All About Me

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Chapter 8

Well, now I was totally confused. So I left the room. Here it turns out that Mustafa was right. The implications were staggering. Not about Mustaffa being right, - well that too - but mainly about the fact that I might be Jewish. I didn’t know what to make of it all. I tried to remember if that huge rubber penis I had seen in my parents’ room had been circumcised. I guess it didn’t really matter. Then I realized that that man, the rabbi, had seen my penis. I felt exposed. I wondered if all this would affect my relationship with Alisa Cooper. I wondered if I would have to learn to speak Jewish now. I wondered if I could still be a member of S.T.O.O.P.I.D. Actually, in a way, it probably made more sense now, if you know what I mean.

I went looking for my friends. Of course, this probably wasn’t the time to tell them about these recent discoveries. I’d save it for a much more inappropriate time. They were all in the lobby having a wonderful time with the hostages, well, the other hostages, not my parents or the rabbi. They were still in the room, where I left them. At least, I think that they were, but then again you never know, do you. Because I wasn’t there, how could I possibly know if they were there? I’m digressing again. Sorry.

Anyway, the other hostages were having a great time. They decided this is exactly what they needed for their group’s image. They were called: The Committee of Rabbis Aligned with the Palestinian People. Their leader, Asher Arikman, said that their group had trouble being taken seriously. I can’t imagine why. At least they didn’t have their acronym emblazoned on their t-shirts.

So, anyway, this Rabbi Arikman tried to explain to me that true Zionism was spiritual and didn’t require the conquering of another people’s land. He said it was actually unJewish for Jews to want to have a Jewish government in Palestine. I don’t know. I mentioned that the other rabbi, the one that I just discovered was my uncle, seemed to think the opposite. He had said, my uncle I mean, that the whole idea of the Jews ruling Israel, or at least wanting to, goes back to the Bible. Rabbi Arikman said that it wasn’t proper to decide moral and political issues based on a lot of old wives’ tales. I got to tell, you I was pretty surprised to hear this coming from a rabbi and all, if you know what I mean. It seems to me that they would have thought the Bible as being somewhat integral to their whole set-up. I said so. He told me he was a reformed Jew, and then it all made sense. Like a reformed alcoholic, he didn’t dare touch the stuff.

Anyway, all this political stuff was a bit confusing to me. I’m not the most political guy, if you know what I mean. Yeah, I suppose you could say that me taking over a convention in the name of Free Palestine, was kind of political, but as I mentioned before, this is all kind of because of Alisa Cooper. Not that I’m blaming her or anything. I’m not that kind of guy, but I probably wouldn’t have gotten involved in all this if I hadn’t been trying to impress her, if you know what I mean.

I did something political one other time at college. There was this anti-rape protest on campus, and I thought that I should join it. I mean I was against rape, so it seemed pretty simple to me, if you know what I mean How was I suppose to know it was for women only? Why is it that a guy can’t be against rape? Anyway, when I showed up, this group of woman, a really large group of woman surrounded me and started yelling at me and telling me to leave. I made the mistake of asking, “Why couldn’t I also protest. Can’t a man be against rape too?”

“No,” they told me. They said that all men know is violence and that basically, we are all rapists – all men that is.

“But I haven’t even had sex yet,” I said.

I was the worst kind, they told me: A virgin rapist. They began to get a bit rowdy, pushing and yelling for me to leave, while these others were blocking my path of escape. They kept calling me a “violent macho fascist rapist pig.” I really thought they were going to tear me from limb to limb. It was quite scary, if you know what I mean. I just wanted to get out of there. I tell you, I nearly didn’t even escape with my life. They tore my shirt, and hit me over the head with a chair. I think they really wanted to kill me. I guess that’ll teach me to be such a violent male, right?

I’m digressing again, aren’t I?

Anyway, as I said, the only reason I got all mixed up in this mess, was because of Alisa Cooper. So, it was actually a good thing, that when I showed up in the lobby, she came rushing over to me and hugged me. She said she had been worried about me, and was glad to see I was okay. I shot Steve a look. She had been worried, not concerned. My life kind of felt complete, right then and there. I mean, I had other crushes, especially in High School, but nothing that had ever really panned out, if you know what I mean. In fact, they all kind of failed miserably if you know what I mean.

There was this one girl, Lisa Nudelman who I finally got up the nerve to ask her out on a date. So, she wouldn’t feel too much pressure, or maybe it was that I wouldn’t feel too much pressure - I don’t know. I’ve kind of blanked on the whole thing - I asked a friend of mine to come along. Yeah, probably not the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done. Anyway, there we were, all three of us sitting in the front seat of my mother’s Oldsmobile having a wonderful conversation when I rear ended the car in front of me. How was I to know he wasn’t going to go forward when the light turned green? Anyway, it kind of ruined the date, if you know what I mean. Not that it had any great prospects to begin with, but I never got the courage to ask her out again, if you can believe it.

Then there was this other girl named Gwendolyn Goodfellow. She was really pretty and friendly, and nice and probably everybody in our school wanted to go out with her. She was kind of out of my league, if you know what I mean. But sometimes a guy just can’t help himself. Maybe that’s what those women protestors meant, when they said we were all rapists deep down. I don’t know. I never really did understand the male-female dynamic too much, but then can you blame me? Anyway, I would leave this girl all sorts of tokens of my affection: a flower in her school locker, a paper lantern in her backpack. I suppose it could’ve been a little creepy finding all these things from some anonymous guy that she didn’t know. I mean she couldn’t know that I was harmless, right? But I didn’t think about things like that, at the time. I though it was just kind of romantic, like in the movies, if you know what I mean. I mean in the movies, the girl never pepper sprays the guy when he reveals his true identity, well, almost never. Or, if she did, the unwarranted attack promotes sympathy, and a certain endearment, right. Oh well, at least they didn’t make me transfer schools. Though, maybe it would have been better if they had.

I spent the rest of my high school career holding out for Zelda Williams. Aside from her having a really cool name and being really pretty and all, I figured with a father like hers, nothing I did could be too weird to freak her out, if you know what I mean. Of course, nothing really, ever came of it. The lawyers said the court order was more of a warning than anything else and none of this would ever appear on my permanent record.

What is this permanent record thing anyway? In school, they were always threatening to put something on my permanent record. Like, I would have this file that would follow me around throughout my life. I always had this fear that I’d be in the nursing home or something and these official guys would come up to me and tell me that I never returned a particular library book in the third grade. You can imagine the fine on that, can’t you? I’m digressing again. Sorry.

So, anyway, Alisa Cooper’s hugging me and holding me, and I’m feeling great. I’m not really hearing a thing she’s saying to me, I’m just enjoying the moment and trying to remind myself that mentioning the newfound discovery of my identity might be a bad idea at the moment. Alisa Cooper smelled great by the way. Despite the heat, despite that everyone else smelled like the inside of a locker room. She smelled fantastic. I think she must wash her hair ever few minutes, because it always smells like she’s got apple blossoms hidden inside somewhere behind her ears.

So, I don’t really realize what’s happening until Alisa turns to the others and declares, “He agreed. He’ll do it.” I swear I thought I heard the lock on a jail cell click at that moment.

“What?” I ask. “What did I just agree to?”

Alisa looked surprised, as if I had just told her that I had discovered I was Jewish. Which I didn’t, of course. Not that I didn’t discover I was Jewish. That did just happen. You remember, I actually did discover that, that I was Jewish, or that my parents were, or that at least, I had a very grumpy uncle that was a rabbi. But considering our current situation, and not to mention, more importantly, my earlier denials, I figured this wasn’t the right time for any such revelations. I needed to break it to her gently. Well, in truth, actually, I intended to ignore it for as long as possible. Because, you see, I’m pretty sure I would get the same reaction I was getting now, and I hadn’t even said anything yet. I was just asking what it was I had agreed to.

But the truth is I knew. It was obvious. They needed someone to talk to the cops, to negotiate our demands, and maybe even order some lunch. When we had planned this event, it had been decided that Mustafa would do all the negotiating. He was, after all, our fearless leader. Somehow, though, while I had been out of the room, I had gotten volunteered to go in his stead.

“Why me? What happened to Mustafa? Why can’t he go?”

“Well, you see,” Mustafa began, walking over to us. “We figured me being black and all, them cops might be in a bigger hurry to plug me. Also, it’s not good for the leader to expose himself. It would take away our tactical advantage. Besides,” Mustafa smiled. “You’re already up to speed concerning our overall strategic objectives.”

Tactical advantage, strategic objectives – that was Mustafa’s way of saying he really hadn’t any idea what he was doing. It happened a lot with him, really. It was his idea to take over the convention, but he had left the planning details to me. Mustafa was probably right. I probably would be a better negotiator. Most of the time not having clue is a big disadvantage, but with negotiations, at least from what I’ve seen on CNN, it can work to your advantage. And no one was as clueless as I was at the moment. I had no idea why we were there in the first place. And to tell you the truth, as far as strategic objectives goes, my only objective was to get out of this alive.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll go talk to the cops.”

Alisa Cooper hugged me again. It was really nice. Really. And everyone else was looking at me kind of strange. And, not like all the other times, as if I had left my fly unzipped, but different, as if I was a real human being or something; like a kind of a leader. I started making suggestions and everyone responded as if I actually had a plan; as if I had the keys to its success. On the one hand, this was kind of a good thing. I mean Alisa Cooper was looking at me as if I was a somebody - somebody she could be interested in. On the other, hand, as you can image, I didn’t really feel all that equipped to be in charge. Especially, since I was never all that sure about this whole idea in the first place. And now, that I found I was Jewish, well, it kind made the whole thing seem surreal and crazy. I also had this sneaking suspicion that Mustafa was making me out to be the leader so that when it all failed I would get the blame. Strangely enough, that’s the only thing that brought me a little bit of comfort. You see, I’m familiar with failure. I know how to handle it; success, not so much.

But, anyway, I figured I needed a plan. I didn’t want some sharpshooter to pick me off before I even had my debut as a leader, if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, my only source of ideas was the movies, and in those, the terrorists usually get blown away. I needed to think of something quick.

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