picture credit: clbxg.com

A modern day fairy tale? You decide!

One year ago, my brother was getting married to a wonderful girl and I was over the moon! She often referred to my brother as her “Prince Charming.” She and I got along famously and not only that, my dear friend, whom I always have adventures with, became very close to her as well. My friend and I decided that we would help with planning the wedding and finding her the perfect dress! We chose a day and ventured to the nearest bridal store. It was just lovely, the staff served us champagne and we had quite a good time. My future sister in law tried on several dresses until she found one she liked. It was beautiful and by the time she found it, we were a bit tipsy, and fun was had by all. The dress needed some alterations, so the store manager told us there were business cards with highly recommended local seamstresses placed at the front counter. So, my friend picked a card that had some kind of sparkly dust on it and said, “This one looks interesting, her name is Crisabella Fairweather.” I looked at the card and said, “What an odd name but she’s conveniently located right around the corner.”

So my future sister in law purchased the dress and we called the seamstress and she said she was available right away. We then went to her home. Upon arriving, we noticed immediately that it was a very small cottage. Lining the perimeter was a white picket fence and it was surrounded by an array of colorful roses, daisies and petunias. There was a very large oak tree in the front with squirrels and woodpeckers surrounding it. A cute birdhouse hung from one of the limbs and a red cardinal peeped its head out as though it was welcoming us as we walked to the door.

Things got even stranger……..

We knocked and the door opened slowly as we were greeted by a cocker spaniel, there was no sign of any human being! My future sister in law exclaimed to the dog, (which I found odd, but this whole situation was) “We are here to see the seamstress!” The dog barked and turned around and started walking through the house. He turned back at us, to make sure we were following. So we proceeded to follow the dog. He led us to an open sliding glass door and we walked through it to the back yard. What we saw was so unusual that we must take a moment to describe it! The back yard had several large birdbaths filled with bluebirds who were noisily tweeting. Also, There were hens and chickens running amuck. We saw more squirrels and what we think might have been mice scurrying about. The dog continued to turn around as he was leading us. We then walked down a stone pathway to a small thatch roofed cottage which was her workshop. The cottage was painted white with robin’s egg blue trim. She had more flowers lining the workshop and the top of the doorway was arched as if it was part of a fairy tale. We looked uncomfortably at each other, but then she opened the door to greet us. We couldn’t believe our eyes. She was around 4’11”, very long gray hair with flowers strewn throughout it. She was heavily wrinkled and wore a long lace gown and flat pointed slippers. She wore a ring on every finger and smiled as though she knew us since birth. She had bright piercing blue eyes that seemed to twinkle and when she moved glitter fell off her gown. My heart raced as I looked at my friend who had a complete look of shock on her face. The seamstress said, “Hello my darlings, I have been expecting you. I see you’ve met Prince, my dog, he loves to bring guests to my workshop.” We all found this to be very unusual, but she did come highly recommended so we stepped inside. The floor of the workshop was wood and creaked as we walked on it. it was dimly lit and very tiny, which we thought would make it difficult to work in. She got uncomfortably close to our faces when greeting us which made no sense at the moment. She told the bride to change into the dress, but there was no dressing room. So, she uncomfortably slipped into the dress in front of us and in front of a very large uncovered window that faced the street! We looked out the window and there were about 20 small bluebirds flitting about!


As she was changing, my friend as nonchalantly as she could, pointed at a very rusty antiquated foot pedal powered sewing machine. I thought to myself, How can she get this intricate job done with such an old outdated machine? I then looked up and noticed the walls had small shelves with hundreds of different threads, buttons, ribbons, scissors and sewing needles not in any particular order. The entire workshop was in disarray, things were strewn everywhere. Suddenly, she picked up the hem of the dress and held it extremely close to her face as if she was going to smell it! The Bride to be looked at me with wide eyes as I shrugged my shoulders. Crisabella then stated that she merely had to see the beading on the dress and had to hold it 1/2 an inch from her eyes to get a better look. Our mouths were agape, it made no sense. Most of us use reading glasses to see up close. she saw our reaction and said, “Oh fiddle dee dee, I am as blind as a bat, I have to hold things up very closely to see them!” We thought, how effective could a legally blind person be at altering a wedding dress? And with a rusty sewing machine? Who puts the beading on, the bluebirds? None of this made sense, but, we are just 2 middle aged Jewish women, what do we know from this?

