Saturday, July 21, 2007

A "I can't believe this just happened to me" Moment

Place: Chicago, IL; Addison Red Line Stop
Time: 6:08 p.m.
Scene: Reading "My Holocaust" by Tova Reich outside the station while waiting for Ian to arrive so we can go to shul. I have just taken my head phones out in anticipation of Ian's arrival. I return to reading "My Holocaust," which I had just purchased and was very involved in. A man, smoking a cigarette, wearing an old cap, a screen-printed T-shirt and jeans, looking very ... well ... not Chicago, walks near me, crosses to the other side, and gazes at the book I am reading.
You read that stuff, eh?
Yes ...?
Ever read the 'Third Reich'?

I stare blankly at the man. With a slight, irritated grin ...

I assume it's about Hitler, yes?
Sure is (he says with a large, toothy, satisfied grin).

A long pause. I fiddle with my necklace, a star of David.

I'm Jewish.

He looks at the book again, tilts his head ever so slightly and takes a puff off his cigarette.

Oh!!! It says ... what's that ... Jo ... Jova Reich?
It's Tova Reich. She's a Jewish author.

Ian walks up.

Hey, how's it going?

The man, who must be in his mid-20s, takes one look at Ian and stops speaking and walks away. I am in dismay. Irritated, frustrated, appalled. It was brief, disturbing, altering. This man visibly digs Hitler. This man visibly thought I, too, dug Hitler. He wanted to share his shit literature with me, because I guess I looked like someone ... someone who would cut a crown out of construction paper just to place it on the fully-haired head of a tyrant of modern times and indescribable proportions.

What the hell?