Saturday, 21 December 2013

Twas the Night Before Christmas Reboot by Naomi Elana Zener

Twas four nights before Christmas, and all through my house,
Not a baby was stirring, not even my spouse.
The wine was poured in my glass with care,
In hope eyes would glaze over with drunken stare.

I was nestled in my pjs, lounging lazily on the couch,
Husband doing all chores, fearing angering this grouch.
And mama with remote in hand, DVR full of taped shows,
Settled in for undisturbed TV watching family knows.

When in the kitchen there arose such an awful clatter,
I sprang from the family room to investigate the matter.
There were my dishes, smashed to the floor,
A pattern discontinued, “oh shit” hubby swore.

The light up above beamed on the shards of my favourite plates,
Gave way to baby screaming, sounds every drunk mom hates.
Followed by the appearance to my eyes seemed a ghost,
No wait, twas my toddler sleepwalking, disturbing me most.

All I wanted was one night to myself to watch a chick flick,
That Elf must have reported I was naughty to St Nick.
My hopes for some peace and quiet dashed, such a shame,
On husband’s clumsy shoulders rests all the blame.

Now baby! Now toddler! Get back to bed, go to sleep!
Out of your mouths mama doesn’t want to hear a peep.
To your bed, to your crib, crawl, walk, run, don’t fall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

As my glass was now dry before that tsunami flew in,
Back to the fridge I returned for some Chardonnay chillin’.
Babes tucked back in bed, hubby in basement hiding away,
I decided to online shop for gifts, time for mama to play.

Target, Shopbop, Gilt, racking up charges on my Amex,
Time better spent than engaging in weekly marital sex.
And then, if like magic, noises came from upon my roof,
Twas Amazon drones delivering gifts, tapping each hoof.

At my doorstep neatly piled the bounty of my spending spree,
With such great discounts on all items, they were almost free.
Then arrived a portly FedEx deliveryman carrying a festive sack,
“Sorry ma’am, wrong house, got to deliver Mayor Rob Ford his crack.”

My eyes, how they sparkled, so many gifts I had to carry.
Each box seasonally wrapped with bows in red cherry.
The contents of which gave me a warm glow,
I celebrated my good deed with a glass of Merlot.

How hubby would delight seeing me in the negligee sheath,
A gift for him really, into which he could sink his teeth.
Perfume aromatic, fragrant to get rid of odours so smelly,
Due to baby’s vomit when feeling unwell in her belly.

Fuchsia croc stilettos from Prada, a box I will hide on my shelf,
To hide from the prying eyes of that nefarious Elf.
A twinkle in my eye at the pile of best-selling novels to read,
To get through all, more of nights from my kids need to be freed.

Of spending spree, no word spoken, Amex my kemo sabe,
Angry family if they discover all of the gifts are only for me.
Emerging from man cave, sniffing out shopping with his nose,
Hubby spoke not a word, no point in coming to blows.

For he knows how hard I work as mom, wife, attorney and writer,
Deserving a night off to shop, watch TV, will make my day brighter.
As for denying family Christmas presents, no hopes did I deflate,
We’re Jewish, these are my Chanukah gifts, albeit one month late.

But, like a good mom, my children and family I would never deny,
For them DVDs, toys and an iPad were ordered in good supply.
Happy Belated Chanukah to my family, gifts for each crazy night,
Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all, may your new year excite!

© 2013. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Joneses Called & Said You Can’t Keep Up by Naomi Elana Zener

Flashbulbs blinded the patrons, which were made worse by the jeers and catcalls of the hordes of autograph seekers, naysayers and paparazzi pressed up like sardines against the trendy Beverly Hills’ restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling window. The world renowned and infamous couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, were sitting in the tony eatery supping on a divinely decadent elaborate meal prepared especially for them, with no expense spared. Accustomed to the glares and stares, the Joneses dined as though they were the only two people in the restaurant, let alone on the planet, cleansing their palates between courses with a healthy swig of Cristale, blissfully unaware of the masses watching their every move. Without warning and to the Jones’ horror, a plebian reporter abruptly disrupted their oasis by commandeering a neighbouring table’s chair, pulling it up to their table and joining them.

“Well, if it isn’t the elusive Joneses,” the reporter exclaimed. “I’m Joe Public, a reporter, not the plumber, from the Main Street Everyman’s Gazette. In light of the ongoing economic crisis crippling the planet, I wondered, hoped really, that I could interview you both to get your take on the sad state of the World’s financial affairs.”

