I never hated Nazis but I surely feared them. The problem was I didn't know it. I grew up in a place where my mind was allowed to hate, and love anyone without it having any real implications. I hat the luxury of being able to hate non Jews and consider them different because I never met any so my sureness of how different we were was able to blossom nicely without interference. The consequence of that could be an insensitivity to cultural differences and the things that should or should not be said at any given time.
During my third year in LA, I moved into my first non Jewish immersion experience. I lived in a house with 25 non Jews. Michael slept on the floor, six inches away from me. Ishmael was an actor. Steve was an ex Navy Seal who conned a lot of money out of Fernando who never forgave me for capturing the love of Sulina, one of my first lovers from England and Indian heritage. Chan was from Taiwan, and he was the wise old sage of the house, always trying to keep the peace. Paul was living with his girl friend Patty in the attic but humping the older Jewish woman that he worked for in Hollywood. Scott played a wicked guitar and used to be friends with the members of the Lincoln Park band. Bob was also pretty old, and eventually found his way back to prison. After I left the house, I heard that Patty had OD'd on heroine. Of course there was Bill who had only two teeth in the front, nice flowing blond hair despite his being close to sixty. He still had visits with his childrens mother, but otherwise he was a pretty free spirit, and just went around town helping people fix things. Then there was Frank. He was a hardened dude, always polishing his black Mercedes. He hates his father who's a professor and did his stint in the army. He has plenty of tatoos and is constantly talking about his girl friend who he still sees on and off. He slept in my room in castle made out of sheets that he built for himself. During those weeks when he was not seeing his girl friend, he would stay in there for endless hours watching TV and playing computer games.
I had come to the house, and to California with the general attitude that I would meet anyone and everyone that that if I was kind and pleasant and if I would give people a chance, they would reciprocate my gestures and love me as well. For the most part I was right, but I must say that there have been some experiences that have made me believe that there is still some hard core hate of Jews in the world and no matter how nice, pleasant, understanding or accepting I am, I cannot expect that to be reciprocated. I am hated, disliked simply because I am a Jew.
As some of you know, my head used to spend most of its time in the clouds. Still now, but especially the, it would take difficult and extreme circumstances to call an issue to my attention. Only after totaling two cars and one accident did I start thinking about being more careful, or better yet, attentive when driving. Otherwise my mind was on another planet.
One day, I came home from work at 8:00 PM and Frank was standing near the door. I have no idea if he was waiting for me or what, but something looked different about his face. I said hello, but immediately sensed that something was wrong. He just didn't look the way he usually did. "So you think you Jews are better than us?" he yelled "You wanna fight?". I didn't even have to think. There was no fight or flight debate. I ran straight out the door as fast as I could. He had been working out every day as far as I could remember and I didn't want to find out what that kind of strength can do. Of course, I regret not being better suited to feed him a handsome portion Jewish fist and send him to a nice Jewish dentist, but at that moment, it was the wisest thing to do. I did feel bad that I didn't stay only because it was my home. I heard the screen door slam behind me and ran until I could see the great distance between myself and the place I had come to call home.
It was October and the Santa Anna winds were blowing their calming, warm soothing air down from the North and across Lost Angeles. I sat outside wondering what I would do. Should I go back? Even if he calms down, how can I sleep in the same room with him. What if he got another attack in the middle of the night. He had been in AA for a while, and he just got drunk. He said that he heard me say that I thought Jews were better than Non Jews. I don't think I would have ever said that , but looking back at my naivety, and lack of cultural sensitivity, it was not beyond me to say something insensitive and stupid.
As I walked back into the house, Frank was still drunk as a ravaging elephant on speed. Two or three of my fellow house mates had him in their grip so that he wouldn't beat me up. They forced him to sleep somewhere else that night. He and I didn't talk much after that. I had tried to be nice, but sometimes the nicest thing is to keep to oneself. soon after, I moved out. I had that feeling that I need to be back around Jews. I appreciated the brotherhood and community that we give each other and I hated the fact that, at least for now, I needed my brothers. I needed support.