Taurus and Time (short story)

For ages Sunday school remained a wasteland for the dense and careless folk.  Even the L’Chayim class—the Bar Mitzvah scholars—were knuckleheads, screwmonkeys, morons, louts.  They say November is a cold, melancholy month.  Yet the L’Chayim class took on a change on November 17th with two rivaling schoolboys of twelve long years, two polar opposites, and scholars alike.

Bernard was a loner, a misfit.  His observant behavior contrasted with seemingly every schoolboy surrounding him.  Many suspected young Bernard to be a psychotic fool—but they were wrong.  Bernard Wattenmaker was quite the precocious one, despite lacking the comfort of friendship.

As Bernard lacked a single true companion, he would socialize in his own ineffective manner.  Here he could be found, awkwardly conversing with the class clown Owen Fairfield, about two random comedy hits: “School of Rock” and “Bruce Almighty.”  Owen Fairfield was one of those handsome meathead types—a red-haired fox, counting on instinct over the slightest degree of common sense.  Though he had slept until ten o’clock, his eyes were droopy and his mouth was open like a dim-witted bear’s.  Owen was the only male in the class to be in a relationship, due to animal magnetism.

As Bernard and Owen had their little pointless conversation, a hunched, wrinkled figure breathed sour yellow gas over their heads.

“Mmkay…uh…class begins now,” spoke the ancient, weathered voice of their schoolmaster, Jerome Morter.  No one knew exactly how old Jerome Morter was, he just was old.  It was well-known among the L’Chayim class that Jerome was only chosen for this highly-underpaying job because the one other choice was a mentally deranged maniac from San Jose who wasn’t even Jewish.

“So, uh, mmkay, we need to make a list of four famous people, and one of them has to…be Jewish.  We will guess which one is.”  He mumbled some more quietly.

The schoolchildren wrote down their four choices.  Bernard near-automatically scribbled the names “Thomas Edison” and “Albert Einstein.”  But there had to be more.  Bernard went deep into his mind and thought of how he could expand upon this.

After Jerome awoke from a slight cat nap, he calmly stated in a voice lacking of any sings of tiredness:
“Mmkay, let’s begin.  Sherm?”
Sherman Neuman coughed twice.  He was a good friend of Owen Fairfield’s and played rhythm guitar in a third-rate grunge band called “The Putrid Spleens.”  He spoke in a monotonous Oklahoma drawl.

“Who’s Jewish on Saturday Night Live—Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, or Eddie Murphy?”  Well, it seemed pretty damn obvious to Bernard.  After his overrated “Hanukkah Song” and his correctly-hated animated feature “Eight Crazy Nights,” Adam Sandler had to be Jewish, or he’d be an anti-Semite.

Before Owen or anyone could answer, Jerome wearily chuckled, “Mmkay… Adam Sandler,” tapping his skeleton fingers on his golden soup bowl of a skullcap.

“Right,” Sherman snickered craftily.

Next, Jeff Greenfield gave his own four choices as well.  Jeff was an acquaintance of Owen and Sherman, but since he was usually lounging in Hawaii instead of attending Sunday school, he could never be their friend.

“Mmkay…Adam Sandler!”  Jerome chuckled Pee-Wee Herman style this time, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down his wild turkey neck.

“Correct,” Jeff said.  Bernard was conveyed to look away.  He hated the Sandler films he had seen as a kid, besides “Happy Gilmore” and parts of “Billy Madison.”

“Mmkay, Owen?”  Bernard wholly expected Owen M. Fairfield, King of Oblivion, to have also included Adam Sandler as the Jew among Gentiles.  Oddly enough, he was wrong.

“Who’s Jewish on The Simpsons?” Owen quivered in a shy, unemotional voice.  “Homer, Krusty the Clown, Bart, or the Dog?”
Bernard quickly snickered, “How can a dog be Jewish?” but his comment, logical as it was, remained ignored with the rest of his comments.

“It’s Krusty, man,” boomed Sherm Neuman’s deep Oklahoman voice.

“Er…right!”  Bernard saw the irony.  As a long-time closeted Simpsons fanatic himself, he knew that not only was Owen far too unbalanced to know of a Jew who wasn’t a yellow-skinned cartoon character, Herschel Krustoffsky’s voice actor was an Italian, Dan Castellaneta.

“Mmkay, Bernard?”  Jerome droned upon Bernard, his mumbling much like an aged bumblebee’s.

