Images Of Myself And Other Strangers or On Becoming a Card-Carrying Crip

 

 

 

Berkeley 1960
 
“Funny, you don’t look Jewish,” he says with a loud grin.
It is not particularly funny and besides even the rabbi says I look Jewish. So, how am I supposed to respond to my dissembling well-wisher? His grin widens into a shout. He slaps me hard on the
shoulder. He clearly wants me to feel accepted, one of “us”, not one of “them.” He is doing me a big favor. Really he is. He knows it and I am supposed to know it and know that he knows it and so on. His name is Charles Leighton-Grahme and he is a Tau Delta Something-or-Other.
 
It is 1960 and I’ve just arrived at the University of California in Berkeley. I’m going to be a college boy. Maybe even a fraternity boy. Boy!
 
I swallow a mouthful of too-hot coffee in what I imagine might be an acceptable Gentile manner. I feel the roof of my mouth blistering. My tongue will be fuzzy for days.
 
“Thanks,” I reply.
 
We smile at each other. Charles Leighton-Grahme seems very pleased. To my shame, I don’t remember being displeased.
 
Despite my apparent non-Jewishness, I am not invited to pledge Tau Delta Something-or-Other.
 
Sag Harbor 1996
 
“I never think of you as a disabled person,” says Marty.
 
It is October 1996. Gill and I have driven up from New York City to Sag Habor to visit him and Judy. They are my publishers. We are meeting socially for the first time. I like him very much and feel I’ve known him for years. He reminds me of David, my high-school buddy and still best friend So although his comment stings, I let it slide past.[for full story click here]
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© 2015 by Bill Albert