Balancing Self with Religion Advice

Written by Jon Sindell

A tale of balancing who you are with trying to fit into the "in-crowd." Here's a story about a kid, his religion family and friends and guilt.

 "The word itself is an inkblot test.

So tell me, Dan: what do you think of when you hear the word Jew?" "I think, a hundred bucks an hour for free association? Uh oh, there's the look! James' patented, 'cut out the bullshit and look into my all-knowing eyes' look!  And there's the raised eyebrow! Man, I am getting the works today!"

James grinned just enough to acknowledge that I saw myself as a funnyman, but not enough to let me think I'd disarmed him.

"The word, Dan?"

"'Say the word, and you'll be free! Say the word and be like me!'"

"The Beatles," James sighed.

I was truly a pill, with my wise guy ways and copywriter's tongue.

"Now say it out loud."

 "I'm a Jew and I'm proud!"

"Good, Dan. But tell me: doyou say it out loud? At a restaurant, for instance?"

I fell into his gaze. "No," I confessed. "I lower my voice."

He measured a nod. "So tell me: what are the things that make you so proud?"

"Israel ... Albert Einstein ... Groucho Marx. And of course Sandy Koufax, possibly the greatest pitcher in baseball history, a point I'd argue in any bar in the land. "I sat up on the edge of the couch. "Did you know Paul Newman's half-Jewish?"

"I didn't; interesting. Now I want you to take a deep breath and go deeper."

"He said like Charlton Heston as Moses."

He grinned, merry-wise. "Touché, I'm a Gentile. Now go deeper, Dan."

"He said like Darth Vader." The clock's ticking hand seemed to stick in anticipation of my reply. "Shame. And betrayal. Man, that light's surrounding your head like an aura."

"We were talking about you. And football, and Jews, and why you didn't play football in high school."

"Man, it's like a confessional in here. You really should be back in the priesthood, James. Here I sit, dizzy and high on a Yom Kippur fast, and church bells are ringing in my ears!"

"I prefer the eye contact in this line of work."

"OK ... fine.But if you're gonna do your psychic bloodhound thing, I'm gonna do my patient-on-the-couch thing and stare at the ceiling 'cause I do not need your Eyes of The Ages to keep me honest.

Did you know you've got eyes like my daughter's? Six years old, and I couldn't fool her for a second. Man, she's a trip. Every word out of her mouth is Jew this, Jew that. Last Hanukkah, it wasn't enough I got a menorah and presents for the first time ever, she was all, 'Dad, let's make latkes! Dad, let's play dreidel!' And at school, every other kid makes five-pointed stars, but with her it's always the Star Of David! And it's everywhere, man! On her artwork, on her notebook, on the sidewalk in front of our house. And her mom's Episcopalian!"

"Football, Dan?"

"He sighed like Job." My head was floating like a football hanging against a blue sky. "Why didn't I make the team? Because Sammy Dershowitz was my cousin, and my dad was a con man. Listening?"

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