The old sewing machine

Miraculously, she was able to take measurements while squinting and was confident the job could get done in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, the bride was not the best at preparing in advance and the wedding was only 2 1/2 weeks away. We were worried but Crisabella put our minds at ease. As we left, she handed us each a thimble and an apple for the road!

One week passed and we heard nothing from Crisabella. We tried calling but the line was out of service! We thought about stopping by her home, but in the end we decided to not panic yet and gave Crisabella a few more days to get in touch with us.

Four days before the wedding we were nervous wrecks. The catering, the venue, the decorations and the photographer were all taken care of. But we had no idea if there was going to be a dress or not! My future sister in law was starting to truly panic, so we had to make a plan B. Her sister still had her old wedding dress and being that they were the same size, she decided to borrow it. It was not the dress she wanted, but at this point, it would have to do. We called the bridal store to report Crisabella, and they apologized and said they didn’t know who we were talking about!

The wedding day arrived!

My friend and I showed up early to the venue to help the bride get ready. The wedding was to take place on the beach, and we were able to get ready in a lovely beach house on location. We were all excited and the disappointment of the dress debacle for the most part was forgotten.

Twenty minutes before it was time for the ceremony, we heard a knock at the door.

What happened next was unbelievable!

As we opened the door, standing in front of us was Crisabella. She was dressed exactly as she had appeared 2 1/2 weeks ago! In her hands, was the wedding gown, altered and as beautiful as ever. She calmly said, “Did you even doubt me?” Next to her was her dog Prince who seemed to bark a hello to us. Also, on her shoulder, was a tiny blue bird! I looked past her to the driveway and saw no parked vehicle. We were very curious as to how she got there with the dog and the dress and the bird. However, we were even more curious as to how she knew where to find us! We didn’t ask for it, but she added a lovely blue sash to the waist of the gown. We each gave Crisabella a big hug as we were speechless and thrilled beyond words! We briefly turned around to bring the dress inside, and when we looked back, Crisabella, Prince and the bluebird were gone, and all that remained on the threshold was a pile of glitter!

The End…….

For those of you unfamiliar with our beloved Jewish Godmother series, click here to read our introductory parts 1-4

If you need to get caught up, click here to read The Dueling Dons part 2

The Godfather had it “bad” for Don Bubbieberger

Hola Amigos, I’m sorry to have kept you in suspense all this time. When we last met The Godfather was kissing The Godmother’s hand in his “office” in the back room of Via Roma’s Pizzeria. He seemed to be so captivated with Don Bubbieberger that he couldn’t control himself!

The Godfather had been struck right in the tuchus by cupid’s arrow. His kisses slowly went up Don Bubbieberger’s arm and when he got past the crook of her elbow she reared back and gave him such a slap on the noggin. The Godfather fell back in his chair and was softly singing what sounded like the Italian love song That’s Amore. “How dare you,” barked the Godmother, “no one kisses my arm without my consent.” She turned to me and asked, “Did I give consent?” I shook my head. As she used the tablecloth to wipe his kisses off of her arm she declared, “No consent, no amore!”

“Then how do I get this consent?” Don Bustamonte inquired desperately. She grabbed his face in her hands, looked into his eyes and stated, “You have to earn it, besides, I only let Jewish men kiss me!” As she started to gather herself to leave, I rushed up front to order a couple slices of Via Roma’s famous pizza. I figured if I am going to have to deal with all of this drama, I deserved it. As I was handed my take out treat, the Godmother came bursting out the door, turned around and yelled back at the Godfather, “You’re gonna stay outta Brooklyn and you’re gonna stay outta my Spanx!” We then got into the Lincoln and planned to never see the Godfather again.

Meanwhile, days later it was business as usual at the deli. The Godmother was busy dealing with Rita Goldfarb’s latest issue. Rita felt she was overcharged by Stu Botchnick’s Plumbing Service. The Godmother sent her enforcer Avi to give Stu an atomic wedgie right up his plumber’s crack. It was so lethal, that he gave Rita a free toilet installation.

So as you can see all was well and good in Brooklyn, but back in The Bronx a storm was brewing. For Don Bustamonte was not a man who would give up so easily. He was going to do whatever was necessary to win the heart of our dear Don Bubbieberger. I knew that they came from 2 different worlds, how could love possibly prevail? He smokes stogies and she smokes whitefish. He fires a pistol and she fires kitchen staff. He plays the horses and she plays Mah Jongg. He eats meatballs and she eats matzah balls.

