Karen Galatz
Journalist, Columnist, Blogger

The Matzo Chronicles: The Bearer of Bad News


I called my 30-year-old son the other day. His first words were, “What’s the matter? What’s wrong now?”


Does he perceive that I am always the bearer of bad news? Worse yet, am I always the bearer of bad news? Worst of all, is there only bad news to bear?

Certainly, now that I’m older, it feels that way. This one died of cancer. That one has just been diagnosed with cancer. So-and-so had a heart attack.

Case in point: Just yesterday three people died in my extended circle. I wasn’t close with any of them, but still three people in one day! It gives you pause. In contrast, that very same day my 30-something Pilates teacher mentioned that three of her friends were due to deliver babies.

Yet, while the list and litany of loved ones and friends with ailments have grown in recent years, surely, I’m not all darkness and despair. I still believe I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal. Still optimistic. Still looking forward to what life has to offer.

But do my conversations reflect that? After my son’s comment, maybe not. Certainly, there’s not much fun family or girlfriend gossip to report.

Honestly, there’s not much family left to talk about! Long gone are the glory days of dishing the dirt on the relatives! Too many are gone to the Great Beyond! Oh, well. At least, there’s no more guilt about engaging in idle lashon hara!

I’ve got no relatives of marriageable age. So, I cannot trash talk about future brides, grooms, or prospective in-laws. Nobody’s due to give birth. So, there’s no opportunity for a happy chat about new babies.

My husband and I don’t squabble much. So, there are no bad-mouthing moments there. And it’s not like old arthritic Aunt Sal is carrying on any wild affairs (or if she is, she’s not telling). All in all, the family is a bust for providing grist for the gossip mill.

And as for the dating ways of my girlfriends? Those days are kaput! They’re all happily wedded and bedded. No flings or divorces in the offing. So, no gossipy updates there either.

As for discussing world news and current events? Nope. That’s not our family phone thing. Sports? Decidedly a strikeout.

So, what’s left for a mother and child to talk about on the phone?

Nagging is an option. I admit I do my fair share of that, mostly along the lines of “When are you coming to visit?” and “Are you getting enough rest?”

In my hunt for sparkling banter, I found it in the most unexpected of places: my local burger joint!

Just the other day, I ran in to grab a take-out order. A burly bald biker stepped in ahead of me. His appearance gave me pause. He was all tatted out, bedecked in a leather jacket despite the heat, and kind of surly looking.

Before stepping up to the register, he grabbed a paper bag and started scooping up something from a big bin. I gasped. Peanuts!

Apparently, I gasped out loud, because Mr. Tough Guy looked up and smiled.

“Oh, I didn’t know they have peanuts,” I gushed. “I just love fresh peanuts in the shell. Reminds me of baseball games in New York.”

He laughed and said, “Well, allow me.”

And with that, the big guy bowed slightly and stepped aside, handing me the scope and bag he was using. I was practically dancing with joy as I filled the bag to the brim.

When I got home, hands still crumbly with peanut shell crumbs, I called my son ASAP. Ha! I thought. At last, I had good news to share. At last, I was the bearer of good news. Peanuts could be had at our favorite burger joint.

No doom. No gloom. Not a trace of lashon hara. A little nutty, but still …

But was my son happy I called? Of course not. I woke him from a nap.

About the Author
Karen Galatz is the author of Muddling through Middle Age, which provides women (and men) of a certain age a light-hearted look at the perils and pleasures of growing older. An award-winning journalist, her national news credits include The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and the Nightly Business Report. Her fiction and non-fiction writing has been published across the U.S. More of Karen's writing can be read here: muddling.me A native of New York City and Las Vegas, Karen now lives in Reno, NV with her husband, two children, and one neurotic dog named Olga, rescued from Florida’s Hurricane Erma. It all makes for a lot of geography and a lot of humor.
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