Marinating your man meat might be one of the craziest lines I have ever heard in a commercial and I can assure you it is not a creation of my own mind.
Still I can see how a man who writes about secret writings might be seen as someone who created such a line.
Something about all this reminds me of a interview for a writing job I participated in about 11 or so years ago.
Showed up at a house for a copywriting position for an internet company and discovered I was supposed to compete with four others for the job.
They sat us at a table, gave us a topic and told us to write something for them within a certain time frame.
“We’ll evaluate them and hire the best.”
I wrote something I thought was decent in less time than the others and turned it in.
I was desperate for work and that provided me with enough focus to ignore the man who repeatedly grunted, whistled and made Wookie like noises.
When they told me they were going to hold on to my work and get back to me I got suspicious about their real motives and asked if I could have it back for a moment.
As soon as they handed it to me I walked towards the door and ignored their entreaty to give it back.
They weren’t going to hire me, it was a stunt to get free labor or so I believed.
Been listening to Hallelujah in Yiddish and thinking I can almost hear Cohen singing but mostly it reminds me of my grandfathers and the other altercockers at Farmer’s Market.
It doesn’t take any effort to hear my great-grandmother ask me in accented English if I went to cheder and to hear grandpa slip into speaking “Jewish.”
Grandma died when I was 17 so I have a bunch of memories, but it is those memories from my teenage years of her and grandpa speaking Yiddish more frequently because she had begun to get confused.
I remember him telling me that he hoped he never got to the point where he thought his reflection was someone else.
“Don’t tell grandma I said that, she won’t want to think of her mother that way.”
“Grandpa, she knows.”
“Yeah, but she doesn’t want to hear it from me.”
Sometimes I think back on those days, think about how I took Yiddish as an elective at LA Hebrew High and wonder about how familiar it sounds to me but not to my kids.
It is not that it is completely foreign, they know more than a few words but they know it differently.
Not from their grandparents or their friends grandparents. It is not a dead language to them, but neither does it live the same way.
But they didn’t grow up in a time and place where it was common to be around Jews who came from Europe.
They certainly don’t know the stories of survivors the way I do or have seen as many arms with tattoos extended forward as part of a story about time in Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka or the other camps.
I remember listening to teachers, counselors and staff talk about the importance of listening carefully because we might be one of the last generations to hear the tales firsthand.
And it occurs to me that 75 years after the liberation of Auscwitz we really have reached a point where there are relatively few survivors still around who weren’t very small children.
That is not to demean or diminish their experiences, but it is different from hearing from those who were clearly old enough to understand everything.
In part because it is much easier to try and dispute the words of the young as being exaggerations and fiction than teens and adults.
History repeats because we ignore and forget.
Guy asks me why I am silent, tries to taunt me into responding.
“C’mon, big man, no smart ass remark.”
“Sorry, I am afraid to get too close that stupid might rub off and give me an aneurysm.”
He sputters, fists clenched and takes a step forward.
“Careful, this may not go the way you want and you’ll feel dumber if I knock some sense into you. Assuming you don’t slip in whatever is leaking out of your ears.”
I watch him try to thousand mile stare me while rubbing his ear.
Somewhere I hear dad tell me not to engage in nunsense and listen to him follow up with advice.
“Don’t throw a punch unless you are ready to finish it. If you hit him, you hit him hard and you hurt him.”
Grandpa follows dad with advice on how I ought to remember that breaking a man’s nose often ends a fight.
“But if that doesn’t work, figure you are in for it and go hard.”
Somewhere in the mix of memory another pops up, it is the day of my middle sister’s wedding and there are four of us in the car.
My wife and I in front, paternal grandparents in back.
We’re dressed for pictures, tuxedos and long dresses and pulling into the venue when we get rear ended.
Wife surprises me by flying out of the car to argue with the driver that hit us. I jump out too, not knowing what I am about to face and see grandpa about to get out too.
He is 83 and I see he is ready to roll.
“Stay in the car.”
I think we are both surprised by the edge in my voice, but I am already pissed off and unsure about what and whom I am about to face.
Turns out he is an older Armenian man who will tell me that Jews are rich and that I ought not to report it to insurance.
Later on grandpa will tell me I should have let him get out.
“I could have busted him in the nose and gotten away with it. I am 20 years older than he is.”
“Grandpa, I could have done that too.”
“Would have been better if I did it, you would have gone to jail.”
“You might have gone to jail too.”
When I tell dad about it he looks at me and says to take grandpa seriously when he says he would hit someone.
“Do you really think he would do it?”
“My dad? Are you kidding. Damn right he might. Better not to test it.”