Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Bei Mir Bist Du Shayn

The sky was unusually clear. Orion’s Belt was visible, which for North London was nothing short of a miracle. They walked side by side, hands shovelled into warm pockets of winter coats. Her nose was pink from the brisk midnight air, and he was a little concerned for her.

“Are you cold?” he asked into the silence, not really knowing what he would do if she was.
“No,” she replied, turning to face him with a grin, “are you cold?” His shivering had given him away.
“A bit.”
She stopped walking. “Do you want to head back?” Now it was her turn to look concerned.
“I’ll be alright for the minute.” He looked into her dark quizzical eyes. ‘I was just worried about you.’ he told her in his head.
“Ayoy, where’s your chutzpah huh?” They started forward again. “I tell you what, you’d last about five minutes in Poland. If you didn’t freeze to death, you’d probably be kalashnikoved for being a massive pansy.”
“Since when have you been to Poland?”
“Since when have you not? Jesus man, you’re a worse Jew than I thought. You gotta go, pay some respect to our Hebros. Besides, the Jew Card comes in handy when making vaguely uncouth jokes. For example, you’re only actually allowed to laugh at Auschwitz if you’re a Jew. Fact.”
“That is absolute bollocks. Surely no-one should be laughing at Auschwitz.”
“If that’s what you think, you should see the Israelis. They go absolutely mental there; waving banners, singing songs, whole shebang. Doesn’t count for gays, or gypsies, or communists, or any other persecuted minorities. It’s just the Jews that have free reign. Seems a bit unfair, but uhm, all’s fair in clichés and war, allegedly.” He tried not to laugh. She regularly came out with oddly inappropriate comments.
“I should be horribly offended by you. Besides, I’m an actual Jew, you’re just a hanger-oner.”
“This is not the How Jewish Are You competition. And even if it was, I would definitely win, even if by a mere technicality. I may know nothing more about Judaism than Hava Nagila, but I’d beat you hands down.”
“That’s what I mean! Surely genuinely being Jewish ranks higher than some weird religious loop hole. What’s your obsession with it anyway? If you love us so much, why not just, you know, convert.”
“Way too much effort man.” She laughed, then spoke with sudden sincerity. “In all seriousness though, I mainly hype up the Jewishness for comedic effect. Wouldn’t ever want to offend anyone, not really. But still, you know, Jewish people get a lot of shtick.”
“Shitck? Really?”
“Shlip of the tongue, apologies. Maybe I just want to be Woody Allen.”
“You sound more like Sean Connery.”
“Whatever,” she smirked, with a dramatic wave of her hand, “the Jewish thing kind of started when I was in a Warsaw ghetto museum and someone made a stupid joke. I mean, I’m down with ‘casual racism’ to an extent, well so to speak, as long as it’s funny and not just plain ignorant and insulting. I think it’s only funny when it’s mocking people that genuinely believe it to be true. Do you know what I mean?”
“Yeah, no, no, I know what you mean. Racist people make me sick.”
“Exactly! This is exactly what I’m saying right. Racist people are fucking morons, there we go. Seriously don’t get me started. But do I offend you?”
“Of course not.”
“I didn’t think so. Anyway, so some douche made a comment about Jews, which was actually pretty bog standard and not even funny, so I pulled the Jew Card. Look on his face was absolutely beautiful; I genuinely wish I could have like, bottled it for later. Since then, well I guess I became a sort of highly vocal supporter of Jews. There are enough people being vocal against Jews, still, even just as a joke, but they talk about them being really stingy or whatever.."
He grabbed her hand, “Hold that thought.”
“I want to show you something! Come here. Look, you can see all the way across London.”
“It’s, it’s really beautiful.”
“Yeah, good night for it too. Usually it’s pretty misty.” He pulled her close to him, and pointed out across the very early morning skyline. “You can even see St Paul’s.” They stood for a moment or two, looking over their city.
“Anyway,” he hesitated, absorbing the moment, “what were you saying? Vocal Jews?”
“Oh God, I can’t even remember. Bum. Uhm…oh, you smell nice, by the way.” He blushed violently. “But seriously though, it takes people like you and me to be, you know, supportive or whatever. Now I’m not trying to be dramatic, but the more it’s made out like it’s okay to say shit about Jews, the more okay it becomes. The more okay it becomes, the more people believe it. It’s that sort of thing that got them in such a bloody mess in the first place; social propaganda.”
“I wouldn’t want to revert to the political correctness madness we had a couple of years ago.”
“Know what you mean, but casual racism is a weird thing. Right, it’s like, well, apparently it’s now okay for the Shitty Daily Fucking Mail to condemn all immigrants and make them all out as bad guys, because it became okay for lazy, moronic yet technically English people to say it among themselves. I hate that fucking paper. I see people reading it on the tube, and I just want to Spartan kick them.”
“Wow. It’s not that bad…”
“But it really is that bad, that’s the thing. Granted, it’s mostly pretty blatantly done, but occasionally it’s a bit subversive and that’s scary. Absolute bollocks, all of it. Some people would say I’m a hypocrite but look, I never say anything outright offensive. Never.” She paused, smilingly wickedly, “Way too much of a wuss.”
“That bit about gays at Auschwitz probably shouldn’t be heard out of context.”
“But it’s true! 100% true. The Israeli groups literally cut about with flags, stereos, food. But, if you had a gay pride group wandering about with a rainbow flag and macaroons, they’d get a different reception. Simple as. It’s a statistics thing.”
“Why do the Israelis even have flags?”
“Yeah, did seem a bit weird, and some people got a bit offended by it. Everyone else does the tour in silence really. But when you think about it, maybe the Israelis have got the right idea. Funerals are meant to be a celebration of life these days, right? Look back, even just a couple of decades, and if you were wearing anything other than black it was deemed pretty bloody disrespectful. Ideas change though, perceptions change, and most people want their mourners to wear something a bit more...lively; excuse the pun. Same deal. Same fucking deal. The Israelis are celebrating their defeat of Hitler. He wanted to wipe them out, Final Solution – you know the drill, but they’re still here and now they even have a homeland. That’s a pretty fucking awesome achievement. So they make merry, and there you go.”
“So you feel quite strongly about it then.”
She laughed. “It would seem so. I can only apologise.” Her head dipped in a bow, “Here endeth the rant.”

They walked on in a comfortable silence, save the occasional sniff, looking at the Victorian houses on either side. He shuffled closer to her, and she instinctively snaked her arm through his and clung onto his bicep. She was almost a foot smaller than him, but he'd never had such a perfect fit.

Hello again! No fiction modules this term, but I've got some left over from last semester. The task for this week was to be all dialogue. This is a conversation I've had in parts with lots of people, but with one Faux-Jew in particular. They gave me 'hebro', which I think is excellent. I'd be interested to know which side of the casual racist line this sits. Another story about Jews, I know. I just can't help myself. There's big love there. There are some really long bits that I suppose don't reflect actual speech, unless you're talking to me about Jews, so that's why I added in 'Here endeth the rant.' Oh, and if you happened to read my portfolio pieces, you might recognise the odd bit from here! I wrote this first and ran out of things to say in the newer piece. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Self-plagiarism is lovely.

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