“What sad state?” Mr. Jones inquired as he proceeded to take a delicate bite of caviar on toast point.

“Every country, especially the United States, has been downtrodden and underwater financially ever since the Great Recession hit. Albeit, housing prices are showing some gains of late and job numbers are mildly improving, so many people have lost their homes, jobs, life savings, all in their pursuit of the ‘American Dream’ bought on credit,” Joe replied. “All to keep up with the Joneses. To keep up with you.”

Mr. and Mrs. Jones shared a perplexed look as they digested Joe’s comments and then quickly tossed their heads back in guttural laughter.

“Is that a joke?” Mr. Jones asked.

“Is what a joke?” Joe responded.

“How can you even suggest that anyone can keep up with us?” Mr. Jones exclaimed. “We drive an Aston Martin Vanquish. Do you know how fast that thing goes? Even if someone buys a BMW M5 they have no way of keeping up or even catching us.”

“You, with your designer clothes, overpriced automobiles, flawless diamonds and multiple homes have set the tone for an ideal that people are chasing to their detriment. An ideal that only the top one percent can achieve,” Joe stated. “They see you with your black Amex free from the shackles of a limit, and your Cartier Love bracelet, and then go to the mall with their ten credit cards with low limits and high interest rates, maxing them out trying to emulate your blinged out lifestyle by buying jewelry at Zales. Then, they sit at home  in the house they can’t afford on the couch bought on a ‘buy now pay later deal,’ wondering how they are going to pay for groceries or the mortgage. Don’t you feel responsible?”

“How can we be responsible for anyone who chooses to shop at any store where the diamond quality is less than VVS1?” Mrs. Jones retorted. “I wouldn’t even let my maid buy diamonds at the mall.”

“May I ask what that shiny diamond Cartier Love bracelet hanging from your wrist cost?” Joe asked.

“If you have to ask what it cost, then you shouldn’t be buying it!” Mrs. Jones admonished.

“You must agree that you have created an image that others follow. Like a god, people revere your lifestyle and want to recreate themselves in your image no matter the cost,” Joe advised. “They want to dress like you, vacation like you, buy homes like yours.”

“Dress like us?” Mrs. Jones asked rhetorically. “What a crazy notion.  These people are wearing shmatas that are at least two seasons old bought either on sale at TJ Maxx or at a clothing graveyard.”

“What is a ‘clothing graveyard’?” Joe queried.

“A consignment store, you know, second-hand,” Mrs. Jones advised.

“I’m shocked you even know what that is,” Joe stated.

“Where do you think I recycle items in my wardrobe that I’ve been spotted or photographed in?” Mrs. Jones replied. “Plus, I use the money earned from resale to pay for our staff’s Christmas gifts. I have financial management skills. Also, you could even say that I am an environmentalist because by consigning my clothes I am enabling people to reduce, reuse and recycle, rather than going out and wastefully spending on brand new clothes at full price. Plus, people who buy my items look chic in them, so in fact I am actually doing a civic service by beautifying the Earth by populating it with well-heeled women.”

Ignoring Mrs. Jones blatant arrogance, Joe decided to follow another line of questioning directed at Mr. Jones.

“Sir, you must know that all of the technological gadgets that you’ve amassed, giant flat screen TVs, cable and high speed Internet, Netflix, tablets and the like are all luxuries you enjoy, but are not necessities?” Joe asked.

“What do you mean they aren’t necessities?” Mr. Jones asked. “They are the basic lifeblood required to remain digitally apprised of what’s going on in the world. How else does one expect to stay informed? And, for the record, your attack on my wife ignores the basic principle that you get what you pay for in life. If people were smart and saved up to buy just one pair of Louboutins or Manolos, then they would save their feet from damage by not wearing crap from Payless, saving themselves from having to shell out big bucks on chiropody treatments.”

“So, then what is a luxury in your opinion?” Joe asked.

“The Emirati royal family’s new yacht, the Azzam.  No one needs a five hundred and ninety foot yacht,” Mr. Jones explained. “At six hundred and five million dollars, just think of the real estate you could buy that doesn’t depreciate like a boat does.”

