And now that Shabbes Shkolim is this week, it's time for the first pre-Pesach anxiety dream of the year. Woo-hoo!
I am a guest at the Goldsteins, in Basel. I think my father is somewhere present, too. There's no couch or bench or bed at the table, so I take two chairs and a few pillows, and fall back into the two chairs, reclining. Frau Goldstein gets indignant, tells me that nobody else is getting two chairs, including her, and asks me to move over to the other side of the table, where taking two chairs will, for some reason, be less burdensome. I feel guilty.
I fill up my glass (stemware -- ooh, phallic?) with what seems to be white wine, though it's pretty clear-colored. I redden it by adding some drops of -- red wine? Red grape juice? The drops are coming out only drop by drop, and I eventually realize that it's merely red food-coloring, which hardly count to turn "white wine" into "red wine". (Good thing there's no obligation to have red wine at the seder, merely a homiletical preference.)
It seems that various people are reciting kiddush for themselves, to speed things up or something. At least one of them is a woman; this is rather surprising in an Orthodox setting out of the Upper West Side, though of course it doesn't bother me. I'm trying to get to the point of being able to recite kiddush, but each time I stretch my body out horizontally over the badly-put-together-two-chairs-and-pillows, I spill liquid from the glass, and have to refill.
At least once, I think multiple times, I actually break the glass in the process, and my hand gets cut and bleeds. I think I may break a few, actually. The lights in the room are rather dark. I think a few other people might make kiddush in the meantime. Other people are still shmoozing. It's getting later; it might even be as late as 11 PM. And, of course, the seder still hasn't even officially started. My hosts must be getting annoyed with me. I'm feeling guilty.
Eventually, there's no more stemware, because I'm broken all the available stemware glasses. I take a plain glass cup, of the sort which I have in my apartment here in Jerusalem. I fill it with -- wine? Is there any wine left? Or even grape juice? I discover that the clear liquid in the bottle, which I had been using earlier to fill up my cup, was not wine, but some sort of distilled thing resembling Araq -- not halakhically acceptable for use in the ritual cups at the seder, and anyway not something I enjoy. Or maybe this one is made from pears, or something. Anyway, I try desperately to fill the remainder of the cup with more wine-like liquids, but what is there left? Have I already spilled all the wine, just as I have broken all the stemwear? I think I start trying to squeeze the red food-coloring into the glass, drop by drop.
I finally make kiddush, though I'm not sure over what. I'm embarrassed to recite the "expanded text" (beautiful poetic version, going back to the time of the Geonim, and used in many communities today), because I've already made myself look so ostentatious in front of the hosts and other guests, so I use the ordinary version. This makes me sad.
During kiddush, I realize that it happens to be Friday night, so I include the lines about Shabbos in kiddush. (This is the first time in 14 years that the seder has falllen on Friday night, so I recite these lines with great gusto.) But why did I only just remember this? Why didn't I remember it was Shabbos during maariv, at shul? Why didn't I include the relevant mentions of Shabbos in maariv? And what about ברכת מעין שבע -- I know that almost all shuls omit this on a Friday night which falls on seder night, but KAJ-NewYork includes it, and that's where I davvened. (If I davvened this evening in New York, how am I now in Basel, anyway?) How could I have missed that? Here is an occasion which hasn't occurred in 14 years, and I was at one of the only shuls in the world, if not the only one, which includes מעין שבע on that occasion, and I missed it? I walked out early? What the hell was I thinking?! And if I left early, that means I must have missed Yigdal, too, rather than getting the opportunity to sing it with the choir....
UPDATE: When I clicked "publish this post", there was an internet blip, and I was terrified that I had lost the post forever. I clicked the "back" button, and returned to the previous page. In the background, I could see the words of my post, græyed out, and there was a dialog-box in the foreground, asking me: "Restore from saved draft?" I clicked "Yes", and it filled the compose-screen with the words of my previous post, about some recording of “Poor Wand’ring One”. I screamed: "FUCK!" However, somehow, by clicking "back" or "forward" or whatever, I managed to get to the right post, which seems to have been posted, after all, for here it is.