July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Welcome back to “How Should I Know?”—the column that four out of five doctors recommend as a way of dealing with insomnia on Friday nights.

Dear Mordechai,

How come some people feel the need to blast their music while driving, so everyone walking by on the street can hear it?


Dear E.,

When the ice cream man does it, you don’t complain.

Maybe these people are selling ice cream. I say knock on their windows and ask. You won’t know if you don’t ask.

Unfortunately, though, it’s usually Shabbat when we notice that people are doing this, and we can’t buy ice cream anyway. This is why many people take to yelling, “Shabbat!” after these cars.

In truth, though, most of these are just people who bought cars that, nebech—due to some kind of manufacturers’ error—have the speakers installed on the outside. So they have to make the music loud so they can hear it inside the car with the windows closed.

And it’s generally not Yidden who blast their music like this. When a Jew goes to the mechanic, it’s like, “Can you make my car make less noise?” not, “Can you have it make more noise?” Unless the purpose of this noise is to cover up the other noises.

Because yes, we get the feeling that a lot of people are doing this on purpose. I mean, we’ve all met people who are afraid to be alone with their thoughts. These people can’t even be alone with their thoughts when they’re driving. They have to interrupt their thoughts with music, and they can’t do that alone, either. Everyone in the area can’t have thoughts.

Or maybe they’re just nice people, trying to share their music with the neighborhood. Haven’t you ever heard a good song that you want to play for someone, but they keep saying that they don’t have time? You don’t really have time to listen to music either, so you do it while you’re driving. So why not have all your friends hear it while you’re driving? Even if they’re in their homes.

I say this because these people always seem to be sure what song they want to play. They drive by, and they’re playing a song. You never hear them driving by while flipping through the stations to find something they like. And they never blast commercials.

What I would like to hear coming from their cars once in a while, especially on Shabbat, is the news. Or the weather—that would be really convenient. They’d drive by on Shabbat blasting the weather, and you’d say, “Oh, it’s gonna rain! Maybe I’ll bring a coat to shul.” Then you can yell, “Thank you!” But they won’t hear you, because by then they’ll be busy blasting the traffic report.

Dear Mordechai,

Who came up with the “Happy Birthday” song?


Dear Y.,

Clearly someone who once forgot a gift and had to come up with a song on the spot, off the top of his head.

“Oh, we were supposed to bring gifts?”

“You didn’t bring one?”

“No—yeah, I wrote a song.”

“Let’s hear it. We’re about to bring in the cake.”

“Okay, um… Here goes…

Happy birthday to you… (OK, I’m off to a good start; everyone’s still smiling)

Happy birthday to you… (Everyone’s making a face; I’d better change up the next line)

Happy birthday, dear… wife’s name (Shoot! What rhymes with my wife’s name?)

Happy birthday to… you.”

“Is that it?”

“No, there’s more. Um….

How old are you now? …

How old are you now? …

How old are you now? …

How old are you now?”

“Any more?”

“No, now you take over.”

“You don’t know actually how old I am?”

“No, it’s part of the song.”

“Why don’t you just count the candles?”

And someone else there was thinking, “Wow, what a great song! Can I reuse this? I have a birthday party next week.”

“No, I’m going to charge massive royalties.”

And somehow, before he knew it, this song became literally the most commonly sung song in the world. Though it’s not one you’ll ever hear blasted by a car driving through your neighborhood.

Have a question for “How Should I Know?” You’ll have to speak up.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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