Subscribe to The Curmudgeon!

Google Groups
Subscribe to The Curmudgeon
Visit this group

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Speaking of Overcompensating for One's Demographic's Shortcomings...

So like I was saying in the previous post, sometimes individuals have to take it upon themselves to undo the damage done by other, more visible members of their group.  This reminded me of a story...

I was hostel-hopping up the east coast of Australia with my brother a few years back, and at one particular stop, there was a nice little communal fire pit by the beach.  My brother and I sat there one evening, and it wasn't long before several other sweaty, thrifty vagrants like ourselves joined us.  We all ended up talking and introducing ourselves.  One of the others was a 6'4" beast of a German, named Olaf.  Blond crew cut, blue eyes, broad shoulders, weighed about a deuce-and-a-half... If this guy's grandfather wasn't a Nazi, then I'm not a complainer. 

Anyway, my brother's name is Yoni, which is short for Yonatan, which is the Hebrew version of Jonathan.  But rest assured, his name is Yoni.  That's what he's always gone by, that's what everyone knows him get what I'm saying.  So Yoni's turn comes to introduce himself, after we've already seen Olaf and heard he's from Germany, and Yoni chickens out because his name is so Jewy and says, "My name is Jonathan, and--". 

Of course, there was no "and," because I'm a confrontational asshole and couldn't just let it slide.  I instantaneously cut him off and said, "His name is Yoni.  It's Israeli."  Olaf tensed up immediately, and awkwardly plunged into a long story about how his best friend at work, in Germany, is black, and one day a customer called his friend a nigger, and he stepped in and yelled at the racist offender, etc...

So I guess my point is, Olaf felt he needed to be extra vocal about his personal lack of prejudice in order to stress that not all Germans, especially those born post World War II, are genocidal maniacs with leather boots and funny mustaches.  And while I don't think he should be held accountable for what his grandparents or even parents may have done, I do appreciate his effort to be clear that he didn't think the same way, without explicitly saying something trite like, "Yeah, sorry about that whole 'thing' there.  Our bad.  We're totally different now."  We ended up hanging out with big O for a bunch of hours, and he was a really good guy.  I'm glad I broke the superficial ice by being momentarily prickish...

No comments:

Post a Comment