While entering my apartment building today I noticed my senior citizen neighbor carrying a few bags and walking slower than usual. I saw a chance to be a Good Samaritan for the first time in a long time and offered to help carry his bags up to the fifth floor. Six minutes later, he arrived on the floor and insisted that I have a glass of water. As he was in another room putting away the bags, I noticed what appeared to be a very old Snapple bottle on a shelf next to other assorted chotchkies. After reading the label I realized that the bottle was about as old as my father and that the beverage company was apparently known as Schnaupple and was originally manufactured in Germany. I felt this urgent curiosity sweep over me that quickly got the best of me. When I unscrewed the cap, and wiped away the dust, this is what I read:
Schnaupple Real Fact #46
A Jew can hold more food in its beak than its belly.
A rush of questions filled my head: Was this man whom I had only previously nodded at in passing, a former Nazi? Was he just a twisted man who collected anti-Semitic objects? And then I briefly wondered what 70 year old iced tea tasted like before nervously putting it back on the shelf and shouting out to the man in the other room that I forgot I needed to take my dog for a walk. As I closed the door behind me, images from the movie “Marathon Man” flashed in my head and I imagined myself tied up to a chair in a poorly lit room with my neighbor dressed in all white as some sort of Dr. Mengele, forcing the 70 year old Schnaupple bottle into my mouth and repeatedly asking me ”Is it safe?” as I swallowed the horribly sour concoction.
I sat on my couch and began to calm down and think rationally again. He’s probably just some collector of weird artifacts. I’m sure not all of his chotchkies are racist mementos of a bygone era. I doubt he has any Hitler alarm clocks(Waaaake Up!!!) or Aunt Jemima bottles that show her with a big grin and a watermelon where her teeth are supposed to be. I grabbed my leash and took the dog down for a walk anyway, just to keep up appearances. When I reached the first floor I noticed that a woman who was getting her mail had dropped her wallet. I put my head down and kept on walking out the door. This is New York anyway, who says you have to be neighborly? Besides, look where that got Poland.
Now, you’re asking yourself “Fink, Why did you write a story like this? Is it because you’re Jewish and you think that entitles you to use your religion/ethnicity for cheap laughs? Aren’t you more of an expert on the every day trivial experiences of life? Why don’t you stick to writing about the things you know like teenage virginity, air hockey, and 80's music?” These are all valid points, but the idea for my story originated when I was drinking a Snapple and was looking at the cap and had a “eureka” moment that usually only occurs at 4 am when I’m trying to sleep or during the rare occasion that I smoke pot (every couple of months I come down with a bad bout of glaucoma).
The truth is, I love Snapple, and it was the first iced tea I had ever enjoyed, but if Snapple was a German company in the late 30’s, early 40’s, this would have actually been written on their caps. Except in 1943, most people wouldn’t have laughed at it. That is how fast the institutionalized hatred and Nazi propaganda of Jews being less than human was spread throughout Germany in the late 1930’s. Hell, there was institutionalized racism in parts of this country into the 1960’s. Of course it’s ridiculous, all racism is based on ignorance. It's usually passed down from generation to generation like luggage or genetic birth defects. Hating people because they have a physical characteristic is completely illogical and I doubt in the universe according to Gene Roddenberry there were non-pointy eared Vulcans that had to sit in the back of their Vulcan buses.
Harboring hatred towards people solely based on the fact that their religious beliefs are different than yours is also ridiculous, but we do have the right to think a group of people are idiots for believing every single word that their religion tells them. Like, believing that you might get 200 virgins in Heaven after you die, or that humans came to be on Earth 75 million years ago after Xenu the ruler of a planet in another galaxy, used psychiatrists to get all his people together before freezing them (probably after prescribing Diprivan), capturing their souls and taking the alien souls aboard a 1950’s style airplane to Earth. As crazy as that may seem, walking around with ash on your head, never experiencing the pleasure of a glazed ham, and wearing thick black suits and heavy coats in the summer time while isolating yourselves in a community in Brooklyn is pretty idiotic as well.
So, as long as idiots are not looking to harm other people, there is no reason to have actual hatred for them. Now, when someone has done other people harm they need to be punished by society, but when one person has done so much harm to so many people, well there needs to be a special sort of justice set aside for that person. It is definitely ironic that no one person has caused more suffering to more Jewish people than Bernie Madoff. If Hitler had not left this Earth in such cowardly fashion, he hopefully would have been drawn and quartered and left in the town square for every person to whack at with a stick daily. Something unique and original should be done as a form of punishment for Bernie Madoff, the greedy weasel who stole people’s life savings, even though he was already making milions off their investments.
My recommendations for punishing Madoff, as opposed to letting the taxpayers pay for him to be in prison for 150 years (his corpse will no doubt be left in the cell to set an example) is to make him the star of a Japanese game show. I watched the show “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” the other night and found it equally surreal and somewhat brilliant. The American contestants willingly submit to the will of the Japanese game show for the chance to take a trip to Japan and hope for some sort of poor-man’s “Big Brother” type of fame. The whole point of the Japanese game show is to humiliate its contestants and the host is like a Japanese version of Monty Hall, the host of the 1970’s game show “Let’s Make a Deal”. Only this man and the audience takes incredible glee in humiliating the contestants and threatening to send them back to America if they fail to survive the bizarre tasks like catching fallen milk off a conveyor belt with boxing gloves on while wearing a mouse costume and dark goggles.
Although for Madoff, I do believe we ought to step it up a notch and have him do things each week like sit in a dunk tank filled with jelly fish while dressed in nothing but a diaper and holding a rattle as the Japanese game show host calls up people from the crowd to try to knock him off his platform. The Japanese Monty Hall would probably tell him with a smile to stop acting like such a baby, or else he will have to breast feed from a wild boar. At that point his wife will be sent on stage dressed in a pig costume. I’m sure this would get the best ratings of any show on TV, but there will always be some people, who simply would not approve of this form of televised reality justice and would turn the channel back to CSI Miami, where they will shut their brain off for an hour in order to watch David Caruso give fake criminals their weekly comeuppance?
Midway through writing this essay, I turned my TV to the Twilight Zone marathon and happened to catch the last episode that was shown in the marathon, entitled “I am the Night. Color Me Black.” It was a brilliant tale of a white man in the early
1960’s about to be executed for shooting and killing another white man who was a racist cross-burner and due to the majority of the town’s blind hatred for the man in prison waiting to be hung, the sky stayed dark the morning of the execution and got darker after he was put to death. That was not only thought provoking but ironic considering that I was already in the process of putting down my thoughts on hatred. Is it possible that at 5:30 am, I’m stuck in my own personal “Daybreak Zone”? Luckily, the sun is beginning to shine through my window. I can’t believe I’m still up. Maybe I should switch to an herbal tea.