Whether you like them, or whether you’re an anti-Semite, even if you fantasize whips and chains in Hitler’s bunker with a beautiful lieutenant, you’re all becoming Jews and Jewesses. You hide in dim rooms, the shine of the laptop on your face, studying words, manipulating them, as if in these words are wisdom and beauty. You wax eloquent over the process of Creation, and yes, you’re pretentious, but you feel as if you’re really getting somewhere.
You’re a Jew or Jewess, but it’s not God you glorify, only yourself. I’m not judging. What does it matter? Everyone knows God is an illusion, a human-created artifact. All is folly. Only some folly is more foolish than others.
You’re a Jew or Jewess, because you stare at your screen instead of going outside to plant apple seeds like Johnny Appleseed, who ambled thousands of miles through the countryside. All these useless words. You’re a member of a conquered people, an American. The wealthy haggle over your soul. You’re a Jew or Jewess. You live in a pod of your own making. You’re a Jew or Jewess. You’ve become one. You’ve been made one by the futility of your lives, your inability to make a difference.
You’ve become a Jew or Jewess. Me, I’ve always been one. So has Angela.
Angela goes to a tattoo parlor to get a prison camp number tattooed on her forearm , the same number her grandfather had in Auschwitz. The tattoo artist offers to do it for free. I wish I could do this without needles, he says. I wish I didn’t have to inflict pain, but it’s a necessity of my career, just like it was necessary for the Nazis who were merely following orders. If the Holocaust happened at all, and wasn’t just a figment of the Jewish imagination.
Angela pulls her arm away. The buzzing needle hangs in the air. How had she begun this spiritual act by stumbling into the lair of this creep? A friend had recommended him. Sometimes you can’t depend on friends. Sometimes there’s no one you can depend on.
Angela returns home. Her lover has been expecting her. He gently takes her wrist. Where’s the tattoo, he asks.
There is no tattoo.
He kisses her forearm anyway.