Ask Avigail: The Reunion of Becka’s Boys

Looking back in hindsight, where I usually see things in its clearest light, (no doubt owing to the back mirrors I had attached to my ample derriere), I realize I might have gone a tad overboard in preparing for this meeting, this reunion, with my brother, Esau. What has it been? 25? 30 years? The last he saw of me was a hasty puff of smoke out the back exit of our family tent. Clenched in my hand was the blessed coupon entitling me to inherit all the stuff a firstborn has coming to him, providing he survives any living siblings, and/or the length of the bureaucratic court system in deciphering my father’s handwriting. I know that Esau got his toupee/rodents, which he had mounted on spears, as a warning to warring Amalakites and pesky Isis cleaver salesmen.

Esau was in no hurry to leave home; his mother did his laundry, prepared his meals and fed his hairpieces when they woke from hibernation. In Esau’s room, you would have sworn that raptors survived the Ice Age, given the razor sharp nails of the porcupine hairpiece that curled on Esau’s loincloth (when not on his head). Finally, when mail order toupees did arrive at our tent, his new hairpiece was the talk of the encampment. It even had a name…”Samson.” It was a turban turner.

Esau’s life was too easy, void of responsibility; I wanted to get out, find a virtuous bride, as I didn’t know how to sort the coloreds from the whites. As usual, Mom gave me a great tip, and told my about her brother and his two available daughters….

I can write about that fiasco. Let’s label that affair as “good intentions gone amuck.” Laban was my uncle’s name, but a more apropos name would have been Libel. He was a liar. He promised me his younger daughter, Rachel, in marriage, after shepherding his sheep for seven years; thank G-d Rachel wasn’t blonde and blue-eyed, for I would have been an indentured servant for life. It was bad enough that I smelled like Woolite. But then, under the Chuppah, I removed the veil from the bride and found his daughter, Leah. Everyone gasped. Laban broke the silence. “What, she has a nice personality….you want Rachel, too…okay, roll up your sleeves, grab a staff and start shepherding…You can grab a bite at the smorgasbord first…” So, true love and a lot of lamb chops, I got to marry Rachel. Leah grew on me, and whatever England is, I thought about her…a lot.

I heard rumors about Esau, here and there. Basically, he was still holding a grudge, and only my death would heal his wounds. By then, I had sired around 300 children, mostly while thinking of England, and we had a few minor leagues of kickball. I was exhausted, and sometimes, in blasphemy, I just wished it were all over. I wished Esau would just find me and kill me. He could take whatever I had, although sand prints of my family would hardly be called a trophy. I still had my firstborn coupon. I still hadn’t looked what I had been entitled to; if there had been any freebies, or any convenience store giveaways along the fertile crescent, he could have them.

And then, word came that Esau heard of my grandson, Gonad’s, Bar Mitzvah on the next full moon. And then, another word: they were coming. OK, so it was three words, one word, it still put me in such a state I almost drank a bottle of Rogaine, mistaking it for cherry herring. Then, I began to map out every detail, every back-up detail, and then a detail for what if it came to a “no show.” Would I still get a refund, for all the money I put up front: the iced alligator sprouting Gatorade from its toothy mouth, hand-picked red lentil and cilantro stew with whole grain jalapeno flatbread for double dip scooping, red armadillo chopped liver pate served on lily pad wraps and other gastronomical treats.. G-d spoke to me in a dream…If you feed them, they will come…That was good enough collateral for me. Now, I had to do the standing arrangements, never mind the seating arrangements. I hope we would get to that point….

We decided to break the Yacov party (mine) of 300 into three groups, each with its own stage and thirty foot screen in Dolby stereo. We pulled out all stops, hired the best professionals and produced a non-stop, continuous performing extravaganza with special effects, Bob Mackie sequined g strings, even for the animal acts, (you coax a 2,000 lb Siberian tiger into a metallic thong!), fireworks, a personal greeting by five ex Miss Arkansas, and featuring, Uncle Esau’s Nephews and Nieces in Their Musical Tribute to FAMILY…..

At the first sight of Esau and his tribe, we quickly got into place, without a hitch. It was beautiful to see the ease and precision with which we assembled. It was as if a director had yelled, “Everyone on for the Hawaiian number…”

As I spotted Esau, my throat tightened. I couldn’t read his expression. Was he happy to see me? Was he still ticked off? Did he just come for the appeasement gifts? Did I remember to take off the price tags on all of them? Jeez, please, no re-gifters? And then he came right up to me and spoke…

“Yacov. I do not come with ill feelings, or I would have knocked you into last Tuesday, with my mere breath. I come in peace.” He grabbed me in an embrace which, by any other name, would have been a wrestler’s nelson. I too repeatedly clubbed his back with my fists, mostly to signal for air. We pulled away and looked at each other. Esau looked at my family. “You did well, little brother. Look at you…”

I quickly jumped in: “Hey, you’re no slouch either!!!! You have more sons than you do sheep!!!”

“So, Yacov, who is this wife I have heard so much about, England??”

“I think about her…A LOT.”

“And as the crow flies, I hear your great nephew will have his Bar Mitzvah at the next full moon? Point him out to me?

I motioned for Go Nad to step forward. He was a high-spirited child with more than a little actor in side of him. He didn’t need a special cue to introduce himself to my grey-haired brother.

“Uncle Esau, I have been waiting all my life to meet you and give you this. I made it myself.”

He gave Esau a gift covered in parchment paper. Esau opened it.

“Why, it’s a slingshot made out of twigs…wow..I made one just like this when I was your age…”

Actually, it was his. I knew where I had put all his childhood toys of destruction; a playdough set was not an Esau toy…more like something with a serrated edge.

“Yacov, how did you wind up with such a child? He’s a little warrior, like I was…”

“Esau, you are his uncle, and we are all one big family.”

“So, am I invited to Go Nad’s Bar Mitzvah, or not?”

“Of course you are! I am elated that you will grace our table! You and, how many are in your party?”

“Why, is it sit down or buffet?”

“It’s both, but I have to let the caterer know”

“Meat or fish?”

“Does it matter? We’ll have both!”

“Will you have room to put all of us up for a few days???”

“By that time, we will go to war and ravage a nearby village. We’ll make do, just don’t expect the Four Seasons. I am so happy you are not here to kill me…I misjudged you, Esau.”

Once more, we hugged and kissed and vowed never to feel hatred towards one another, again. And even when the caterer handed the Bar Mitzvah bill to brother Esau, and I said, “I thought you meant YOU were paying the bill, as the big, surprise gift, jokes on me, gotcha”, our relationship remained intact. And so did one of Esau’s old hairpieces clenched clear up through my danglin’ innards, till where it now resides in the Isle of Lange horn, just south of my pancreas. I hear there’s lovely weather there, but I can’t bend.

About the Author
Shashi Ishai is a former stand-up/cartoonist from Teaneck, N.J. She resides in Netanya with her husband, Yacov; daughter, Zehava; son Zaki and dog, Stanley .Shashi is the author of ASK AVIGAIL: Advice from a Biblical Era Sagette, available on Amazon.