M y potatoes had eyes. I held up two of them to the light, as if I wasn’t sure they were there — they were. Not that I couldn’t pluck them out, but for a moment I debated whether to get dressed, leave the house, and get new ones.

The phone rang. I reached for it. I’d just cut the eyes out of the potatoes.


“Hi, Abby, it’s Chana.”


“Chana Schwartzberg, the secretary.” She filled in. Oh, right, her, of course she’s Chana, like I don’t know any other Chanas — actually, I don’t, they’re all Chanies.

“Hi, how are you?” I tried sounding genuine, because so far she’s been really nice and funny, but why was she calling?

“Good, good, everything’s fine, no one’s in trouble.”

“No one’s in school,” I interrupted.

She laughed. “Yeah, I know, I was just calling to check in on you. See how you, Daniel, and the suspension were doing.”

Oh. Wow. That was nice.

“Doing well, better than expected. Had a good conversation, and today we’re just taking it easy.” I picked up Daniel’s knapsack. The year had barely begun and it was already weighted down with an excess of notes home that never made it to my eyes. I started sifting through them.

“That’s so great to hear. My daughter was once suspended, I forget why, it was a group thing. All her friends made a party of it, the school never tried a mass suspension again.”

I laughed. “Serves the school right. I told Rabbi Ciner suspensions serve no purpose.” Was it okay to say that to the school secretary? But she seemed to be on my side.

“I told her to keep the suspension quiet, does not look good on the résumé, if you know what I mean. But”—Chana paused and lowered her voice conspiratorially—“keep this to yourself, but my daughter’s dating seriously, and she told him on the first date! And he’s still dating her!”

“That’s hysterical,” I said.

Keep this to yourself — well, she definitely spilled the beans to the right person. How could I tell anyone when I don’t talk to anyone? “Don’t worry, mum’s the word,” I assured her.

I dumped all the contents of Daniel’s knapsack on the table, too much to sift. Ugh, so much garbage: candy wrappers, old homework sheets, a request for more pencils from his teacher — seriously, more pencils already?

“Thanks, she’s my oldest, and I’m so excited and nervous. Oh, but this is not what I was calling about, unless you got some comfort that Daniel’s shidduchim are not shot yet — maybe. We’ll see what happens with this guy.”

I laughed. I laugh a lot when I talk to her, she’s entertaining. Wait, what’s this paper — Mishkan Fair? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 561)