. I want our son to have a pleasing penis. I don’t want this to ruin him.”

“Rivkie, stop swearing so much. If my uncle does the job, his penis will be plenty pleasing. He did my bris, and I think you’ll agree that mine turned out great.”

“I said I want him to have a pleasing penis. So, for his penis to just look like yours is insufficient to achieve my goals for him.”

Looking at his watch, he took note of the fact that the Jackobowitz consultation had sunk holes in his tight ship. He texted his assistant to send his next patient into one of the examination rooms reserved for his side practice of penis enlargements. Years of reducing the size of babies’ penises weighed heavily. As penance he opened up a top-secret phallus augmentation practice.

“Would you mind excusing me for a moment? Normally, these consults only run five minutes long given the nature of what I do, and my assistant is texting me that I’m now running behind for my next patient.”

The Jackobowitzes were too busy bickering to notice that Dr. Peckle didn’t wait for an answer. Closing the door to his office behind him, he made his way over to examination room A. En route, he sent a subversive text to Dr. Jackobowitz wishing him a hearty Mazel Tov on the upcoming birth of his nephew, and wishing him steady hands in performing the bris. The Silverberg-Smiths were already waiting for Dr. Peckle, when he entered the room, where he found their green-eyed, blonde, zaftig toddler son waddling around unattended due to his distracted parents engaged in a heated debate.

“I don’t want to do this,” Mr. Smith shouted.

“But, you promised that you’d do it once he turned two,” Ms. Silverberg seethed. “He can spot differences. If we wait any longer, Trent will know.”

“Um, excuse my interruption, but who’s Trent and what will he know?” Dr. Peckle asked.

“Sorry doctor. We didn’t see you there. Trent is our son,” Ms. Silverberg advised pointing to the toddler. Trent had a prominent urine stain on his pants as a result of a potty training accident that went unnoticed by his parents.

“Trent is a little bit older than the boys I normally circumcise, so it would have to be done in the hospital under general anesthetic.”

“We’re not circumcising our son. You performed his circumcision two years ago, Dr. Peckle. Don’t you remember us?” Ms. Silverberg whined.

Dr. Peckle looked at the chart on the desk. He picked it up and flipped through it. Impatient and eager to get out of there, Mr. Smith didn’t want to wait for Dr. Peckle to jog his memory.

“We’re here to cut the tip of my dick off.”

“Right, now I remember. You’d agreed to undergo a circumcision by the time your son was two so that he’d look like his daddy,” Dr. Peckle stated.

“Other way around,” Ms. Silverberg advised. “I’m Jewish. He’s not…”

“But, we’re not religious,” Mr. Smith interjected sarcastically.

“No, we’re not. Don’t try to imply that I forced your hand in circumcising our son. You agreed to circumcise Trent for health reasons. M’dear, you agreed that since Trent was having his foreskin removed, in order to avoid him asking questions about why we put him through such a traumatic procedure as an infant if his daddy never had it done, you’d have it done too. And, now you’re trying to back out of our deal.”

“I’ve had two years to think things over, and I’m getting the short end of the stick,” Mr. Smith stated.

“Well, your stick will certainly be shorter after I’m done, but you’ll never notice the difference,” Dr. Peckle deadpanned.

Neither Mr. Smith nor Ms. Silverberg cracked a smile.

“How long is the procedure and when can you book him for the operation?” Mrs. Silverberg asked.

“Although I was referring to your son earlier, as I was operating under the assumption that he was my patient, I’d perform the same procedure on you in the hospital under a general. The entire surgery would take twenty minutes from start to finish. He won’t feel a thing, and moreover, he won’t miss the foreskin once it’s gone. Since I won’t be performing a religious ritual, it really can be done at any time. I’ll check with my assistant when I have free O.R. time.”

“I’m still in the room you know. Don’t talk about me like I’m not here or that this is a done deal. I’m not sure I can go through with this,” Mr. Smith advised. “Honey, be fair.”

