cartoon flipside 298.88.
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"Idiots," Eli mutters to himself from behind the front section of the newspaper. "They can't even run an election campaign properly. How do they expect to run the country?"
Ensconced comfortably in an armchair, he is holding the broadsheet open at arm's length and breadth, as though it were a shield.
"Hmm," says his wife, Maya, munching on a piece of lightly buttered toast. "Sharon Stone couldn't look that good at 48 without having had a few nips and tucks. Could she?" Seated, posture-perfect, on a tall stool at the counter that divides the kitchen from the living room, she is perusing a different section, which she has folded neatly, this way and that, along the borders of the item she is reading.
Their second cup of coffee will be the couple's cue to switch sections. This they will do automatically, the comfort of routine making up for their seldom being on the same page.
"Just what we need," Eli grumbles on, after unraveling the Oregami-like construction his wife has made of the paper and shaking it out like a bedsheet. "Another Hollywood star coming to serve as Mideast peacemaker."
"Oh my God," Maya says, horrified, smoothing out the creases her husband created. "I had no idea there were that many calories in a single hamentasch. It's a good thing I don't like them."
"Well, you sure bought enough to feed the poor till Pessah," Eli says without looking up. "Which is more than the economy is doing."
"Don't remind me about yet another holiday before we've even gotten through election day," Maya says, circling an ad offering a sale on cleaning materials. "I'll make a trifle."
"What are you talking about?" Eli asks, his head moving up and down like a scanner.
"A trifle," Maya answers. "It's a dessert."
"Come to think of it, Hamas can just sit back and let us stab one another at nightclubs and crash into one another on the highways," Eli grunts. "Which, at this rate, could very well finish us off even before Iran gets the chance."
"I'll make it out of leftover hamentaschen," Maya says, to prove that it wasn't her weakness for special deals that was responsible for her excessive purchase of Purim cookies. "With layers of jello and whipped cream."
"Don't bother," Eli says. "Ishai already told you he can't schlep gooey stuff back to his base."
"Not for Ishai," Maya says, remembering she'd promised to pick up some long underwear for her son, due to return to the north on Saturday night. "For the guests."
"What guests?" Eli asks, eyeing the stock listings, his trepidation due in equal parts to his erratic portfolio and the prospect of entertaining.
"OH, LOOOOK," Maya says wistfully. "Tickets are on sale for the World Cup ballroom dancing championship that's being held here this year."
It is at moments like these that she wishes she were married to someone else. Someone she could at least entice to join her as a spectator, if not - hope-against-hope - as an actual participant.
"What guests?" Eli repeats the question, his anxiety about her first comment overshadowing her second to the point of obliteration.
It is at moments like these that he wishes he were married to someone else. Someone who would surprise him with season tickets to Maccabi Tel Aviv games, instead of subscriptions to the Cameri Theater.
"The guests I invited over to watch the results of the elections with us," Maya says curtly, cutting out the Sudoku puzzle and putting it aside for later. "Or have you forgotten that, too?"
Eli's relief that the event in question is nearly two weeks away - which feels so far in the future that it may as well be two years - awards him a split-second of grace before having to contend with his wife's implicit accusation.
"Okay," Eli says, placing his finger on the paragraph of the editorial he keeps trying to finish. "What else have I failed to remember?"
"Our anniversary tomorrow," Maya says, studying the consumer column to see if she's missed any new product on the market - preferably one that will make her look like Sharon Stone in time for her nephew's bar-mitzva this summer.
"Wait a minute," Eli argues, incredulous at being given this particular opportunity to get on his high horse - one he'd be the first to admit he doesn't normally ride so well. "It is not our anniversary tomorrow."
"Oh yes it is," Maya says, turning huffily to the health page. "According to the Hebrew calendar."
"All of a sudden I'm supposed to keep track of the Hebrew date?" Eli laughs, furtively searching for it above the headlines. "As great a capacity as it has, even my brain can't retain every bit of trivia."
"Considering how filled it is with these scores, you mean?" Maya asks, lifting up the sports page and flashing it at him.
"Look who's talking!" Eli guffaws, tearing out the horoscope page and flinging it in her direction.
"Oh come on," Maya says, noting that Brokeback Mountain is showing around the corner at five, which means she could go see it and get home before the election commercials on TV. "We got married the day after Purim. That's easy to remember."
"Let's just celebrate it next week," Eli suggests, taking his napkin and wiping ink smudges off his hands. "That'll give us time to plan a nice outing." What he is thinking, though, is that it will give him the chance to buy her one of those creams and lotions in the picture she was examining before.
"Yeah," Maya agrees, tossing her reading material onto the magazine rack, piled high with periodicals she has told herself she will discard as part of her Pessah cleaning. "I'm sure we can find something to do in the weekend papers."