COVID-19, THE HANUKKAH PARTY AND WHO DO YOU LOVE BABY?

The room was cavernous but Harry Langer still felt guilty about attending a party during the Covid pandemic. His neighbours Jodi and Jack Winkelman had invited three couples over to their house to celebrate Hanukkah. It had been a tradition for the last ten years, and while he and Carly debated about the safety and wisdom of going to the Winkelman's their friends came up with an idea.

The Winkelmans, the Langers, the Swartzs and the O’Malleys would all go into a fourteen day quarantine before the party. The day before the event they would all go and get the ‘’fast test’’ to check for Covid. If they all were negative the party would happen, if any of the couples tested positive it was all over and the party would be put on hold till the following year.

Harry couldn’t believe the depth of reach that was needed for the test. He thought the probe was going straight to his brain. When it was all done, everyone was in a celebratory mood. They were all Negative and the party was on.

The Winkelman's had a huge Menorah which they lit, and then it was time for passing out gifts and a wonderful dinner that featured Tufurkey, latkes, and for dessert, designer donuts.

Harry didn’t drink very much, but he always participated in the Hanukkah Scotch tasting. All year Jack Winkelman collected different Scotches and during Hanukkah he and his friends did blind testing to see which one they liked the best.

The women didn’t participate in the Scotch testing, instead, they went to the kitchen, sat down at the table and partook in their favourite holiday ritual, telling dirty jokes, sharing gossip and smoking joints. Since Marijuana had been legalized the ladies had their own taste tests and they loved getting high together.

Covid-19 had kept everybody in home isolation and the only place that Jack Winkelman ran to besides getting groceries was the liquor store. ‘’Boys, I have spent more money on booze this year than I have in my entire life. I have been enjoying wine with dinner every night and I have tasted liqueurs that I didn’t know existed. But the piece de resistance has been Scotch. I have bought every kind of Scotch that I could get my hands on. There’s something about the peat smell that does my soul good.’’

As Harry was sipping a single malt he was feeling no pain, in fact, he knew he had become inadvertently palooked. He couldn’t tell the difference between a Glenfiddich and a diet coke. He was drunk.

The men kept throwing back shots till after midnight, and that’s when the women came in to tell the guys, it was time to call it a night.

After over-exuberant goodbyes, everybody walked the half a block it took to get home. The snow was falling softly and the night was beautiful. Carly looked at her husband while she was tightly holding his hand. He was about a foot taller, and he had put on some weight during their thirty years of marriage but she loved him more than when they had gotten married. ‘’Harry, I love and adore you, when we go home, let’s make wild, passionate love.’’ Harry looked at her with a sly grin and said ‘’LaSandra, I love you more than you could ever imagine’’, he then proceeded to laugh.

Carly stopped in her tracks ‘’What the Fuck, who’s this LaSandra?’’ Harry looked at her and said ‘’You, I love you LaSandra, I said it before I’ll say it again. I am crazy in love with you and I have always been in love with you.’’

The snow was picking up in intensity and so was Carly’s anger. ‘’Harry, I need to know right this second, have you been having an affair with some woman named LaSandra.’’

Harry Langer threw his head back and let snowflakes gently land on his tongue. ‘’Why are you asking me such silly questions, there’s never been anybody else but you LaSandra, you know that.’’

The hurt, disappointment, and anger was building in Carly. She had often read that truth comes out when a person was drunk and she was getting a revelation that she never expected or would have believed.

‘’Do you work with this LaSandra at the office? Is she a client? How come you’ve never mentioned her before? What’s going on Harry? I demand answers.’’

Harry didn’t let go of Carly’s mittened hand. ‘’Look up in the sky, behind the snow you can see the Man in the Moon looking down at us.’’ Carly was not amused but standing in the middle of the road listening to her husband babbling was not making her feel better.

They zig-zagged across the street and finally reached number ninety-five. Carly could feel her cheeks burning. She was very upset and would not go to sleep until she knew who this LaSandra chick was. She helped Harry take off his coat and he walked into the living room and flopped onto the couch. His head started to nod, he was out.

After grabbing a tea, and kicking off her shoes, Carly sat down beside her now sleeping husband. She shook his shoulders and he opened one eye. ‘’Harry, I need you to be one hundred percent honest with me. It’s just me and you. Who the Fuck is LaSandra?’’

