Hunting Judaism

Turns out they don't always gather like this. Also, rabbis don't carry Manischewitz, and it's incredibly insulting to assume so.

I started a tradition a while back – one that does not involve screaming “tradition!” at that. The tradition started innocently enough, as I’m sure many traditions do before morphing into religions and really messing up the way people think and act.

I was in Paris with a couple of friends – Stephen Fischer and Jon Lim – and Jon’s cousin. (Pro-tip: the best way to make someone uncomfortable is to say that you’re “gonna be all over” their cousin.) After the previous couple of days being spent being ripped off by Kenyans and rushing illegally across giant roundabouts, we felt more than comfortable being led around the city by someone who’d been studying there for a year or two.

The thing I’ve noticed about being led around by people in a city is that, well, there are many things I’ve noticed. First off, you can be fairly certain that you’re going to go to places you would not normally think about. The non-touristy places, in other words. Secondly, you might be saving a bit of money – chances are your friend will know some cheap places to eat/drink. Thirdly, you probably won’t be going to any museums or cultural attractions. This is because your friend, like all people who have lived in a city instead of visited it, does not go to cultural attractions. They go to bars.

The only cultural attraction you'll see

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Sure, you won’t be able to say that you’ve been to every major museum in the States, but you will be able to say that you’ve been to bars in every major city in the U.S., which, in many ways, is better.

Continue reading

Missing the Point – The Clauses

Because my office has a few people who have the senses of humor of people who say, “Looks like someone’s got a case of the Mondays!” I tend to spend a lot of time really bummed out by the things they say.

Most of the time, this results in a diatribe that can be summed up to: “I have a better sense of humor than you do, because I’m a Published Author.”

Other times, their senses of humor provoke the following. (Names and places have been changed, since I’m spineless.)

The Original E-mail

Greetings to all you wonderful, good-hearted people at [redacted],

As you will recall, last Christmas and the Christmas before you were all so helpful in getting Ted “elf-abetized” by generously giving to certain charities assigned to him by the jolly old man himself. This year, Elf Ted is being elf-indulgent and taking a break (personally, I think Santa is putting him on a required leave of absence because he was about to lose it. I hear he’s been taking aim at the reindeer with his Red Rider BB gun and doing wheelies down the aisles of the toy shop and running over the other elves.)

Anyway, this has given me the perfect opportunity to step in and ask for your assistance this year. I have a slightly shameful secret to tell you. My name is Ms. Claus, NOT Mrs. Claus. That’s right, Santa & I are not married. Now don’t get the wrong idea, we do have separate bedrooms. What kind of girl do you think I am? The fat old man is a commitment-phobe, but after hundreds of years of therapy, including a long stint with Dr. Phil, plus a threat of a tell-all book and an appearance on Oprah, Santa has finally agreed to take the plunge and make an honest woman out of me. (I was beginning to wonder if the stories about him and the elves were true). But before we get married, Santa is requiring that I take on an assignment of collecting donations for two of his favorite charities. The first one is called Heifer International. This charity works to give those in need a hand up, not just a hand out, by providing them livestock, seeds or training to improve their lives in sustainable ways. The other charity is United Cerbral Palsy of Middle TN,  which I understand is a referral often used by your organization and provides assistance to countless local residents. For more information on Heifer International go to; for information on United Cerebral Palsy, go to

I have until December 21st to collect at least $100.00 for these 2 charities, or I can kiss that walk down the aisle good-bye, at least for this year.  If I can collect over $150.00 there will be a special surprise for all of you. Please help an old lady finally have someone to snuggle up with on those cold North Pole nights and donate.   Dana Katz and Mercury Davis (on the 6th floor) have kindly agreed to collect your donations.

Thank you for your previous generosity and for the generosity I know you will show this year as well.

Merry Christmas to all,

Mary Claus
North Pole

My Response

Dear Dana,

I took the time out of my very busy, one might say obscenely busy, schedule to read your e-mail that you’ve forwarded from Ms. Claus.

After getting over the severe depression that followed from hearing of her divorce – and after Heather Nash and Rayetta Dixon consoled me by giving me a lollipop – I decided that I’d make things easier for Ms. Claus and send my donation directly to her.

I sent an e-mail to the one listed at the bottom of her helpful email, enquiring as to whether or not Western Union had a branch in the North Pole, but found that the mail server bounced my message back to me. “That’s odd,” I thought. I e-mailed my supervisor to tell her that I had some business to take care of and would be unreachable by e-mail until it was completed.

“Whatever,” she responded.

Then, I called the phone number listed and found that, not only was the number too long for the switchboard to handle, but that the North Pole in fact had an American country code.

As I’m sure you know, each country in the world has its own telephone country code. Even ones that only have one phone per entire population. Such as Lithuania.

After thinking about this for a while, I came to the conclusion that you are the recipient of a scam on par with the Nigerian prince e-mails. (I know, I only found out about them being a scam last week. I sure hope Prince William Hurtzel will honor his commitment and that he is not one of the scammers.)

I sincerely hope that you’ll send out a message soon stating that no one should donate to this fund, as Ms. Clause does not exist.


Aaron Simon, BA, MA, Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Sigma Alpha Lambda

Enrollment Coordination Specialist, graphic designer


Travelin’ Hobos

Not what I saw a few days ago

So it snowed in Nashville a few days ago. This isn’t something I’m completely used to yet, as every time it’s snowed in Nashville, I’ve either been in Smyrna, Knoxville, or England.

Smyrna doesn’t count, as that’s a hell hole from whence nothing good can come.

Knoxville counts, but I was drunk most of the time, so I couldn’t tell you much more than snow is something to be avoided when you’ve been hitting the whiskey.

England most definitely counts, since Canterbury was turned into Hoth last January, and I had a blast schlepping up the hill in sub-zero temperatures and amazing my Chinese flatmates with my ability to withstand cold.

Of course, this being Nashville, and thus, in my reckoning, the tropics, the snow didn’t last long. For the most part, it melted when it hit the pavement and provided little more than hope and a semi-visual indicator of which way the wind was blowing.

But it also had something else. As I left the office in the early afternoon to get some green tea (China Green Tips, good stuff), I looked out to the Fifth Third Bank plaza – you know, the one by the church with the huge plaque listing how many times its burned down – and saw a homeless man dressed in black running around catching snowflakes on his tongue.

The church, not the homeless man

It was one of those sights that made me glow just a bit. I thought about how great it was that being a kid stayed with a person through it all. How, deep down inside, we all want to stay young, back when we were innocent and thought that, yes, throwing water on a raging citronella candle was a good idea, just before it burned down a childhood home and we had to shift blame on neighbors to avoid getting charged with arson.

I bought the tea, headed back to the office, and told a coworker.

She nodded sagely and said, “That’s Will. Will has a severe case of schizophrenia. He’s probably off his meds.” Then she turned back to her computer and went back to work.

I stood there for a few seconds, my buzz thoroughly killed.

“Shouldn’t you get back to work?” She asked.

“Indeed,” I said, walking back to my desk.

Continue reading