The Butcher

Growing up, a certain time, a certain place, we had things you don’t see much anymore, anywhere.

On Sunday mornings, we would open the door to find a brown paper bag filled with a dozen fresh bagels sitting atop a black-and-white newspaper filled with a dozen fresh sections.  The smells!

The bagels were salt and egg and marble and onion.  There was no blueberry.  There was no jalapeño.

The newspaper was paper.  The sections were Arts & Leisure and The Book Review and The Magazine.

On Thursday mornings, when we were getting ready for school, Mr. Fischer, the kosher butcher, would call to take my mother’s order for Shabbes.

We always heard these calls.  We had only one telephone, avocado green, centrally located in the kitchen.  My mother spoke loudly all of the time, but never more so than when talking with Mr. Fischer.  Maybe he was hard of hearing.  More likely he was inebriated.

Anyway, this is how we learned to make an order for a basic household necessity.  At the time, meat was required and kosher was essential.

These days, we don’t have a family butcher who delivers kosher meat.  We drive to the Trader Joe’s.  The selection isn’t so good, but the quality isn’t so bad.  We make do, but still, I miss that kind of old world service.

So it came as a great relief to learn that nowadays, you can get home delivery for some indispensable items that used to compel a run to the store.  And I do mean run.

Turns out you can order feminine hygiene products for overnight shipment.  I don’t mean sealed boxes of the stuff like you get at the drugstore; I mean a highly personalized package, like what you would get from Mr. Fischer.

I can hear my mother making her order; imagine a first-generation Jewish-American lady from the Bronx.  Think Judd Hirsch but more gravelly-sounding…

Ma to Mr. Fischer:  Give me a dozen Tampax tampons.  No, the slender regular.  The cardboard applicator, not the plastic.  The pink box.  How do the panty liners look today?  You like the Carefree or the Kotex?  OK, give me five Carefree, no wings.  Mitn minut…

Ma to me:  Jaclyn?  JACLYN!  You’re hard of hearing nachamool?  You want maxi pads this month?

Me to Ma:  No, Ma, already I told you a thousand times, it’s like wearing a mattress.  No one uses those things anymore.

Ma to me:  Nu, if everyone jumped off the roof, you would jump, too?  You’ll get infected from those things and they’ll break your hymen.  No nice boy wants damaged goods.  And no boy likes to touch fat.  And do something with that mop of yours before —

Me to Ma:  Ma!  I’m leaving.  It’s time for school.

Ma to Mr. Fischer:  Mr. Fischer?  Jaclyn doesn’t want maxi pads this month, so just a small order.  No.  Be careful, there’s ice on the street.  I’ll put down the salt.  Gut Shabbes.

© 2012 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

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