“That boat is just so gauche!” Mrs. Jones exclaimed. “Since you must still watch free over-the-air TV, you don’t understand how Netflix is a necessity. Time is money, and who wants to waste time watching useless commercials.”

Joe, realizing he had made no headway at trying to get the Joneses to accept any responsibility for setting a dangerous lifestyle precedent, decided to dumb down his cross-examination of them in the hopes that they would finally see the error of their ways.

“Ok, so we agree to disagree about the clothes, cars and toys you buy, but what about your homes? Do you really need so many? And, do they need to be equipped with the highest end restaurant-grade appliances when you don’t even cook?” Joe queried.

“Why should we apologize for having good taste and wanting to have the finer things in life?” Mr. Jones asked.

“Of course we use our appliances. Every time we have a dinner party, our chef or the catering staff prepares each meal with them, “ Mrs. Jones explained. “The better the appliance, the better the food tastes.”

“As for the number of homes we own, well that makes solid financial sense. Real estate is a safe investment,” Mr. Jones offered.

“Plus, one could go mad looking at the same scenery and d├ęcor day in and day out. Vacation homes are important tools to promote good mental health,” Mrs. Jones stated. “Next you’ll try to argue that having a maid or a gardener is a luxury.”

“Aren’t they?” Joe asked.

“You could sprain an ankle or have a heart attack engaging in such physical manual labour! Why do you think they invented in ground sprinkler systems?  Having a staff is a necessity borne by you and your fellow media comrades by publicizing all of these so-called studies telling everyone what is good and bad for our health. In fact, it’s you people causing us to hire nannies and housekeepers. The flip side is that we are creating jobs, thus lowering unemployment,” Mrs. Jones advised.

“How can you say that by performing manual labour you run the risk of having a heart attack when you workout and exercise?” Joe laughed.

“Because, we hire trainers to oversee our every move so as to prevent any injury from happening,” Mrs. Jones retorted.

Joe shook his head realizing that the Joneses would not have an epiphany recognizing their frivolity and wastefulness. They would continue to buy their own hype and the masses would continue to run like caged hamsters in a spinning wheel perpetuating the vicious debt cycle.

“I give up. You think it’s ok for people to go broke trying to keep up with you,” Joe sighed.

“Hell no!” Mr. Jones roared. “We don’t have large mortgages, if any at all. We own our cars. We don’t lease them. My wife’s jewels are family heirlooms inherited over the years. The people you talk about have no financial management skills, but we do. They should hire financial planners to help advise them.”

“How can they afford that when they are in debt up to their eyeballs?” Joe fumed.

“Please, people have access to cheap credit and with government policies keeping interest rates at historical lows, they can afford a planner instead of a new pair of shoes. If you want to blame someone for the World’s debt crisis, blame the government, not us.”

“For the record, if you can’t afford a bank loan, luxury purses make for excellent collateral. Just look at China where the ‘Yes Lady Finance Co’ gives loans against designer handbags. Only, you must ensure that the security is in the form of Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Channel or Gucci,” Mrs. Jones offered. “But, think twice before giving up a Birkin. Those damn waitlists for a new one are a bitch!”

“You people are unbelievable!” Joe exclaimed. “You tell people that it’s ok to fake it until they make it, the hell with keeping a roof over your head or food in their belly. What do you say to them when they can’t feed their family?”

Mr. and Mrs. Jones gave pause to Joe’s question, unsure of what they would do if they had no food to eat.

“Let them eat cake” Mrs. Jones offered.

© 2013 Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Doing a Favour For Ford Nation by Naomi Elana Zener

