Upon hanging up the phone, Rochel went into her living room and plopped herself down on a chair.
“What am I going to do?” she wailed.
“What’s the matter?” her unsuspecting but concerned husband asked.
“I just got off the phone with Sima, you know, my best friend from seminary. I haven’t seen her in 20 years, and she happens to be in town. She said she wants to stop by to see me tomorrow.”
“I’m not really understanding,” her husband replied, shaking his head in confusion.
“You don’t get it.” (He knew that was coming) “What I mean,” she said, taking a deep breath, “is that I’ve gained weight since she last saw me, and there’s no way I can lose 30 pounds by tomorrow afternoon,” she wailed again, her voice rising to a new pitch.
“But Rochel, what’s the worst that’ll happen?” he foolishly continued.
Shocked by his inability to answer this question himself, she retorted, “She’ll see me, of course.”
“Oh,” he replied before quickly adding, “You’re beautiful just the way you are.”
The glare that was laser-beamed across the room made him realize that his only means of surviving the next 24-hour period was to make himself scarce. He cautiously excused himself, told her that he was sure she would work it out, and made a beeline for the door.
Clearly needing the support and the advice of more experienced trauma team, Rochel conference-called a few of her in-town friends for advice. The first suggestion someone made was to have one of those life-size cardboard stand-ups made using a picture of her from 20 pounds ago. After all, one had to be realistic. Figuring she could place the cardboard image of herself in the living room, hide in the kitchen, and “throw” her voice, like in the ventriloquist acts, they embraced the idea. It was only after coming to the bitter conclusion that “throwing” her voice was beyond her capabilities that the idea was nixed. Other possibilities included putting room-darkening shades in the living room while keeping all the lights off, as well as the brilliant idea of hiring a double who could stand in for her. Unfortunately, it would be too pricey to buy new window shades. It was equally difficult to prep someone with all the shared memories of the good old days, not to mention depressing, since she couldn’t remember half of them herself.
The group then moved on to the what-did-you-do-when scenarios. After all, Rochel had attended weddings, bar mitzvas, and other simchas over the last 20 years. “All true,” she informed them, when this was brought to her attention, “But I have a three-year or 90-day rule.” Their collective silence was rewarded with the following explanation: “See, if you’ve seen me in the last three-years, then you have the updated version of the “outer me.” If, on the other hand, you haven’t seen me, then I need at least 90 days to get back to the dress size that I was when you last saw me. The problem here is that I have no lead time for this, and I haven’t seen Sima in 20 years.” The situation looked grim.
Realizing that there was nowhere else to turn, the group decided to gather together to face the harsh reality that was confronting them. Once everyone arrived, it was decided that they would simply have to choose an outfit that would most flatter the situation. After traipsing upstairs to her bedroom, they began hunting around her closet for a miracle. Instead, they stumbled upon Rochel’s album from seminary, which, not surprisingly, was filled with pictures of her and Sima. One look at the hairstyles and the outdated glasses had them rolling. Underneath the album was her “sem” sweatshirt. Tucked inside of that, they discovered an Angel’s Bakery bag and a carefully folded banner. The banner was the “Welcome Back” sign that had greeted her upon her arrival home. Surrounded by such wonderful memories, Rochel decided that if Sima was still the friend she used to be, nothing would change that, not 20 years nor 30 pounds.
The next day, the much anticipated knock came. Rochel, mustering all her courage and enthusiasm, flung the door open only to find herself face to face with a tree. You know, the kind that sits in one of those enormous plant holders that people put in the corner of their living room for no apparent reason. The only sign of a human being were the two arms wrapped around the pot.
“Sima?” Rochel asked cautiously.
“Hi, Rochel, it’s me. I brought you a present.”
“Um, can I have it so you can come in and so that I can see you?” Rochel inquired.
“I’ll give it to you when I leave. For now, I’ll just keep it in front of me,” Sima stated matter-of-factly.
“Well, it’s just that, well, I’m just a little embarrassed,” Sima stammered. “See, I’ve gained 30 pounds since you last saw me, and well….”
“Say no more,” Rochel shrieked, “You’re the best friend ever. I knew I could count on you.” She threw her arms around Sima, tree and all (which turned out to be a little more painful than she had anticipated.)
Rochel dragged Sima into the house, again – not so easy with a tree involved – where they spent a lovely afternoon reminiscing about the past and creating a future of friendship.