College Hill School, Evanston Township High School, Facebook, Friends, Friendships, Gypsy, Illinois, Jews, Lower East Side, Middle East, New York City, Palestinians, Romania, Skiles Jr. High School, Syria
This past week I’ve continued to enjoy a fabulous exchange with childhood friends on FaceBook through what can only be called an ongoing “Virtual Reunion.” My High School, Jr. HS and now even Elementary School friends have been examining and identifying the faces of children we knew and were) a very, very long time ago. (Well, perhaps only one “very!) It’s what got me thinking that it was time to introduce my novel’s central character’s band of friends — Max’s self-named, Alter Kochers Club (Yiddish for “Old Farts”).
Max’s best friend Sammy (presented in the last post) is as gregarious on one side of the equation as the conversely withdrawn and sullen Sid. A curmudgeon, he gets quiet pleasure from engaging Sammy in lively debate, as his negativity is the perfect foil to Sammy’s positive energy. So, I invite you to join us again by pulling up a virtual chair at the Cafe Arabica, brewing your own cup of coffee and grabbing a pastry of your own as we enter Max’s world on New York City’s Lower East Side.
INTRODUCING SID LEDERMAN! Sid is a man uncomfortable with the changing events around him, and definitely not receptive to a “one world, one family” viewpoint. He’s conflicted by wanting time with his friends, but having to meet with them in a place uncomfortable to his politics. He enjoys owner Dahoud’s fine Syrian coffee and pastries, but has made it painfully clear that he not only abhors anyone who might remotely be tied to Nazis, but is also is suspicious about current events surrounding Jewish-Arab relationships, feeling such things should not be taken lightly.
(NOTE: Quoted text is copyright protected by Sue Ross, 2012 and remains the exclusive property of the author. Use of this material without permission is prohibited.)
When Dahoud’s wife, Bahia Mariana took over the counter, Dahoud would pull a chair to the table and bait the old Jews about current events in the Middle East. Max, Sammy and Morrie usually joined in the spirit of discourse, but Sid had actually left the café on more than one occasion. Each time he vowed in a loud voice that he “would never return,” railing against the Palestinians, the oil-rich sheiks of the Middle East, and the need to keep Arabs and Jews apart. Yet, for every time Sid had stormed off in a cloud of anger, he somehow managed to return the next Thursday, taking his accustomed seat as if nothing out of the ordinary had transpired.
Sid could only be described as rotund, a man made large by the delicacies that seemed to follow him everywhere he went. Originally from Romania, he was considered by some to be a bit of a ‘gonif’ (thief), an attribute accredited to his inherited gypsy blood. Troubled by an asthmatic condition, ill-fitting dentures that clicked when he spoke, and a panoply of arthritic aches and pains that frequently prevented his getting a sound sleep, Sid’s disposition was what one might expect from someone walking in tight shoes for days at a time. He was always dressed in the same plaid shirt, over which he managed to squeeze a sweater at least two sizes too small with trousers worn belted high above what was once a waistline. Sid took comfort in his unhappiness and wore his badge as group curmudgeon with a degree of self-appointed importance.