Death, Nostalgia


In the wind down from T-gives I have written a couple of short storyish things while on the subway. It’s interesting to me that they all have to do with family, but it’s not interesting to me that they are not that interesting. So I’ll post them on my blog because that’s where I throw my crap. My blog is to me as a tourist outside the monkey cage to a monkey.

They don’t want me here. I’ve entered a world I’m not allowed in. I write on a napkin, alone by the door, nursing a beer while I wait for my blintzes. The only other customers being served that this restaurant are families who only speak Russian. My waiter is disappointed in my lack of attempt to speak a native tongue I couldn’t even pretend to understand. I’m two blocks away from where my father grew up, and I want to tell everyone in the restaurant that fact. I want to tell them that I’m not some weird tourist – that my great-grandmother never spoke English and lived in this area of Brooklyn her whole life. THat the reason I came in wasn’t to voyeuristically watch another culture, but rather because I missed the comfort of my grandmother’s blintzes. My food is tossed in front of me with little regard for its presentation or whether the fork and knife stay on the table.

I don’t really understand the fascination with house music, and even less the corresponding videos playing on the TVs mounted in each corner. I had come in here because it was the café with the most clientel, and therefore I assumed the best food and least likely to be a mob front.

Every time someone walks in or out a cold gust of wind blows the napkin I am writing on over ot the neighboring table. They then hand me back my napkin, tell me that it’s okay in Russian and I nod in order to replace language with universally understood head gestures. The waiter wants me to leave. I’m taking up a table that could be given to someone who knows how to order and includes the necessary meat portion of the meal in that order. THe girl with her parents, home for the holidays, is very attractive. I keep looking at her and she keeps catching me. She wants me to leave too. I can’t wait to ask for the check. I need only my hands and not my use of incorrect words to ask for the check. A simple use of a space object pencil and paper, and my bill is placed o my table – he wishes the numbers looked as different as the letters do in Russian and he could overcharge me.

I liked my grandmother’s blintzes better.

I never thought I looked that Jewish. A little, sure, my nose is quite bulbous, but my straight hair and blue eyes were enough to keep me safe during the holocaust. I walked through the subway station to be stopped by every person in this family of religious panhandlers asking me “Are you Jewish?” They weren’t asking anyone else, they were beelining it for me – to assault me with pamphlets about G-d.

When I was in college my theater department typecast me as the cold war Jew. Both major parts I played were historical Jews, integral in the McCarthy trials who had a complicated relationship with Ethel Rosenberg. I was one of the two Jew-males available for these roles in my department, but I don’t think that the fact that I’ve been to a seder was an important factor.

Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, and Stella are my favorite TV shows of all time. Marx Bros, Woody Allen and Judd Apatow are among my favorite movie creators. All are Jewish. Maybe this is why the family of peyos growers hand picked me to assail with literature telling me “not to eat the flesh of an animal that is still alive.” Because I look like I’d laugh at a contest to see who can go the longest without masturbating. How is it that I am part of such a group of chosen humorers? It’s not just oppression because Jews aren’t the only onces who have been on the wrong side of a genocide.

So we have to find what was different about the ways Jews were anihilated than the Blacks, Native Americans, Aborigine, Irish, or other Catholics. The holocaust left 60-75% of the Jews of the area dead, so why did the 25-40% survive. Who were these survivors. Obviously they kept themselves alive via humor, thus the excess of comedians of the chosen genes.

In most annihilations of people, the oppressors let some people live for whatever reason. Always humor is one of those reasons, but sometimes there is a less forgiving audience. Slave owners, Brits, and Christopher Colombus were not funny, while the Nazis had a good sense of humor.


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