A Little Chapter About Me
To understand the writings of an individual, you must first understand what is wrong with them
(this chapter will continue for the next several weeks)
A Religious Little Guy
I grew up a religious little boy in America. I had toys, sports, a mom had money for stuff if I argued. I had space. I had a kippah (yarmulke- if that word helps you understand kippah). The kippah was the one thing that made me not normal. That and the fact I couldn’t eat at my friends’ homes or parties, and called my friends heretics at a young age. I didn’t know what a heretic was, but I knew Michael was not going to heaven.
I never liked toys. I liked reality. The toy truck never got me excited. I would have to sit on the hood of the truck to drive it. If I wanted to turn left, I would have to stand up and turn left, and then sit back down on the hood. It wasn’t fun. I had to crab walk. It was more exercise than fun. And GI Joe; I had the toys, but I knew they couldn’t talk. My friend would tell me, ‘I am killing you.’ No you are not Michael. You just jumped on my toy. And then you started banging my toy into the ground. And then you broke my toy. Now I am not happy. You never killed me. I am still alive, B”H (religious acronym). You just made our play dates not fun.
I liked sports more, because Michael couldn’t say, ‘I am killing you. The ball is in the basket.’ It didn’t go into the hoop, so it was not a basket. More simple are sports. That is, reality is more simple to me and reality is something I can work with. It is harder to cheat in reality, unless you are a historian. ‘You killed my GI Joe.’ But your GI Joe is still there you idiot, and now you have nobody to play with Michael.
Religion was the only real game that was reality to me. I believed in Gd and that was real enough. To show how real it was, I wore my yarmulke when I played basketball. This way, I would have the two realities of somebody scoring and spitting on me at the same time. And when I scored, I would have the reality of having to pick up my yarmulke before I ran back on defense.
When I think back to my childhood there are little things I regret. If I were to go back right now, I would have shared my Weeble Wobble with Ben.
Religion was my connection to Judaism and I loved it. Loved the holidays. Holidays meant days off from school. My mom would complain about the two days of each holiday that Jews keep when they are outside of Israel (in Israel Jews only keep one, because they are better and closer to Gd). My mom didn’t like cooking as much as I thought. But I loved the two days, and I could deal with watching my mom working real hard so that I could enjoy dinner and cartoons. That meant two days of no school. I wished the holidays would last all year. I could have off from school and my mom could feed me. I felt so close to Gd, that I prayed every day for no school and brisket. Believing in Gd meant more vacation and I connected with my religion.
I would get so excited to drive around the city and give gifts to people on Purim. They would give me a dollar and I would have another day off of school. Even when we did have school, holidays meant more art projects and field trips and other activities we called religious because they taught us nothing. We would then have the Purim carnival where they would have the throw the sponge at David’s face booth. For the sake of community and less classes, I would sacrifice myself for the Purim carnival. They also had the David is running away from school experiment, where I spent all day hiding from the teachers, so they would be worried enough to let everybody skip class. I got in trouble for that.
We never got in trouble for spending a day making matzah, or going around to people’s Sukkot on the Holiday of Sukkot and eating stuff instead of studying. The Chabad Rabbis always had these great booths. Even in school we would get to skip class for a shofar making booth. They would also have a grorger making booth, for Purim. Every holiday had a booth. A booth meant 45 minutes on something we weren’t getting graded for. And then there was the matzah factory. Or as I called it, dream day. A multiple booth set up, including a field trip. A whole half a day off from school, to have us flatten dough for their Passover cooking. I was happy with the sweatshop work. It didn’t pay, but it did give us 5 hours off of school. Who could have ever thought that 18 minutes could last so long?
Would I have traded my religion for a whole week of Sundays? Yes. But you have to live in reality, and I never witnessed anybody who had a whole week of television. Heaven does not exist on earth. You take what you can get. Educational movie and television days were good enough. ‘321 Contact’ was that little piece of heaven brought into the hell of school. Those scientific genius 8 year old detectives were as close to redeemers I have ever witnessed. I love you Bloodhound Gang. I have no idea how you made it to Ms. Funsten’s class. You taught me ‘gangs are good.’
Shule was the life. People who knew me from when I was a little kid, saw me grow into a young adult with a C average. But they were always positive smiley people. They were older and also didn’t have to go to school. What was there not to be happy about? Other than the stale kichel at Kiddush (post services snacks, when most of the members of the community showed up at synagogue), life was beautiful for them. The disgusting puffed pastry was almost as bad as school and I have no idea what the sisterhood was thinking. They should have stuck with the Stella Dora chocolate on the inside, that I eat around, cookies. But it was still tasty, because I didn’t get a mark on it.
Youth group was fun. We had conventions and I got to meet other Jewish kids from all over upstate New York, which meant a good 30 Jewish kids my age. It was at that moment, in seventh grade, when I realized I didn’t have many dating or marriage options. Fridays before convention, we would leave early; which meant a day off of school. The kids who didn’t go on the conventions had to become smarter; their loss. Then we would show up to the conventions and they would try to get us to sit in study groups. They would say it was conversations about topics of interest, but there were source sheets. They tried to bring school to my vacation, and that was not fun.
My life revolved around not having school. My only goal in life was finding a way out of class. And then came camp, summer vacation, where they would try to get us to sit in class for 2 hours a day. I couldn’t get away from it. School followed me everywhere.
If they would have just allowed us to watch television, like my mom did, we would have been more relaxed. Television, as an educational tool, keeps children quiet and out of fights. I developed normally and I am ready to raise some healthy educated children.