| More or Less |

More or Less: Chapter 2

Right, that’s why I forget supper — because I don’t usually eat it. We’re married two months already, I have to get into this supper thing



ake to-do list.

That was first on my list, oldest accomplishment hack in the book.

Next: Get to work early and impress boss. I underlined it. What else?

“Make supper,” I said aloud. I always forget supper; it’s still not on my to-do radar.

“The real question is — will you be home at a time that normal people eat supper?” Ari said.

Right, that’s why I forget supper — because I don’t usually eat it. We’re married two months already, I have to get into this supper thing.

“Yes,” I said, “but the gemach is open tonight.”

Ari made a face. That’s not good, is it? Should he be speaking up? Or are we so mature that he gets this disagreement is not worth it….

I add to my list:  Evaluate relationship — 5 minutes

Research says it’s good to be meta about your life.

Ari switched gears. “What’s for supper?”

Mental freeze. What was I making for supper? Food shopping was on my list, but that was mostly to stock up on Tradition soup and granola bars. I suddenly remembered that over Shabbos I noticed a recipe for meat pizza tacked onto Ma’s fridge.

“Homemade Meat Pizza,” I said.

“Really?” Ari said. Why did he sound surprised? How hard could a one-column recipe be?

“Yeah, sure. Why not?” I sounded nonchalant, but started wondering if I got myself into more than I’d bargained for.

“Right, why not? Sounds delicious.” He checked his watch. “Shacharis calls, see you soon.”

I smiled and waved goodbye earnestly. Part of me feels like a giggly 18-year-old girl when we part. It embarrasses me, but I really like Ari, and don’t like when he leaves. It’s an odd new feeling that I have a love-hate relationship with. See, I’m so introspective courtesy of my five meta minutes last week.

Must leave to shop and work, but first I flicked open the browser on my phone and typed in homemade meat pizza. I clicked on the first search results. Ah, that’s why Ari made a face. It’s a yeast dough, it has to rise, take time, and my track record of coming home before eight is a little shoddy.

I chewed on a cuticle. What to do? There was no way I had time for this. I dialed Abby on my way out.

“Hello,” she answered curtly.

“It’s me, you can smile now,” I said.

“It’s seven in the morning. You don’t have kids. Why are you up?”

“Early bird catches the worm.  I’ve been up since five thirty.”

She snorted. “Never mind me, what’s up?”

“I told Ari I’d make homemade pizza for supper, but I just googled a recipe, and I don’t have time to make it. What should I do?” I entered the corner grocery and gave a smile and wave to the owner who was sitting behind the register.

It was Abby’s turn to laugh, her dark, dry chuckle.

“First, I don’t know what possessed you to say that in the first place. But you can always say, honey, I realized it’s not gonna work out, let’s order pizza instead.”

“I’m not doing it. I’m married two months, I still have to be impressive.” I rushed through the aisles, focused only on my list.

“Give it up, Shifra, you’re 32, way past the four-course shanah rishonah meals. Ari does not need this, and you don’t have time for it.”

Abby sometimes is way too comfortable with herself.

“Okay, I hear you. I still want to make it. Any hacks?”

“I don’t do hacks. I do life. Buy frozen pizza dough, sauté an onion, add ground beef, salt, pepper, and tomato paste. Press it into the dough, bake it for whatever, and if you wanna be shanah rishonah fancy, stick an egg on top midway through.”

“I could do that.”

“Listen, my kids don’t have to be up for another 15 minutes, I’m going back to sleep.”

“Sorry,” I offered.

“You should be. Talk to you later.”

She hung up, and I schlepped my groceries into the car. It was only 7:15 and I already had supper planned, finished shopping, and was on my way to work. How productive am I.

When I arrived, the office was already busy.

“Oh, you’re here now.” Miranda waltzed into my office. You’d think I was late, it was 8:15! “I wanted to introduce you to our new senior account executive.” She waved for someone to come into my office. This woman was a master space invader. A too-young man entered dutifully, all smiles.

Miranda gestured between the two of us. “Meet Aiden Plaintare.”

Then came the moment I always dread: He stuck out his hand for a handshake. I know there are those who hold that if the other party initiates you can shake, but this was a thing I took upon myself, knowing this glad-handing industry.

“I’m sorry, I don’t shake hands for religious reasons, but so nice to meet you.”

Aiden seemed fine, not even awkward as he put his hand away; Miranda was giving me the stink eye.

“I want you to introduce Aiden to the Jordans, Paperwork, and Capiton,” Miranda said.

What? Why? I wanted to scream, those are my discovered and cultivated clients — why am I introducing this new guy to them? But I just smiled. “Sure.”

“Thanks,” Miranda said, then left. Aiden stood there a second. He was not my boss, and I don’t know why Miranda was making him my equal, we didn’t need another senior account executive.

“Look, Aiden,” I started, “these are my accounts, and I’d like to clarify a few things before I introduce you to the clients. Continuity and service are key, as I’m sure you know, and bringing in new people for no clear reason makes clients skittish, I just want to make sure this is in the best interest of the client and the company.”

Aiden took a step back, hands up, “Yes, of course, I totally get that.”

“I’ll e-mail you a follow up, ’kay?” I said. He seemed to buy my diplomatic runaround. Perfect.

I left my office, heading to Deedee, leaving Aiden scrambling to leave after me. I found Deedee sky-high in paperwork.

“They hired a new guy at my position. What’s going on?” I asked. She looked up at me warily and pointed to the papers in front of her. “Working on Tania’s severance package.”

Hot and cold, phew, it wasn’t me, but Tania, the other senior account executive.

“But why?” I asked.

Deedee shrugged. “Who knows? Just play it safe, Shifra, okay?”

“Do you know something I don’t?” I asked.

“No, just that nothing is assumed right now.”

I nodded.

“I’m drowning in paperwork, I’ll talk to you later.” Deedee dismissed me.

Ouch, close call.

I ignored and avoided Aiden the rest of the day. I wasn’t ready to give him access to my clients. Miranda didn’t resurface all day. I wasn’t sure if that was good. Could I cross her off my to-do list?

I was home by seven, like a normal person. Ari wasn’t. I was surprised, then noticed a note on the fridge, Minchah/Maariv, see you soon. Okay, more time for me to get supper ready and look effortless. Maybe I’d impress someone today.

It was easy enough, like Abby said. I even added the egg halfway through, not sure if it looked right.

Ari came home 45 minutes later, just as I pulled the pizza out. Ooh, did I look geshikt.

“Sorry, I’m late, just gave a bunch of bochurim a ride.”

I waved him off, his penchant for chesed worked for me today. I served Ari, he looked at the dish appreciatively.

“Smells amazing, does the egg look a little runny?”

I shrugged, I don’t know these things. Ari shrugged too, then took a bite.

“Delicious,” he said. I beamed and took a bite too. Not too shabby, Shifra.

“How was your day?” Ari asked.

I had to sidestep that land mine. “I’m going to the gemach at nine,” I said.

Ari nodded, and took another bite. “That works, Refuah911 called and asked me to fix their system. Gonna be out, too.”

We’re such a perfect couple; we totally get each other’s business. I’ll bet 19-year-old shanah rishonah-ers aren’t that easygoing.

My phone dinged, I looked down. It was a text from Miranda: Crisis Protocol engaged for Penilon. Why aren’t you here?

I face-palmed myself. Definitely failed my top priority today.

to be continued...


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 621)

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Tagged: More or Less