Then we were off to a seder hosted by R.'s old family friend P.W. and her husband M. P. and her daughters are wonderful cooks. I am really full, and feel like I will be full for days. They had brisket, chicken, kugel, and much more.
There was some very interesting conversation, too. One of P.'s grandchildren, A., asked a discussion question about whether Israeli settlement on the West Bank should continue, and there was much opinion -- on various sides -- from some of the older men who had made lengthy visits to Israel.
Discussion questions seem to be a seder tradition in the family. Another question was what you felt enslaved you, like Pharoah had enslaved the Jews in Egypt, and how, or if, you'd gotten free of it. One of the younger men said he felt enslaved to all the information that bombarded him at work from e-mails, faxes, letters, phone calls and so on. One of the older men who was apparently a professor told a story of a student starting a Facebook campaign against another professor when the student got a bad grade, and how the other students were angered by this, enough to threaten the one student.
I contributed to the general discussion about the Internet, saying that people were ruder on the Internet than they would be face to face. I think most or all at the table agreed with that. We talked about how it was important to be able to verify the information you got online, and how so many people didn't know how to do that, how to tell if information was from a reputable source.
I have my opinions about settlement on the West Bank, but it is a very complicated question, and I've never been to Israel myself. I'm more on the liberal side with that one, thinking that peace is more likely if building new settlements stops.
The haggadah had the prayers and songs in Hebrew, with the English translations, but the Hebrew was what was spoken. R. knew all the songs and prayers, of course. It had been twenty years since I'd had Hebrew lessons, and I certainly can't read it anymore. I can read along with transliterations in English, but they were not a part of that haggadah.
I was quite nervous and snapping somewhat before we went, but everyone was very nice to me, and I relaxed once we got there. We didn't stop to get flowers to bring, but we brought sparkling grape juice, which I had bought for myself a week or so ago. I figured that at least it was something. R. was saying that she didn't want to go empty-handed, that she and her mother had always brought something.
When we were leaving, P. was talking about taking R. for a haircut and manicure. "Oh, you'll like that," I said. I think R. will. She likes attention, and going to get feminine things done.
When P. asked, I said that R. and I were working as a team on cleaning and laundry. "And baths?" P. asked.
"We're working on it," I said. Well, I'm working on it. R. is going along with the idea on occasion.
P. and M.W. seem to be quite well off. The apartment building had a fountain in the lobby, surrounded by potted plants. The doorman let us in. There was a chandelier above P.'s table, and two Afro-Caribbean women working in the kitchen. I'm not sure if P. had hired them for the occasion, but my impression was that they were regular maids.
M. gave R. her weekly spending money before we left. It reinforced my impression that R. is not wanting for anything financially. She got a spring wardrobe last week from Ross, on her cousin's credit card. They were some cute outfits. Not that I was jealous of that, because I have all the clothes I need and more. Although R. really can't manage money, she doesn't lack for it.
P. asked if her husband had given R. her spending money. R. said yes. "We'll use it for groceries," I said. "We're trying to do more groceries and less eating out." Somewhat true. I eat out when I can afford it. However, I made sure that R. had plenty of TV dinners to eat on those days when Michael wasn't cooking or when we weren't eating the leftovers from Michael's cooking. I'm not sure P. knows that I haven't really been cooking. Well, I can't do everything. I can cook, but my attention wanders, which doesn't go well with cooking.
Though they are financially well-to-do, they talked about a food bank right behind a very wealthy area on the Main Line. I think it was in Bryn Mawr, off Route 30, if I understood right. You can bring food there, they said. Other people at the table said they donated food there. P. spoke of a couple of their favorite charities, and of the donations they made to Jewish charitable organizations, too. I'm sure they give thousands of dollars to charity a year.
I said that I didn't have money, but that I donated my time at a university, and that the students looked up to me, which I still find funny. I didn't do any actual volunteering this year, just hung out with my secret love child every so often. I figure that if Lisabea can have a Secret Gay Boyfriend, I can have a secret love child. For those new to the journal, LB's Secret Gay Boyfriend is Dennis Grabosch, and he knows about it, too. He and his husband Brent were the best sports about it. I contend that it wasn't too much of a secret anymore when everyone who read Nose in a Book knew about it, and especially once Lisabea told Dennis that he was her Secret Gay Boyfriend.