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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The [modern-day] Gift of the Magi

We all had to read the classic O. Henry short story about gift giving/receiving when we were in grade school.  It's a heartwarming tale about two people who love each other enough to sacrifice a prized possession and give each other the perfect gift.

Hair is cut... watches are sold.  Wackiness ensues. [Now that's how you post a spoiler!]

Anyway, this past week saw the consummation of a similarly heartwarming exchange of gifts between two people who, while not exactly in love, at least hold each other in fairly high esteem.

Some of you may remember that last year a certain prolific LA blogger and I laid an ill-conceived wager on whose baseball team would finish the regular season with the best record.   I stood to lose a kilo of Jerusalem's famous Marzipan Rugalach... and he was putting a similar measure of Los Angeles' famous Jeff's Kosher Gourmet Sausages at risk.

In the unlikely (unthinkable!) event that our teams ended the season in a statistical tie we agreed that we would both have to pay the bet.

Long story short, he picked the Angels and I chose the Red Sox... and these two teams went on to end the regular season in a statistical tie.

Remember for a moment that both sides of the 'Action' on this bet were fairly perishable foodstuffs... and the 'players' who now had to pay off the bet were half a world away from one another. 

This presented some rather impressive logistical challenges.

Enter 'the runner'... a mild-mannered, unassuming CPA (who also just happens to be a good friend and neighbor of mine).  He lives and works here in Israel, but for a few weeks each year he flies to California to do some work for an LA accounting firm. 

And he had a trip planned for December.

This presented a nice window of opportunity for two motivated omnivores dear friends to be able to finally consummate their wager.  That this dénouement would occur during the holiday season only serves to enhance the heartwarming aspect of our tale, no?

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago our Super Hero CPA was met with a warm box of Rugalach as he was leaving for the airport.  He tucked the box in his carry-on with vague promises not to filch too many during the flight.  A day later I received word from the other side of the planet (via AL Gore's most impressive invention), that the chocolaty pastries had been received.

A couple of days ago our Super Hero CPA called to tell me he had just landed and was in possession of a nice parcel of Chicken Cilantro and Chicken Apple flavoured gourmet sausages.  [*drool*] We supplemented the ensuing grill-fest with some nice local lamb-kabobs and didn't stop until the plates were empty and every greasy finger had been carefully licked clean.

There now... wasn't that a nice holiday story

OK, so maybe my story doesn't really contain any of the heartwarming self-sacrifice stuff found in 'The Gift of the Magi'.  But it does have a couple of the O. Henry story's elements; seemingly insurmountable obstacles... the desire to give the perfect gift... oh who am I kidding?  It was a stupid sports bet between a couple of hack writers with a bad case of the munchies.

I know it's a reach, but I used to drink the occasional pint of ale in the very pub (Pete's Tavern) in NYC's Grammarcy Park where O. Henry actually wrote 'The Gift of the Magi'.  That's gotta count for something... right?


Posted by David Bogner on December 28, 2005 | Permalink


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You know sometimes there is no reason to reinvent the wheel so allow me to say here that you did a fine job with this post, better than I would have.

And allow me to say here and now that I'll be kind and not make the same wager this year because with the Fire Sale that they are conducting in Beantown it just wouldn't be fair.

On side note I feel badly for all of you who have not had the good fortune to indulge your inner child with the chocolatey goodness and bliss of the rugalach.

It is a sensory delight and an experience that will leave you with a smile on your face and a sense of well being. :)

Posted by: Jack | Dec 28, 2005 9:55:46 AM

That was just beautiful. I'm wiping tears. ;-)

I might have to go to Jeff's for lunch just to be able to control my emotions.

I can imagine the mild-mannered CPA being grilled by security both ways about whether he packed everything himself.

"Were you asked to take any lugage by other people?"

"Um.. not really. Well, just by a friend. His name is Ahmed. Ha! Juat kidding. I don't know his name 'cause he blogs anonymously. But I'm sure the package is just full of sausages like he said. See there was a bet....."

Two hours and a vigorous cavity search later he is allowed to board the plane.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 28, 2005 4:08:52 PM

LOL @ "motivated omnivores."

