“Oh, so Mister I Wanna Be a Gentile is too good to eat his mother’s cooking anymore. Hah!”
Moisha winced at the slap across the back of his head.
“I told ya Ma, it’s not you.”
“It’s not me he says,” she slammed a pot on the stove and yanked the refrigerator door open. “He wouldn’t break his mother’s heart. Oh no, not Mister I Wanna Eat Like a Goy, Mister Just Call the Rabbi and Ask Please Ma.”
She stomped past him again, getting in another teeth-rattling smack for good measure.
“Don’t do that Ma!”
A frozen chicken narrowly missed his nose, and landed on the table with a thud.
“Fine, you don’t want Borsht. I’ll make matzo balls. You love my matzo balls.”
“Ma, no. Stop it.”
Moisha covered his face with his hands. “I don’t want any of it Ma.”
The silverware drawer closed with a crash and Moisha moaned.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” she said, “but if your father, God rest his soul, was alive to see this he would plotz. He would fall down in his bed and refuse to get up.”
Safely hidden beneath his hands, Moisha mouthed the words along with her.
Sadie threw up her hands. “Morris, you see what you left me with? A pisher of a son who breaks his mother’s heart. You hear me Morris?”
“He hears you, Ma,” Moisha said. “The Goldens in 2 B can hear you, and that’s seven flights down.”
“Oh and you’re a funny man now?” Sadie said. “Henny Youngman you are?”
“Ma, I don’t even know who that is,” Moisha said. “Look, I said I’d eat at-“
“You think I’m gonna let you out of the house young man?” Sadie said. “After that thing, with the cross, last week? Your father is turning over in his grave.”
“Ma, I’m twenty-seven, and it wasn’t Father Riley’s fault. There was this girl-“
“Oh there, there it is. Morris, do you hear this? Mister Goyim wants to go eat with some shiksa poopsie that he found somewhere.”
Sadie smacked him in the back of the head again.
“Don’t raise your voice to me, young man!”
Moisha rubbed his eyes.
Sadie slammed herself into the other kitchen chair; her red wig wobbled ominously.
“Tell me the truth Bubeluh. She’s a Catholic, isn’t she? That’s why that no good priest has been by here every day this week. You met her one of those late nights going who knows where and now she’s got you hooked through the pupic.”
“Ma, I’m a mortician, for God’s sake. I’m always out at night.! And there isn’t any girl, I told you.”
Sadie waved him away. “Go on then, break my heart. Go do whatever it is you’re going to do, Mister Nazi sympathizer.”
“Ma, you know-“
“I don’t know from bupkis,” Sadie said.
Seizing his chance to escape, Moisha bolted to the bathroom in the narrow hall. Without glancing at the cracked mirror he grabbed another pin for his yarmulke and turned to go.
“Stop and talk to Rabbi Cohen,” Sadie yelled from the kitchen, “He wants to see you.”
Moisha paused, took a deep breath, and fled.
The priest was waiting for him at the curb.
“Look, I told you,” Moisha groaned, “Don’t follow me home! You’re making my mother crazy.” He fumbled in his pocket for a minute and pulled out a silver rosary. “And take this back. It’s not working.”
Father Riley reached out, his hand shaking a little, and took the string of beads before Moisha dropped them.
Moisha winced. “And don’t think I don’t see the bottle in your hand Father. This is a $300 dollar silk suit from the Men’s Warehouse; I paid for it working overtime. Don’t even think about messing it up.”
“You’re going to hell,” Riley said.
“I gotta go, Father. Don’t bring anymore garlic down to the funeral home; my boss says you’re stinking the place up.”
The priest made the sign of the cross with one shaking hand.
Moisha sighed, and ran his tongue across his fangs.
Maybe it was time to become a Unitarian.