Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Probably Offensive Jewish Story

Most people have an irrational fear or two.  When I was young, I was terrified of dogs.  My parents had to shield me away from any form of dog in the world because I would freak the fuck out ALL over them if I saw it.

I grew out of the fear and begged for a puppy for years until I got my dog, George.

But then I developed a new irrational fear.  I have no idea when it occurred, but one day, I was suddenly afraid of domes.  Not anything like, “Hey, look at that botanical center over there”, and I suddenly started screaming, but more of a “hyperventilate every time I walked into an indoor football stadium”.  Think about it as reverse-claustrophobia, and judge me a little less.

A lot of the time when people hear this, they ask, “Well how come you don’t freak out about the sky?  That’s a big dome.”  And I answer, “Because if I was afraid of the sky, I would seem to be afraid of everything and that would be called agoraphobia you ass.”  This is not an acceptable answer, but I do not have a good explanation.

That is the background information needed for my PROBABLY OFFENSIVE JEWISH STORY:

The Probably Offensive Jewish Story
In my sophomore year of high school, I was in the play Diary of Anne Frank.  I played Mr. Kraler, the non-Jewish man (my nose is huge, so this took all my acting talent) who helped the Franks and the other families no one cares about and hid them behind a bookcase in an attic.

Anyway, our director was Mrs. T, and she was really into getting the actors into character.  She was also enthusiastic about getting out of teaching classes.  So she planned a field trip for all the actors to go to a Jewish Synagogue and talk to the Rabbi who happened to be an escapee from Auschwitz himself.  He is an amazing man, and I have nothing but respect for him, but I do not remember his name so I will call him Mr. Kabalahstein.

We drove to the synagogue, and it was this huge beautiful building.  I was Catholic at the time and I remember feeling saddened by the structure.  I remember stupidly thinking something along the lines of, “Why can’t they just believe in the Jesus-magic that I do?”

They herded us into the building and introduced us to Mr. Kabalahstein.  He was a portly old man with a gray beard and a kind smile.  He had a thick Polish accent and joked with us quietly until everyone was present in the room.

Mr. Kabalahstein turned to the group, studying all of our faces.  He pointed to me and asked the group, “Which character is he playing?”  We answered and he joked, “He should be one of the Jewish men, I’d think.”  The group laughed, except for me, because at the time, I didn’t get it.  I never had really noticed how big my nose was until my senior year.  Got the nose joke now, you big Jewish jerk!

Mr. Kabalahstein then started his heroic story, involving an escape from the camp and hiding in a hole in the ground pretending to be dead when Nazis ran by.  Most of us were in tears by the end.

Then he decided it was time to take a tour of the synagogue.  We walked around most of the building and stopped before entering the main temple.  The men needed to put on yarmulkes, which we did.  I said an Our Father first and a small sign of the cross, so god would KNOW that I was not switching sides.

We walked into the temple and it was absolutely stunning.  The walls were a deep blue with gold accents, and the main tiers were held up with marble columns.  And there, right smack dab in the center of the ceiling was an elaborate dome, adorned with golden stars.  I just glanced at it and immediately looked at the ground, but it was too late.  I was standing right underneath the dome.

My feet felt like cement.  I couldn’t move.  I felt shaky.  My throat was constricting.  More importantly, everyone was staring at me.  Mr. Kabalahstein especially.  Maybe he thought I was overcome by the spirit of Judaism.  More likely, he thought I was an epileptic.

Mrs. T finally yanked my arm and dragged me out of the temple.  She turned to me and demanded an answer.  I finally slowed my breathing enough to embarrassingly answer, “I’m terrified of domes.”  This was not what she was expecting and her eyebrows raised so high that they disappeared into her hair.  Then she glared.  “Why did you even go in?!”  I bit back, “Why isn’t there some sort of Dome Warning on the door?!  Anyone could be scared of getting sucked into that thing to live forever alone!  That’s not safe!”  She laughed at me then.

Later, when we went to a restaurant for lunch, she bought me extra cheese for my hamburger and loudly told the group that I was fine, I was just mortally afraid of domes. I horrifyingly had to explain to everyone in the group that I had a stupid goddamn irrational fear, and explained that it created some awkward and embarrassing situations for me, such as trying to explain my irrational fear.

