I don't know why I was thinking about this today. But you know, sometimes you're staring off into space or not paying attention to anything in particular and a word pops into your head for know apparent reason and you're mind is just off to the races? Maybe it's just me.
I wasn't staring off into space, really, I mean, the TV is on, I'm talking to someone online, but my head was someplace else and in pops the word:
I don't know. It's not Chanukah or anything, it's not like Chanukah's soon, and it's not like it just happened, but there it was. And I thought about the time Freshman year, it was finals time, and my friends and I, away from home for Chanukah for the first time I guess, decided we needed potato pancakes. Not just needed them, needed to make them. Only we didn't have a car, a kitchen, utensils, or anything really. Except a microwave, and a fridge. You can't make potato pancakes in a microwave.
But we were determined. Somehow we got someone to take us to a grocery store for oil and potatoes and onions and whatever else. We borrowed a pan from the Resident Director. A nice pan, too, good size, heavy, perfect. We got plastic utensils, probably nicked a few things from the dining hall downstairs. Painstakingly, we peeled and grated potatoes (no idea where the grater came from) and onions and mixed it all together using some one's mom's recipe. And it's 2 hours later than we thought and we're getting hungry and by God this is taking a long time.
The batter was ready, time to cook. And still no stove. The dining hall? nope. The RD? Nope. She lent us the pan, but using her kitchen wasn't going to happen. And then we discover, there's a stove in a room in the basement. But the room is locked. We ask our RA. He calls Public Safety to come open the door for the little freshmen, and suddenly, he wants the potato pancakes as badly as we do. He'll even cook them for us, just to be safe, or something. It's like 8:30 now and we started around 6, and Public Safety arrives and opens the door. The room is crowded with extra, mostly broken, dorm furniture. Chairs and sofas piled up. And a stove in the corner, plugged in. Fire it up!
We do, and the oil is sizzling in the pan and we plop down a bit of batter and wait for it to fry. At long last, a potato pancake. The little lump of potato starts to sizzle, and smoke. And smoke. In fact, there's a lot of smoke and it's filling the windowless room. And I look up and see a smoke detector, right above the stove. And I say "hey, we might want to turn this off before we set off the--"
Too late. It's beeping like crazy and in minutes, the building is evacuated. Hundreds of students, studying for finals, pushed outside at night, in Syracuse, in December. And all because the little group of Jews had to have their potato pancake. And then the firemen come, charging into the dorm, into the basement, to the little room with the stove, and the little lump of potato smoking on the stove.
I don't know what made me think of it, but it's a good story. And because I have this blog, it got written, instead of swirling in my head and eventually retreating to the depths of memory and waiting for a more appropriate time to surface.