Southern Legitimacy Statement: I love the South and went to Hollins University and received an MFA in Creative Writing in Roanoke, VA. While in Roanoke, I worked in a box factory, but was not very successful. They kicked me out after a day. I have many friends in Roanoke and Fincastle and worked at an amazing bookstore in the Grandin, Roanoke area–Too Many Books, a used bookstore. Besides my job as a tour guide at Six Flags’ Great Adventure, Too Many Books was my favorite employer. I would still live in the South, but there are more pharmaceutical companies here in New Jersey. I’m a medical copy editor. I still eat grits and read Flannery and embrace all things Southern.
I’m like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.
In less than a day, I had a person declare to me he was at Stalingrad, though he was born in 1962; a manic-depressive girl said that I was a great candidate for the Jesus Knitting Club at her rehab; and my sister, who read Kafka in Rikers Island, told me that America is responsible for restoring Germany to its greatness. Well, the fact that I live with her, and everything is Hitler’s doing—she’s obsessed with him—she says, “you are the daughter of the Fűhrer,” has led me to believe that people are more unhinged out of institutions than they are inside of them. This is why I prefer to stay with my animals.
I recently went to an AA meeting in the West Village.
I thought, while sitting in a sober meeting along 12th Street, I was staring at the person who played Lurch in The Addams Family, or at least I thought it was him, and am still not unconvinced that it’s not him.
Lurch was colossal and astute about his importance in the room. It was just me and him. The meeting had emptied out and I didn’t have enough money to go to the local diner. So, I did what other jobless in Manhattan did when they can only afford to visit AA meetings and stay there the entire day—and hope a sweet person would buy them a coffee or a deli sandwich until their next paycheck from the Department of Labor cleared in direct deposit—I waited on a chair. And then I saw him. Or who I thought was him.
“Are you him?” I asked.
“What?” he replied in a German accent.
“Oh, you’re German,” I said.
“And you’re Jew,” he stared. He was “the exquisitely strong and confident gay man” who disappoints lesbians because they have an expectation that they can build a kinship with a straight man but not sleep with him. But alas, the dude was not straight and there was no imaginary way for me to torture him because he was simply “not interested.”
“I’m sorry—what did you say?”
“You Jew?” he repeated.
I was shocked. In Gotham! Though I had once met a Croatian in the 116th Street subway station who wanted to decimate me after I queried him about his country’s history toward Hebrews.
Lurch and I sat there in silence—not an uncommon occurrence in NYC, though I felt compelled to talk. “Are you anti-Semitic? Are you an anti-Semitic, non-drinking Lurch?”
“You’re a stupid girl,” he said, lighting up a cigarette, though we were not supposed to smoke at the meeting, before the meeting or during the meeting, but at one time we were able to smoke whenever we wanted except that I never smoked because I was incapable of inhaling without killing myself.
“You’re not supposed to smoke in here—.”
“You people control the world,” he puffed, “but you don’t control me.” He put his cigarette out, coughed and slapped me.
I hesitated with the red burning on my face, more pained by the shock.
“I’m calling the police, Lurch!”
“Go ahead, kike dyke!
Before I could scream at him or his triple-edged sword of misogyny, anti-Semitism and anti-Sappho think tank philosophies, he was gone.
His cigarette was on the floor.
The massive beast, who had a perpetual frown and crew cut like a peeled orange, whose accent we never really comprehended on TV, though I’m not quite sure it was him, had left me alone, to smell the widening aroma of his cigarette stub and the stale odors that inhabited the room.