Saturday, 20 February 2021

I Bequeath To Thee by Naomi Elana Zener

“Amy, you are beyond late!” my mother shrieked. 

“I’m sorry. I had to stop by FedEx to pick up a package,” I replied.


“Today, of all days. You couldn’t go tomorrow? Or, next week? I don’t understand how a package could be so important that it had to be picked up on the day we buried my father!”


“Ma, I had to get it. The notice came four days ago. I was already late in getting it.”


My mother shook her head. Nothing was worse than the castigation of Jewish motherly disappointment.


“They’d have sent it back to the store, and I’d have lost my money! It was a final sale.”


My mother ’s head shot up.


“Why didn’t you say that in the first place? I don’t want you to lose your money.  Did you get a good deal?”


“80 percent off!”


“Ok then. Now, go upstairs, put your stuff away and then help me put out the food. You can show me what you got later.”


I started towards the stairs.


“And, don’t forget to wash the cemetery off your hands.”


I nodded. I went back out to the front porch, and used the cup in the water bucket left by the funeral home to wash off any trace of the funeral from my hands. It’s not like I buried anything. I had worn gloves when I used the shovel to toss dirt on the casket. But, tradition is tradition. So, I removed my gloves, rinsed my hands and said the requisite prayer before returning inside.


I ran up the pink-carpeted stairs of my grandparents’ side split-level bungalow. They lived there together for 70 years. They moved in shortly after their wedding. Now, it would it be known only as ‘Bubbie’s House’.  I went into her bedroom: the walls papered with giant green palm leaves, the bed dressed to match with a palm-themed bedspread and sheets. The ceiling was painted in a soft blue, and the carpeting was brown—the only place in the house where it wasn’t pink. Bubbie never had grandiose tastes or dreams, in fact, she only had one dream: spend her winters in Miami Beach. Since she could only afford to go there for the winters, decorating her bedroom to look like the beach was the next best thing. So, a small 1950s style bungalow became Bubbie’s version of Miami Beach 365 days of the year. I tossed my coat and package on her bed, and retreated to the kitchen, where my mother was with Bubbie, to help serve food for the shiva mourners.


“Hi Bubbie.”


I leaned down to hug my five foot minus three inches grandmother, who was seated at the kitchen table. She claims she’s really 5’3” tall, conveniently ignoring the fact that the extra three inches come by way of her orthopedic high heels. What she lacks in stature she makes up for in hugs, as if she’s a polar bear standing on her hind legs and bringing you into her fold with an invitation to hibernate inside her forever. You could live in her hugs.


“Oh, my shaina Amy maidel,” Bubbie said.


She pulled me in closer than usual. She missed my Zaidy. He was 97 when he died suddenly and painlessly in his sleep. It was like he died on the beach, she said, which was how he wanted to go. What Bubbie failed to tell my mother, and only told me in an unguarded and unfiltered moment after his body was taken to the funeral home, was that he died having sex on the beach. “Do you know what I mean, bubbaleh?” Bubbie asked, winking at me as I escorted her to the limousine. I gave her a knowing smile. “Just don’t tell your mother. She wants you to keep thinking that you were made like Jesus. He was Jewish, you know.”  While lust ran deep in my grandparents’ genes, it clearly skipped a generation—my parents stopped having sex once my mother’s pregnancy test came back positive.


“I know you miss, Zaidy. We all do.”


“Married for so many years, I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I’m all alone.”


“Ma, you’re not alone. I basically live next door.”


“At least I have you,” Bubbie said, patting my back and ignoring my mother.


“You have all of us,” I offered.


 “My children abandoned me!”

“Ma, I live down the street.” My mother rolled her eyes.

“Exactly, down the street. Not next door. It’s like a need a passport to see you!”


“Bubbie, maybe I could stay with you for a while. So you don’t have to be alone?”


“Such a good girl.”


“Enough hugging.  Amy, take this to the dining room.”


My mother shoved a platter into my hip to break up our hug. Truth be told, my bond with Bubbie bond always rubbed my mother the wrong way. She thought I loved Bubbie more than her. I didn’t, but she didn’t care for the truth. She cared about what she could use to guilt me to her will. Clearly, that gene didn’t skip any generations.  


“Ma, go out and sit with your guests.”

“They’re not my guests. This isn’t a party. I’m sitting shiva. And, if I want to sit shiva on the floor of my kitchen, so help me, I’ll sit shiva on the floor of my kitchen!”

“Don’t be ridiculous. People are here to pay their respects to you and daddy.”