“I am being fair. A deal’s a deal. Do you want Trent to ask us why daddy’s ding-a-ling likes to play peekaboo in the shower, or why it resembles our Shar Pei puppy named Wrinkles?” Mrs. Silverberg implored. “You promised to do this one tiny thing for me when we knew we were having a boy. I already conceded on raising him agnostic, much to the displeasure of my observant Jewish parents. I let him eat bacon. This isn’t a hardship for you. Like Dr. Peckle said, you’ll never even notice that the foreskin is gone.”

“I’ve heard that there’s reduced sensation. I definitely don’t want to have a numb penis.”

“Honey, ever since I gave birth to your progeny, I’ve had a numb vagina. If you lose feeling in your dick, we’ll be even.”

“Your penis won’t be numb. But, to be honest, reduced sensation has been a bone of contention regarding circumcision,” Dr. Peckle advised.

“You see, reduced sensation. You want me to lose enjoyment from making love to you?” Mr. Smith implored.

“I’m not really worried about that. I think you’ll manage to enjoy getting and releasing your erection just fine without it. Besides, how can any doctor, or man for that matter, make that claim unless he made love with foreskin and then after being circumcised as an adult?” Mrs. Silverberg questioned. “Do you have a study proving that reduced sensation is in fact a side effect of a circumcision?”

“There are…” Dr. Peckle began.

“I don’t need a study. This man is a urologist and I trust his word. I’m not doing this.”

“Yes you are. Otherwise, I’m calling my lawyer.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me. You signed a contract to undergo this procedure to make sure you couldn’t back out of it. Fail to forgo the foreskin, and I’ll sue you for breach of contract!” Mrs. Silverberg shouted.

Dr. Peckle glanced at his watch. He was running even further behind.

“There’s no rush at my end, so take your time and think it over. I have to pop out to see my next patient. I’ll be right back.”

The Silverberg-Smiths were still fighting loudly enough after the door to the examination room was closed. Walking over to his office, Dr. Peckle texted his assistant. He instructed her to refer the Silverberg-Smiths to a psychiatrist for counseling, and to contact his lawyer for him to ensure that he wouldn’t be open to a malpractice lawsuit if he performed the circumcision on Mr. Smith.  Dr. Peckle opened the door to be confronted by the Jackobowitzes, whom he’d forgotten all about.

“You left us in here waiting long enough,” Mrs. Jackobowitz advised.

“I’m sorry about that. My other consultation was more complicated than I’d anticipated.”

“Well it doesn’t matter now. Somehow his uncle found out that we’re having a boy and told us that he cleared his schedule to make sure that he’d be available to perform the bris,” Mrs. Jackobowitz advised.  Mr. Jackobowitz appeared to be relieved that a family crisis had been averted and that his wallet wouldn’t be $1000 lighter.

“Problem solved. God answered your prayers,” Dr. Peckle chimed.

“God, shmod. He told us you’d texted him. Thanks a lot,” Mrs. Jackobowitz fumed, holding up her iPhone. “Now, when my son has a mangled member, I’ll know who to blame.”

“I’d trust your uncle with my own penis. And, if heaven forbid anything goes wrong, you know who to call to fix it,” Dr. Peckle beamed. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, my next patient is waiting to come in.”

The Jackobowitzes stormed out his office.

“I’m ready for my next circumcision consult,” Dr. Peckle buzzed his assistant. “And, don’t forget to clear the Silverberg-Smiths out of exam room 1.”

While waiting for the next patient to arrive, Dr. Peckle took stock of his office, and reflected upon his thirty-year career to date. Foreskin removal made him a fortune, but left him with little satisfaction. Arguments like those amongst the Jackobowitzes and Silverberg-Smiths were becoming more and more common as technology evolved and the public discussed circumcision more openly, making it a hotly contested topic in public chat rooms. Thinking about his own leaking prostate, he wondered if the time had arrived to return to his roots, and help those less fortunate fight the good fight against the evil cancer that most men inevitably face. Before he could declare that he’d reopen his practice to prostate cancer patients, a light bulb went off thanks to Mr. Smith. With the intense debate surrounding the removal of foreskin, Dr. Peckle realized that there was an untapped market lying at his feet: foreskin adhesion. If he could lengthen a penis, why couldn’t he add foreskin back for those men who felt a little light in their boxers, he thought. Already at the top of the circumcision game, he realized that there was no one better to append a foreskin substitute for those men who wanted them. With thousands of infants whose penises had already met his blade, he had a goldmine of potential adult male repeat customers. Dr. Peckle quickly texted his assistant to order new business cards to have them read: Dr. Peckle, Penis Pioneer.

