By Bruce Marcus and Lori Factor-Marcus
'Twas the night before Christmas, and we, being Jews,
My girlfriend and me—we had nothing to do.
The Gentiles were home, hanging stockings with care,
Secure in their knowledge St. Nick would be there.
But for us, once the Hanukkah candles burned down,
There was nothing but boredom all over town.
The malls and the theaters were all closed up tight;
There weren't any concerts to go to that night.
A dance would have saved us, some ballroom or swing,
But we searched through the papers; there wasn't a thing.
Outside the window sat two feet of snow;
With the wind-chill, they said it was fifteen below.
And while all I could do was sit there and brood,
My girl saved the night and called out "CHINESE FOOD!"
So we ran to the closet, grabbed hats, mitts and boots
To cover our heads, our hands, and our foots.
We pulled on our jackets, all puffy with down.
And boarded "The T," bound for old Chinatown.
The train nearly empty, it rolled through the stops,
While visions of wontons danced through our kopfs.
We hopped off at Park Street; the Common was bright
With fresh-fallen snow and the trees strung with lights,
Then crept through "The Zone" with its bums and its thugs,
And entrepreneurs selling ladies and drugs.
At last we reached Chinatown, rushed through the gates,
Past bakeries, past markets, past shops and cafes,
In search of a restaurant: "Which one? Let's decide!"
We chose "Hunan Chozer," and ventured inside.
Around us sat other Jews, their platters piled high
With the finest of foods their money could buy:
There was roast duck and fried fake squid, (sweet, sour and spiced,)
Dried kosher beef and mixed veggies, lo mein and fried rice,
Whole fish and moo shi and "shrimp" chow mee foon,
And General Gau's chicken and ma po tofu....
When at last we decided, and the waiter did call,
We said: "Skip the menu!" and ordered it all.
And when in due time the food was all made,
It came to the table in a sort of parade.
Before us sat dim sum, spare ribs and egg rolls,
And four different soups, in four great, huge bowls.
And chicken wings! Dumplings! and beef teriyakis!
And scallion pancakes—'cause they're kind of like latkes
The courses kept coming, from spicy to mild,
And higher and higher toward the ceiling were piled.
And while this went on, we became aware
Every diner around us had started to stare.
Their jaws hanging open, they looked on unblinking;
Some dropped their teacups, some drooled without thinking.
So much piled up, one dish after the other,
My girlfriend and I couldn't see one another!
Now we sat there, we two, without proper utensils,
While they handed us something that looked like two pencils.
We poked and we jabbed till our fingers were sore
And half of our dinner wound up on the floor.
We tried—how we tried!—but, sad truth to tell,
Ten long minutes later and still hungry as hell,
We swallowed our pride, feeling vaguely like dorks,
And called to our waiter to bring us two forks.
We fressed and we feasted, we slurped and we munched;
We noshed and we supped, we breakfast'd and lunched.
We ate till we couldn't and drank down our teas
And barely had room for our fortune cookies.
But my fortune was perfect; it summed up the mood
When it said: "Pork is Kosher, when it's in Chinese food."
And my girlfriend, well, she got a real winner;
Her's said: "Your companion will pay for the dinner."
Our bellies were full and at last it was time
To travel back home and write some bad rhyme
Of our Chinatown trek (and to privately speak
About trying to refine our chopstick technique).
The MSG spun round and round in our heads,
As we tripped and we laughed and gaily we said,
As we carried our leftovers home through the night;
"Good Yom Tov to all, and to all a Good Night!"
Bruce Marcus is a storyteller. He and Lori live in Malden, Mass.
©1992 Bruce Marcus and Lori Factor-Marcus. Reprinted with their kind permission.
Submitted by reader B.M.