EAT MY DUST

Particularly sensitive about her bright red hair, twelve-year-old Moira was constantly teased and ridiculed by the other kids in school. A day didn’t go by when she wasn’t under attack, either verbally or physically. The bratty kids would run after Moira, pulling her hair and calling her Devil Girl or Carrot-top. They’d force her off the bus and chase her home where she’d run inside crying, hiding in her room.

Moira’s mother begged the principal to do something but he claimed his hands were tied. “Kids will be kids. What do you expect me to do – expel all the students?” was his cavalier comment.

Aside from her cousin Andrew, Moira had only one true friend – a confident and strong-willed girl named Tanya, one of the few black students in their school. Tanya’s brother Justin taught her how to handle herself. She was no coward and would blast the other kids, making them back off. “Stick with me, girl! We’ll show those fools some day!” Tanya would laughingly say to Moira, putting her arm around her shoulder. Nothing seemed to bother Tanya but that was far from true. She felt the prejudice every day; she just never revealed her emotions and would wait until she was safe in her mother’s comforting embrace to vent her frustrations.

Fortunately the friends had something in their favor: they were both incredibly beautiful. Unlike most redheads Moira’s creamy face had no freckles, her eyes were a bewitching hazel and her hair was straight and lustrous, not a shock of fire-red curls like Little Orphan Annie. Tanya’s complexion was like velvet, the color of hot cocoa. Her eyes were a glistening golden-brown and her jet-black cornrows were luxurious and silky smooth. Their exquisite good looks confused the fickle boys and threatened the jealous girls.

Tanya and Moira remained close all through their teen years. High school wasn’t a cakewalk for the girls; every day a new challenge would present itself and the friends would put on a brave face. Tanya became Moira’s coach, teaching her everything she learned from her brother. Slowly Moira’s confidence became stronger and school wasn’t such a living hell.

Not one boy had the guts to ask Moira or Tanya to the prom which was no surprise. “Screw it!” was Tanya’s reaction. “Who needs them?!” Moira came up with a wild idea and when she shared it with her friend, Tanya grinned and said “You’re on, girl. Let’s do this thing!”

On the day of the big dance the friends went to the salon for “the works” – nails, hair and makeup. When they were done they looked amazing and totally different, playing a crazy game of trading places.

The outcasts walked into the prom not knowing what to expect but once everyone saw them, all trepidation disappeared. The boys were dumbstruck, mouth gaping open while the girls stared, seething with envy. Moira was on Justin’s arm while Tanya walked hand-in-hand with Andrew.

They left everyone eating their dust.

NAR © 2020

I WANNA ROCK!!

“‘Cattle Decapitation‘?! What the hell kind of music are you into now, Colin? Sounds like another really depraved rock band from Sweden or Britain – that’s what you’re listening to these days, isn’t it? Like that other group you worship – ‘Liquid Graveyard’. What the hell does that even mean, Colin? Your mother and I have had it with this heavy metal music, if you can even call it music, which you insist on blaring throughout the house. You play it at all hours of the day and night and we’re losing our minds. You have absolutely no respect for anyone else. Your poor grandmother is afraid to come out of her room and eats all her meals behind her locked door. Frankly it’s nothing but head-splitting noise and I can’t blame her one bit for keeping herself locked away from you. I mean it was bad enough when you were into ‘Motörhead’ and that Lemmy freak but we kept our mouths shut; kids go through phases, I know that. Then you started getting into some pretty disturbing stuff, groups like ‘Autopsy’ and ‘Cannibal Corpse’. Really, Colin! It’s damn upsetting to the whole family and we’re seriously on the brink of kicking you out of the house. What do you have to say for yourself? What do you want to do with your life?!” Colin’s father, Mark, was apoplectic with rage.

