(As Uncle and Cousin 2 pull out of hug, Uncle notices the outline of a tattoo on his daughter's arm. He lifts up her sleeve to see a tattoo on her arm in Hebrew letters reading 'Zion' or 'Tzeeyon' as it would be pronounced in Hebrew.)
Uncle: (shocked but taking it in stride) Well,... if you have to get a tattoo I'm glad it's that.
Mom: A tattoo?!??
Son 2: (getting up to look) Ooh! Let me see!
Son 1: (staying put) This I gotta see.
Uncle: Well, the lettering is very nice.
(Son 2 has gone over to Cousin 2 and lifts her sleeve up to see 'Zion' tattooed in Hebrew letters on her arm.)
Son 2: How about that? The first member of our family with enough balls to get a tattoo, and what the fuck does she get? A tattoo that says 'Zion' on it.
Mom: Oh that's not that bad!
Son 2: You might as well have gotten one that says "I still think I'm at Jewish Summer Camp!"
Cousin 2: You wish you had a tattoo this nice.
Son 2: I wish I had a tattoo at all. But if I got one Lord Dybbuk (Demon) over there (point to Dad) would disinherit me.
Aunt: (with anxiety) Can you blame him? Now your cousin won't be able to be buried in a Jewish cemetery!
Son 1: It won't be a problem. She's living in Israel. Nobody's Jewish there!
Aunt: What does that even mean?
Son 1: Come on, you lived in Israel. In Tel Aviv, Yom Kippur (pronounce it 'Yome KeepPOOR') is just another beach day.
Dad: (to Cousin 2) Well I know this is none of my business but I'm terribly disappointed in you.
Son 2: (with volatility) What's there to be disappointed about? It's her body!
Dad: (responding in kind) Because it's a 'fuck you' to society.
Son 1: (amused) How is that a fuck you to society? - Son 2: (still agitated) Who cares what society thinks?
Dad: There are rules about living in a society, it doesn't matter what they are, but if you're grateful for it, you'll follow them.
Son 2: Why should I ever be grateful for living in this society?
Dad: Because it gave you everything!
Son 1: What did it give me?
Dad: Even if it didn't give you as much, it gave you plenty!
Son 1: So why should I be satisfied that it gives me less than him?
Dad: You don't have the right to question it! Once you start picking at one thread the whole thing comes undone!
Son 2: I don't understand this constant shmegegging (blowing hot air) about tattoos and piercings.
Dad: And you never would! You don't care what it took for the rest of us to get a job! You never had to make a good impression on anybody in your whole life!
Son 1: And you've never made a good impression on anybody in your whole life.
Dad: And either of you have?
Son 2: (pointedly) And from where were we going to learn how?
Dad: Well if you don't think you could learn from me, then learn from your Zaydie. Look at him! He barely escaped the Nazis with me and my sister in his arms for enough time to take us to be hidden in a convent and hearing the machine gun fire that killed his mother and mine!
Son 1: (Over this) We know the story!
Mom: Sha! (banging the table) (both sons are so stunned by their mother's outburst that they keep silent)
Dad: And then captured in the next town over and taken to Auschwitz where he could have been shot or gassed at any moment and a tattoo burned into his arm - every day hearing the screams of Jews as they're being killed and watching the agony of the ones dying from sickness! This man, this incredibly overworked, stressed out, cruel man, managed to get out of Poland just before Stalin came back, barely a hundred pounds with a dead wife and daughter that died of typhus only a few days after we were reunited and he was the only person anyone knew who had both children survive, and then had a living twelve year old son who thought he was Catholic to Bar Mitzvah that he hadn't seen in six years and who barely remembered how to be Jewish and still managed to find himself a new wife and have a baby who was the first Jewish baby ever born in Krakow after the war, and not only did his little heishkeh (shack) of a Hampden supermarket put his sons through college and graduate school and medical school, but he ensured that even if I turned out to be a gut far gornisht (good for nothing) like the two of you are turning into, the two of you would still have enough money to do all the things he never could! (pause, tears in eyes, stand up) And look at him now. He barely remembers how to talk anymore. Did you hear what happened over last summer while you were too busy drinking your father's money in New York and we were visiting you in the hospital after you nearly killed yourself again? Your Bubbie had just had her third stroke and was aphasic. She kept calling us: "You gotta come over here! You gotta come over here!" "What's wrong?" "Somebody stole the Challahs." (sabbath bread) We figured this could wait but she kept calling and calling and calling. So I went over and sure enough the challahs were in the cabinet over the stove. And then I ask, 'Where's Dad?' and she said 'oh, he went to visit his mother.' We searched for him all night long. We only found him the next morning when the police called and said they heard about a little man wandering around the drug corners in Lower Park Heights who spoke nothing but Yiddish.
(five second pause...)
Son 2: Yes Tateh, and as we're arguing about this Mel Gibson's getting ready to break down your door in a motorcycle pogrom with his band of tattooed nightriders.
Uncle: (almost shouting) How can you have turned into an adult who shows contempt for everything we ever taught you?
Son 2: (preemptively taking offense, exploding, and getting up to walk to the door) Because you all don't respect anything I value, so why the hell should I respect anything you do? I'm leaving!
Son 1: (almost laughing) With what car?
Son 2: I'll call somebody to pick me up.
Mom: You're staying here.
Son 2: You don't get to tell me what to do.
Mom: We paid for all your school and pay half your rent and ask for nothing except that you spend holidays with us. You weren't here for Thanksgiving but now you're here for Thanksgiving Shabbos and you're going to stay. (said with finality)
Son 2: Can I at least go to my room for a little?
Mom: No. Sit down.
(Son 2 sits back down... another five second pause)
Cousin 1: But Mel Gibson seems like such a nice guy!
Son 1: There's no way.
Mom: No she's right. He's always talked about as a great guy who doesn't buy into the Hollywood culture.
Son 1: Give him ten years, they're always the biggest creeps of all!
Cousin 2: But he's so beautiful! What makes you think you know him so well?
Son 1: Because he's in Hollywood! Everybody there's a creep.
Cousin 1: Not everybody in Hollywood's a creep, I've got friends who act down in California. They say that some stars are very nice.
Son 1: Oh really? Well have you met Mel?
Cousin 1: Yes actually. He came to Harvard for class day and signed my yearbook.
Son 1: (annoyed by the mention of her privilege) Lovely. Did he make a pass at you?
Cousin 1: No, he actually gave a very moving speech about the values his father taught him.
Son 1: Such as?...
Cousin 1: The importance of family, the importance of God, the importance of community, the importance of everything he ever learned from his father.
(As this happens, Uncle is clearly on the verge of breaking down in tears, he gets up and leaves the room.)
Son 2: Oh, so he gets to leave the room.
Aunt: (covering for him) His contacts don't fit right, we have an appointment with the eye doctor next week.
Photos of the Week: 6/17–6/23
10 minutes ago