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The Festival of Lights Theory

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    “Mom! Have you seen my yarmulke?” Howard Wolowitz shouted, after he straightened his tie.


    “NO! WHERE DID YOU LAST SEE IT?” Mrs. Wolowitz yelled back.


    “If I knew where I last saw it, I wouldn’t be asking,” Howard muttered. He only dug the thing up for special occasions (or if he was hitting on Jewish women, but as he was now engaged, he wouldn’t be doing that anymore).


    Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah and he was going to celebrate at home. It would be just him, Ma, and Bernadette. His cousins were spending the holiday in Florida. Raj had come in previous years, but Howard had decided it would be better to just invite his fiancée this time. He and Bernadette were going to go to her parents’ place for Christmas Day.


    (One year, he’d tried inviting Sheldon and Leonard to come over for the first night of the holiday. Since it hadn’t fallen on “Anything Can Happen Thursday,” Sheldon had declined, preferring to stick to his routine and Leonard, well, Howard supposed it was written somewhere in the Roommate Agreement that Sheldon was to keep Leonard’s balls in a drawer.)


    After a couple of minutes, Howard finally found what he was looking for buried underneath a pile of comic books.


    “DID YOU FIND IT?”


    “YES, MA!”


    “WHERE WAS IT?”


    “WHAT DOES IT MATTER WHERE IT WAS?”




    The menorah was lit. Mrs. Wolowitz was asking Bernadette whether they would raise their children as Jews. Howard was tuning her out as he did whenever his mother complained that he still hadn’t given her grandchildren, yet (or that he hadn’t become a doctor or a lawyer instead of an engineer), and wondering whether it would be sacrilegious to figure out how to recreate in the lab the miracle of the oil lasting for eight nights when the doorbell rang.


    He answered the door and found Raj standing there.


    “Hi, Raj.”


    “Howard. You didn’t invite me this year.”


    “I, uh, I thought you were going to hang out with Sheldon and Leonard.” Raj raised an eyebrow.


    “Dude, they’re on a double-date with Amy and Penny. I didn’t want to be the fifth-wheel.”


    “When did Penny get back together with Leonard?” Raj shrugged.


    “Don’t know. Mostly I think she’s trying to tell Amy that she’s not interested, but the girl will just not take a hint. Quit changing the subject! You know I always spend the first night of Hanukkah at your place.”


    “HOWARD, WHO IS IT?”


    “IT’S RAJ!” Howard called back.


    “Your mom?” Raj asked.


    “No, that was Bernadette,” Howard replied. He still didn’t get how anyone could mistake Bernadette’s voice for his mother’s. Their voices were completely different. Bernadette sounded so hot when she was screaming…


    “WELL, TELL HIM TO COME IN!” Bernadette shouted.


    “Would you like to come in?” Howard asked quietly.


    “Yes, please.” Howard stood back to let Raj pass. “Oh, you already lit the menorah.”


    “Don’t pout. We haven’t started playing dreidel, yet,” Howard told him.


    “And there are still plenty of potato latkes.” Bernadette smiled at Raj. Raj smiled back before turning to Howard, who quickly poured a glass of Manischewitz for his friend. There was no way he wanted Raj whispering in his ear for the rest of the evening. After sipping the wine, Raj smirked.


    “Alright, pass me the dreidel and prepare to lose all your gelt.”


    “Dream on,” Howard shot back.


    “Really? Did you forget what happened last year, and the year before that, and the year before that…?”


    “Yeah, well, my luck is going to change this year. Bernie is my good luck charm.”


    “In that case, how about we make things more interesting? We could bet on comic books.”


    “Let’s stick to gelt,” Howard said, scowling.