I WANNA ROCK!!” Colin wanted to scream at the top of his lungs but he wouldn’t give his father the satisfaction. Instead, he looked up at his father from the recliner in his basement bedroom and calmly asked “Are you done spewing your uninformed and ponderous statements, Dad, or do you have more to say? If you’re done, I’m gonna ask you to leave my room and let me enjoy my music. If you’re not, feel free to continue your rant. You don’t mind if I put on my headphones, do you?” Colin knew he was adding gasoline to the fire but at this point he didn’t care any more. Obviously his father had been going through his stuff; he never takes the time to listen to what he has to say and has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. Actually comparing ‘Cattle Decapitation’ to ‘Motörhead‘ – what a pedestrian misconception!

“Why you little son of a bitch! You’re telling ME to get out of YOUR room? This is MY house; I just let you live here! We fixed up the basement for you when your grandmother moved in. We could have easily had you share a room with Kyle but we realized you needed your own space, being five years older that your brother. And how do you repay us? By turning this place into a shit hole! Look at your crap – magazines, posters, CDs, video games, boxes of God knows what spread out all over the place. No wonder your mother practically has a panic attack every time she has to come down here to use the washing machine. She’s almost as scared as your grandmother! It breaks her heart seeing what you’ve done to this room. You know, she always wanted to make this her arts and crafts area but gladly gave up the space to accommodate you. Have you ever shown your appreciation, even once? No, you haven’t! You’re such a selfish and spoiled ingrate!” Colin stared at his father, fascinated as he watched his eyes bulge with every word and the throbbing veins in his neck looked like they were going to explode.

“Since we’re talking about me, Dad, other than my taste in music and the fact that you think I’m a selfish ingrate, have I ever done anything youre ashamed of? I’m a good student and I’ve got a job. All the stuff you call “crap” – I bought everything you see here with my own money. I never asked you for a dime to buy CDs or video games. That’s a lot more than you cay say about other kids my age but you‘ve never acknowledged that. You just constantly browbeat me about my music.”

Mark was momentarily caught off guard; he’d never heard Colin talk like this before. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time they actually had a civilized conversation; they always just screamed at each other. Who was this kid?

Dad, let me ask you a question. Didn’t you have your favorite groups when you were my age, maybe even some your parents didn’t approve of?” Colin asked.

“Of course we did, Colin. We listened to lots of different groups like ‘Guns N’ Roses’, ‘Mötley Crüe’, ‘Whitesnake’ and ‘Quiet Riot’, among others, but that music is no comparison to the crap that’s out today, especially this garbage you listen to. Yeah, maybe my father gave me some grief now and then – it’s a father’s job to keep his kids in line – but back then the music we listened to was really good. You know, your mother still loves The Beatles? You can’t get any better than that.”

Colin inched to the edge of his chair. “Dad, do you honestly think you’re telling me anything new? I know all about those groups you used to listed to. You think I’m only aware of what’s popular now? Give me a little more credit than that! At least my mind isn’t closed off like yours. I like ‘The Beatles’, ‘Stones’, ‘Led Zeppelin’, ‘Deep Purple’, ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘AC/DC’, ‘Metallica’, ‘Rush’ – should I go on? I accept the fact that my music isn’t for everybody and you should at least acknowledge that and try to be a little more broadminded instead of sticking it to me every chance you get. Did you ever think the reason I stay down here listening to my music is because you and I never just sit and talk about stuff?”

Mark exhaled deeply. “You make some valid points, Colin, you really do but at least the names of the groups we were into weren’t twisted. Tell me, what the hell kind of name is ‘Cattle Decapitation’, for crying out loud? It’s not normal! What the hell am I supposed to make of that?”

Come on, Dad. It’s just a name. Didn’t you listen to ‘Poison’ and ‘Fine Young Cannibalsand ‘Nine Inch Nails’? And since you mentioned “twisted”, what about ‘Twisted Sister’? What kinds of names are those? Besides, you don’t know the first thing about ‘Cattle Decapitation‘” Colin replied.

Well, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what the name means, Colin. It’s repulsive!”