If you happen to like Squirrel Nut Zippers (the band, not the candy - there's better food in play here *drool*) they have a song of that O Henry story. And yes, it's "one of those songs" on my ipod.

Posted by: Tanya | Dec 28, 2005 5:09:11 PM

Also LOL @ Dr Bean.

p.s. Every time I see "rugalach" it translates in my head to "arugula." Not so good with marzipan. *shudder*

Posted by: Tanya | Dec 28, 2005 5:11:36 PM

I think the real hero is the one who carried the warm rogalach and nonetheless delivered most of it after the journey. would be too tempting for me.

Posted by: timna | Dec 28, 2005 5:14:48 PM

That sounds like a lot of work.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Dec 28, 2005 5:14:59 PM

Jack: Now, now... kicking a Red Sox fan when he's down is Not Nice. As a long-suffering Mets fan (is there any other kind?) I must rise to the defense of my fellow Yankee-hater (and we just won't mention 1986, okay?).

David: It had to happen. I thought you and I were kinsmen: Yankee-haters, music fans, meat-and-good-alcohol types... I knew it was too good to last. You drank at Pete's, and I must remain loyal to McSorley's, where my alma mater's founder had his own table. (for the few who care: Pete's Tavern and McSorley's have both been open since the mid-1800s, and both have claimed to be New York City's oldest bar. Mentioning the name of one establishment while you're in the other can get your drinks cut off, a feat which even Prohibition failed to accomplish.)

Posted by: efrex | Dec 28, 2005 5:21:49 PM

I'm amazed at the honesty of that CPA! : D

Posted by: Irina | Dec 28, 2005 7:10:12 PM


I don't like the Yankees any more than you do but I have to tell you that admitting to being a Mets fan is just asking for ridicule. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Dec 28, 2005 7:18:03 PM


Posted by: zahava | Dec 28, 2005 8:51:12 PM

That spoiler just killed me.
I'm not really sure that it was "wackiness" per se that ensued but close enough...

Posted by: Shifra | Dec 28, 2005 8:59:25 PM

Jack... It was a pleasure being on both the giving and receiving end of this wager. As to the bet, it's only December... let's see what the roster looks like when pitchers and catchers report in the spring. :-)

Doctor Bean... What makes that funny is the notorious lack of a sense of humor those airline security guys have. Sheesh, one little joke and suddenly a big guy named Tzvika is getting to third base... :-)

Tanya... I'll have to look into that. The only Squirrel Nut Zippers song on my iPod is 'Hell'. I've heard some of their other stuff and have liked the sound (I'm a trombonist, after all), but I haven't heard the one you're talking about. Off I go to the iTunes music store... Oh, and one more thing; The rugalach are not made of marzipan... that's just the name of the bakery. :-)

Timna... I'd trust this guy with my money, so a few pastries isn't such a risk. :-)

Phychotoddler... Not so much, it only took about 10 minutes to write this post. ;-)

Efrex... I've frequented both places without prejudice. One of my best stories took place, or at least started out at McSorley's. I won't give it away now (it's a post for another day), but suffice it to say I recognized a celebrity there... invited the celebrity to come home with me... and the celebrity ended up staying with me for a couple of days. The end of the story is what makes it priceless. Stay tuned.

Irina... You have to remember that for most of the year he lives 15 minutes from the bakery where they make the stuff. It wasn't that big temptation

Shifra... I only wrote that because I couldn't imagine anyone not having read the story. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 28, 2005 9:22:16 PM

Jack: You're talking to somebody who has willingly and with minimal alcoholic involvement sung showtunes in public in multiple languages... you think that admitting to being a fan of a team that's been to the World Series *twice* in my lifetime is going to be a source of ridicule? Ha!

David: Ooh, *this* I wanna hear!

Posted by: efrex | Dec 28, 2005 11:36:15 PM

It all sounds sooooo yummy. I trust you will pick the Indians next time, Trep.

Posted by: Stacey | Dec 29, 2005 1:24:27 AM


The curse wasn't broken, it was just momentarily interrupted. ;)


Hey, good drugs can do that to the best of us. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Dec 29, 2005 3:36:12 AM

wishing you and yours the best for the coming year!

Posted by: no milk | Dec 29, 2005 5:32:38 AM

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