Amidst the daily bombshells revealing a new scandal, I've scratched my head bewildered, agog and aghast at how Mayor Rob Ford can reach a new low every day, despite rock bottom having been hit several boulders ago. An avid fan of Shonda Rhimes' TV show "Scandal," I began to channel my inner Olivia Pope to come up with a list of tips a two year old could follow, so that Mr. Ford could climb out of the hole he’s dug for himself after having disgraced his political office, the city he represents, his family and himself:
1. Don't do drugs. Nancy Reagan taught us that. So did D.A.R.E., our parents, teachers and the cast of Saved By the Bell. Crack is whack was a central message you grew up with in the 1980s and 1990s. And, by whack we were not encouraged to give it a whack, as in a try, but rather to avoid it at all costs.  Given its street vernacular roots, you should understand what whack means given the fact that you seemingly surround yourself with hoodlums. Just say NO!
2. Your name is not Jones. Your brother’s name is not Jones. Stop yelling it at each other in council. It leads one to believe that you are ‘jonesing’ for a ride on Casey’s train, high on cocaine, and we all know what your speed is. In case you weren’t sure, don’t take any speed. 
3. Drunken stupors are for frat boys, raging alcoholics, and guest of speakeasies during Al Capone’s prohibition era. You know who they're not for: elected public officials. Put down the bottle. Step away slowly. Now, run to rehab. Your notoriety has rendered you infamous internationally. Having become fodder for and featured on American network television, your newfound celebrity status likely qualifies you for entry to Promises in Malibu. Since you're a rich white man you can also afford their monthly fees, so don't stop at "Go," don't collect $200 because you don't need the money, and get your ass straight to rehab.
4. Don't talk about female genitalia in public, unless you're prepared to have people talk about yours. Scratch that. We don't want anyone talking about your penis - EVER!  Unless you meant to say pussy willow, as in the flower, don't use the first part of the plant's name to talk about female genitalia in public. You have a mother, wife, sister and daughter and they, like every other woman, do not wish to have their vaginas referred to as an all-you-can eat buffet. 
5. Surrounding yourself with gang bangers, criminals and drug dealers doesn't substantiate your claim that when hanging out with such ne'er-do-wells you are rolling with your homies. Allow me to remind you that you are in fact a rich white male trustafarian. You likely have more in common with Michael Fassbender's role in 12 Years a Slave than with the Mr. Roper of Etobicoke's equivalent of a housing project in Toronto's Jane-Finch corridor. You are not the man of the people cleaning up the gravy train. Not spending taxpayer money and saving the city a few bucks by paying your office expenses out of your own pocket doesn't make you a good guy. It makes you the guy whose salary is being paid for by taxpayer dollars while using your family coin to buy your mayoral paper clips. If you actually did away with Toronto's land transfer tax grab as you'd claimed you would in your campaign platform, or helped a citizen out by paying it out of your own pocket on their behalf when purchasing a home in the Greater Toronto Area, you may gain some goodwill. Otherwise, stop touting your unused office budget as what is helping to pad the city's coffers. Own who you are, where you come from and accept that you own your Escalade outright versus the hot one your call-a-crack dealer cruises around town in.
6. Until the scandals die down and stop exploding like vaporizing atom bombs on a daily basis, stay off the sauce, out of the ghetto unless on official mayoral business, away from known felons, and don’t’ grab anyone’s ass but your own. And, if you grab your ass, please do it in the privacy of your own home or Escalade. Better yet, hide out in your man cave without acting like a Neanderthal, and contrary to your brother’s advice, for heavens sake do NOT have a few "pops" while hanging out at home.
7. Finally, stop talking about running for re-election. No one wants to elect you to any office in this land, with the exception of one of the ‘provincial senatorial’ seats your brother had mentioned to the press. If you want to be a provincial senator, have at it. I hear it's located two feet to the left of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, which is five feet from where Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried and coincidentally happens to be underneath the building where a living Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe perform nightly as geriatric dinner theater stars. 

© 2013. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

We're Gonna Have a Come to Jesus by Naomi Elana Zener

At the offices of the public relations firm, Smith & Goldberg, Jesus and God arrived with their respective entourages: Jesus with his twelve disciples, and God with Moses and Eliyahu. Over the past few decades, the trickle down effect of the increasing commercialization of Christian holidays had seeped into Jewish celebrations, with the biggest victim being Chanukah. Resolved to stave off further erosion of the meaning of Chanukah, a most beloved holiday known for its tradition of latke eating and dreidel spinning, God needed a come to Jesus meeting with his greatest competitor: Jesus himself.

“So Yeshua, let’s get down to brass tax,” God said. “I know it’s been thousands of years since you gave up your membership in the tribe, but surely you must remember the miracle of Chanukah?”

“How could I forget how they burned the midnight oil for eight nights?” Jesus replied.

“Yet you and your band of merry men continue to up the ante with jacking up Christmas to new heights every year. Your holiday is so bloated with retailers and advertisers seeing only dollar signs that Jews now feel so inferior that they have started to decorate Chanukah bushes erected in their living rooms just to keep pace with your Goyim,” God advised.

