Moshe Kash­er is a stand-up come­di­an and the author of Kash­er In The Rye: The True Tale Of A White Boy From Oak­land Who Became A Drug Addict, Crim­i­nal, Men­tal Patient…And Then Turned Six­teen This is a sto­ry of a Passover mir­a­cle. Or some­thing. Read­ers should be advised of strong lan­guage and total immaturity…although it’s got a pret­ty great end­ing.

It is said that who­ev­er finds the afikomen on Passover is grant­ed a wish that can­not be refused by the mas­ter of the house. That wish, no mat­ter how extrav­a­gant or unusu­al, must be ful­filled and until the lucky dis­cov­er­er is sat­is­fied that his wish has been grant­ed, the seder can­not con­tin­ue. This is the sto­ry of the night that went quite wrong.

It was the first night of Pesach and Shmulie slumped down at the head of his Seder table with a great relieved sigh. The week was final­ly over. He’d been run­ning around all week, shop­ping for matzah and matzah meal and matzah-based bev­er­ages and oth­er assort­ed con­sti­pa­tion aids. Shmulie was exhausted.

Why are you sit­ting down!?!” Pessy yelled from the kitchen, Get the door!”

How his wife even knew he had just sat down was beyond Shmulie’s grasp. Pessy had a kind of sec­ond sight that tuned right into Shmulie’s attempts at rest. Any­time he took a deep breath she would yell, Don’t breathe!” He didn’t know how to comply.

Pessy was the boss, always had been. Most­ly, Shmulie accept­ed it, as she seemed able to know all of the things that he didn’t quite know how to do. She was his queen and it didn’t mat­ter to him if she only rarely treat­ed him like a prince. For her, he would be a pau­per — he would be a page.

GET THE DOOR!!!” Pessy shrieked from the kitchen.

Pessy, no one is at the door!” Shmulie tried to sound reasonable.

Just then the door bell rang. How had she known!?!

Shmulie end­ed his one-breath-long vaca­tion and got him­self up and saun­tered into the hall to wel­come the Pesach guests. One step at a time the plas­tic run­ner in the hall buck­led beneath his big feet. He made his way to the door.

One by one the guests trick­led in. Shmulie didn’t know any of them, but he greet­ed each of them with a big fake smile and a warm Chag Sameach!”

He’d done this before. This was the sev­enth year in a row they’d host­ed a seder for the neigh­bor­hood. A sea of strangers washed into their din­ing room and ate as much as they could then leaked out into the streets. Shmulie hat­ed it. He hat­ed strangers and it was odd to him that some of the peo­ple Pessy invit­ed were non-Jews. Why would they be invit­ed to Passover? Sure the Hagad­dah says Let all who are hun­gry, come and eat!” but they couldn’t have meant let all who are hun­gry, right? Hun­gry goys too?

Oh well, Pessy knew best. Shmulie repeat­ed this to him­self for the ten thou­sandth time and got to the busi­ness of begin­ning the seder. At the far end of the table was a Laot­ian fam­i­ly who clear­ly didn’t even know what they were doing there. Con­fused looks were exchanged when Shmulie dipped the pars­ley into the salt water and splashed the water on his face to show them that they were tears.

Tears get it? Like boo hoo?”

Why are they tears?” Bok, the youngest Laot­ian boy, asked.

Because we remem­ber the tears our peo­ple shed in the desert, toil­ing for the Egyp­tians in the hot sun,” Shmulie recit­ed, as if from a script.

In Laos, we cried too… do you want to know why?” Bok asked.

Not real­ly, no.” Shmulie just want­ed to get through this meal.

Shmulie! Don’t be rude.” Pessy turned to the seder guests. Sor­ry about him, he’s been emo­tion­al­ly off late­ly. We think its gluten. Thank good­ness for Passover, the orig­i­nal lo-carb diet!” She shrieked dis­gust­ing­ly and turned to Bok and said, We’d love to know why you cried.” Pessy’s face scrunched up in com­pas­sion in that sin­gu­lar way that only white women sym­pa­thiz­ing with brown peo­ple can manage.

Bok spoke, In Laos we cried because we didn’t have a floor. Our hut was lined with dirt…”

Well that’s hor­ri­ble, sor­ry about that Bok, back to Passover…” Shmulie couldn’t stand stuff like this.

I’M NOT FIN­ISHED! We ate worms and grubs. We had one well, but it was filthy and we had to drink it any­way. My father died of dysentery.”

Is that every­thing?” Shmulie was los­ing his patience here. He hadn’t signed on for an address at the Unit­ed Nations. He just want­ed to eat that f – king afikomen and be done with this thing.

No. It is not every­thing.” Bok then began a 45 minute speech about that hard­ships of life in Laos that was so painful to lis­ten to that Shmulie imag­ined he now knew exact­ly how it felt to be a slave in Egypt, or in fact, a boy in Laos.