And there you go again, making a judgment call with no real information to back it up! Dad, can you cool down long enough to give me a minute to tell you something about them?”

Mark sat down heavily on the side of Colin’s bed. “Go ahead, Colin, but it’s probably not going to change my mind.”

‘Well, you might be surprised, Dad. And I’m not making any of this up. It’s all on the internet so Google it if you don’t believe me. ‘Cattle Decapitation’ is an American group, not Swedish or English. That’s rightfrom right here in the US of A, just like your good old boy Ted Nugent! And they aren’t famous for cutting off the heads of innocent cows or sheep. Their music isn’t heavy metal – that’s what you listened to. Their music is called ‘death grind’ which I know you think sounds really sick; it’s like a fusion of death metal and grind-core, not that I’d expect you to understand that but it wouldn’t kill you to look it up. You just might learn something. Their songs actually protest the mistreatment and consumption of animals. the abuse of the environment and other subjects such as misanthropy and genocide. Much of the band’s music is based on putting humans in the same situations that animals are subjected to like animal testing and brutality. And I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear” Colin continued “that the members of the band are vegetarians, just like me – or haven’t you noticed I gave up eating meat two years ago? They aren’t savages. When you think about it they’re not all that different than ‘that fab little group’ Mom loves so much; they’re just expressing themselves in a different way.

Mark looked at his son with skepticism. “I don’t know, Colin. That just doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, listen to them; that lead singer sounds like he’s possessed by demons!”

“That’s because they’re angry about the situation of the world and they’re trying to get our attention! Their song ‘Bring Back the Plague’ is all about COVID-19 and is the painful, truthful humor we all need right now. And it was filmed responsibly on cell phones while the band was in self-isolation. Do us both a favor, Dad” requested Colin. “Forget the music for now and just read the lyrics to their songs, then compare them to the groups you listened to. That’s all I ask; think of it as a compromise. After that, if you still want to kick me out of the house, that’s your right.”

Ok, Colin, I’ll take a look but I can’t promise anything.”

Mark went to the fridge and grabbed a Bud Light. He climbed the stairs to his den, flipped on ‘Metallica‘ and started Googling ‘Cattle Decapitation‘, death metal and grind-core.

Well, I’ll be God damned! he said after reading for half an hour. “The kid actually knew what he was talking about.” Mark switched off ‘Metallica’ and searched YouTube for ‘Bring Back the Plague’. Putting on his headphones, he took a swig of his beer and for the first time in ages he actually paid attention.

NAR © 2020

Submitted on this day in 2022 for Fandango’s Flashback Friday — September 16th

A LITTLE RAY OF LIGHT

It was a blazing hot day in August of 1971. Sweaty air conditioners were working overtime, filling the streets of Manhattan with an unrelenting drone. I was in the elevator of my apartment building having just returned from physical therapy. There were four other people in the elevator – an exterminator, a mid-twenties hippie chick I knew only as “Rain”, elderly and bitter Abe Samuelson and a very pregnant Asian woman I didn’t know. Abe made a point of moving away from the Asian woman, spitting out the words “savage gooks!” Abe usually wisecracked about my missing arm but today his vitriol was directed elsewhere. Ignorant man. 

The doors closed and we began our slow ascent. Old buildings, temperamental elevators and a heatwave – a bad combination. Somewhere between floors 3 and 4 the elevator jolted to a stop. Before Abe could utter a curse word the elevator churned back to life, coughed a bit and stopped again with an ominous screech. Except for a few groans no one said anything. I pushed the alarm button and reached for the elevator’s emergency phone. Halfway through my call the electricity went out, the AC shut off and my phone connection died. Blackness engulfed us and it started getting uncomfortably warm. 

Abe started cursing and banging the walls, all the while ranting “goddamn fucking dinks – I hate them!” The exterminator was praying in what sounded like Haitian Creole and Rain softly hummed “Let It Be”. I tried unsuccessfully to pry open the doors and reminded everyone that at least part of our emergency call went through so help had to be coming. It was then that I became aware of low guttural moans coming from the Asian woman and in Vietnamese she gasped that the baby was coming. 

