From the kitchen, Mama called out, “Ver iz in droysn (Who is outside?”)
I ran to the front door and a group of plainclothesmen surrounded President Barack Obama. I gasped and rubbed my eyes in disbelief.
Mama called out again, “Fishele vos iz der tuml (What is the hubbub?”)
“Mama, it’s President Obama!”
“S’iz shpet, vos vil er (It’s late, what does he want?”)
At this point, one of the burly, well-dressed guards stepped forward and said, “President Obama will be addressing the House, Senate and the nation on national TV on the Health Issue, and was told by his trusted advisors that he must first hear what Mama has to say.”
Mama finally came to the front door to see for herself what the ruckus was all about. She yawned and said, “Vos pasirt (What’s happening?) S’iz shpet zey darfn shlofn (It’s late they need to go to sleep.) Zog zey tsu kumen morgn durkhn tog, ober nisht tsu shpet. (Tell them to come tomorrow during the day, but not too late.”)
“I’m sorry, Mama says it’s late and you should be in bed. She said to come back tomorrow, but not too late.”
The burly guard gently brushed by me and entered. “Please tell Mama that The President will be addressing the Nation and Mama must give him her wise counsel tonight.”
“Fishele, nu, vos viln zey, un farvos geyen zey nisht avek (so, what do they want, and why don’t they go away?”)
“Mama they have come for your advice on the National Healthcare Issue and you’ll have to talk English so they will understand you.”
“Alright, I’ll try but they won’t listen, and if they do listen, they won’t do it anyway.”
At this point The President came in and told the others to wait outside—except a recorder who took down all the notes.
“Mrs. Kutner, you lived through the Great Depression and your children always were healthy, well-nourished and cleanly dressed even though times were difficult. How were you able to do this on your meager income?”
“Fishele, tell The President that I had a pushke (alms box) and put money in the little blue and white can.”
“Mrs. Kutner, that is very commendable, but what advice do you have for our nation in these financially strapped times.”
“First of all, you have to eat and drink right. What goes into your mouth goes into your body--no junk. If you want to drink shnaps (whiskey), just take Manischewitz sweet wine and no more than a glass—except if it’s Peysakh (Passover) or Purim. You should not smoke because it is bad for your lungs, and makes your fingers brown.”
At this point, The President smiled and said, “But, Mama, how would you implement it? These are lifetime habits and we have strong tobacco and liquor lobbies.”
“You have to set an example. You can’t invite the professor and policeman to your house for a beer. Then you can’t have nice ads for smoking and drinking. Mr. President, it is more important that people should eat right and not be too fat.”
“Now, Mrs. Kutner, let’s get down to your advice on nutrition and how we can have a healthier nation and thus reduce healthcare costs that are spiraling out of control.”
“Mr. President, I like you and voted for you. It was like President Roosevelt having to fix things after that Hoover man did terrible things. That Bush was no good.”
“Thank you for those kind words, but, please, would you give me some specific advice.”
“Hokey, people should buy whole chickens. They are cheaper and you get exercise cutting them up. People should walk their children to school. They’ll get exercise and can talk to them about their classes and why they should listen to their teachers. Mamas should make good lunches for their children. You would save money and pay the teachers better.”
The recorder began to write faster and Mama got excited and began a long litany of advice.
“You should eat fresh food and not stuff in cans. It has a lot of sugar and salt. If you eat healthy, you will be healthier and go to the doctor less and you will save money for the kids’ college and buy Israel bonds.
“Mamas should not use cleaning ladies. The children and husband should help. It will save them money and the exercise is good for them. Cleaning ladies should work only in hotels or go to college so they can be good secretaries.
“You should eat dark bread. Fishele tells me that the children eat white bread and even cut around the thin dark outside. You should eat a good rye or pumpernickel or bialys.
“The bread should have plenty of fresh butter—the real yellow kind, not the pale color or with salt. The milk should be real milk not the thin skimmed kind that looks like dishwater. If you sit around, you get fat. If you are active, you burn off the fat.
“All these people go to the gym to work out. They even ride their cars there. This costs money, pollutes the air and all the work doesn’t get anything done. They could have a garden with healthy fresh vegetables, wash their own cars, cut their own lawn, wash their own clothes, cook their own food and save a lot of money.
“There are too many babies without fathers helping to raise and pay for them. It’s those bad men who should pay for it.”
“Mrs. Kutner, do you have any specific advice?”
“Yes, Mr. Obama, I mean Mr. President, if a man makes a baby and doesn’t want to pay and help raise the baby you should use a tight rubber band and the blood stops flowing and they fall off and he cannot make any more babies. It is cheaper than putting him in jail and works better.”
“Hmm, it sounds cruel, but probably painless.”
“There are men that cause most of the trouble, but also there are some very bad women. Instead of putting them in expensive jails, they should be put in nice hotels. Then when men want to see bad girls, they can go there and pay for the girls. This way it won’t cost us money and the girls will be doing some good for the rest of us.
“Israel makes the boys go to the Army for three years and the girls two years. This teaches them responsibility, and they learn to do things. At 18 or after finishing high school, we could have them be teachers’ helpers, keep the parks clean, or work with the old and sick people. They could work with children in the summertime and save parents money instead of the kids going to expensive camps. They could teach old people how to use a computer or even a cell-phone.”
“Mrs. Kutner, I came from the White House in Washington for advice on healthcare and, in addition, you have helped a long way, to solve the financial crisis. How would you have handled the banks and AIG?”
“Oy, s’iz shpet un mir darfn greytn morgn di eyer far mark” (Oh, it is late, and we have to prepare the eggs for market.)
“Mr. President, Mama says it’s late and we have to get the eggs ready for market, tomorrow.”
“Well, Mr. President, I’ll tell you one more thing, mir darfn geyn shlofn (we have to go sleep,) I mean go to bed. Since we have given the Araber (Arabs) so much money for oil that makes bad air, let us give them some of our bad loans for money. We have the bad air and they can have the bad loans.”“Good night, Mr. President and good luck to you with fixing the country’s problems. If Roosevelt could do it, so can you.”