This is going to be either a two or a three-parter, depending on how expansive I feel.
There was something mortifying about my heritage when I was growing up, that I, as a child and an adolescent witnessed firsthand.
I'm not the only one of my peers to have witnessed it.
Maybe it was just a small sampling.
I don't know for sure.
But it sure was rampant in my parents' and their friends' inner circle.
My parents and most of their friends were first generation American Jews.
Their parents all came from "The Old Country"
Russia, Poland, Rumania, Germany......
I was a second generation Jew.
But sprinkled among my parents friends, or, rather, co-apartment dwellers, were contemporaries of theirs who were, in fact, immigrants.
They still spoke with foreign accents, like our grandparents did.
Some of them had tattooed numbers on their arms.
Evidence that they had spent time in, and had survived, Nazi Concentration Camps.
Our upstairs neighbors, Leo and Tamara Freitag, were two such immigrants, or "Immies", as my parents disparagingly called them behind their backs.
Their son, David, first generation, with just a trace of an accent, was one of my closest friends.
See, that's the thing.
The first generation Jews were almost invariably disparaging toward the "Immies" behind their backs.
I don't know if the "Immies" deserved this disparagement.
I'd had no direct evidence that Leo or Tamara did.
But disparagement is what they got.
And it seemed to be simply because they were "Immies".
It was a form of Jewish Anti-Semitism.
Case in point:
One evening, my mother and all of her women friends (I guess they felt they had to include Tamara) went into Manhattan to see a Broadway Show.
So far, so good.
After the show, they all decided to go to Lindy's.
This was when Lindy's was the Show Business mecca of New York Restaurants.
It had a reputation of being expensive, at least for it's time.
It also had a reputation for having the best Cheesecake in the world.
It no longer does, but apparently it did then.
It was determined before they went in that the check would be divided equally among the "girls".
One after the other, each "girl" ordered Cheesecake and coffee.
The Cheesecake and coffee cost around two dollars and fifty cents.
Pretty big money in those days.
It went around to Tamara.
Tamara ordered a Turkey Leg and a bowl of Borscht.
Water on the side.
And they were dividing the check equally.
Tamara got stares from the entire table.
But she was oblivious to them, or at least feigned obliviousness.
For literally the next three years, all I ever heard about was that friggin' Turkey Leg and the bowl of Borscht.
You didn't even have to mention Tamara's name to hear about it.
But of course, any time anyone did, out of Tamara's earshot, it came pouring out of somebody's mouth.
Usually my mother's.
I don't know how anyone would have reacted if it was anyone but Tamara who got the aforementioned Turkey Leg and bowl of Borscht.
I doubt that the reaction would have been that harsh.
I, myself, think in hindsight that maybe if that's what she wanted to eat, she needn't have been a slave to conformity.
I'm sure I would have been met with "Then why didn't she kick in with the extra $4.50?"
I guess I'm on the fence with this one.
I mean, she was always nice to me.
And maybe she should have been cut a little slack for puttin' in all that
time in Auschwitz.
Next time I'll offer up more "Immie Mistrust".
I can already see that this will be a four-parter.
My book, "Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store, You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
You might want to check them out.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
The website "On Screen & Beyond" has two hours of an interview I did on it's podcast in their archives.
Just Google On Screen & Beyond to find them if you're interested.
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."