Son took me to my very first live NFL game the morning after my arrival; fortunately I'd packed a hat and gloves, but even so, I froze. At least the Giants won. [Redskins weren't playing in NY] I've liked football ever since my high school days, and parked myself in front of the TV every Sunday during the season, but never actually bought a ticket for a game [usually the price was way beyond my budget]. It was great fun. Right next to us was a guy who, having arrived at the Meadowlands already in a rather elevated state, constantly shouted "Superbowl, you mothaf**kas!" as if the players could hear him about half a kilometer away. It's beyond me how anyone can drink beer when it is just above freezing [the air temperature, not the beer] or probably considerably below zero if you add in the wind-chill.
Then, on Monday, I descended on K-Mart, where, among other things [a lot of other things], I bought a winter coat. K-Mart might not be the last word in fashion, but since the poor are now the obese poor, their clothes fit me nicely and, compared to Israeli clothes, are cheap, and well made. I got two pairs of brand name sports shoes, almost certainly NOT pirated, for half the price they'd cost me at home. And the sales people! So polite! This takes some getting used to, just as the odd fact that everyone, not just the tourists, seems to be speaking English. Oh, right, I'm in the USA.
Since Son is a bachelor, he eats out all the time. I keep trying to convince him that it would be cheaper to cook, but he laughs and says he can afford it. After perusing the stuff in the WholeFoods Market, I could see his point. That is a very intimidating store. Everything there is so healthy I am constantly afraid someone will come over and tell me that I can't shop there. Seeing me haul my subcutaneous fat around on my arthritic knees in such an organic, no additives, low fat, healthy place will ruin their reputation for feeding the thin, hip, ecologically-friendly population of New York's young, upwardly mobile. I slunk off to Gristede's, where I felt more comfortable, and grabbed some additive-laced diet Black Cherry soda and a bag of heavily-salted tortilla chips "with a touch of lime".
Ima, however, did have her revenge. I'd brought the fixin's for kubbeh with me from Israel (a bag of semolina and the necessary spices) and made up a big pot (well, two smaller pots; Son doesn't have a big pot) of kubbeh with "red soup". He invited a lot of his Israeli, also single, friends over, so they could all have a taste of home. Frankly, I'm amazed that no one has opened an Iraqi/Kurdish restaurant in Manhattan; there certainly are enough Mizrachi Israelis to support it. The evening was a big success.
So far I've been splitting the shopping with visits to museums, and I went to the opera last Thursday (and am going tonight). There are a couple of films I hope to see before returning home. I like seeing films in the US because, unlike Israel, you get to see the entire film without a break. In Israel, almost always smack in the middle of a sentence, the lights come on about halfway through the film for a 15 minute intermission, to let you buy food or go to the bathroom. Then the projectionists often resume the film at the next reel, so you might lose some very important dialogue or a scene or two. More on the "cultural" side of my trip in another post.
The big reason for this trip was to sort out my Social Security. I'm entitled to get the lowest benefit beginning this month, and I wanted to open a bank account here and let the balance grow over the next two years or so, while I'm still working. Opening the bank account was so quick and easy I was reduced to speechlessness. Even the assistant branch manager stuck her head in to say hello (which made me wonder if Chase Manhattan was in the same parlous situation as Citibank; my business -- all $500 a month -- seemed so important to them). Then I went to the Midtown Social Security office and felt like I hadn't left Israel. Just to change my surname on my card, apply for benefits, and arrange for direct deposit to my new bank account took two days and over six hours of waiting. When in Israel, I decided, on the second day, behave as the Israelis do. I buttonholed the guards, and eventually grabbed a clerk (all the other hundred or so folks on line sat there in a kind of apathy--but to be fair, quite a few looked grateful just to be warm) and in my sweetest tone told them I was a diabetic, that I'd missed my breakfast in order to be here early, and that I was now feeling very hypoglycemic and could someone please ascertain just how much longer I'd have to wait? Miracles of miracles, it actually worked, but the clerk couldn't change my surname. Two years ago I'd been told I'd have to supply the original documents. I pointed out that they were all in Hebrew, and was told this didn't matter. So I brought all the originals, and the clerk looked at me and asked me what language they were in and that she couldn't change the name if she couldn't read it.
It was like being at home. I have never understood olim who complain about the Israeli bureaucracy, but of course Americans really have little contact with their own government, which is bureaucracy-as-art-form. In any event, she could arrange direct deposit, and banks generally don't care what the name of the person is on the deposit form, as long as the account number is correct.
Time to close, as I'm off to the Met to see an opera which is completely unknown to me: Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades". Toodle-oo.