“The schnorrers are only here for a free meal. I bet you no one signs up to send us a single meal for this whole week.”


“I bet if you put out a bag of potato chips, no one would stick around to help make a minyan for evening prayers,” I added.


“Would it hurt you to take my side instead of Bubbie’s for once? I am your mother.”


I took the tray from my mother and kissed her on the cheek.


“I’m going. I’m going. Bubbie, come with me. Let’s go see Bev and Erica.”


“If you see my good-for-nothing sisters, tell them to bring their tuchuses into the kitchen and help me bring out the food.”


I nodded my head and escorted Bubbie into the dining room adjacent to the kitchen, which in turn opened onto the living room filled with mourners. It was a packed house. My father was in the corner pouring shots of schnapps for a group of Zaidy’s gambling buddies. My mother’s sisters were sitting on the cushion less plastic-covered sofa, half a foot lower than everyone else who was seated, in accordance with Jewish custom out of respect for my departed Zaidy.


“I forgot to ask, did you get the package?”


“I did. I put it on your bed.”


“Thank you! You’re such a good granddaughter,” she said, kissing my hand.


“I still can’t figure out how to order things from that jungle.”

“It’s not a jungle, Bubbie. It’s called Amazon. I hope it’s what you wanted.”

“Ma, sit next to me,” Aunty Bev ordered.


“No, sit next to me,” Aunty Erica pled.

“First you abandon me. Now, you fight over me?” Bubbie shook her head. She went over to the couch and wedged herself between her other two kids. The ones she “never” saw anymore because they each lived on separate Canadian coasts, except for when they visited for the high holidays and every other Passover, to enjoy some kugel and a lecture on how they abandoned their mother and father in Toronto without anyone to care for them – even though my mother never left their side since we lived five houses down the street from theirs. I perched myself on the armrest of the couch. “So, I see you came back for the funeral.”


“How are you doing, Mommy?” Aunty Bev asked a little too sweetly.


“Now I’m Mommy? When your father was alive I was ‘Ma’.”


Aunty Bev rolled her eyes.


“Can I get you something?” Aunty Erica asked.

“You’ve been parked on this couch since we got home from the cemetery. Now, you’re suddenly going to get up and help me?”

“I’ll ask Amy to get you what you want. Or, Sheila’s in the kitchen, she can get you what you want.”

“Always getting someone else to do your work. If I want something, I’ll get it myself.”


“So, um, we want to talk to you about something,” Aunty Bev said.


“Yeah, we do,” Aunty Erica added without really adding anything.


“So, spit it out.”

“When are we going to read Dad’s will?” Aunty Bev asked.


Bubbie gaped. She said nothing.


“I have to get back to Vancouver in a few days…” Aunty Erica started.


“Get back? You just got here last night,” I shot back. “Zaidy has been lying under a duvet of dirt for barely an hour, and you have the nerve to…”


“I get everything. You get nothing. There, you’ve read his will,” Bubbie advised, patting my knee—her way to quiet me. “Go back to the city of vans.”


“Um, you didn’t actually read anything,” Aunty Bev said.


“I gave you the audiobook version. Now, shut up and mourn fast so you don’t miss your flight.”

Aunty Bev and Aunty Erica were stunned into silence. Bubbie turned to me. I smiled at her. She knew how to shut people up.  I always told her that she should take her show on the road, but Bubbie would always say the world wasn’t ready for two Joan Rivers.


I returned to the kitchen to help my mother, who was being run off her feet replenishing the food that the mourners ate to fill their bellies while regaling Bubbie with stories of Zaidy. Bubbie was right, these people were only too happy to eat free food—if you cook it, they will come.


“Sweetheart, come toast your Zaidy with us. You know my daughter, Amy?” my father called out to me.


Dad poured me a drink. Then he poured all the men and himself another. The men’s cheeks were redder than the beets on the dining room table. The sweats had set in, and a few of the men had loosened their ties. They’d all removed their kippot to allow the heat to escape. A bare head was the body’s natural air conditioning system, my Zaidy always said. Being bald, he never appreciated that fact more than in summer or while waiting out winter in Miami’s sweltering heat.


“How many have you had?” I asked.


My father shrugged, swaying side-to-side ever so slightly.


“Who’s keeping count? This is a shiva!


“During shiva, we drink,” one of the men ordered.


“To your Zaidy!” another man announced.


“To Zaidy!” the chorus echoed.


We all tossed our drinks back.


“Another!” the chorus commanded.


My father poured another round.


L’chaim!” my father shouted.


“You don’t say l’chaim during a shiva! Show some respect,” Bubbie shouted.


