In the year 2020, spring-cleaning arrived early, due to an outbreak of coronavirus,
So in the beginning of April, I found myself doing the “grand tour” of my home.
Looking for things to clean, I entered my youngest son’s room—which was now my exercise room—and spied a small closet that I had not entered in years.
“Wow! A spring-cleaning opportunity. Time to find stuff to give to charity.”
Opening the closet, I saw a Macy’s bag marked with one word “Furbys.”
You remember Furbys.
Those lovable, electronic-talking-robot pets that you bought for your kids about 20 years ago.
You remember they came in combinations of black, white, pink, blue, peach, yellow and orange.
You recall watching that rhyming Furbie TV commercial innumerable times.
“So when you take Furby home, you will never be alone.”
My youngest, Blake, fixated on the TV set, then blurted out:
“Dad, I want two Furbys for Hanukkah! A black one and a white one. I’ll teach them how to sing, “I have a little dreidel.”
“Do you promise me, that the Furbys won’t end up in the closet after a few weeks.”
“I promise Dad.”
I bought them at Toys R Us and figured, “Yeah, they were manufactured in China but maybe they’ll last for a few years.
Do you remember how those Furbys drove you nuts, with their incessant chattering in their native, “furbish?”
“They speak a language all their own, for furbish is a language quite unknown.”
But they were smart.
“…small of statue, big of heart, all furbies are so very smart.”
In a short period of time they spoke English.
Furbies became all the rage. You couldn’t visit a house with kids and not see them jabbering away.
The Chinese-manufactured millions of them; they spread across America faster than a novel virus.
You remember they looked like a combination of owl and hamster.
You remember these furry three-toed creatures had bat-like ears, big black eyes with short white eyelashes, yellow beaks and fluffy tails.
The white one told us her name, “Coco” and the black one said he was “Cujo.”
You remember when a Furbie spoke it opened and closed its beak, blinked its eyes, and twitched its ears.
I opened the Macy’s bag and removed the Furbies from their original boxes.
You wonder, “Were they dead?”
Of course, with 20 year old batteries, dead as door knobs.
I replaced the batteries and with a small screwdriver pressed the reset button.
“Mein gut. They’re alive.”
After all these years, they spoke to each other.
First speaking furbish and then they sang, Scooby Dooby Doo.
If you hugged Coco or Cujo they said, “I love you.”
Then I heard, “Ah, ah achoo.”
“Gesundheit,” I replied.
Yes, they were short conversations but Blake’s Furbies worked.
In unison they said, “Me tired.”
I watched them both close their eyes, start snoring and fall asleep.
But that sneeze concerned me.
They were of Chinese origin.
Had my closet-bound Furbys been infected with the coronavirus years ago?
But they had been social distancing for years.
I waited to hear the Furby say, “Me have coronavirus.”
But I never heard the words.
But out of an abundance of caution, I placed Coco and Cujo six feet away from me facing the TV.
I figured that while they were in quarantine, they’d absorb some vocabulary from the news on CNN.
Every day when Governor Cuomo held his press conference, I watched as they both opened their eyes, wiggled their ears and shaked their tuchuses.
They seemed happy.
Then one day in May, as I rubbed my hand across my eyes, I heard, “Schmuck, you just touched you eyes! Go wash your hands and splash some water on your eyes for 20 seconds.”
When Furbie talked, I listened. As ordered, I ran to the sink.
But as I scrubbed my fingers, I wondered, “Were my furbies watching Shtisel when I was asleep?”
The Coco and Cujo had absorbed the governor’s COVID-19 message and somehow had learned some Yiddish.
“They may have become too smart for their own good.” I pondered.
The next day, as I started to leave the house Coco asked, “Vee gayst du?”
“I’m going to stock up on some provisions.”
Cujo yelled, “Schmendrick, are you forgetting your N-95 mask again?”
Without saying thank you, I picked up my mask and headed out the door.
As I drove to the Farm Store, I thought,
“Enough is enough.
I’m tired of their verbal abuse.
They’re tag-teaming me.
I’m sick of their calculated barbs in that lousy Yiddish accent.
Their attacks are vicious and mean.
These two nudnicks are noodging me to death.
They are driving me meshuga.
They’re evil and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
When I got back to the house, I pulled the batteries and placed the Furbys back in their original boxes.
I felt relief as I headed toward the closet.
Shutting the closet door, I whispered,
“Bye Bye Furbys.
Enjoy your boxes.
Enjoy the closet.
I’ll call you when I need some wise guys to belittle, nag and make fun of me.
Until then Zei gezunt.