The Brilliant Silence
In the tenth grade I learned that all kids weren't created equal.
For instance there were these certain kids who we went to school with us who looked the same, acted the same, talked the same, and for all intents and purposes, were, the exact same as every other student in the school.
So how these handful of outlaws got to take extra holidays beyond what the rest of us were enjoying was baffling to me. Nothing more than a brilliant scheme.
The fact that these lucky bastards were actually Jewish and required the time off to spend with their families on their high holidays was lost on me.
The only things I knew about Jews was that Jesus was a Jew. But being into Jesus meant you were a Christian, not a Jew. Ironically people who were really into Jesus hated the Jews. From what I understand it's somewhere in the bible, the book that refers to Him as the king of the Jews.
All this puzzeled me. Nothing I'd really care to take time out of my day to ponder over, except when I learned that they were giving out extra holidays. That appealed to me very much, and I began to set my sights on the prize. To convice the faculty that I was Jewish. OY VEY!
From the start I didn't believe I was lying. As I demonstrated before, Jesus was the king of the Jews. He was the King! So if you were a Christian, as my dad insisted we were despite ever stepping foot in a church, then doesn't that make me Jewish too? If so shouldn't I be home celebrating the high holidays playing video games, and reading comic books like my Jewish brotheren? I thought so.
I began my campaign by confronting my homeroon teacher Mr Burns and telling him that I won't be in on Passover day because I'll be putting goat's blood on my front door with my family. Mr Burns, a veteran of my tomfoolery told me to sit down without missing a beat.
That was his first mistake.
See, in my mind, I was a Jewish child being forced to interupt his religious commitments because his gentile teacher questions his faith. Total bullshit, but I really convinced myself that this was really happening and played the role with unflinching conviction.
As soon as I sat down two people asked me what happened. Judging by the dejected look on my face, they sensed it was something serious.
"I can't believe it. Mr Burns is actually making me come to school on Passover."
"Passover?" One of them said. "Are you Jewish?"
"But your last name's Rivoire. That's not Jewish."
"Do you think I'd know my family's religion? I'm Jewish."
"That's so unfair. They can't make you come to school on a Jewish holiday if you're Jewish. That's bullshit!"
I began to spread my fury through my classmates like the zombies in 28 Days Later. People were coming up to me all day asking me if it was true. One girl, who I'm sure is saving the rainforest right now, was more upset than I was and made sure to tell half the student body herself.
By the time lunch came around my case was the talk of the school. A couple jock idiots came over and called me a yed and made some sort of Hitler reference. But my Jewish upbringing was strong, and I turned the other cheek. Just like the King o' Jews told me to.
After lunch the vice-principal told me to wait for him in his office.
I walked in and saw Mr Burns sitting in a chair looking stressed. He refused to answer what this was about saying "you'll find out in a minute."
Vice Principal Shays came in, shut the door behind him and sat behind his desk facing Burns and myself.
"Son, are you Jewish?"
The question of the day. I didn't really think that's what I was being called in for so I wasn't prepared with a responce. As I was searching for the courage to bodly lie to the second in command of the entire school, I stared at the ground as if I was the victim of all victims. You can't sit in a uniform, in his case a suit, and ask someone if they're Jewish without feeling a little bit like the SS. So I decided to play into that AND avoid lying to him directly. I replied with a silence. A brilliant silence that spoke everything I wanted him to think better than I ever could. In a moment it was him and Mr Burns that were squirming. Without asking me to answer him directly, he assured me that I'd be spending the holiday with my family, and said on behalf of the school that he was sorry for making me think otherwise. He then excused me and asked Mr Burns to stay behind. I almost felt bad for him, but he's been such a prick to me on so many different occasions it's not even funny.
Burns pulled me out of math class and appologized to me in the hall. The man felt really, really bad. My conscience was trying to push me back into reality to make me see what a piece of shit I was being, but it was too late. I'm in much too deep, and there's no way out. Being Jewish wasn't a choice for me anymore, it was who I was.
A day off is a day off. I could get a day off for anything, that wasn't the big deal. The big deal was how I got the day off. I pulled a pretty amazing stunt and got away with it. And as being a teenager, the self satisfaction thing wasn't enough. I had to tell a few people how cool I was. And just like last time, the entire school knew what I did before lunch time. I wa also invited into Mr Shay's office again where I was given more days off. This time in the form of a suspension.
Mr Burns was pissed but slightly ammused. No one on Earth was more pissed than the rainforest girl. She wouldn't let me forget it. The Jews, the real Jews in school thought it was great. No offence at all. One of them made me a honorary Jew and I proudly accepted.
Looking back on it I find it less ammusing than I did back hten. People hold there religion serious and they should all carry on with dignity wihtout jerkoffs like myself exploiting them to be a bigshot during my teenage years. But any Jewish person I meet for the rest of my life that appears to have a sense or humor, I'll forever have a conversation piece to bring up with them.