“That’s like saying Macbeth in a theatre,” Aunty Erica shouted.


“What does Macbeth have to do with sitting shiva?” I asked.


“It’s bad luck.”


“What kind of back luck could you be worried about? We’re at a shiva!” I laughed.


“Someone could drop dead,” Aunty Bev advised.


“Zaidy already did.”


Bubbie shook her head.


“This is too much for me. I’m going to my room. I need to lie down.”


“Ma, do you want me to take you upstairs?” my mother offered, running over from the dining room while untying her apron.


“Oh, so now you want to help me? Where were you when Amy was offering to move in with me?”

“Ma, I live five houses away from you. Amy lives in New York. She was offering to come home for a while. I never left.”

“That’s because she loves me more.”


My mother threw up her hands and returned to the kitchen. Bubbie walked up the stairs, shooing visitors away.


The cacophony of voices resumed their natural cadence as conversations naturally resumed after Bubbie left the room. Dishes clanged. My mother continued to cook. My father continued to get drunk with a group of nonagenarian men who’d left their dentures to soak in Bubbie’s fine crystal tumblers full of seltzer. Bev and Erica remained on the couch, happy not to help my mother or be with their mother, and remaining lost in the endless scroll of whatever app they were preoccupied with.


Suddenly, we heard a big bang. Voices quieted to a dim hum. Then, we heard another loud bang. Followed by another. The voices stopped altogether. Everyone listened intently for the source of the noise.


“What’s that sound?” my mother cried out from the kitchen.


“Shh!” Aunty Bev ordered. “We’re listening for it.”

“Listening for what?” my father asked.

Another bang was heard.


“It’s coming from outside,” someone shouted.


“Probably a raccoon going through the garbage.”


“I don’t hear anything,” my father advised.


“You’re drunk” Aunty Erica said. “Now, shh!”


“It sounds like banging against the wall.”


Bang. Bang. Bang.  Then suddenly, a muffled sound was heard.




Followed by silence.


“It’s not a raccoon.”


“I think it’s a raccoon,” Aunty Bev said.


“Where is that coming from?” my father asked.


Then, the sound became louder. Everyone congregated in the living room.


“Ooh! Oh! Ah!”


“It’s not a raccoon. It’s a person,” one of the mourners cried.


“Someone’s in trouble,” a woman shrieked.

“Maybe it’s ma,” my mother cried. “I think the sounds are coming from her room. Everybody shut up so I can listen.”

My mother stood on a chair, with a glass in hand, trying to listen through the ceiling.


“What are you doing on that chair? Just go up and check on her,” Aunty Bev ordered.


“You get off your fat ass and check on her.”


“I’m mourning.”

“And, I’m not?”

“Well, you’re actually standing on a chair,” my dad chortled.


“Erica, you go up and check,” my mother instructed.


“My back is sore,” Erica advised rubbing her low back.


“It’s been sore since you were eight,” my mother retorted.


“Oh, shit” I muttered.


“What’s wrong?” my mother asked.


“Nothing’s wrong. Everything is fine. Let’s just let Bubbie rest. Go back to whatever you were doing.”


Bang. Bang. Bang.


“Ooh! Oh! Ah! “Ooh! Oh! Ah! “Ooh! Oh! Ah!”


“It doesn’t sound like she’s resting,” Bev offered.


“I think she’s in pain,” Erica added.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” I said.


“I’m going to check on her,” my mother advised, climbing off her chair and starting towards the stairs.


“You really don’t need to check on her,” I countered. “She’s fine.”


“She’s not fine! She’s shrieking in pain. Erica, Bev, come with me!”


“No one needs to check on her!” I shouted, following after my mother, Aunty Erica, and Aunty Bev, who had began to climb the stairs.


Then, the banging sounds increased in intensity and frequency.


““Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!”


“What the hell is going on in there?” my father shouted from the living room.


“Nothing. Nothing is going on in there,” I replied.


And, then the noises stopped.



“Ma, you ok?” my mother cried out from the top of the stairs.


Her question was met with silence.


“Ma! Ma!”


Thirty seconds later, Bubbie came out of her room and stood outside wearing robe and slippers. Her face was dewy and her hair could stand to be brushed.


“What’s with all the shouting down here? This is a shiva!” She pushed past her daughters and walked downstairs. 


“We thought you were having a heart attack up there,” my mother advised, standing at the foot of the stairs with Bev and Erica at her flank.


“I need a drink,” Bubbie announced.


My father poured her a schnapps.


“Make it a double.”


