It was the night of the Democratic primary in 1970. We were delirious! Bella Abzug had just wrested the Congressional seat from Leonard Farbstein, a political hack. The honorable Congressman claimed he opposed the Vietnam War, but voted for every military spending appropriation because he didn’t want to “let down our boys.”

We had started the Eleanor Roosevelt Independent Democrats six years earlier, and it took us three shots get to get rid of Farbstein. He was a “product” of the regular Democratic Club, which owed its existence to the no-show city jobs it could supply to its election district captains.

A winning clubhouse is always filled with celebrants, some of whom have never been seen before. But the woman who started talking to me did look familiar. She was going on and on about someone named Bob, but I had locked eyes with her friend. I did hear words, like relationship and break-up, but her friend and I continued to stare.

Then the woman who was talking managed to get our attention by introducing us. “Steve, this is my friend, Michelle.” And then I remembered that her name was Diane.

They had to leave right then, because they had a ride uptown. Michelle and I exchanged phone numbers, and she amazed me by mouthing the words, “I want you!” And I mouthed, “Me too!”


The next evening, I wore my favorite sweater, a white cable knit. As soon as Michelle opened the door, she threw her arms around me. I was never happier in my life!

Later, she told me that as soon as she saw me, she wanted me. And I felt the same about her. We didn’t get dressed until the next morning, just before we left for work. But as we walked to the subway, I sensed that something had changed. We had our arms around each other, but it seemed almost pro forma.

When we parted on the subway platform, she gave me a peck on the lips.

That evening I called Diane. She would definitely know what was up.

“Steve, you don’t know what you did?”
“So tell me already?”
“Your sweater had a hole in it!”
“And your point is?”
“That’s what turned her off!”
“You’re kidding me!”
“She questioned what you care about, if not your appearance.”
“Well, I care about Bella Abzug winning.”
“Bella who?”


It was many years later, and I was living in Brooklyn. I had a few friends over, and apropos of nothing, Dan asked if I had moths?

I was quite aware that I had a large hole in my sweater, just over my heart. I should have given the sweater to the Salvation Army – if they would have taken it – but I just couldn’t part with it. It was turquoise, so I wore a turquoise tee shirt under it, but Dan called me on it anyway. So I decided to play along.

“Why do you ask if I have moths?”
“Steve, you have a big hole in your sweater.”
“Really? … Oh, now I remember how it happened! Last year I went hunting with Dick Cheney.”


When my nieces were growing up, they enjoyed pointing out the holes in my clothing. They loved it when I answered that there was a reason for the holes.

What possible reason could I have?
“You don’t know what today is?”
No one knew.
“Today is a holy day!”

After that, whenever they spotted a hole in my clothes, one of them would ask, “Is today another holy day?”


You don’t have to be Jewish to know about the high holy days – the ten days of atonement – beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur. So I decided to have some fun with my nieces. I wore a top hat. And of course it had a big hole in it.

Finally, Sophie asked, “We know you’re wearing something with a hole in it because it’s a holy day. But why the top hat?”
I waited for several seconds. They knew that I would have a really dumb answer.
Finally, I explained: “Because we’re in the middle of the high holy days.”