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David Knows What’s Up: the Ballast’s New Columnist

November 23, 2009

David Knows What’s Up…and he Lives in Brooklyn.

The Ballast is proud to introduce our new bi-weekly columnist David Marchese. Our inaugural story’s theme in the spirit of the holiday, involves Thanksgiving’s travel stories. We hope you enjoy! Keep a look out for our next story as David keeps letting us know what’s up.

The Truth About Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, you’ll get annoyed at relatives you wish you didn’t have to see and eat till Africa gives you the finger. No shit. That’s what always happens. I can offer solutions.

Regarding the eating, maybe stop at the fourth helping of Fluffernutter sweet potatoes. You’re welcome. Make the check out to cash. And about family? I learned a new word recently: consanguinity. It means a close relation. I read the word in an interview with the author Cormac McCarthy, the schmo who wrote The Road and No Country for Old Men. He was saying something about how he doesn’t care about consanguinity. Neither do I. Neither should you. The best warm-and-fuzzy, huggy-wuggy memory I have about Thanksgiving involves sitting next to a guy on an airplane that I thought was gonna be a total drip.

I was flying from New York to Toronto the night before Thanksgiving last year. I’d gotten all comfortable in my seat when I see an old orthodox Jewish man slowly coming my way. (Before I go much further, let me just say that I’m Jewish — so cool your jets.) There’s often a lot of Orthodox Jews on the New York to Toronto flight. I’ve sat next to members of that persuasion a few times and they’re never friendly. The worst was when I shared a row with this young Orthodox couple that kept up this nasal, upwardly inflected sub-Nanny banter the whole goddamn flight. “You want I should tell Morris about your problems in bed?” — “Morris knows from such things, the putz.” On an on.

Actually, that was the second worst. Once I got stuck in the window seat when a girl and a guy that were also sitting in my row — I think they were co-workers on a business trip — started getting frisky. They asked for a blanket from the attendant and then spread it over their laps. It wasn’t hard to tell what was happening under there.

Anyway, this old guy dressed like Moses at a funeral stops at my row and asks — more like tells — in a thick Yiddish accent if I would help him put his bag in the overhead compartment. Whatever. I did it. Flight takes off and oldie’s totally hogging the arm rest and talking loudly to his wife, who’s sitting in the row in front of us. He sucks back big loogies and hocks them into his hanky. He smells like a hospital. About 20 minutes into the flight, the attendant comes by and gives us each a little packet of wasabi sesame crisps or whatever. Oldie asks if I can read the fine print on the package for him. He wants to know if the snack is kosher. I read some Hebrew word out loud to him. He complements me on my pronunciation and asks if I’m Jewish. I said I wasn’t. I just didn’t feel like getting into it and I wanted him to think that someone who wasn’t Jewish would still be able to accurately pronounce a Hebrew word.
But after that happens, the guy starts talking to me — asking what I do, where I’m from, why I’m going to Toronto. Turns out he’s really nice. He tells me that as a child his family escaped from Austria just as the Holocaust was getting into gear. Eventually, he made his way to Israel and founded a town modeled after the one his family left in Europe. I’m not making this shit up. Then when the flight ends, I help him with his bag and walk him and his wife to the customs counter and he says thanks and wishes me good luck in life.

My second best Thanksgiving experience was when I ordered a Festive Special from Swiss Chalet and they gave me an extra order of stuffing.

On to my picks for Thanksgiving’s NFL games:

Packers at Lions
I’m going with the Pack on this one. They’re better at playing football than the Lions.

Raiders at Cowboys
Cowboys. Romo hits a fall-away three at the buzzer to win it.

Giants at Broncos
Losers of four in a row, the Giants are reeling. Having either won or lost their last game, the Broncos are primed for an upset. It’s a tough call, but I’m saying this one gets canceled on account of weather.

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