She slammed it back.


“Give me another.”


My father obliged.


“What was all that noise coming from your room?” my mother asked. “I thought you were resting.”


Everyone leaned in for her answer.


“I was praying.”


Everyone leaned back, nodding their heads, and returned to their conversation. Aunty Bev and Aunty Erica returned to their phones. My mother returned to the kitchen to check on her cholent. Bubbie walked over to me and gave me a hug.


“Amy, you’re a doll. Thanks for the vibrator. It’s the exact one Zaidy told me to get in his Will. He said it would give me the same orgasms he gave me for 70 years. And, boy did it deliver.”


“I'm so glad. I got it on sale, too. 80% off!”


“Well, it got me 100% off, so hallelujah and thank God for that.”


© 2021. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.



Friday, 23 October 2020

Rules of Engagement

    Rubbing his eyes, not having been out of bed for more than a mere 45 seconds, Louis stumbled into the ensuite bathroom to take his morning shower. He opened the shower door allowing steam to escape, shocked to find someone inside. He always took the first shower of the day. Louis was irritated. 

     “What are you doing here?” Louis asked. 

     “Knitting a sweater,” Ethel replied, scrubbing Louis’ loofa all over her body with purpose. Soapsuds flew onto the glass; some went into Louis’ eye. “What do you think I’m doing?” 

     Louis squinted from the sting. “But, this is when I take my shower.” 

     “Well, it’s my shower, too” Ethel replied. 

     “But, you never take a shower this early!” 

     “We are living through a pandemic. Thought I’d change things up is that going to be a problem?” 
    Louis shook his head. The steam continued to flee, lowering the temperature of Ethel’s warm morning start. 

     “Are you in or out?” Ethel asked as she scrubbed her face. Distracted by Louis’ whining, face wash suds (not the teardrop-free kind!), which had been sitting on her face, dripped into her right eye causing her eye to burn. “MOTHERFUCKER!’ 

     “You talking to me?” Louis was not entirely sure if she was directing her vitriol at him or at the irritant invading her ocular cavity. 

     “Who else am I talking to? Robert DeNiro? Stop acting like a territorial asshole and just get in. You’re letting all the heat out!” 

     Louis sighed. He squeezed his corpulent embodiment of a once fiddly-fit male specimen past the shower bench to reach the free flowing spring of water emerging from the rain shower above. 

     “Do you think I can get in there?” He pointed at the showerhead, holding the soap in his other hand. Then, he gave a once over of what remained of Ethel’s thrice-child birthed heaving belly. 

     “There’s enough room for two.” 

     Maybe 25 years ago, he thought. Louis realized he almost spoke his mind – a dangerous idea considering that the worst accidents befall those in the bathroom, especially those brought on as a result of a self-inflicted verbal gunshot wound to the brain. However, with 30 years of marriage under her birthday suit belt, Ethel instinctively knew what Louis was thinking. They’d met as kids, but reconnected as adults, giving them ample time to learn for themselves what they did and didn’t want in a united love life. Ethel was bold, vivacious and enjoyed a vigorous debate. She didn’t shy away from confrontation and knew she needed a partner who could match her sharp volleys with killer returns. Louis, a more mild-mannered man, generally, lived equally for verbal sparring as a great meal, and knew that with marriage his appetite for both would grow. When they found each other again having finished post-secondary matriculation, it was kismet – a match between ticked off checkboxes of two sometimes ticked off people. 

     “Do you know what it feels like to be sucker-punched in the gut?” she asked innocently.   Louis nodded his head tentatively, afraid of the repercussions caused by any answer he’d give her. “Well, that’s exactly what being married to you for 30 years feels like. Just when I think it’s safe to go in the water, you attack. Now, pass me the soap.” 

     A direct hit! Louis, a kind man albeit with a wry sense of humour, was more capable of dishing out the zingers versus taking them. Defeated, Louis relinquished the soap to her custody. Placing it gently into Ethel’s hand, with the tenderness that only decades of rollercoaster matrimony can bring, he locked eyes with his bride. 

     “I’ve never meant to hurt you.” He cradled her hand lovingly. This gave Ethel pause. She never knew if Louis would follow up a kind word with an attempt at his Borscht Belt comedic styling, which 50 percent of the time fell flat with his audience, with her being his audience 100 percent of the time. Or, whether his seemingly insulting barb was really a compliment. Not wanting to give him an opening, like the Mossad, Ethel went in for a pre-emptive strike. 

     “No? Well, tell that to your farts. 30 years of silent-but-deadly Dutch-oven bombs under the covers that you think that’s a form of foreplay have burnt out my olfactory bulbs.” 

     Louis’ head shot up. The water continued to beat down on Ethel’s head from the rain showerhead above, with Louis benefitting from droplets of spray that were deflected from Ethel’s shower cap. She only washed her hair twice a week, and today was not one of those days. 

     “My dear, what a portrait of loveliness you are to behold. Let me tell you how attractive you are, my darling.” Louis sang these words. His eyes burned with fire. Ethel knew this meant war. “While I adore your Don King-meets-Trolls hairdo hat greets me at daybreak, and it’s quite the turn on I might add, nothing is more appealing than watching you get out of bed, your nightgown hiked above your ample bare buttocks, to see you stroll into the bathroom where you leave the door wide open allowing me to watch your morning routine. I really love the enticing invitation to observe you in your natural habitat taking a dump upon rising and then wiping your ass with wild abandon. Nothing says lets have morning sex than that!” 

     Ethel threw down the loofa. This means war, she thought. The shower glass walls were all steamed up from the hostility rising from the hot water Louis now found himself in. 

     “You think your ass shits roses? Last time I checked, there wasn’t a room spray strong enough to mask the aftermath scent from your Hiroshima turd explosions you leave each time you spend 30 minutes on the can! The only thing that kills that smell is bleach. Fuck nuclear warheads, you should patent your asshole and sell weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder!”  

    Ethel stood hands-on-hips, ready for Louis’ comeback. There was always a comeback. Yet, this time he stayed silent, clearly planning his next strike. In the mood for a fight, and not wanting to wait for his return, she preemptively goaded him. 

     “And, if your bowel Olympics weren’t enough of a turn off, do you think that your ivy-like back hair trellis that’s climbed so high like Jack’s magic beanstalk, now intertwining with your unwieldy ear hair, screams foreplay? Ha! Ever hear of clippers?” 

     Louis shook his head in fury. Now, she’d done it. Talking about his gas was one thing, but going after his genetically blessed, out of his control, manly body hair, and limited manscaping thereof, was another. 

     “Listen up, Baby Beluga, if you want me to trim my natural manliness, how about you do something about that situation.” He pointed mercilessly at Ethel’s lower abdominal area, which sagged over an invisible panty line. “It’s quite the pooch.” 

     Ethel was furious. The accouchement of three babies in five years has a way of turning a woman into a kangaroo. 

     “You try squeezing three babies out your dickhole who you carried around in your body hotel to grow them and then you still don’t have a right to body shame me, motherfucker!” 

     Louis hung his head. “You’re right. That was a low blow.” 

     Ethel raised an eyebrow. 

     “Speaking of blowing, we are in the shower together for the first time in years. I was thinking…” 

    “That I’d get on my knees?” Ethel cackled. “Yeah right! You just mocked my body that birthed your babies. My body is a temple! What’s your excuse? Your gut hangs out so far over your pants, that your belly needs its own zip code. Sir Mix-A-Lot called and told me you’ve inspired him to write a new rap called Daddy Got Fat!” 

     Louis rubbed his belly, slightly injured then looked at Ethel’s so-called place of worship. 

     “Whatchya rubbing there, Captain Underpants? Last night’s four beers and pizza?” 

     “Well, don’t get me wrong, but didn’t some of those Victoria Secret supermodels have multiple pregnancies, too? I don’t recall see them strutting down the runway sporting an ass in the front, while wearing wings on their backs. Just sayin’.” 

     “What’s your point, Jabba the Hut?”  

    “If it didn’t chafe so much when we engaged in sexy time…” 

     “So, you’re saying that if I looked like a Victoria Secret supermodel, we’d be having sex?” 

     “It wouldn’t hurt.” 

     “So, you’re saying I’m fat? I wasn’t’ too fat for a blowjob 30 seconds ago.” Now, she had him backed into the shower corner. She knew he hated being asked that dreaded question. The billowing, collecting steam appeared to be waving around like a white flag in front of Louis’ face. 

     “I never called you fat. I never used the word fat. I don’t think you’re fat. Don’t put words in my mouth like you put donuts in yours.” 

     Louis didn’t recognize the expression spreading across Ethel’s face. 

     “WE ARE LIVING DURING A PANDEMIC! And, you brought the donuts home!” 

     Louis got down on one knee, an act of contrition, hoping to redeem himself before she could insult him again. 

     “What are you doing down there? Proposing again?” Louis gazed up at her with puppy dog eyes. Ethel, not having any of it, was ready to cut him down. “Cuz’ I know I you ain’t down on your knees to give pleasure me that way. We both know you don’t do that.” 