Since, I have been numbed to the dome’s power over me.  Much like the dog-fear, I have a hope that one day I will LOVE domes.  But for now they still make me uncomfortable.  And I can live with that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So You Have Mono

Last fall, during my final semester of school, I contracted mononucleosis.  I started feeling under the weather when I felt unbelieveably cold all the time.  I didn’t have any of my winter clothes or any heavy blankets around.  Luckily, Graham had his vomit-stained comforter and offered to let me use it.

Within the next week, I was constantly huddled in the comforter, and barely moved from the big red couch.  However, because I am the world’s most dedicated student, I still went to all my classes.

Most of my classes were larger, so my professors would just stare at me for a second before plowing on with their lecture.  I’m sure I looked a little something like this:

However, in my smallest class, which I was taking with my friend Addy, my professor stopped altogether to talk to me.  I had apparently been staring at the screen with drool dripping down my face and mentally wondering how high my fever had become.

Prof: “Robert, are you feeling okay?”
Me: “Yea, just a little tired and under the weather.”
Prof: “Maybe you should go to the Theilen Death Center*, I’m not covering anything important today.”
Me: “Uhhhmmmmmmokaylady.”

I turned to Addy

Me: “She’s probably right, I’ve never been this cold for an extended amount of time.”
Addy: “Okay Roberto, feel better.  I’ll come bring you cookies and we’ll watch Tosh.0 later.”
Me: “Soundsgoodimightbesleepingfor3months”

I went to the health center and most of the process was a blur.  I remember the doctor yelping when he looked at my tonsils, and I understood why.  When I checked them in the mirror that morning, they were so swollen and white they touched each other.  They didn’t feel much better.  He retrieved a culture and left me alone in the exam room saying that he would be back soon.  After 5 minutes of waiting for him to come back, I took a nap on the exam table.  I was woken an hour later when a nurse came in wearing a surgical mask.  She thrust a pamphlet into my hand, and a prescription note written from my doctor.  Then she asked me to leave immediately.  Great omens.

I filled my meds and took a look at my pamphlet.  There was a concerned looking teenager on the front giving me a brooding glance and stamped across the bottom it read, “So You Have Mono”.  How quaint.  

I knew a little bit about mono, and I knew it was kind of a big deal, but I also thought the nurse/doctor treatment was a little extreme, even for Theilen.

I immediately called my mom to complain that I had yet another medical problem (somehow I get something new and awful about every 3 months) and I walked my sick ass home.  I quickly crawled into the borrowed comforter and didn’t leave for 2 weeks.  I eventually pulled myself together and finished off the school year without so much as a blip on the radar that anything had gone wrong, but for a full month, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and sent to live in Alaska. 

Mono isn’t fun guys.  Stop the spread, nobody kiss for 2 years.

*The students often called the on-campus health facility Theilen Death Center, because it has a notoriously bad reputation for curing its patients.  This was the first time I’d ever heard a professor say this, and I distinctly remember liking her for it.

Middleton is a Royal Idiot

Today at work, I was thumbing through an old reference copy of Vanity Fair (it was either that, or reading August’s GQ for the millionth time) and I read something interesting.  When Kate Middleton married Prince William, she was obligated to pick something to add to the royal crest.  Being an adorable little princess, she chose

That’s really sweet and screams Middleton, but HELL, there are goddamn DRAGONS on that crest!  There are lions breathing fire!  There are strange goat men waving flags!  So I decided to draw a few ideas of my own, since it seems highly unlikely that I will be marrying Prince Harry.  He is a ginger after all, and I have goddamn standards.

Pheonix armed with guns I drew from watching The Matrix: This has merit and might be my favorite idea, because this is the only creature I could think of that would stand a chance of killing the dragons that have long ruled the English Royal Crest.

For the more risk-taking princess, I have a tiger skydiving during a thunderstorm.

I wanted the last creature to choose from to be powerful and man-eating, but I also wanted a body function to offend the Queen, and I wanted a dash of magic in there, so a royal bear vomiting rainbows and sparkles seems like the right ticket.

Anyway, hopefully future beaus of the royals will somehow read this article and add this to the crest.  If you’re reading this, beaus, you have my expressed permission to steal my pictures and throw them on the crest!