No, mom, I know what happened at the end

November 23, 2008 at 9:50 am Leave a comment

At least mom is good for comic relief. That’s what my sister said after one particularly grueling conversation with the woman who was the catalyst for my three-thousand-mile move years ago.

Some of our lighter, yet exasperating, discussions have been about movies. A few lives ago, she was a regular on my radio show. Her “Mom on Movies” was an instant hit, due to verbatim comments like the following:

I saw Titanic yesterday. What did you think? I left before the end and got my money back. It was wonderful in the beginning, but I didn’t know the boat would sink.

So this morning I call her -opening with the topic I can always count on for small talk.

Berta, I saw a great movie yesterday. What was it called? The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Never heard of it. It’s new-it just came out. What was it about? These two boys who become friends in Europe during the Holocaust. One’s a Jew and one’s a German. I don’t want to hear it, ma. Oh stop it, Berta! So the Jewish boy is wearing the striped outfit and the German boy wants to try it on. He sneaks to the other side and puts on his striped pajamas. OK, that’s enough-I’m sick of Holocaust movies. Do you want to know how it ends? No, mom, I know what happened-the Jews die. No you don’t know what happened. The German boy is the son of the commandant and they both try to the find the Jewish boy’s father. They’re ordered to take their clothes off and go into the showers together. OK, I was right. The Jews die. But the German boy died, too-it was very moving. The Jews and a German kid die. What a twist. Berta, I tell you, everyone was so shocked at the end, they just sat there and no one said a word.. I told you I hate Holocaust movies. We’re Jews. I don’t like to see us exterminated. I’ve seen it enough times. But this one, Berta..you wouldn’t believe it-the silence-no one got up-not a word. It was something. I’m telling you, you’ll love it. Ma, I gotta go,

This is the same woman I took to the Holocaust Museum in DC, whose assessment was, “Beautiful. And the food in the cafeteria is very good. Nice portions. Probably because the Jews didn’t have enough to eat during the war.”

Yep. Comic relief. The one quality that keeps me from throttling the woman.

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Roberta Gale

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