© 2016. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Formalde-hides All Manners of Sin by Naomi Elana Zener

It was 3:30a.m. Gus, the driver, backed the car into the loading dock very slowly so as not to hit it again. Eight out of ten times when driving, the hearse’s bumper would kiss the cold, dead concrete of the loading dock. At least the bodies were never worse for wear from the impact. Especially this particular corpse—a multiple gunshot wound victim who was shot in the chest, causing her breast implants to deflate upon impact. The driver chuckled at the thought of the morticians working their magic to make those twins perky for the woman’s open casket funeral.

The morticians were no amateurs—they’d seen it all. Gun shot wounds. Stab wounds. Burns. Acid attacks. Even one came in partially skinned Silence of the Lambs-style.  Then there was the breast implants, buttock implants, chin implants, penis implants, Botox, Restalyne, and cement fillers from board certified non-plastic surgeon, non-MD bullshit artists,   Formaldehyde helped, but ugly could only be made so pretty for one last makeover before these dead people travelled to their final resting places.

Gus honked the horn, signaling the morticians that the body was getting cold. It would get colder, especially once it was buried six feet under—the morticians were in no hurry. It had been a busy day and night, twenty-six meth heads came in after holding a contest to see who could snort more methamphetamine in three minutes without overdosing. Clearly, none of them had won. Gus honked the horn again, this time with more gusto.

“Alright, alright, we’re coming,” Mortie, one of the morticians shouted. He hated the joke that he knew was coming.

“Yo, Mortie the Mortician. Your parents named you well,” Gus laughed. Mortie deadpanned, not helping Gus with the punch line of the joke he’d heard night after night, almost hourly in fact, with each delivery Gus had made for the past four years. “How they knew you’d become a morgue makeup artist is beyond me. They’re geniuses.”

“They’re dead. Unlock the trunk,” Mortie retorted. He leaned forward into the rump of the hearse to slide the temporary metal casket out of the car. “Hey Jackson, we’ve got a live one here.”

Jackson, too, had grown tired of Gus’ singular, repetitive joke he’d heard over the past decade of working together. He stopped at the loading dock doors for a few beats for Gus’ self-congratulatory chuckle had subsided before going over to help him with the casket. The two men lifted the metal box on a gurney, without any help from Gus, who busied himself with smoking his joint. It helped him work as the driver for the dead.

“So, this one is the empty fun bags?” Jackson asked Gus. Gus nodded his head.

“How bad are they?” Mortie asked. “Did you get a peak at the hospital before you left?”

Gus nodded his head again. “Ever see balloons full of helium after the helium left the building?” It was Mortie and Jackson’s turn to nod their heads. “Well, sorta like that. Wrinkled, shriveled, never to be stretched out again. Good luck!”

Mortie signed the paperwork Gus shoved at him. Jackson wheeled the body inside to get started on coming up with a plan to turn her deflated mammaries into mountains once more.

“So, what are we going to do to get these babies to rise again?” Mortie asked. “Got any yeast lying around?”

“Not in here. From the looks of her clothes, I’m guessing our lady of the night friend here may have some in her vajayjay,” Jackson retorted.

“That’s vile and chauvinist. How’d you know she didn’t come from a costume party?”

“I checked her purse. Full of condoms and penicillin.”

Mortie started rummaging through the cupboards, looking for something to use. Even once they’d stitched up all of the bullet holes in her breasts, even if they pumped in enough formaldehyde to perk up her breasts, the fluid would still leak out. Stitches didn’t take to skin where rigor mortis had set in. No, they needed something more that they could pump into her breasts that would act like filler without oozing out. The living were awkward around dead bodies enough as it was, adding discharge to the mix would, especially at a dead hooker’s funeral send people running for the hills, and then to their family doctors.

