What is a cliché? According to my best friend, Google, it is a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought. Or a stereotype. Examples of clichés are large, tattooed people at a state fair eating giant turkey legs or waiting on line eating fried food at an amusement park. Another cliché is the people who go on a cruise — for some reason, they are also very large people who spend most of their day at the 24-hour buffet.
Going in another direction, very skinny people who live at the gym. Very skinny people who exist on only coffee and cigarettes.
Then there are the clichés that we imagine exist. There is a channel called the “Hallmark Channel.” On Direct TV, I believe it is channel 312. For the past month or so, it has been airing primarily Christmas-themed movies. “Jingle Bell Bride.” “A Merry Christmas Neighbor.” “Knock, Knock, Where is Santa?” “The Reindeer that Came Home.” The titles are endless. And if you are thinking in terms of clichés, who would you think watches these movies? I picture a well-coiffed grandma, probably in her 70s, a slight blue tinge to her self-colored hair. She’s sitting on a plastic-covered couch, covered in a handmade afghan, knitting another afghan for someone she loves. Cookies and a tea pot are resting on the coffee table for when a commercial comes on and she needs some sustenance. That is who I picture watching the Hallmark Channel. I am picturing this person because, in the reality, I have become the cliché who watches the Hallmark Channel. Yes, the mother of three sons, two of those sons who have chosen the path most to the right, this middle-aged woman with the pink-tinged hair (done professionally, and not on purpose) sits in her blue recliner (originally purchased so she had a place to feed the previously mentioned three sons) and gazes, sometimes in horror, at these movies.
It all started when I was in quarantine. Somehow, I just started watching a “Very Merry Honeymoon” and I couldn’t stop. The acting is terrible. The actors all resemble someone famous, but they are not. It is like watching an accident happen in slow motion.
And yet I am addicted.
Back to clichés. Back during our baseball road trip days — you know, the days before baseball became a “waste of time when you could be learning Torah” — we would often find ourselves in neighborhoods where boats would be parked in driveways. Trailers would be attached to trucks. Christmas lights were up all year long. When you drive around our neighborhood, there is none of that.
Well, now that I have become one kind of cliché, I decided to start becoming another.
As some of you know, putting up our sukkah has become a thing. I often have written about the fighting, the neighborhood involvement, the paying poor unsuspecting high school kids who thought they could make an easy buck, but ended up running away with their tails between their legs. It’s not a pretty sight. This year, Husband #1 and I, without the help of our children, made an executive decision. We decided to keep the sukkah up all year. Don’t worry, we took down the decorations and the canvas walls. We just left up the poles. Our thinking is, if the poles make it through the winter (surprisingly, they have survived two winter storms already) we can be the first ones to put our sukkah up come the actual time of year when people put their sukkahs up. Clever, right?
But last week, I was sitting in my backyard, on my new rocking chair that Husband #1 had to put together only three times before I could sit on it safely, surveying the poles, and I started thinking. Keeping up this contraption all year long is the equivalent of having a boat in my driveway. It is an eyesore. It is a cliché. And it is now my life. Now all I need is to have a TV outside so I can watch the Hallmark channel while drinking a sixpack of beer and having my tattoos updated by putting black hats on the pictures of my boys on my upper arms….all while eating a giant turkey leg.
Now that is a visual…
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck must confess to making up some of those movie titles. Jingle Bell Bride is the only one that was an actual title. Please forgive her. In addition, she did ask one of her neighbors if it was ok to keep the sukkah poles up…