     Louis sprang back up as fast as his knee replacements would allow, doing his best not to slip in the shower for he would undo the good work done by his orthopedic surgeon. 

     “Listen, don’t blame me for our lack of sex life,” Louis cried defensively. 

     “That’s not what our therapist said. He said it is your fault.” 

     “Um, that’s not how I remember it. The bottom line is that couples who engage in coitus together, stay together. That’s what he said. You don’t engage, so whose fault is that.” 

     “I think you have early onset Alzheimer’s. Or, maybe it’s Covid. Memory loss may be a symptom. Let me jog your memory.“ 

     “My memory is just fine.” “Oh, really. Do you recall why we don’t have sex?” Louis shrugged his shoulders. 

     “What do you do to signal you’re in the mood?” 

     “I lovingly caress your arm.” 

     “You don’t lovingly do shit. You tickle me! My name is not Tickle-Me Elmo.” 

     “Tickling is a form of foreplay.” 

     “Not, when you’re a fifty-something year old woman, whose pelvic floor is less stable than the San Andreas Fault. Unless you want our 400-thread count Egyptian cotton white sheets to have the River Nile running through it, you’ll stop tickling me and just start by fucking me!” 

     Louis was fed up. He didn’t want to argue anymore. All he wanted to do was simply take his morning shower, as he did every morning before, and he’d barely even be able to wash half his body thanks to Ethel. He swung open the shower door and stepped out. He reached out for his towel and covered himself. He idled over to the bathroom door, and stopped. With righteous indignation, he whipped around to face the firing squad one last time. 

     “Start fucking you? Ha! I’ll tell you one thing I am going to start doing.”  

    “Oh yeah? What’s that tough guy?” 

     “Showering when you’re not home.” 

     “I guess you’re not showering until 2025 then!” 

     “Why’s that?” 

     “Because that’s probably when the pandemic will be over and I’ll finally be able to leave the house,” Ethel spat, slamming the shower door in Louis’ face, the steam finally able to caress her body once more. 

 © 2020. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

We’re Through by Naomi Elana Zener

    I don’t know how to tell you this any other way: I’M BREAKING UP WITH YOU! 

    I can’t believe this would come as a surprise. It’s not hard for me to do this. I never liked you during the best of times. And, if I’m being honest, I really would have done this a long time ago but for social convention happy to see us staying together. 

    My relationship with you was really out of necessity, and now that necessity has passed. We never go anywhere anymore. We can’t. Physical distancing, quarantine, house arrest, self-isolation, confinement, or whatever you want to call it prevents us from doing so. And, for the mere, brief daily exposure to the outside world we are still permitted, I don’t see the point in us being together anymore. When every level of government said everyone has to stay six feet apart from each other, I jumped for joy – to be six feet apart from you feels like heaven! 

    You gave me more displeasure than comfort. You certainly were agonizing to be around. To be with you stretched the limits of the bandwidth of my patience. I constantly had to pull at you to get what I needed, or rather what you promised to give me. Your limited adjustability always put me on the offensive—I was forever in a state of reacting, adapting and readjusting to bend to your will—rarely were you ever flexible. It was only as we neared this now inevitable breakup did you finally show some give, a tiny bit of willingness to see how I was feeling. But, even when you finally did that, it was too little too late. You couldn’t even stretch an inch, but for you I had to run miles. 

    And, I know what you’re thinking, what you’d accuse me of: I got fat. I became unattractive to be around; too much burden for you to bear. Well, that’s just nonsense. I’m the same size I was when we first met, the day you first embraced me and hooked me in. It’s you who changed, and not for the better. You may think our relationship made you worse for wear, but it’s me who bears the battle scars, and I’ll have to bear them for the rest of my life. 

    Truthfully, no one cares if we are together, either. It was a social courtesy for us to be with each other. Well, now thanks to the pandemic, much social courtesy has disappeared. So too, has this relationship. I’m finally free of you. While I should have done this a long time ago, I have this pandemic thank for helping me finally see the light. Staying home means I never have to see you again. There are many expressions of gratitude I need to share with you that were shared with me upon learning of our break up: 

    1. My shoulders thank me for doing this – the way you dug into them, no matter how well-fitted you were by the so-called “bra expert,” caused indentations for days; 
    2. My ribs are happy to no longer be the victim of abuse from your underwire;
    3. My back echoes the sentiments of my shoulders. At the end of the day, when I got home, my back (and my shoulders) was always relieved to be rid of you;