“Putty?” Jackson suggested.

“Nope, can’t pump it in.”






“We need something that will reverse sublimated—that will turn into a solid, but start off as a liquid.”


“We can’t use heat. Her skin would fry, and no one wants to smell that tomorrow.”

Mortie and Jackson sat scratching their heads. They ran through a litany of options, each one nixed for being too difficult to handle, too lifeless, too rigid, and even too toxic.

“Wait, I’ve got it. Glue. We can use glue,” Mortie suggested. “It can be pumped in, and then, as it dries without heating, it will turn solid and help the breasts keep their shape. We just have to pump enough air into the tires, so to speak, to get her bosom back into it’s plastic surgically altered state. And, since any leaks will dry, the only weeping will be the tears of the mourners.”

“That’s all well and good, but won’t we have a problem with her clothes sticking gracelessly to her breasts?”

Mortie looked at Jackson as if he’d been sniffing glue.

“Gracefulness is not something we need to worry about. I’m sure the bereaved in attendance were accustomed to seeing this broad without clothes. For a change, they’ll be so happy to see her dressed in something that wouldn’t make Jesus blush, they’ll overlook and forgive us if the silk of her blouse is glued to her nipples. Now, let’s get to work. Just like it was for this lady every night, we’ve got a long night of pumping ahead of us.”

© 2016. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Boom Frumela-la by Naomi Elana Zener

It was 2:30a.m. The steel door slammed shut with a thud. “No one is leaving this room until we have five working titles for new movie offerings for the distributors,” Lids advised. Lids, short for Lidar, was a forty-something, reformed former Orthodox, petite, slight slip of an Israeli Jewish woman, whose strawberry blonde curly wig was off-kilter most days, revealing scant glimpses of silver slivers trying to break free from their synthetic hair prison. She’d moved to Los Angeles two decades earlier in the hopes of becoming the world’s first powerhouse modern Orthodox Jewish female producer—a female Robert Evans if you will—of TV and film, only to find herself producing TV commercials and the occasional sappy movie-of-the-week when the Hallmark Channel called her up every few years requesting some moral fare made on the cheap. Lids was an expert at making content on the cheap, but dolling it up to look like a million bucks. Lately, Lids wore her Orthodox Judaism when it suited her, mainly to convince investors to give her little company-that-could a cash infusion when she needed more capital. Today was one of those days, hence her wearing of the wig that caused her head to itch more than a lice infestation, to play the pious Jewish princess role her investors needed to see so she could get what she wanted.  This time, her sacrifice was well worth the bother. Lids would shave her head and wear the wig permanently if it meant that her company would continue to produce hits and secure financing. She finally churned out something innovative that was a hit with an untapped demographic, and she was ready to stoop to conquer.

The two male and a solitary female writers sitting around the table groaned. In a dingy non-descript building in Culver City, with cardboard covering the windows and a buzzing fading light overhead, Shiri, Yonni, and Chaim could barely keep their heads up or eyes open, lest use their fingers to bang out any new scripts on their refurbished, obsolete Mac Airs. They’d already pulled an all-nighter writing revisions for the final pages of the film that wrapped that evening. Now, they were being asked to continue to burn their post-midnight oil to churn out new film titles for a big presentation to distributors the following morning.

“Quit your groaning. This is what success tastes like. It’s a necessary evil—like chocolate matzah,” Lids advised. “Just be happy you have jobs.”

“Honestly, Lids, we’re exhausted. We have no more creative juice left in us,” Shiri cried.

“Mishuge hur,” Yonni muttered. Lids charged toward him.

“Don’t call me a crazy bitch!” Lids slapped Yonni’s kippah off his head. “You all wanted to be screenwriters. You came to me begging for work when you didn’t make it in Hollywood. I gave you jobs. And, you’ve written well--lots of little Klezmer musicals, biblical short education films, even a successful hit show about interfaith Jewish-Muslim marriages, all of which translated to critical acclaim, and bubkus in the bank. Well, now you have the opportunity to make real money, and you’re telling me you don’t want to write. Who’s mishuge?”

“We got you one script, wasn’t that enough? You swore to us it would be a one-time deal!” Chaim declared.