I asked exterminator man if he had a flashlight, which he did. Turning it on he handed it to me and everyone calmed down a bit. Amazing what a little ray of light can do. The pregnant woman eased herself onto the floor; I told her I understood Vietnamese from my days as a medic in Nam. I said my name was Jack; her name was Thanh. We talked softly as Abe carried on about his son who died in Vietnam – “And for what?? This trash??” he screamed. The exterminator became more agitated and Rain sat by him holding his hand. 

Thanh told me she married an American soldier in early November 1970 and he brought her back to live in the U.S. with his parents. After two weeks he returned to Vietnam; he was killed November 21st in Operation Ivory Coast. Thanh soon learned she was pregnant. Relations with her in-laws became strained and she moved in here with her cousin. As we sat quietly I thought of that November day. I remembered a soldier flung himself on me as I worked in the MASH unit. He was blown to bits while I only lost my arm. Could that have been Thanh’s husband? 

Suddenly Abe stood up and screamed racial slurs at Thanh. The exterminator sobbed while Rain sang to calm him. I yelled for everyone to “shut up!” And that’s when we heard faint voices. 

“Anyone in there?” 

“Roger that! We’re down here!” I shouted and was rewarded with a resounding “HUA!” 

Haltingly the doors were pried open and a rescue ladder was lowered into the elevator.

“The pregnant lady first.”

Gingerly Thanh made her way up the ladder and was rushed to the hospital. The rest of us climbed to safety.

Call it crazy intuition but I had to get to Tranh

NAR © 2020

THE GRAND OPENING

“Looked only! Didn’t touch!” wailed Eddie, the dishwasher at the Q.E.D. Lounge. The waitstaff came running into the kitchen upon hearing a crash. Shattered crystal covered the kitchen floor – the new shipment of assorted glasses for the lounge’s grand opening. 

Eddie huddled in the corner wiping his runny nose on the sleeve of his sweatshirt, whimpering like a frightened boy. Due to that one decisive extra chromosome, Eddie was very much like a child – a 30 year old man with the mind of an eight year old. Just a little thing called Down Syndrome. Eddie’s brother Jay, the maitre d’, crouched down next to him while everyone stood in stunned silence. 

“Bud, accidents happen. It’s gonna be ok” Jay said calmly. “C’mon. We’ll help you clean up.” 

Without hesitation the crew grabbed brooms and dust pans – everyone except Lou, the belligerent bartender. 

“Don’t look at me. I ain’t helping!” snarled Lou. “It was that Goddamn retard’s fault. He shouldn’t even be around normal people, fucking mongoloid!” 

Jay clenched his fists, eyes glaring at Lou.” Shut your filthy mouth, you miserable son of a bitch! Don’t ever talk about my brother like that!” 

Martin Byrnes, manager of the Q.E.D., stormed into the kitchen. “What the hell’s going on?!” Slowly he looked around, taking in the whole scene.  Martin asked everyone to leave except Eddie, Jay and Lou. 

Martin spoke softly. “Eddie, I’m not mad. The way you help out here represents everything that’s good in this angry world of ours. Can you tell me what happened?” 

Eddie glanced over at Lou then shook his head ‘no’

“Mr. Byrnes is real good to us, Eddie. He deserves the truth” Jay added encouragingly. 

Eddie sniffled and rubbed is swollen eyes. “I saw all the boxes so I went to look at them but I didn’t touch them, cross my heart. Lou, he came in the back door and pushed me into the boxes and they fell.” 

“You lying freak!” yelled Lou. “I was out back chasing that tramp who’s always looking for a handout. Eddie’s mangy mutt was there and he tore a hole in my pants cuff!” 

“Yeah, after you kicked him, I’m sure” declared Jay.  