How could this ever work?

Well my friends, let me tell you. Don Bustamonte hired a skywriter to write “Surrender Sylvia” across the Brooklyn sky. Through means only a Godfather could use, he found out about her favorite flower, and he had the whole back room of the deli filled with ruby begonias. Neither of these things fazed The Godmother it seemed. But, I heard that he hired a Genealogist to scour his family tree in search of any potential Jewish roots. Lo and behold, he found out that his great great grandmother was of the “Hebrew” persuasion. With the knowledge of his Jewish blood, he hired a Mashgiach to make the pizzeria’s kitchen kosher. He had his pizza chef start making a special pizza bagel and added lox as one of the toppings. Sausage and pepperoni were stricken from the menu. Everyone thought he was losing his mind, but he didn’t care. The heart wanted what the heart wanted.

My friends, that is all for now. The next time we meet you will find out if the Godfather “makes a deal” to win the Godmother’s heart. Will the Godmother choose Don Bustamonte, or Door #2?

Yiddush Word Glossary:

*tuchus: butt or rear end

*mashgiach: a jew who supervises the kosher status of an establishment

If you haven’t read the latest, catch up now, Part 2 of the Dueling Dons is coming soon!

Part of the Jewish Godmother series….

Mona Lisa’s Panettone “Jewish style”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with our beloved Jewish Godmother, you can read parts 1-4 of our introduction series on this blog.

Hola Amigos and welcome back. I must say that we were all relieved when El Diablo was dispelled from the deli and life was back to normal. The Godmother returned to her responsibilities of solving the problems of her fellow Brooklynites and it was business as usual. Today I would like to tell you about the “Mona Lisa Horowitz incident.” She was a Jewish-Italian girl with quite the conundrum.

One morning The Godmother was happily rolling quarters from her recent Ma Jong game winnings. Suddenly, her daughter Francine ran into the deli in a panic. She was trying to catch her breath as she spoke, “Ma, I gotta tell you something, you’ll want to hear this!”

The Godmother was annoyed, “Wait, wait, you know I don’t like to be interrupted when I’m counting profits!”

Francine answered anxiously, “Ma, this is important! You remember Mona Lisa Horowitz don’t you? She was in last week.”

“Rabbi Horowitz’s daughter?” replied the Godmother. “Of course I remember her! She is the only girl in Brooklyn who can make Panettone from a loaf of Challah! But boy does she have problems. With genetic predispositions like that, I could make an entire living with her as my only client! Don’t get me started!”

Francine answered, “Yes, her. You know she came to you because she had a problem with her landlord?”

“Yes I know,” The Godmother said as she continued to count quarters. “She has too many cats. I told her I would fix it for her and I would pay a visit to her landlord.”

“Well things got a little more heated and apparently she was getting very close to being evicted! I suppose she got desperate and she went elsewhere for advice.” said Francine.

The Godmother’s interest was peaked…..

The Godmother stopped counting, “Who else could she go to? I deal with all of the problems in Brooklyn.”

Francine replied with trepidation, “Well you know her mom is Italian, so she decided to skip boroughs and went to the Bronx for a second opinion!”

Godmother put the coins down and slowly stood up, “What are you saying? No one crosses boroughs on my watch!”

“Ma, she went to see Don Bustamonte and he gave the landlord an offer he couldn’t refuse!” cried Francine.

My friends, let me explain. Rudolfo Massimo Bustamonte was the head of the last remaining Mafia family in New York City. Unlike The Jewish Godmother, he was a man of few words. He wielded an enormous amount of power throughout the Bronx and beyond. They say his family was responsible for the New York Mets winning the world series in 1986 and for the downfall of the “beanie baby” craze. It is rumored that he proposed a new idea for 2 Mafioso themed beanie babies, “Tony the Fish” and “Fat Paulie the Walrus” and they turned him down.

The Don, at 65 years young, was virulent, tall and considered quite the lady’s man. He was always dressed for success and his nickname was “Rudy the Romantic.”

The Godmother couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “She went to The Godfather? That spumoni loving shyster? How dare he overstep his boundaries! This disrespect will not be tolerated.” She then turned to me, “Jose’, get the Lincoln, we’re going to The Bronx!”