    4. My dresses are happy to see you go, as they felt unsightly when the bulge of skin in my back caused by your inflexible elastic pushed through their fabric. And, again, I’m not fat. It was always you, not me; 

    5. My husband is relieved on many levels. He no longer finds you lying in strange places in the house, after being flung about in my haste to be free of you. He’s thankful to no longer see our kids wearing you as a bizarre hair accessory. He’s thrilled to not having to hand-wash you. And, most of all, he no longer has to unhook you, a skill he failed to master, when he’s feeling “in the mood”; and 

    6. My breasts have expressed the deepest gratitude of all. They feel free, no longer restricted to each living daily in solitary confinement under your reign of oppressive terror. 

    Farewell, brassiere. Can’t say you were an old friend, or a friend at all. The only good thing to come out of this pandemic as I live in quarantine with my family is that I never have to wear you again. And, before you make plea for clemency, or say that I’ll need you again when we emerge from social solitude, to that I say, I’ll use glue or duct tape to bind my breasts if I have to before I ever wear you again. 

    Sayonara. Shalom. Dasvidaniya. Au revoir. Goodbye. Enjoy the Viking funeral that awaits you! 

 © 2020. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Online Love in the Time of Covid by Naomi Elana Zener

1.     If someone doesn’t include their PPE safety standards in their online dating profile, should I swipe left or right? What if their profile says they’ll wear masks but no face shields or goggles? I’m not sure that’s a deal breaker for now. I think I’ll just write “Maskhole antimaskers swipe left!” If they’re smart, they’ll figure it out. To be safe, I’ll add if they like Trump they should swipe left too.

2.     Should I include photos of myself wearing a mask just in case we meet in real life so they can identify me by my mask style and my eyes?

3.     How many virtual dates before I take it to the next level and meet in real life?

4.     Covid testing is the new STD testing.  Should I ask for 3 consecutive negative Covid tests before we meet in real life? Will that be enough or should I ask for 5? With 1 in 5 tests coming back with a false negative result, I’m thinking I should maybe go with 10?  Benjamin Franklin did say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If I include that quote in my profile it'll hopefully weed out losers who think Covid is harmless.

5.     If I wear a mask on a date, how will my date know I’m actually smiling? I guess I could follow Tyra Banks’ advice and “smize”.

6.     Will masks mask bad breath? Will people stop brushing their teeth as often since they’re wearing masks?

7.     For in-person dates, I’m less worried about who will pay than who will bring sanitizer and Lysol wipes. What happens if one of us forgets to bring some? Can we share? If we do meet up in real life, how often do we reapply the hand sanitizer? I guess I’ll have to bring a safety kit with some Lysol wipes and sanitizer on all of my dates. Geez, I hope I don't get too many dates because I can't find Lysol wipes anywhere anymore and my stash is running low!

8.     If I’m asked to go on a socially distant walking date, do I need to bring a tape measure to make sure we stay 6 feet apart?  I guess I could put one in my safety kit just in case.

9.     If I get asked to Netflix and Chill, what does that even mean now? Is this done by Zoom? 

10. What happens if they live at home with their parents, we meet up and then one of us tests positive for Covid and we’re not a match? I have my own place. Would we have to self-isolate together? That really doesn’t work for me. I’ll stick with Zoom dates for now—Zoom dating is the new safe sex: no Covid exposure and no chance anyone is quarantining with me!

11. If I’m only open to Zoom dating, do I need to be open to Zoom sex? I’d have to take the tape off laptop camera for that, but Zoom hackers terrify me! I’m not ready for the world to see my private parts.

12. What happens if we start to develop feelings for each other and one of us gets sick? I mean there’s a solid chance that if they get Covid and we are Zoom dating they’ll still expect me to visit in the hospital or something. I don’t know if I’m ready for that level of commitment or Covid exposure.  Maybe I should put in my profile that I’m not looking for a relationship?

13. What do monogamy and love even look like during the time of Covid? No sexting or phone sex with other people? Do you still take down your online dating profiles if you’ve never even met in real life and chances are you won’t until there’s a vaccine that’s not from Russia? I’m definitely including in my profile that I’m not looking for a relationship!

14. Glory holes? I think I’ll pass.

15. Maybe I should just invest in some good quality sex toys and cool it with all dating until there’s a vaccine (that’s not from Russia!)? I think I'm better off single until WHO or another global health body I can trust declares the Covid pandemic over. 

