A TIME-WARPED GUEST – Marilyn Armstrong


You just can’t trust a time portal. As soon as you think you can relax, eat a little dinner, another old family member drops by. Or, rather pops up.

“So,” says Uncle Shmuel, who has appeared out of nowhere and now miraculously speaks vernacular American English — albeit with a heavy Yiddish accent. “Nice place you got here. I see you keep your animals in your house. That one there sounds like a pig but looks like a dog.”

“They are our pets, Uncle Shmuel. The oinker is Nan. She just makes that sound. She’s kind of old. I think that’s the dog equivalent of ‘oy’.”

“Pets, shmets. Animals. In the house. What’s next? Toilets? Never mind, your life, your choice. Oy.”

“Can I give you something to eat? Tea? Coffee? Cake? If we don’t have it, I can go out and buy some.”

“Are you Kosher?”

“Uh, no. Not Kosher,” and I shiver, thinking of the bacon and ham that yet lives in our kitchen. “Oh, wait, here’s my husband. Uncle Shmuel, I’d like you to meet my husband Garry.”

Shmuel looks shrewdly at Garry, then at me. “He doesn’t look Jewish.”

Garry’s eyes twinkle. “But really I am,” he says and deftly pulls a yarmulke out of his pocket. You have to hand it to Garry. He’s very sharp. The yarmulke has “Joel’s Bar Mitzvah” printed across the back in big white letters. Fortunately, Shmuel doesn’t notice.

“So,” Shmuel continues after a pregnant pause, “You still have problems with Cossacks?”

“No. No more Cossacks, but too many politicians,” I reply.

“Cossacks, politicians, there’s a difference?” he asks.

“Not so much,” I admit. He’s right. There is no difference, except maybe for the absence of a horse.

“And for a living, you do what?”

“We’re retired. But before that, I was a writer. Garry was a reporter. On television.”

“What’s a television?” I look at Shmuel. That’s when I realize we are about to embark on an extended conversation. All I say is: “Oy vay is mir!” Which seems to sum it up.

Oy vay. Can someone set the table?

17 thoughts on “A TIME-WARPED GUEST – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. I still think this is all made up – but I’d have no problem to accept it is real…. in some or many ways. I had two very eccentric grand- & great-grandfathers…. As children we ‘played’ along and laughed when we closed the doors behind us because they just could NOT BE what they obviously were (we didn’t understand anything). Now I have a 94 & a 91 yr old aunty and mum who show traits of both their mother (very strong!) and their father (my grandfather)….. If sometimes they could see themselves!!!


  2. Pingback: CHRISTOPHER HADEN-GUEST, 5TH BARON HADEN-GUEST – Marilyn Armstrong – Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

  3. LOL, I’m on the floor laughing my guts out.., this is funny, funny, funny. Having spent a big portion of my life around jews, both young and old, many, the best friends I’ve ever had, I feel they are my people. And uncle Shmuel?, I’m sure I’ve got one somewhere only we call him Uncle Harold, or Vic, and he speaks with a slight southern lilt with many of the same concerns.., except maybe for the kosher stuff. For example: Animals belong out on the porch, for hunting, or in the pastures for food etc… Thanks for this!


    • If the time tunnel went the OTHER way, I would definitely be from another galaxy. But as I said, you can’t always tell. Sometimes, the people of other eras surprise us. They are not current on today’s politics, but they had their own troubles to deal with and were a lot more sophisticated than we suspect. I think I’ll have to tune in to the rest of the conversation. If we make it past “television,” there might be new layers to uncover.


      • I loved this! I really did! It’s true. Sometimes people annoy the hell out of me. Why do you think we are “all that” when the generations that came before us had flush toilets and etc in countries they didn’t expect fo find them. We got where we are because there were brilliant people ahead of us, and ahead of their time. Still, times were different, values too. But I enjoyed the conversation because I could envision it happening just that way 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • We rarely think about how “smart” our ancestors were. We assume, because we have technology, that we must be smarter … but we are exactly as smart or as dumb as they were. And we get into the same kinds of mess, politically and personally they got into too. We are all people and the stuff we do and experience is remarkably similar from generation to generation.

          It’s why I’m always going on about history and how important it is. Why so MANY people go on about it. It really isn’t an “extra.” It’s the context that makes current reality meaningful. We are all part of a long chain of people going back to the beginning of humanity and we all carry in us everything that has ever been, for good and evil. It’s why we will never “remove violence” from the human race. We won’t “kill of the bad stuff.” All we can do is try to control the world to make life easier for the non-violent to survive.

          They had central heat in Roman villas. Also in China. Flush toilets. Baths. Running water. No electricity, but they did pretty well. And they didn’t have big corporations to make that stuff work, either. Does that make them smarter? I think maybe yes, it does 😀

          Liked by 2 people

          • Oh yes, I agree, I think they were. They built the pyramids and other amazing architecture that still boggles the mind. All without the equipment used today. I’m with you on that one. And I agree we can carry all our ancestors failures accomplishments etc. Let’s hope we do a better job of our time on earth. We can only do our best.


  4. Growing up, we had Catholics on one side of the block, and Jewish on the other side. We Catholics always loved to say, ‘ Oh vay.’ It was like some secret code word to us. Your uncle was very interesting.


  5. You have interesting relatives. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have met them. I wonder how my Huguenots would have spoken when they arrived in London. The marriage certificate was all in French from their church in Threadneedle Street.


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