The Army barracks suddenly went silent. Horowitz opened and closed his mouth in stunned rage. Dammit! I did it again.
I was 18 and enjoying camping and hiking with my friends in Basic Training. I was no Forrest Gump but I did my best.
The guy a few bunks over and to the right was a small skinny fellow named Horowitz. Horowitz was a fun guy that liked to show touched-up portraits of himself that gave a clear complexion. Sadly, military food gave the poor chap an ungodly mess of acne. It gave me an equally ungodly case of gas but I was of an age that I thought it was funny so no harm done.
Seemed like just about every day someone was mad at Horowitz. The days wore on and it finally got to him and he started picking little fights with anyone who would take the bait. I could hear him sobbing and talking to himself the way I used to talk to our dog Tippy when times were hard so I went around to his bunk to offer some encouragement.
“THEY HATE ME BECAUSE I’M JEWISH!”
“What!!? What the fuck does that mean?”
“I’m Jewish. That’s why everyone hates me”
“What does being Jewish mean?”
He looked startled and started trying to explain what being Jewish was.
“Nobody hates Jews!”
“Yes they do. That’s why everyone is so mean to me. It’s because I’m Jewish.”
He went on for awhile about how his whole life was filled with hateful, horrible Jew bashing.
I had absolutely NO IDEA that I was suppose to hate Jews. I didn’t even know what they looked like. A whole new world was opening up and the learning curve was gonna be steep.
My mind reeled. I wanted to be a good Christian and hate all the right people but this is getting stupid.
Goddammit. Now I had to hate someone else??!! I was taught to hate the Russians cause they were gonna nuke us, The Vietnamese because of the conflict, The Koreans because of that conflict, The Chinese, Japanese, and the Germans because of WWII, The Blacks, well… no one ever fully explained that, but now I have to hate the JEWS as well???!!
Jesus!! Not to mention that I was raised in the bible belt so I had to hate everyone who didn’t go to our church, everyone that smoked, drank, smiled, or in any way showed an appreciation for life. NOW HOROWITZ SAYS I’M SUPPOSED TO HATE THE GOD-DAMNED JEWS!!!!!!
“God DAMN you Horowitz! People don’t hate you because you’re a Jew. They hate you because you’re an ASSHOLE!”
His mouth opened and closed for a few seconds like a fish just before you whack it with a stick and gut it.
Someone closed a locker door ending the awkward silence. A few chuckles started and one of the Blacks said “Gaww DAY-YUMM!” and clapped his hands. A couple guys laughed as well and a general applause spread through the barracks.
Someone came around and clapped him on the back. “yeah man, no one hates you man, you’re just an asshole.”
Several more came around and punched his shoulder and smacked his back the way guys do.
Over time things relaxed and we became great friends.