Sunday, April 16, 2017

why ihop

Donna called me on the way home from Church this morning. She is not a regular church-goer but on Easter she likes to attend. And there is a church she has been going to for years downtown on Easter Sunday.  The church is right near the finish line of the marathon. Since tomorrow is Patriots Day and the Boston marathon, getting there and parking was not an easy feat.  As early as yesterday Commonwealth Avenue up by where I live in Auburndale has been cordoned off. You could drive on it, but the lanes were narrowed and the ropes to restrain spectators already in place.  She eventually got to the service which in part, and not inappropriately, addressed the desire for the race to be peaceful tomorrow with a special blessing for the runners.  

I did not join her since I am a member of the tribe.  We have on the island in our kitchen a box of matzohs sitting adjacent to the chocolate easter bunny I purchased while she was out.  I also visited a grocery store while she was winding her way around cordoned off Boston. There I purchased a ham and some other easter stuff for dinner.  If there is life after death, my mother is rolling her eyes, nudging my father and telling him that it is his fault because, as the legend goes, in the late 50s he brought home a slab of bacon against my mother's wishes.

Anyway, here I was with the matzoh, gefilte fish, matzoh ball soup from a seder on Monday night sitting adjacent to a ham the size of Kansas (smallest one I could find), a chocolate bunny which claims to have peanut butter inside it, three "crispy" bunnies, and a plastic egg that has on the label information claiming to contain several chocolates.  Oh yes, next to the flowers she bought on Monday night, is a lily I got.  If she can explain the purpose of the lily I will explain bitter herbs and a burnt shankbone.

I am not a religious person.   As my father used to say to the fury of my mother, I don't really believe in a god as someone who watches over us.  This would drive my mother bats.  (My dad was a rabbi compared to his father who thought all religion was, in his word, ridickalus).  Even though I am a non believer, I--and certainly my dad--liked to acknowledge the holidays to identify.

So, today, on the way back from church Donna calls saying she is going to stop for breakfast before returning home.  When she gets home I ask where she ate. She tells me I-HOP.  She adds that for we geezers IHOP has a senior citizen's breakfast which is a good deal.

I-HOP.  When I first lived in Boston in the summer of 1979 before I moved here permanently, I lived very close to IHOP. My buddy Ken and I went in there for breakfast one morning and had a singularly bland--bordering on bad--meal.  I have never been back since. IHOP is on my beat.  Right on Soldiers Field Road.  Moreover, whereas very few diners are open past 10 in Boston, IHOP is a 24 hour a day establishment.  Yet I never think of going there.

So, why is that.  Nearly forty years after one bad meal I have never even considered going to IHOP.  How much of what we do or don't do is based on what we have done and what we experienced. Why do I eat matzoh on Passover. Yes, I know it is a holiday and I like to identify.  But I have my beefs with Passover.  I do not understand for the life of me, why things that are called Kosher for Passover are eligible to be consumed.  The whole reason for eating matzoh is that the Israelites did not have time for the bread to rise when fleeing Pharoah. Okay, I get the matzoh. But kosher for Passover ketchup, soda, jelly, cake.  Hey the Jews did not have time to stop at Walmart and pick up sponge cake and kosher for Passover diet coke either.  I figure you should be able to eat anything on Passover except for bread.  And what is it with the Easter eggs?  Maybe because it's another team it makes no sense to me.  But what is there about the resurrection that is connected to plastic eggs with Reese's pieces in them?

Sometimes I think we do what we do, or don't do what we don't do, because we have always done or not done what we will do or not do.  For a fellow who eats like I do, and who must pass that IHOP every day during a week, why have I not stopped there since 1979. Perhaps observing holiday customs are not analogous to steering clear of a restaurant because it has become a habit.  But I think it is worth considering that what we do, who we vote for, what we believe in, where we go, is all too often an habitual practice.

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