“Ok, Lou. What happened when you came back into the kitchen?” asked Martin. “Were you so ticked off at the dog that maybe you bumped into Eddie?” 

“Look, Mr. B. I’m telling you I didn’t do nothing” sneered Lou. “Who you gonna believe?” 

“Alright. What’s done is done” sighed Martin. “Jay, you and Eddie finish cleaning up in here. Lou, go down to the basement and bring up whatever glasses you can find. We’re opening tonight as planned.” 

Disgruntled, Lou headed for the basement. He remembered a prior shipment of glasses that Martin didn’t like. Rather than return them they were put in storage. And there they were, two towers of boxes at least six feet fall. 

“Why am I stuck doing this shit job? Where’s that lazy spic busboy?” Lou grumbled. He walked to the delivery entrance and shouted “Hey, Manuel! Get in here!”  

Manuel didn’t answer Lou’s command;  Eddie’s ‘mangy mutt’ did and he growled, hurt by the kick in his ribs from Lou’s patent leather shoe. The dog inched closer, baring his sharp canines.

Lou backed up as fast as he could but not fast enough. The dog sank his teeth into the bartender’s calf and wouldn’t let go. He meant business and was out for revenge … for himself and for Eddie. 

Lou was thrust into the stacks of boxes, splintered wood and jagged glass crashing down on him. As a final coup de grâce, Eddie’s dog lifted his hind leg, pissed on Lou and trotted out the door. 

NAR © 2020

HOME OF THE BRAVE

“Settlers from the east, father. When will they stop?” 

Chief Yonaguska looked down at the boy. “Never, my son, but if we are respectful of each other’s ways, there will be no trouble.” Father and son sat atop their horses, staring down at the wagon train.  

Wagon master Patrick Hall spied the Cherokees and whistled a Celtic melody, their established warning signal. The women and children took cover in the wagons while the men remained on their horses – one hand on the reins, the other fingering a shotgun. 

Cautiously, Yonaguska raised his arm in a sign of peace. Patrick did the same. Slowly Yonaguska and his son turned their horses around and returned to their tribe. 

We’ll be gettin’ no trouble from those Cherokees” declared Patrick.  

They’re all savages!” argued Donal Byrne “Ya shoulda just shot ‘em!” 

“I’ll not hear another remark like that again, Donal!“ replied Patrick angrily. “This is a good spot to camp for a few days. We’ll give the horses a rest and do some huntin’ and fishing’.” 

When Patrick and a few men left, Donal and the others stayed behind to protection the women-folk and work on the wagons. The women baked bread while the younger children napped. Some older girls went to gather fruit and berries to make preserves. They were given orders to remain together and not go far but as young giggly girls are often wont to do, they didn’t pay attention and wandered off.  

Anxious about the girl’s tardiness, Donal and some of the men went looking for them. They became aware of faint screams in the distance. The men searched but couldn’t find the girls. Then they noticed discarded baskets, remnants of cloth and blood. Gathering the items, the men found their way back to camp just as Patrick and the hunting crew returned. 

Donal raced toward Patrick bellowing “See! I was right! Ya shoulda killed those savages when ya had the chance. Now they’ve taken our girls and God knows what they’ve done to them! I say we go get our girls back, even if we have to kill all them stinkin’ bastards!”

Just then Yonaguska and several braves appeared on the hilltop, the chief sitting imperially on his stallion. As they cautiously made their way down the hill, the settlers could see each brave carried a girl on his horse. Some of the girls were bleeding, their clothes rent. 

“Ya blasted barbarians! What have ya done to our girls?!” shouted Donal and he aimed his gun at Yonaguska. 

Donal! Drop it or by God I’ll shoot ya where ya stand!” threatened Patrick. Begrudgingly, Donal lowered his gun.  “Now, Donal, take a look behind the chief’s horse.” 

