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Entry 26 Turd on Two Wheels

Aunt Aliza got up early Sunday morning. Stasch always gets up early. I slept until just after eight o'clock and I could smell dinner cooking. Aunt Aliza was cooking Sunday dinner and getting it ready so we could have it when the shop closed and the last run or two went through if there were no night runs.

I sniffed. It was stew which was fine with me. It smelled like it had beans in it and probably peppers. I washed, dressed, and bounced in to the kitchen. Stasch was eating the last of his cereal leaving the bowl full of milk. He should know we don't waste milk. We didn't waste it in Duluth and he can't waste it here.

I got Stasch a mug for the bowl milk so he could drink it. It doesn't taste bad and tastes really good if it has sugar or presweetened cereal flavoring it. Of course if Stasch let his cereal go soft and woak up the milk, there would be much less bowl milk, but he prefers his cereal crunchy so he gets the bowl milk in a cup afterwards.

"What's for dinner," I asked Aunt Aliza.

"Veal stew with lima beans," she replied... "over farfelles."

Stasch made a face. "You're getting a tuna sandwich."

"Beans and stew are gross," Stasch complained.

"You're not running the house. Veal is baby beef. It's calf meat. It's delicate and tender."

"I've got a project in the shop this morning," Aunt Aliza told me. "I'm also going to do some of the leftover Saturday runs that need computer work. If Orel wakes up, let him know I'm downstairs and at work all ready. Your dad can get his own breakfast. If he complains, tell him we have Sunday dinner scheduled for six pm and we're going to be on schedule today."

Aunt Aliza was out of steam. She asked what I planned to study. This must have been her morning to be nice to me. I told her geometry and English mostly. I also wanted to read my econ book. If I got too stir crazy, I'd take Stasch for a bike ride. If Stasch got caught up in something, I'd ride my bike over to Lenny or Josh's house and we'd study there. My Sundays are usually like this.

"Can I get you to hang around the shop or the house until three pm?" asked Aunt Aliza.

"What for?" I asked.

"The rabbi. He said he was bringing by his bicycle and you're good at fixing bikes."

I figured I'd be happy to fix the rabbi's bike. "I hope it doesn't need a lot of parts," I commented.

Aunt Aliza shrugged. "He gets paid next week. Bike parts have to be cheaper than car parts. I'll be glad to get that car out of the back. It is such an eyesore."

"It's a wreack and a clunker," I added.

"What if it doesn't start?" asked Stasch.

"It can start. It's just missing a good left rear tire," Aunt Aliza said.

Stasch shook his head. "I think the rabbi's a bum," he called out.

"My sweet ass!" snapped Aunt Aliza. "The man's got a job."

"As a security guard at the mall," singsonged Stasch.

"I'd like to see you work at something."

"I can't. I'm only six years old."

Stasch had a point, but not about the rabbi. I agreed with Aunt Aliza. I thought about the young lions who go hungry. I wondered if you were a rabbi if you had to say that big long prayer after breakfast. Did praying after you ate three times a day make the food taste better?

After breakfast I studied. I started with economics because I was in a lazy mood and economics was what I felt like doing. I finished the Fountainhead (finally) and worked on geometry after that. We were starting to learn proofs and wished we had had a proof bee instead of a French bee at the Goldfarb's last night. Unfortunately, we had no one who could judge a geometry proof bee except an educated grownup, and the grownups had all had a meeting of their own.

I was on my twelfth proof when Aunt Aliza came in to my bedroom and told me to come downstairs. The rabbi had arrived. I stuck the rabbi's bike in the slot I use to hold up a bike that I'm fixing. Then I checked it out. "Piece of shit," I thought, though I tried not to curse in front of the rabbi.

I tightened up what I could. "The dereilleur on this bike is nearly shot," I told the rabbi.

"I try not to use all the gears," he answered. "It's only a problem at one end."

"That's where you're noticing it," I said. "It's a problem all over."

"Can you fix it?"

"Not well. You need a new part and it will set you back between fifteen and thirty-five dollars."

I took the rabbi upstairs and showed him the web sites. He had a credit card and ordered a new dereilleur. The brakes were not in great shape either on the rabbi's bike, but the problem was mainly the cables. I did not ask how the cables got frayed. I just patched them with electrical tape so they looked like fat snakes.

"I used to ride this bike in college and in seminary," the rabbi told me.

"You lived in New York then didn't you."

The rabbi nodded.

"Where'd you go to college?" I asked him.

"Cornell Arts and Sciences," he said without missing a beat.

"And here you are a security guard," Stasch's words found their way to my lips.

"Cornell was great," the rabbi answered. "Where do you want to go to college?"

"MIT," I said.

"You want to be an engineer?"

I nodded.

"Rabbi, do you have to say the long prayer after breakfast lunch and dinner?" I asked.

"Which long prayer?"

"The one in the little book, the one about the young lions going hungry at the end?"

"Do you want to say grace after meals?" asked the rabbi.

I thought about this. It would be inconvenient at school because they only gave us half an hour to eat. "I'd say it at dinner time," I said. I didn't think I could fit it in during the morning either. The rabbi gave me one of his little grace after meals books. It was white and on the cover it said.

"Bas Mitzvah of Miriam Shoen Kansas City Hilton -- 5/25/2005" on it.

"Did you steal this?" I felt the back of the shop spin around me.

"No, it was a souvenir," the rabbi answered What adult would ever admit to stealing anything. I thought about Koli again. I hadn't given her the rabbi's name because I did not know where he lived. Besides why would she trust a rabbi who worked as a security guard and could not get his car out of our backyard for ten days because he was broke? I know, it's not fair that people don't trust people who don't have money but that is the way it is.

"You want something else," asked the rabbi.

"It would be good if you could talk to my friend, Koli Jameson." I finally said, "but I don't know how you can do that because you don't have a synagogue."

"I have a cell phone. I work at the mall. I have an apartment. There are public places your friend and I could meet," the rabbi answered.

One thing about the rabbi, was he just didn't get that he couldn't do some things. The rabbi wrote down his particularls. This left me stuck. I realized that Koli would probably laugh in my face. Still, I might just give her the rabbi's information to see what she'd do with it.

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