 © 2020. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, 23 July 2020


To a mother was born a most perfect child,
Whose eyes sparkled like diamonds and gave her rosy smiles.
With a single coo she made mommy's heart melt,
So she must dote on her daughter is how mama felt.
Her first pair of shoes of black patent leather,
Instantly made princess' outfits oh so much better.
Then came a red velvet dress all the way from France,
For in it her daughter would look so darling when they'd dance.
After the dress and shoes came the smartest trench,
To protect princess' ensemble from rain's wet drench.
But having worn her dress several times in a row,
Mama felt it was time for daughter's wardrobe to grow.
So home came more dresses, blouses and pants,
Despite daddy's cajoles that soon turned into rants.
She's but only a few months old how much clothing could she need?
Mama replied don't you realize she will grow at warp speed!
And while princess looks adorable in her new red sweater
Mama was convinced a pink one would look even better
Not willing to pass up a deal,
She bought three more in plum, orange and teal.
‘I will buy bigger sizes,’ mama thought to herself.
Into them princess will grow, she rationalized placing them on a shelf.
But when daddy came home and saw the mall in the closet,
The shopping must stop he cried out as he lost it!
Mama promised no more shopping bags will papa see,
Thankful he left and mama began to online shop promptly.
Princess could use more toys and books,
Daddy won't mind, he won't give the bill a second look.
But with storage disappearing and no place to hide,
Out in the open mama's purchases lay in plain sight.
Having reached his limit daddy took mama's plastic away!
Except she memorized the number for a rainy day.
The deliveries poured in daily with several knocks at the door,
Without realizing to her princess she'd become a huge bore.
Daughter sat in her crib staring at the art on the wall
With all the clothes to wear and nowhere to go at all.
Mama too busy to play with or read her stories,
The books and toys sat neatly looking quite sorry.
Fed up from neglect due to mama's spending spree,
“Mama,” she whined, “will you stop shopping please!”
Awoken from her retail mania haze
Mama saw that her child was wise beyond her days,
And from that moment forward mama shopped no more,
Except when she saw sales for fifty percent off at princess' favourite store!

© 2020 Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Little Pink Beetle by Naomi Elana Zener

 “Ouch” she yelled. Vision blurred.
“Vanity is pain,” was overheard.

Little Pink Beetle stared into a mirror,
Her front lights shining a little less clearer.

Above her headlights she batted new lashes.
Her mascara applied without any splashes.

With a spoiler to match her custom paint,
Souped up Beetle made plain cars faint.

Pretty, shiny, and as vain as could be.
Little Pink Beetle drove wild and carefree.

Engine roared driving down the road.
“Splat!” went the body of a big green toad.

Toad croaked, eyes rolled back in head
Little Pink sped off, leaving Toad for dead.

Taking a selfie from behind the wheel.
Pink hit a pig, and piggy went “squeal!”

“My bad,” Pink cried, still rolling along.
Blaring on her radio a techno song.

Turkey said “Gobble!” “Quack!” went Duck.
“Learn to drive!” said a blue dump truck.

“Watch out!” meowed Cat with her litter of kittens.
“Your wheels don’t need their fur for mittens!”

“Moo!” said Cow “Don’t turn me into steak.”
“Use the pedal on the left, it’s called a brake!”

“Sorry,” Pink cried, “I’m in a hurry.”
“Big car show to get to, I gotta scurry!”

All of a sudden a loud crash was heard
“I smashed my face,” Little Pink slurred.

Her fancy paint stripped, headlights now bare,
All of the animals stopped to gape and stare.

“Help, help,” Pink wailed with all her might,
Giving Horse, Hen, and Sheep a giant fright.

No beast offered to pick up her front grill,
Since each had escaped being her roadkill.

Lying bereft, smashed up in a ditch,
A dog walked by and called Pink a bitch.

“Why should we help you?” Horse queried of Pink.
“You drive crazy fast, think your shit don’t stink.”

Her eyes naked, free from fake lash extensions.
Little Pink Beetle lost all airs and pretensions.

Pink said “I’m sorry, I’ll change, I promise.”
But each critter stood there a doubting Thomas.

“No more makeup, fast driving, or fancy paint,”
The little Beetle swore that she’d now be a saint.

Valuing friends and life more than beauty and fame.
Pink saw her erred ways and hung her hood in shame.

Horse, Duck, Hen, Sheep, Cow, Turkey, and even Pig.
Nodded heads, gathered ‘round Pink, and started to dig.

Pulled out from the trench into which she was cast,
Thanking the wild things by which she’d drove past.

“Lets be friends,” Pink offered beeping her horn,
Out of vanity lost, new friendships were born.

© 2020. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.