Monday, March 14, 2016

Proselytize, Proselytize, Pull Out Your Eyes, Proselytize

Often I wonder what motivates people to do certain things that I would never do, such as:

  • Watch reality shows, unless they revel in bad plastic surgery,
  • Become math majors, or
  • Proselytize others for their own religions

I was sitting in a neighborhood burger joint the other day eating a hamburger when, mid-chew, a middle aged man approached me.

"Excuse me," the guy said," I was wondering if by any chance you are Joe Kleindorf."

Now I don't happen to be Joe Kleindorf, but I always like to please whoever it is I'm with whenever I'm with them.  So fighting off my burning desire to say "yes, I am indeed Joe Kleindorf!" I replied:

"No, sorry, I'm not Joe Kleindorf."  

Good going, Perry!

"Gee, you sure look like him," the guy said, "although now that I see you more closely, he's a bit younger than you."

Terrific. This is the guy I wanted to please? Now I wanted to smear my hamburger across his forehead!

"That's always pleasant to hear," I joked half-heartedly."

"Oh, I'm sorry," he said, "maybe I'm wrong.  Joe is 60."

Now I longed for a waitress to drop a whole tray of drinks on him.

"Mind if I sit here a minute?" he asked.

Well, why not?  I'm all alone here with my hamburger and frankly, as a slab of medium cooked ground meat, it's not much of a conversationalist.

"Sure," I said, "my name is Perry," and he told me his name was George.

So far, so good.  Inauspicious start to our relationship aside, everything was copacetic now.

"By the way," he continued "Joe is a minister of the Church of Jesus Christ of Guys with Cute Beards. Ever heard of it?"

"Can't say that I have," I replied, "although I always dug his beard.  Hair too."

"Well, that's great!  Tell me," asked George. "What religion are you?"


I mean, What?!!  

I mean, What kind of question was that?!!!

Besides being wholly inappropriate, it's kind of an odd question to ask someone who's so ethnically obvious that once years ago a hotel clerk armed with a message meant for a Mr. Hirschberg waded through a thick crowd of people at great effort in the lounge to approach me with the words "Mr. Hirschberg?" and present it proudly and directly to me.

"I'm Jewish,"  I answered.

"Well, how about that!" exulted George.  "A lot of my good friends are Jewish!" 

Really? I thought that one went out with "He's one of the good ones," "Sorry, Club Wicked Slice isn't accepting new members now," and "Please tell whoever controls the media Tuesday nights I'd like F Troop back on."

"You know, there's a lot about the Jewish people in our liturgy," George happily continued.  "They're our spiritual forebears."

Next I expected a reference to my spiritual foreskin, a touchy subject to be sure, but instead George moved swiftly into the Wind-up....

"You might want to stop by Joe's congregation and visit us sometime, and,

The Pitch ....

"Mind if I bring over my beer at the bar and sit with you for a bit?"

Now, I was in no mood to please anybody. 

"Oh, I just remembered, George,  I have a ...umm ... 4:00 Rumba lesson!  I'm getting really good too, I may be up to dancing with a partner by November!"

Good going, Perry.

George graciously accepted my turn-down and politely peeled off, presumably to call Joe Kleindorf and tell him that however cute Jesus' beard might be, it had failed today to reel in a neighborhood Jew.

I often wonder why some people attempt to proselytize others in the name of their religions.  Sure, I understand  they think it's their moral duty to save others from a fate worse than spending eternity watching an Adam Sandler/Kevin James movie, but their justification is always based on the presumption that there's only one set of strict rules for making it to heaven.

If that's so, we're living in a Universe ruled by the IRS. 


The title to this post "Proselytize, Proselytize, Pull Out Your Eyes, Proselytize" essentially means nothing.  It's a play on a line from James Joyce's Ulysses. I just liked the way it sounded.


Con Chapman said...

After Jews for Jesus popped up on my college campus, I started Catholics for Copernicus.

Perry Block said...

Catholics for Copernicus I might join. Thanks for writing, Con!

Russell said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for not telling George about me and my cute beard. Frankly, I don't have that many Jewish friends because a.)There are not many Jews in my neck of the woods, and b.)The Jews who DO know me avoid me like I'm an old testament plague--that's before I even ask them for money.

I'm glad you cleared up that whole proselytize thing, for a minute I was afraid you were going to pick on people who have wooden legs.

Perry Block said...

I wanted to ask you, Russell. Have you found cute beards? Well then let me tell you about the Church of Perry Block of Guys with Cute Beards. The only Old Testament Plague we have is having to hang out with me.