I think it’s safe to say that I got along pretty well with just about everyone I encountered in high school. I had braces all the way through my junior year, so the awkward kids were not threatened by me. I was in AP classes, so the nerds respected me. I straightened my hair and wore Hollister, so the cool kids accepted me. No one understood my sense of humor, so the rest saw me as a bit eccentric and went on their merry way. It was the best of times.
This same sense of humor, however, got me into trouble.
There was one girl that I could never seem to see eye to eye with, and vice versa. She was Jewish. We had a mutual understanding that we were not each other’s biggest fans, but due to forced interaction in classes and extracurricular activities, we expressed this disdain through passive aggressive comments and run-of-the-mill shit talking. So at the end of the year we were signing year books, and she casually wrote something along the lines of, “It was really fun watching you struggle to pass photography class. Sucks to suck at everything. Hope you grow an inch or five this summer” (short jokes, classic). I scribbled my own love note down, and that was that.
Just kidding, it wasn’t.
Two days later I get pulled out of AP Lit to go down to the principal’s office, which I naturally thought meant they wanted to award me for my perfect attendance because at the time I was a stickler for punctuality. I walk into his office, and laid out in front of me on the desk was this girl’s year book, and I was asked to read what I had written out loud. I cleared my throat and began:
“Dear ______, I hope your summer is extremely Jewish. Looking forward to not seeing you, not even if you brought me bagels with shmear. Latke latke latke, Skylar."
Side note: getting through this without laughing was just as hard as you think it was.
Anyway, the principal looked at me and straight up asked, “Skylar, do you see how statements like this could be considered hurtful?”
“Did you mean to be hurtful?”
“No, I meant to be funny.”
“Do you find it funny?”
“Do you understand that something like this could be considered anti-Semitic?”
And then I lost it.
Anyone and everyone knows how much I love Jews, to the point that I’m already planning my 23rd birthday to be “Ten-Years-Late Bat Mitzvah” themed. I am fascinated by their culture, I acknowledge every religious holiday, and I wish every single day that I had a Yiddish grandma kvetching about how she never sees me. It is especially painful around this time of year, when I have to wait another 15 days for Jesus to be born when all of my Jew friends are already on their third night of candle-lit awesomeness. I know how to play dreidel, please invite me over.
In order to end the madness, I broke it down for my principal and told him that I’d apologize if he wanted me to, but that this girl and I had a very interesting relationship, and that if kids these days didn’t receive honorable mention trophies just for participating in the science fair then maybe this girl wouldn’t be such a crybaby. He sent me back to class with an obligatory disapproving look, both of us secretly knowing that I was absolutely right. I believe this is where the phrase, “Sorry I’m not sorry” originated.
So there it is: at 17 years old, I was accused of being a Nazi. My aim was obviously not to be disrespectful or hurt this girl’s feelings, but as evidenced by every funny Jew I’ve ever known (Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, Gilda Radner, Seth Cohen, etc.) I really thought she’d have a better sense of humor about it. Oy vey.