Bernard politely hesitated until the old man’s buzzing died off.  “Who’s Jewish out of…Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, David Letterman, or Weird Al Yankovic?”  Bernard had thoughtfully added the final two choices because he had once believed both of them to be Jewish.

“Weird Al!” shouted Owen immediately.  “It’s gotta be him.”

“Letterman!” shouted Jeff the moment afterward, thinking of the “David” and the “man” and the fact that he was a comedian of sorts.

“Albert Einstein,” Sherman Neuman muttered to himself.

“Albert Einstein’s Jewish?  No way!” replied Owen Fairfield in all his angst.

Bernard sighed.  “Look, Owen, it’s outrageously pathetic that a grossly-overpaid semi-vulgar Hollywood comedian currently has definite fame as a Jew over the most eloquent, brilliant physicist of the whole twentieth century.  Hundreds of years from now, will ‘Mr. Deeds’ matter?  Now, think.  Hundreds of years from now, will the Theory of Relativity matter?  Yes, it will.  Jewish heroes have changed so drastically, I doubt any of you have heard of Sigmund Freud.  And if you think Sandler is the epitome of Jewish comedy, I suggest renting ‘Duck Soup’ or ‘The Gold Rush.’  Chaplin and Marx are no longer household names.  The only slightly remembered Jewish comedians of their time are the Three Stooges, only remembered due to that Hanukkah Song.  So, let’s look away from our slapstick comics, and focus on the real Jewish heroes.”

“Look,” Owen snapped.  “I will show you that Sandler is God.”  He swiftly took out a thick-cardboard strip from below Jerome’s one-inch nose and leaped in front of Jeff and Sherm.

“I am half-Jewish, so this is not a threat against myself.”  He scribbled a symbol which looked like a giant red “Hm” with four curved edges—a strange and vaguely familiar symbol nonetheless—obviously it stood for “Happy Madison.”

“Recess,” whimpered old Jerome Morter, twitching everywhere from his limited hair to his yellow toes.  He uncomfortably limped from the classroom to the bathroom.

 

The synagogue’s playground was a child’s wasteland.  It was a junkyard, with random tires and an incredibly dangerous slide of brass and rickety wooden swings.

Bernard sadly sat on a lopsided swing, his uncoordinated feet taking him nowhere.  Reminiscent shadows surrounded his lean body.  The “Hm” slithered jealously into Bernard’s soberly-wasted face.  Bernard twitched away, but the sign’s presence was everywhere.

“Albert Einstein’s a turd!” echoed two of the symbol’s three voices, one far deeper than the other.

“How do you like our sign?  It’s not a very nice sign, but it’s a big sign!” cackled the densest voice.

“It’s called Sandlertology, get it?” questioned the lesser of two evils.

“Yes, yes, how original,” Owen snorted sarcastically from behind the machine.  “You do realize that we should not base our heroes on their religion, do you, Bernie?”
Bernard shuddered in the November breeze.  “Then, why stick to Sandler?”
“Why stick to Einstein?  He invented the atomic bomb, no?”  Owen smirked.

“Right…but he didn’t realize it would be such a hazard…”

“Yes!  And Sandler’s ‘Eight Crazy Nights’ wasn’t meant to be as offensive and raunchy, was it?”
“I see your point, thanks.”  Bernard thought to himself.  Was Owen really that meat-headed?  He had always felt that Owen was just one of them; a boor among boors.  Yet, he was not.  Owen was stunningly brilliant, perhaps too brilliant.  Owen’s brilliance may have been so great Bernard was too blunt to see it.

“So,” Owen shouted, as Bernard flew back from Mars.

“So, what?” snickered Bernard.

“Are you willing to make a truce?”  Bernard watched as Owen tore down the shining crimson symbolic figure.  Sherman was wailing something about The Putrid Spleens, but no one listened as he sprinted, hysterically screaming, defeated.  Jeff Greenfield simply called his father that he should go to Hawaii for the upcoming November week, and left as well.

Jerome Morter entered the playground.  “Oy starumpai, we’re going to learn about the Jewish views on capital punishment…and stem-cell research…hoo jeez, where’s Jeffery and Sherman?”

A mousy boy no one wished they had ever known crawled up to Jerome and pointed a spastic finger towards the lopsided swings, where Bernard and Owen alike stood, their eyes gazing up towards the now-invisible red constellation of Taurus.  They were undiscovered geniuses—they were the new Jewish heroes.

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