Tancy O’Reilly was felled by a bad November cold. I packed up some chicken soup, garlic and oranges and went over to her apartment. She was in bad shape: huddled in bed, surrounded by balls of soggy Kleenex and a sticky laptop. I dropped peeled and sliced slivers of fresh garlic into the soup and let it simmer, fixed a tray and returned to the bedroom.
Propped up against fresh pillows, Tancy slowly spooned the garlic soup into her mouth and sipped the fresh orange juice. “This is great,” she croaked, “but I hate to take you away from your work.”
“Well, I needed a break,” I responded. “I’m a little frustrated. I wanted to use this week to really get stuff done with my book, but I keep having to re-write my humor piece for this month.”
“Why?” asked Tancy.
“My editor, whom I adore, keeps rejecting everything I write. I wrote about Dr. X“
“—He is SO funny,” crowed Tancy. “What’s wrong with that?”
“They have to be careful about legal issues,” I said, shrugging.
“Why don’t you write about these crazy holidays?” asked Tancy. “How the calendar gets all screwed up?”
“I did that already,” I said, “and got into trouble for it.”
“How?” she asked.
“Some of the other editors objected to the phrase ‘lunatic in a windowless room in the Kremlin,’” I said. “So, I put in another piece on how Russians never write thank you notes . “
“That is absolutely true,” said Tancy. “What was wrong with that?”
“Perceived as angry,” I said shortly. My mobile rang; it was Velvet calling about homework.
“Mommy, can I write about the Russian at the Baptism of Christ site in Jordan who went in the river?” Velvet’s class was writing about Jordan.
“You mean the guy with the wife who had blue fingernails that matched her bikini and put Canadian club in her Diet Coke at 10 a.m.?” I asked, catching my breath. Now, they really were funny.
“They sound perfect!” wheezed Tancy reaching for the Kleenex. “What happened to them?” I put Velvet on speaker so she could help tell the story.
“He wore this teeny tiny Speedo and a huge pectoral cross,” I began.
“And he jumped into the Jordan River,“ said Velvet, “which was really gross.”
“He was submerging himself under it over and over again …and they were totally oblivious to the other side of the bank, where about 400 Israeli soldiers with their weapons trained on him. The Jordanian guide was tearing out his hair.”
“And there was this man from America next to us - what did he say?” asked Velvet, giggling.
“He said, ‘I hope that dude got a Tetanus shot,’” I howled.
“That is hilarious!” said Tancy. “Use that.”
“No, I want it for the book.”
“You could always publish the recipe for this chicken soup,” said Tancy. “I feel better already.”
“That’s my cooking column,” I sighed.
Jennifer Eremeeva is a longtime resident of Moscow; she blogs at www.rbth.ru/blogs and www.dividingmytime.typepad.com. She is currently working on her first book.
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