Only then did everyone notice a giant dead grizzly bear. The girls explained how the bear had attacked them and the braves came to their rescue. The braves gently lowered the girls to the ground and they ran to their parents. 

With raised hand, Patrick stepped forward. “We have nothing to offer ya but our thanks and friendship for protecting our girls.” 

Yonaguska replied “Your girls were in peril. It is fortunate my braves were there to help. All we want is peace between us.” 

Then with a slight tug on his stallion’s rein, the Cherokee chief withdrew. He and his braves silently disappearing over the hill.

When cooler heads prevail, there will be no trouble.

NAR © 2019

THE DANGEROUS GAMES WE PLAY

Tuesday, 10/27/1961

Dear Diary: There’s a new boy in school named Carter. He’s so cool. He’s part black .. light mocha skin with amazing green eyes. I dig him. If my parents find out I’m dead! They’re so prejudiced! Gonna dream about him tonight. 

Wednesday, 10/28/1961

Dear Diary: Fabulous news! Carter is now my Biology partner! I know he’s into me. He winks whenever he sees me. My friends giggle; they’re so childish. Really! We’re 15. The black girls are giving me dirty looks. Beverly bumped me hard when she walked by. Carter likes me! He’s so hot! 

Thursday, 10/29/1961

Dear Diary: We were sitting real close in class, sharing the microscope. Carter’s arm brushed against my breast and I liked it. I leaned in closer and placed my hand on his leg, slowly moving it higher. Then the bell rang! Carter whispered “Give me your phone number”. I scribbled it down and he winked at me. 

Friday, 10/30/1961

Dear Diary: Teacher’s Conference Day. No school but my parents had to work. The ringing phone woke me. I was stunned to hear Carter’s voice: “Pretty Lily White. I’m bored. Come to my place. We’ll listen to music.”  I said “Okay“, and got his address. I walked the three blocks to his house. The radio was playing Motown and we started dancing. He gave me a drink .. Scotch, I think .. and he laughed when I coughed. Taking my glass, he kissed me deeply. Just then three boys from school arrived. We were partying – drinking, smoking and dancing. I must have passed out. I came to in Carter’s bedroom, naked. Somebody was on top of me while the others watched. I could vaguely hear the Miracles singing “Ooh, Baby, Baby”. Next thing I know I’m dressed, being helped down the stairs. Carter told someone to “clean up the condoms“. He opened the front door and I staggered out, the cool air clearing my head a bit. I smelled like sex and booze. Somehow I made it home, showered and crawled into bed. How could this happen? 

Weekend, 10/31-11/1/1961

Dear Diary: Faked a headache and skipped the Halloween dance last night. Today I just hung around the house. I can’t face anyone. 

Monday, 11/2/1961

Dear Diary: This morning at school I saw Carter walking with his arm around Beverly. He winked at me as we passed. His friends laughed. I want to die.

NAR © 2018

SAFE IN A BUBBLE

“Arabic For Dummies”? The Qur’an? What the hell are these disgusting books doing in our house? You’re still associating with that .. that .. savage, aren’t you, Gloria? Answer me!” 

“Papa, please, calm yourself. It’s not good for your blood pressure. If you’re referring to Yusuf, he is not a savage. He’s a sweet, gentle and loving man and you’d  realize that if you got to know him. He’s a student at the university studying religion and…..” 

“And the making of bombs and God knows what else! Gloria, he’s an Arab, a Muslim, for the love of God! Haven’t you seen enough on tv and in the papers to know what these people are capable of? Crashing planes into buildings, blowing up villages, turning themselves into human bombs! They’re animals, all of them!” 

“And since when did you become an expert on Muslims or Arabs? You’ve never even tried to get to know them. All my Arab friends are good people .. peace loving people. We’ve spent hours talking, exchanging philosophies and sharing meals.” 

“I cannot believe what I’m hearing. You actually sit down and eat with these people, if you can even call them that? This is a nightmare! How can you do this to me?” 