“We were facing bankruptcy. We all agreed that it was better to make some money to put the kugel on the table than to watch the company go down in flames. The idea was so aoys fun dem velt—out of this world—that never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be such a hit. Who could’ve thought that my little R.E.M.-cycle dream would be anything but khazeray?”

Lids circled the table sermonizing to her captive audience. Shiri, Yonni, and Chaim couldn’t complain. They needed the money and were eternally grateful to Lids. After they’d met at a secular Chanukah party at the Jewish Community Centre, she’d plucked them from the obscurity and financial mire of the unending hamster wheel of production assistant jobs, from which they could not break free and into a writers room. Raised as ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews, who knew inherently life had more to offer than the scholarly study of Torah and making babies, Shiri, Yonni, and Chaim were siblings who, as children, secretly watched reruns of The Brady Bunch, The Love Boat, and other American forbidden entertainment fare at the home of the Shabbos Goy—their non-Jewish neighbour who helped their family on the Sabbath—when their single father, the Kabbalah scholar, went out to meet his friends to study Jewish mysticism in the evenings. Having run away from one cult to join another—the pop culture cult of Hollywood—the siblings fled from their Hasidic upbringing when the youngest, Shiri turned eighteen. The three toiled doing a series of odd jobs around Los Angeles, living in subsidized housing, finally winning scholarships to attend college. They managed to graduate as the top 3 of their class as USC film school and they celebrated their achievement together. Had they not met Lids when they did, they were ready to return, shtreimel in hand, to their father’s home to beg forgiveness, finding them good marital matches and forget all about their silver screen dreams. They knew they couldn’t say no to Lids. She was their salvation. And, if she wanted five new titles, they would give her five new titles.

“Fine,” Shiri gasped. “We’ll do it.” Shiri bowed her head and began hammering away on her keyboard, but Chaim and Yonni did not immediately follow suit.

Lids clasped her hands together. She beamed. “Of course you will. Not because you owe me for your careers. Or, because if it weren’t for me you’d be pregnant with your eighth baby. But, because you’re talented. All three of you are. I would never have hired you if you weren’t.”

“We may not be observant Jews like we were as kids, but we’re not writing for The Facts of Life here,” Chaim stated.

“It just feels like were sinning. It feels wrong,” Yonni added.

Lids marched over to where Yonni was sitting, his feet propped up on the boardroom table, next to his laptop.

“You listen to me. No one here, most of all me, is judging any of you. We are giving people the entertainment they want. We are fulfilling a need. We’re not breaking any laws. So, drop the guilty act. ”

“She’s right,” Chaim conceded. “We’re using our God-given talent to create something people want. It was in Deuteronomy 8:18, where God said ‘But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth.’ Since he gave us our talent to write, then he must want us to use it to create wealth.”

Lids slapped Chaim on the back. “You see, so it was written, so it shall be.”

Yonni nodded his head. As he and Chaim turned to their computers to start writing, Shiri slammed hers closed. The printer whirred and sputtered out a solitary sheet of paper.

Shiri stood up. She walked over to the printer.  She picked up the document and handed it to Lids. “Done,” she announced.

Lids surveyed it. It contained the list of five titles, as requested. Lids expression conveyed a mix of surprise and delight. “Shiri, you’re a genius.”  Shiri blushed. “Boys, you could learn a thing or two from your sister.”

“So, let’s hear what the genius came up with,” Yonni demanded.

“Drumroll, please,” Shiri chirped.

“Just read the list already,” Chaim declared.

Lids cleared her throat.

The Ten Orgasms of Pesach.
A Kosher Cock in the Sukkah.
Semen Tov and Anal Tov.
The Chanukah Miracle Orgy: It Lasted 8 Crazy Nights.
The Purim Penis Party.

The room went silent. Chaim and Yonni had to pick their mouths up off the floor.

“I know you only asked for five, but I threw in a few more for good measure.”

Lids embraced Shiri, kissing her on both cheeks.

“Mark my words, boys. This is a historic moment, for we shall remember this day as the one when your sister gave birth to Hasidic Porn.”

© 2016. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved