Editor’s Note: The following story involves an Orthodox Jewish woman and her son. If you think there is even the most remote chance you will be offended, please exit page left.
I’m sure there’s some kind of deep-rooted, Jungian issue behind this, but as a Jew, when I see my fellow tribesmen doing the very things for which we are often negatively stereotyped, I find it difficult to contain my inner-rage. I just can’t help but feel that any bad behavior by a Jew reflects horribly on all Jews and particularly this Jew, even if I have nothing whatsoever to do with it. In fact, let me take this opportunity to apologize on behalf of Bernie Madoff; the rabbis in that New Jersey money- and organ-laundering scheme; Son of Sam; and of course, Judas.
About a block into a recent bus ride on a very rainy day, a mangy little boy ran up the steps, began cackling loudly and evilly, and sprawled his sopping wet body out on a row of seats, rendering them useless for anyone who prefers to arrive at work with a dry ass. Then came his equally mangy mother and his sopping wet stroller, which was quickly dropped on the floor at such an angle that you’d have to step over it to reach the seats her son had not just soaked. I watched as several elderly people struggled to get by, noting that she didn’t bat an eyelash or acknowledge the blockade. Eventually, I lifted the stroller myself so people could get past it without risking spinal cord injury.
The mother then launched into an inappropriately loud tirade in which she accused her son of dropping his hat in a puddle on purpose so that she would have more laundry to do and thus, drop dead from exhaustion. Based on the fact that the kid was picking his nose and decorating the windows with what he excavated, I just didn’t get the feeling he was that calculating. However, I don’t think anyone on the bus would have blamed the kid if in fact he HAD been plotting her death by washing machine.
It was pretty clear from their attire, the length of the little boy’s hair and the name on his book bag that they were Orthodox Jews, a fairly common sight on the Upper West Side. As the other bus riders exchanged looks of disbelief, my face started burning with collective shame and I very much hoped I passed for an Italian that day.
I didn’t have much time to plot MY fantasy murder of this woman, because breakfast was served. She handed the kid a a tub of kosher cottage cheese that actually contained a runny egg.
“Eat it with your hands bubbala. No I don’t have a napkin. Use the seat. Go on. Wipe your hands on the seat. Isn’t that the best egg you ever had? Isn’t it nice of Mommy to make you breakfast? Aren’t you going to thank Mommy? [SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED VOLUME] SAY THANK YOU TO MOMMY OR I’M NOT READING YOUR SPECIAL BOOK!”
Whoa. WHOA. Oh man. Say thank you, kid, so we can all start the day with a “special book” read to us in that mellifluous voice. I BEG YOU, kid, say “thank you.”
He did not.
But out came the special book anyway. And guess what?! It was “The Story of Purim.”
Oh for the love of GOD.
In a ridiculously dramatic manner, the mother commenced her high-volume reading of the tale of Esther, Mordechai, King Ahasverus and of course, the evil Haman (who hated the Jews but for whom they nonetheless named a delicious cookie– see Hamantash).
A highlight, for your pleasure. Please insert the most annoying voice you can possibly conjure.
Mother: “And they made the Jews work on SHABBOS! Can you believe that bubbala?! The SHABBOS!”
Kid: And did we KILL dem?
I looked around at the other bus riders — some of whom, the odds are, were fellow tribesmen as well. Everyone had the same look of utter horror on their faces. Big, fat, OY.
No, no we did not kill “dem.” But please, kill ME!