“What am I doing to you, Papa? You haven’t even given him a chance. You refuse to meet him, to sit down and have a conversation with him. You’d see he is a man of peace, a good man incapable of hurting anyone.” 

“Are you crazy? Do you actually think I would sit with him in my house? Please, God, don’t tell me he has you brainwashed already! That’s what they do, you know…draw you in to their cult and before you know it you’re hooked and there’s no way out. Why can’t you stick to our own kind, find a nice Jewish boy? An Arab and a Jew .. whoever heard of such nonsense?!?

“I can’t believe we’re fighting over this again! Why must you keep bringing it up, Papa?You didn’t give Evelyn a hard time when she said she wanted to marry Sal. And what about Kenny when he and Makayla got engaged? An Italian son-in-law and a black daughter-in-law are in our family now and you won’t let me see Yusuf, simply because he’s an Arab!” 

“Oh no, there’s no such thing as simply an Arab, Gloria. They all have a hidden agenda! Are you blind to what’s going on around you?” 

“Papa, look at me. I’m a grown woman capable of making my own decisions. Why can’t you trust my judgement like you did with Kenny and Evelyn?” 

“Gloria, you’re not thinking clearly. Sal is a doctor, making a fortune. Your sister and their kids will never want for anything. Makayla’s parents are both lawyers and she’s in law school herself. Your brother and sister made smart choices. They didn’t bring some maniac suicide bomber into our family.” 

“STOP! Stop saying that! You know nothing about Yusuf and you have no idea what you’re talking about! He’s a wonderful man and I have deep feelings for him.” 

“Deep feelings? What are you saying, Gloria? Are you sleeping with him?” 

“Oh my God! I can’t believe you just asked me that! I’m not a child and, frankly, that’s none of your business.” 

“None of my business? As long as you’re living under my roof, it’s my business.”

“Here we go again! Well maybe it’s high time I moved out of this prison and found a place of my own!” 

“PRISON! After all your mother and I have done for you, you have the nerve to say that? And by ‘a place of your own’, you mean shacking up with that terrorist, don’t you? Why don’t you just stab me in the heart and put me out of my misery!” 

“Enough! What’s going on here? I can hear the two of you all the way downstairs!” 

“Hilda, אהובתי (“my love”) I didn’t hear you come in.” 

“As if you could hear anything over all the yelling in here! What’s gotten into the two of you?” 

“It’s your daughter. She’s being absolutely unreasonable. I don’t even know who she is anymore.” 

“Oh, so now she’s MY daughter? Sheldon, the last time I checked she was OUR daughter.
Is this about that Arab boy again?” 

“Mama, please, I can’t talk to Papa about this any more. If anyone is being unreasonable, it’s him.” 

“Gloria, why don’t you go out for a while, go to that nice coffee shop near the university.
Sheldon, come sit with me.”  

“Hilda, are you crazy? She’s going to run right to him! Don’t you see what you’re doing?” 

“Just like you ran to me, Sheldon, when your parents called me a filthy Nazi? Look at me, Shelly. Do you remember what it was like for us when we first met? You a Jew and me a German. Ach du lieber! What were we thinking? My father was so furious, he wanted to kill both of us. But we knew we’d rather die than be separated. Sheldon, you should know better than anyone that you cannot judge one man simply by the color of his skin or what country he comes from or what god he worships. You’re a good man, liebchen. You were a good man when we were teenagers and you’re a good man now. You’re scared, Shelly, just like we were scared back then. But we persevered and in time my parents saw the real you and your parents saw the real me. Do you remember what you told your parents all those years ago?” 

“Of course I do. I said ‘I love her and I would die for her’.” 

“Ja. And do you remember what I said to your parents?” 

“Like it was yesterday. You said ‘I love him and I would die without him’.” 

“Things haven’t changed that much, Sheldon, except now WE’RE the parents. I hate to burst your bubble but they love each other and it’s as simple as that. Trust them.” 

NAR © 2018