The Hanukkah Dilemma

My garbage disposal/sink doesn’t handle potato peels all that well. Maybe this is something most latke aficionados have learned themselves, or from someone else. However, I rarely do the cooking and have never helped before this year with latke preparation, and I was not expecting this dilemma at all.

I love peeling potatoes. It’s fun for me. I don’t know why. Maybe there’s some weird classifiable disease there that I can get a prescription for—I can only hope. Despite my love for peeling potatoes, I do not like dealing with the peels. Specifically, I hate peeling potatoes into the trash because it makes a mess and I know that I have to take the trash out. My trash is in the alley. I hate going into the alley. I hate the alley because something always jumps out at me. That something is usually just a cat, but the thing that is not usually a cat is something I cannot describe… yet this is for another post at another time. And I hate picking the peels up off the floor because the dog won’t eat them (she eats broccoli but not potato peels… go figure).

Moving right along… I decided to peel the potatoes in the sink. Directly in the sink. I’ve got a great garbage disposal and it’s never failed me. After peeling the spuds I turned on the water and washed the peels down the drain listening to the oddly satisfying sound of the disposal grinding up the potatoes hubris. It all washed down without a hitch. Done. As I washed the straggling strands of spud particulate down the drain I smiled to myself and a tear came to my eye with the ease this whole clean up ordeal had passed. We cooked latkes, ate them, and had a nice night with the family.

The next morning I woke to the sound of my wife running the dishwasher. This is nothing unusual. I moseyed into the kitchen where I was greeted with a sink that is backing up. We’ve had various plumbing problems, nothing serious, but our house was built in ’60 so it’s not unusual to have something come up. We’ve also had problems with the dishwasher in the past. I checked to make sure the sink in the utility room wasn’t backing up to make sure the clog wasn’t in the main pipe, and I quickly deduced the clog was very close.

Baaaah… crap.

I called the plumber. His name was Larry. He strolled in nonchalantly, pulling up his pants from the last cold draft of air kissing his exposed crack as he felt the warmth of my home. He went straight to the sink and got right to work.

After a couple of minutes I hear his muffled, whisky-burned voice ask, “So you guys having a good hanukkah?”

“How do you know we do Hanukkah?” I wondered. We didn’t have anything Jewish predominately displayed aside from the mezuzot, but most people don’t notice them because they don’t recognize them. He didn’t walk through the house where our Hanukkiah sat either.

From the bowels of the sink he bellowed, “It’s the only time of year I get called out for clogged sinks that end up being plugged with potato peels.”

“No shit?” I amazed aloud.

He reassembled the pipes, put the stuff under the sink, stood up, ran the water, and replied, “No shit.”

“You should do a community awareness thing for the Jewish community,” I told him.

“No shit?” he inquired.

To which I replied, “No shit. You could probably generate a lot of business. I mean, we’ll still grind our potatoes in the sink anyway because it’s so convenient. Then we’ll know just to call you because your number’s on the hanukkah plumber magnet you gave us. In fact, you can call it Hanukkah Harry’s Plumbing: 8 Crazy Nights Needs 1 Sane Plumber.”

He gathered up his tools and briefly wiped the floors and counter. He filled out his invoice, pointed out the office number to call to make payment, and handing me his $224.17 bill, he said, “I like it.”

As he pulled the door closed on his way out he absentmindedly said, “Merry Christmas.”



  1. Philo, I am a little confused as to how you were able to wash the potato hubris down the drain… or really how the potatoes exhibited hubris in the first place. Did they mock you as you peeled them?

    1. The peel is the physical manifestation of the potatoes’ pride and arrogance. This is only seen in potatoes, and it is also why you can power a small clock with a spud. I should have known that putting it in the disposal would not remove the problem, but only concentrate the energy of the potato, thus mocking me with ever greater intensity.

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