Sunday, June 1, 2008

Tree People

This was an interesting Shabbos.
First of all, it was raining in 770.
But also it was interesting in regards to where I ate my meals.
Friday night I ate at a guy's house, who was my learning teacher seven years ago in cgi montreal. We've stayed in touch only a little bit over the years (it was always really awkward when he called me. I wonder if my campers think the same thing when I call them up every now and then. Of course, he was slightly weird, and verrrry chassidish. I'm a lot cooler, right? Actually, my kids probably all know the truth- that I'm a big dork...).
And this year, being in Crown Heights, we've seen each other some times, and I've always managed to avoid his invitation. But last week on my birthday, I was on the Ohel bus, and he saw me with my brother. It was his birthday also. (Not my brother's, but my former learning teacher.)(Not that it wasn't also my brother's. It was. But it was also the dude's.)
So I couldn't say no anymore, and we set the date for us to eat over.
It wasn't a bad meal. It was just slightly awkward. Like, really drawn out and forced conversation type of meal.

And then of course there was my meal on Shabbos day...
We (me, my bro, and my sis) finally went to eat at the Tree People's house.
The Tree People, or Forest Family (or any combination, like Forest People...) if you remember, had invited us over when we met them in the Redwood Forest over Chol HaMoed. So we finally decided to call them up and go.
[On the way, we passed this little Yiddeleh, an old man with a cane (and 'old' here means old LeKulai Alma, like double my definition of 'old'), who called out to us to help him walk up some steps to a house. I came forward and lent him my arm and support. When we got to the top, he thanked me, and bentched me that when I get to his age, I shouldn't need help (or something like that). Immediately I answered back that when I got to his age, he should be able to help me up steps if I need. Okay, back to the story-]
We came into the house, and had an (surprisingly) enjoyable meal. They were good-humored, and the conversation flowed. We spoke about the forest we visited, and their trips out to Cali.
At the end of the meal, after benthcing, they started telling us about a group of individuals called the Berkeley Tree People, who were living in trees for a year and a half (as a protest to stop a grove of trees from being turned into a parking lot. For some reason (probably for a good laugh), the judge ruled that as long as they stayed up in the trees, and did not come down, they would not be arrested.).
I thought this was hilarious, of course. I mean, the Tree People, talking about other Tree People. True, our Tree People were named so only because that's where we met them, and not because they lived twenty feet off the ground, but still.
After we left, my sister, who had missed the beginning of the conversation, asked me if I had told them what we call them, and that's why they brought up the other Tree People. I told her no, that it was just a coincidence (Hashgacha Pratis, really).
And then, my sister asked me something so sinister, so horrid, something that caused time to stand still, my heart to miss a beat, and my body to be shaken to its very core, "What if they brought it up, because THEY call US the Tree People??????!!!!!!!"
We had always assume it was our little joke. But what if they laugh about us, and call us the same thing, and thought it would be a hoot to talk to us about Tree People, Like Ourselves???
Scary, I know.