Even­tu­al­ly Pessy gave up on the rit­u­al aspects of the meal alto­geth­er and just start­ed serv­ing the food in between Bok’s exag­ger­at­ed sobs, nev­er once betray­ing any annoy­ance or a lack of inter­est in hear­ing Bok’s tale of woe which was superced­ing what was sup­posed to have been the tale of the woe of the Jew­ish peo­ple. God­damn it, this Laot­ian kid was steal­ing Passover with his sad lit­tle life. Shmulie had had about enough of this.

Ok, that’s it. We are doing Afikomen now.” Shmulie’s voice was terse and annoyed.

Shmulie! We have to fin­ish hear­ing Bok’s sto­ry!” Pessy snapped back.

I’m almost done.” Bok smiled.

No! No, I’m putting my foot down. I’m sor­ry Bok, I am. Laos sounds sh-tty. I’m sor­ry your father is dead and I’m sor­ry you had dirt floors and I’m sor­ry there is a sauce in Laos made of cow shit. It real­ly sounds bad but right now, it’s Passover. And it’s mid­night and we are mov­ing on to the afikomen and then I’m going to bed and then I am going to have sex with my wife!”

No you aren’t,” Pessy sneered.

Then I’ll have sex with myself!” Shmulie had nev­er spo­ken to Pessy like this. It felt real­ly, real­ly good.

Bok frowned, sad. Alright. I’m sor­ry. I apol­o­gize. I didn’t mean to ruin your hol­i­day with my sad sto­ry. Lets move onto the Afi…what did you call it?”

Komen. THE AFI-KOMEN. Let’s do.”

Shmulie cut the awk­ward­ness in the air with an unin­spired speech about the Afikomen and the rewards it wrought. Then he screamed Go!” and began the hunt. Nobody moved.

Slow­ly, at the end of the table, Bok stood up and calm­ly walked direct­ly over to the spot where Shmulie had hid­den the Afikomen ear­li­er, under­neath a copy of Bob Marley’s album, Exo­dus” which Shmulie had felt to be a great joke but, watch­ing Bok flip it over and grab the Afikomen with­out emo­tion or recog­ni­tion had tak­en all the joy out of it. Bok lift­ed the Afikomen up.

Great Bok, you win. You got the Afikomen. What the hell do you want for it.”

Shmulie knew. He got it then. Anger surged into him. This was a set up. A con to peel a cou­ple grand from him. Some­how Bok knew all about the Afikomen and had set this up to ruin his Passover. All the joy he’d felt when he’d stood up to Pessy was now gone. He looked over at her, frown­ing, her glare accus­ing him – HIM! – of ruin­ing the seder. At that moment, Shmulie knew one more thing — he hat­ed his wife.

What do you want? Let me guess a grand? Five thou­sand bucks? Just say it and let’s end this fuck­ing night.”

All the guests got silent and shift­ed uncom­fort­ably. Every­one want­ed to leave.

Bok looked up, smiled and said qui­et­ly, I want your life.”

Shmulie looked back, confused.

And,” Bok con­tin­ued, I want you to have mine.”

And that was how Shmulie and Pessy Born­stein moved to Laos. 

Years passed, Shmulie has made his liv­ing repair­ing old sneak­ers at the mar­ket in town and Pessy caught taran­tu­las in traps she made and set in the woods. She would sun-dry them and sprin­kle gar­lic, soy and MSG on them and sell them on sticks to travelers.

Their home was small, and the floors were dirt and when the rains came, they hoped that the leaks wouldn’t make too much mud. They’d tried to have kids but some­thing in the drink­ing water seemed to have turned Pessy’s womb. But most­ly, they were hap­py. Pessy had soft­ened. Shmulie had found his voice. When the after­noon suns came and the pale streams of light stole through the lat­tice of the hut they lived in and shone on her brow, she glowed, radi­ant, pure and per­fect. And, one after­noon as that Laot­ian sun danced on her face, Shmulie looked over and real­ized that he loved his wife. He loved her very much. Crowned with a crown of pure sun, once again, she was his queen.

At that very moment of real­iza­tion, the post­man came, squeak­ing down the dirt road that led to their vil­lage on a bike so creaky and rusty – it defied the laws of log­ic to see it’s wheels turn. The post­man, Chan­tos, hand­ed Shmulie a let­ter. The let­ter, thick papered and tied down the mid­dle with a sin­gle red rib­bon, held in place with a red wax seal, sat, heavy in Shmulie’s hands. It seemed to vibrate there, singing with an invis­i­ble music. Shmulie real­ized his hand was trem­bling when he broke that seal and he called Pessy into the hut as he opened the let­ter. It read, in a sim­ple script:

You can have your life back now.
Eli­jah The Prophet

Moshe Kash­er is the author of Kash­er In The Rye: The True Tale Of A White Boy From Oak­land Who Became A Drug Addict, Crim­i­nal, Men­tal Patient…And Then Turned Six­teen. He is an L.A.-based come­di­an who was named iTunes Come­di­an of the Year. He is a reg­u­lar­ly fea­tured guest on E’s Chelsea Late­ly, Late Night with Jim­my Fal­lon, and Com­e­dy Central.