Monday, April 16, 2012

The Great Radish Incident of 1974

Now that spring is here, aaaaa …… chooooooooo!

Give me a second.

I have to share something. When I sneeze, the windows rattle, car alarms go off, and the United States Geological Survey alerts the public. I don’t sneeze once. I sneeze at least a dozen times. There are times when I check my Kleenex for gray matter. I once gave myself a concussion during a sneezing fit; seriously I had to go for a cat scan. They didn’t find anything. Laugh amongst yourselves.

Here is the strange part, if I scream goddammit or even better, mumble it when I stub my toe, Esmeralda immediately stops what she is doing and hides under the bed. If I sneeze, she just looks at me. Maybe she doesn’t care because she sneezes as much as I do, which as you know is why she got the name Esmeralda. I still check for unicorns and Mother Goose every time she sneezes. Only the gays will get that one.

Where was I? Oh yes, spring.

Who knew that this lifelong apartment dweller would have a knack for landscape design? Or so, my neighbors tell me. I have put in a walkway on either side of my house and had a truckload of mulch delivered, which I had to share with my neighbors, for how much shit can one man shovel – apparently, a truckload. I have planted bushes and flowers, color coordinated my pots of various and lovely designs, made a brick platform for my grill, seeded and watered my lawn, and created a pebble garden around my deck.

I need an intervention because every time I see a garden shop, I have to stop and shop!

Now, the best part is that for the first time since Betty Ford was found passed out under a sofa in the Blue Room, I can grow my own vegetables and make Michelle Obama proud as I fight Gay Jewish obesity. If you didn’t know, Gay Jewish obesity is quite the epidemic. Whitefish salad can take its toll on a girl’s figure.

Due to a large groundhog population in my mobile home community, we are advised to grow vegetables on our decks with screens around them or the ground hogs will be eating fresh tossed salads daily and farting nightly.

I did make one mistake, telling a member of my family that I had planted vegetables in my deck garden. If there is one thing my family loves to do it is remind you of every mistake you made from the time you pooped your first Pampers to the second before the conversation started. I was constantly reminded of how when I was five years old, I dented all my Matchbox cars, so they would look as if they had been in the Demolition Derby. Apparently, I am the reason we are not millionaires because the twenty or so cars I damaged would have been worth a fortune someday. For the record, I go to automotive swap meets all the time, and the most you will get for a Matchbox car is $15. So, considering I damaged maybe twenty cars, I owe my family $300.

Funny thing about my family. When I would point out their financial mistakes, they would get angry. For example, my mother used my penny collection to pay the newspaper boy when I was out playing football. There were over 300 coins in that collection. I had an Indian Head Penny that today is worth about $1,600. Somewhere there is a former newspaper boy driving a Cadillac on my dime … I mean penny. But God forbid, I should remind her of that. Somehow, I was portrayed as the bad guy for bringing it up.

So, I told my brother about my string beans and tomatoes that finally sprang up for spring, and being the Stern that he is, he asked if I was growing radishes. Leave it to my only living relative to remind me of the Great Radish Incident of 1974.

Oh my God.

Here is what happened. While my family was not known for having the best landscaped lawn. OK, that is putting it mildly. Our yard was designed by Lilly Munster, and my mother’s indoor houseplants were from the Morticia Addams collection. For a couple of summers, we attempted gardening. I remember one snotty neighbor, obviously a gentile because he had one of those huge gardens, and the goyim are really good at gardening (remember, God kicked us out of the garden to go to medical school – or Miami, I forget which), saying, “Oh look at your Victory Garden.”

Anyway, we grew green peppers, which I hate, cherry tomatoes, which my brother would eat off the vine every time one ripened, and radishes. One day, while watering the garden, I decided that the radishes were too close together, so I transplanted them, so they would be spaced properly. This might be when my OCD started. I had them perfectly spaced, but unfortunately, they died. Who knew you can’t transplant radishes.

Well, you’d have thought I took the magic beans and bought a donkey or was it the other way around?

The entire family was on my case because we had no radishes. Radishes! Who the fuck needs radishes? They were goddam radishes! I was eleven years old. Eleven-year-olds do stupid things, and in my case, try on his mother’s wedding dress, too. Come to think of it, if I ever get to use a time machine, I am going back to the summer of 1974 and transplant the radishes again, but this time while wearing her wedding dress. Then at least it will be worth mentioning for the next thirty-eight years!

When you think about it, I went from football practice to my secret drag show? I just got a brilliant idea – Drag Football!

Back to the current story …

One thing I always heard was, “You can dish it out, but you can’t take it.” For the record, no one in my family could take it, and I had to take it every time anyone mentioned gardening or a salad. When going out to eat with anyone in my family, I prayed there would be no radishes on the salad.

I decided at that point after the Great Radish Incident of 1974 never to attempt gardening in the presence of relatives again.

While we are pointing out gardening disasters, let me relay one from Dutch Village the summer my brother and I lived together. We had a small patch of grass behind our apartment that abutted the Monastery of the Poor Clairs. Did you know they take a vow of silence and only talk for twenty minutes a year? I couldn’t do that for an hour.

My brother decided to grow tomatoes. Our neighbor had planted elephant ears in her plot. I don’t know who went crazy with the fertilizer, but somehow the elephant ears were actually the size of elephant ears, and my brother’s tomato plants grew to more than seven feet tall! The tomatoes were the size of soccer balls. Every night I had a dream like the episode of Lost in Space when they landed on the planet where the plants had feelings and would scream if you picked an apple or a flower. I wouldn’t go out the back door for fear of being attacked by either the elephant ears or one of my brother’s steroid-laden tomato plants.

I think I did eat one of the tomatoes, which may explain why I was six-three at the beginning of that summer and two inches taller at the end, and I was twenty three years old at the time!

Of course, I have never mentioned the gargantuan tomatoes to my brother since then because I didn’t see a reason to dwell on the past … until now.

And for the record, I still love my brother, and I did not plant radishes. After all, I don’t have time to transplant them into neat little rows perfectly spaced apart, and I know if I planted them, for some reason that only my therapist can explain, I would.

If you love radishes as much as I do, follow me, email me, get on my list.


  1. Ha! Drag Football... Put those Joan Crawford shoulder pads to work!

  2. Was that you that sneezed my ...... off last week? *wink*