Harry raised his hand, and pointed his finger at her ‘’It’s you. You’re LaSandra.” Carly was mystified, what the hell was he talking about. ‘’Harry, let’s go to bed, I want to sleep but not on the couch. I also want you to explain why you think I’m LaSandra. I’m your wife of over thirty years, Carly.’’ The response from Harry was a big laugh. ‘’I love you LaSandra.’’

Carly came to the realization that Harry was no lightweight as she helped him up the stairs to the bedroom. In all the years they had been married, Harry had never been so drunk and out of it. She helped him out of his shirt and pants and pulled off his socks as he collapsed onto the bed. She undressed turned off the lights and got in under the sheets, maneuvering her body around his. After taking a sip of water, she fell asleep.

At around four am, she was woken by Harry standing up and trying to get into the bed. He looked over at her. ‘’Hi Honey, I have a horrible headache. I don’t think I’m going to take a Tylenol because I think my bloodstream is made up of more scotch than blood. Good Night or morning, I love you.’’

Carly jumped out of bed and flipped the lights back on. ‘’Really you love me, what about the true love of your life, LaSandra?’’ Harry half rolled over onto his side. ‘’Can we talk about that in the morning? Can you turn off the lights, it feels like I have a laser beam going into my skull.’’

The lights were turned off but Carly was still beyond frazzled about this whole LaSandra thing. She had been a faithful, loving wife who would never even think about looking at another man. How had this LaSandra become the love of his life? She lied still for a couple of seconds and then started shaking her husband’s arm. She waited till he looked over at her, this time with both eyes and she jumped out of bed and turned the lights back on.

‘’I have never considered divorcing you Harry, but if there’s another woman, I’m calling my cousin Eddie. You know he’s a killer divorce lawyer. His friends and clients call him ‘’The Shark’’, so you better tell me about this LaSandra woman, or I might just call him right now.’’

Harry felt like there was a five hundred pound weight crushing his skull. He still felt drunk and the last thing he wanted to do was talk, but Carly was his life, so he knew he had to give her the honest answer or he would never be able to get his much-needed sleep.’’

‘’What did I tell you about LaSandra?’’ Carly thought it was interesting that he was now admitting there was another woman. ‘’You said you loved her with your whole heart and you were crazy in love with her and shit like that. Who is she, Harry? I want to know who I’m competing against.’’

All the different brands of Scotch that Harry had tried floated through his brain. He briefly wondered how Wine experts didn't get plastered when they sampled all the different wines at wine tastings.

‘’Honey, I have never cheated on you and I never will. You’re LaSandra. Can we please go to sleep?’’ Carly was not satisfied. ‘’Do you know how stupid that sounds? I have no clue what you’re talking about. Fess up, who and where do you know this LaSandra from?’’

Harry almost fell out of bed, he shielded his eyes as he walked over to his closet. He reached up and pulled down a box. He carried it over to the bed, and set it down beside his wife.

‘’For the last year and a half, I’ve been working on a manuscript. It’s about a guy who is constantly encouraged by his amazing wife to achieve greatness. He never stops trying to become a world-class writer and when he’s finally recognized on the world stage for a number of short stories he’s written he realizes he couldn’t have succeeded without the constant support of his beautiful, charming wife. Honey, I couldn’t use Carly as the name of the protagonist, because it’s a work of fiction, but I swear on everything holy LaSandra is you. I was going to surprise you with a finished copy of the book for your Birthday.’’

Carly looked at the box on the bed and slowly lifted off the top. The title page was right there, ‘’Living the Dream by Writing the Dream.’’

She picked up the manuscript and started reading it and then started to cry. She wasn’t sure if it was from the THC still in her body or the emotion of knowing her husband had never strayed. There it was in the acknowledgments at the front of the book. ‘’To my Mom and Dad who always believed in me, and to my wife Carly who did even more than that. She has been with me on this crazy ride for thirty years. I am grateful for her every day of my life and don’t think I could have accomplished anything in my life without her constant support. There aren’t enough words to express my love. When you read this book you can substitute the name Carly for the character LaSandra because that’s who she’s based on.’’

Carly gently put the manuscript back in the box, and then tossed it on the floor. She moved closer to Harry and started to kiss him up. He pulled away. ‘’I love you Car, but if we tried to make love I think I’d be throwing up all over the place, my whole body is aching. Let’s give it a few hours and we can make up for lost time in the morning.’’ She gave him one last kiss and moved back over to her pillow and her side of the bed. Just as she was ready to doze off, she heard her husband whisper ‘’I do find the name LaSandra extremely sexy.’’

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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