“We’re not telling your Chosen People to celebrate Christmas,” Jesus retorted. “I can’t help it if a Jew wants to light a tree. After all, the burning bush was your invention.”

“Are you kidding me?” Moses asked. “Who can resist the cuddly image of a fat man in a red suit coming down the chimney to put presents under a tree? Your Santa Claus is Christmas crack for Jews, just like regular crack works for a certain Canadian city’s mayor.”

“Don’t forget our yentas walking through the mall every year who can’t resist the appeal of plopping their Jewish children on the cheap polyester-clad laps of a mall Santa for a photo op with a man who will never visit their kid’s home with a present,” Eliyahu reminded God.

“And that is my fault how? I’m no Santa lover. He pulls focus from my birth story. No one wants to hear about a man born in a manger conceived without sex. They want to hear ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ and get the newest Apple® product,” Jesus stated. “Where in the New Testament does Santa make an appearance?

“Many of those mall Santas are also pedophiles!” Moses cried.

“We don’t endorse the mall Santa. What do you expect us to do with jolly old St. Nick?” Peter asked. “Trust us, were keeping a close eye on mall Santas since we have enough problems with perverted priests.”

“Santa is still YOURS, not ours. Do you know what my people did to feel better about spinning tops and oil soaked potato pancakes? They created Chanukah Harry, some old fart in black hat doling out fake gold covered chocolate coins because no one was interested in a Maccabi for a mascot,” God advised. “Then we had to go on a marketing campaign telling the Jews that they don’t need fakakta Christmas, its tree and one night of presents, when we have eight nights of gift-giving to run up your credit card bill.”

“So you’ve got a mascot, big deal,” John retorted. “At least gold is accepted by your people. None of ours wants gold, frankincense and myrrh anymore unless it is diamond encrusted.”

“The mascot is not our only problem.  Those who married outside of the faith had to run and create Chrismakah, some bastardized combination of the two holidays, just to keep Chanukah in the mix for their mixed kids,” God offered. “Then Chrismakah went viral: Hallmark® made cards for it and Hollywood made it mainstream, making it a storyline on the O.C. on Fox. Thank goodness Coca-Cola® didn’t touch it. Who can compete with those cuddly polar bears?” God stated.

“And what did you people do next to screw us?” Moses asked rhetorically. “Four words: ELF ON A SHELF. An eavesdropping spy placed strategically in homes to sell kids on the tale that the elf is listening and telling Santa who is naughty and nice.”

“You take issue with a little elf?” Judas laughed.

“Et tu Judas?” Eliyahu countered. “I’d think some of your friends here today would take issue with your defending a spy given your double agent track record.”

‘Yeah, you’re not helping,” Jesus admonished. “But, he does have a point. The elf is harmless.”

“He’s not harmless. Because of him, Jews now have a Mensch on a Bench. Elves are part of your Christmas mythology. This so-called ‘Mensch’ is dressed up as a rabbi, sitting on a bench and is portrayed as being a good guy. What the hell does a Mensch on a Bench have to do with Chanukah? There weren’t even any benches in the Temple during the Maccabi miracle!”

Jesus nodded noting God’s righteous indignation. He had to agree that the Christmas-Chanukah competition had grown out of control. Jesus and the disciples gathered in a huddle trying to come up with a satisfactory solution trying to help God out. Despite their religious differences, Jesus was his son after all.  For twenty minutes, the disciples whispered and conferred with Jesus under the cloak of confessor privilege. Growing antsy, God, Moses and Eliyahu were starving as it had been an hour since they had lunch. In desperate need of a nosh, God stood up to leave.

“We’re heading out to the deli on the corner for a little corned beef on rye. Want us to bring you back anything?” God offered.

“No thanks, it's Lent, so we're fasting,” Jesus replied.

“While you’re trying to solve our little problem, see if you can find a way to help a ghost out,” Eliyahu instructed on his way out behind God, who was out of earshot.

“What’s the problem?” Jesus asked.

“Every year at Passover, I’m supposed to visit the homes of the Chosen Ones. Can you get these schmucks to stop pouring shitty kosher wine in my cup? All of that schlepping all night makes a ghost thirsty and when I get there I don’t even get a drop of the good stuff! See if you can spice up your Easter and resurrection story by adding a nice wine, so that the Jews have to run out and buy a nice Chateauneuf de Pape for me to sip on.”

© 2013. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.