I looked at The Godmother sheepishly, “What are you going to do Don Bubbieberger?”

The Godmother screamed, “I’m gonna clean his clock, that’s what I’m gonna do! Better yet, I’ll clean his Cannolli!” Her proclamation was heard throughout the deli as she swung her arm across the table sending hundreds of quarters flying through the air like a swarm of locusts. Customers cowered under the tables as she stormed out the front door.

Next time we meet my friends, I will tell you what happened next. Adios!

Italian and Yiddush word glossary:

Pannetone: A sweet Italian cake/bread traditionally eaten during Christmastime

Challah: A Jewish traditional egg bread eaten on the Sabbath

Spumoni: a molded gelato with colorful layers containing candy and nuts

Shyster: a person who uses unscrupulous methods in business

Was it really worth it?

One evening our small synagogue held a fancy fundraising event to benefit the synagogue’s preschool. It was held at our local Ritz Carlton resort and it was the gala event of the year. Not only did they charge a hefty sum per person, but entire tables were being sold for $1,000.00! This was a very spectacular event. We looked forward to getting dressed up in formal wear and eating delectable foods, while benefitting a good cause.

When we arrived at the event it was amazing! The entire ballroom was decorated, they had a roaming magician, extravagant items for auction and open bar. It was very classy! One of the highlights of the evening was that on every table there was a huge platter of very pricey beluga caviar. We had no idea how our synagogue pulled that off so we figured that it was donated. My friend happens to absolutely love caviar, while I am not really fond of it. She was over the moon when I gave her my portion, especially since it was beluga. Everyone at the table enjoyed it immensely!

That’s when the trouble began!

The waitstaff started to clear the unfinished caviar on the tables to prepare for the first course. It was then that my friend noticed that the table next to us which was bought by Natasha Sokolov, was completely empty. As a matter of fact, Natasha had not been seen since the evening began. Maybe she was running late we thought, but my friend was not going to let the caviar on the empty table go to waste! So, without hesitation, my beluga loving friend sauntered over to Natasha’s table and took the platter of caviar. The minute she turned around to come back to our table Natasha appeared out of nowhere, shaking her finger in my friend’s face and said eerily in her thick Russian accent, “That was not nice, you will regret this!” My friend, who has a phobia of confrontation, stammered, “Natasha! Where did you come from?” To which Natasha sarcastically replied, “Moscow.” She then walked away and my friend proceeded to eat the caviar anyway. I felt uneasy, it seemed as though Natasha put a hex on my friend, or a Russian version of a fatwah.

Natasha strikes back

Suddenly, the lights in the ballroom went out. It was only momentary but in that time there was a slight panic, people started murmuring and stirring in their seats. When the lights came back on, Natasha was no longer standing next to her table. It was then that we heard a scream from across the ballroom. We looked over and saw that on the far wall, something was written in Russian with smeared caviar! It was then that Irving Zelensky, a member of our synagogue who majored in 18th century Russian literature stood up. He was waiting all these years for the moment to actually be able to put his degree to use. He said, “It reads: ‘Give us what we want and nobody gets hurt.'” Irving continued, “This looks like Natasha Sokolov’s handiwork, everyone knows she has ties to the KGB and she’s an heiress to the Russian beluga caviar empire, where do you think all of this caviar came from?” (Everyone knew, except us apparently) I looked over at my friend who had caviar hanging from her lip and I said to her, “Look what your obsession with stupid fish eggs has done!” My friend replied, “I know what she wants, she has been nagging my brother who is in the export business to export items that are very hard to find in Russia.” At that moment, my friend’s phone rang, it showed up as unknown. She answered and a man’s voice was at the other end. He said in a heavy Russian accent, “Have brother send items to Russia and no harm will come to anyone and you will be forgiven for stealing the Sokolov family’s beluga caviar.” He then listed the items to be sent: “12 boxes Stove Top Stuffing, 15 boxes of Rice a Roni the San Francisco Treat, 10 cases Root Beer; the one with no caffeine, 20 boxes of Mike and Ike candy, 3 pairs of women’s Levi jeans in sizes 27, 29 & 32, 13 jars of peanut butter and 25 tubes of Preparation H extra strength. These items must be sent every 3 months until we say no more.” With that, my friend spoke to her brother and to this day he is still exporting those items to Russia. Also, my friend has not eaten nor gone near caviar since!