By Andy Strowman
I was always hungry. Maybe I still am. Food was my only comfort by day or by night. I would look at a woman and think this: one kiss would be worth one kichel; two kisses a cup of coffee and a kichel. So, it went on. One day I decided to visit the Doctor.
As I walked into his consultation room I saw him opening a drawer and pulling out two pieces of homemade cake. His eyes glanced at me secretly. Then he slammed the drawer tight.
"Nu?" he said, "Mr. Goldman", and as he said my name a large plum shot out his mouth and landed on the floor.
"I came about my liver problem. "
"A liver problem? For fifteen years you tell me about your liver problem. Go, Mr Goldman, go. Come back when you have something new to tell me."
I turned to leave and then just by the door I faced him and said, "Doctor. I have to stop. All the time my life is just one big piece of strudel cake, blinnis, and two pieces of gefelte fish."
"Stop. Mr. Goldman. Stop. Don't go on."
Then he started to weep. I put my arm around him like I was comforting an old friend. He gets out his handkerchief and cries bitterly into it. He starts to tell me his life. A series of tragedies.
A failed chocolate cake... a burnt lokshen pudding... a tasteless chicken soup... empty kreplach... I look at him and realize he needs help but tell me where do you take a Doctor with such a problem?
Suddenly, into my mind, I remember one man who could help both of us. I am about to tell the Doctor there is hope when the receptionist walks in. An old woman who had a limp. Her hair burnt carrying a lemon tea on a saucer, shaking the tea, as if it is a boat on a stormy sea.
"Doctor," I said, "Meet me at one o'clock outside the surgery."
He nods his head limply as if to agree with me.
Meanwhile I must go in search of some honey cake.
One o'clock comes and he is nowhere to be found. I wait. I pace up and down and light a cigarette. I puff . I do not inhale in order to lessen my chances of getting cancer.
He come out looking as if he is about to go to a funeral. His own funeral. Face pale and eyes with a glare about them.
We march together and I hold his arm. He is lighter than a pigeon. I take him through the backstreets ashamed people will recognize the both of us. A woman with a shopping basket looks at me as if I am doing something strange, as if I am smuggling the Doctor out of the country.
Finally we come to a black door without a number and no sign. I knock hard twice and a voice says "Who is it?"
I tell the curt voice my name.
The door opens...
I find myself watching as if in a dream. The Doctor talks. "My children are like ghosts. Sometimes I see them and at other times I don't. Life is made up of me of food. I look at a woman and the fatter she is the more envious I am. I see her body and measure it in fat content. Other men look at the body, I look at fat content."
Morry stood over him puffing at a fat cigar. "Dr Feldman," he said, "I see many many people in my bisiness. De problem here is that you are suffering from too much self- pity. What yew needs is a hobby. Take a tip from me the eating is only part of the problem. It's not he main course."
"The main course," the Doctor said. "Why did you have to mention food? Now I won't be able to stop. Chopped liver... egg and onions... a bistle lox."
Already I was beginning to feel hungry and my mouth was watering, my stomach making strange noises.
A voice boomed out of a loudspeaker. "And they're off! Sailors Boy is beginning to nose ahead but
The pack looks steady. And we've a long way to go."
Now I knew I was going crazy the Doctor needed the expert help of Morry Israel. Didn't he advertise as the complete cure, "Don't be sorry, bet with Morry?"
"Dr Feldman," Morry's voice grew very low. "You have suffered enough with the tragedies. Come. Be my guest in my little shop. You win. You lose. You lose. You win. Have something else to live for."
So it began. The voice of food calling Dr Feldman was exchanged for the voice of the betting shop. He lost plenty but he was happy and when patients came in to tell him their problems he had the cure. A trip to Morry Israel's.
from the May 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine