Sunday, May 4, 2008

Covertly Anti-Semitic Candy And A Summer Blockbuster

There are Jews who tend to see anti-Semitism in cracked sidewalks, and there are Jews who dig a little deeper for their alienation. I belong to the latter group. If someone's going to insult me, they're going to do it through a toe tap or a smoke signal. I'll give you a couple examples of things that bother me.

It was a beautiful, sunny day in late April, and a friend and I were walking on Yonge Street here in Toronto when she decided to swing into a candy store. I followed her inside, snaking up and down the aisles of hardened glycerine and sweetened corn starch. We were looking at gum--Big League Chew--when a man came in with his five-year-old daughter. She was wearing a tartan kilt, and he was well-dressed in loafers, slacks, and sweater draped over his shoulders, the arms tied across his chest. "What do you want?" the father bent over and asked the daughter, sweetly. "You want some Hershey's Kisses? You want some Fun Dip? You want some Jew Jubes? Jew Jubes? OK, we'll get some Jew Jubes."

My friend bit her lip. By now the little girl was digging into the candy bin with a large metallic scoop.

"I don't see any black ones," the father said. "Excuse me," he turned to the clerk. "Do you have any black ones?"

"Black ones?" the clerk asked.

"Black Jew Jubes. My daughter loves black Jew Jubes."

"I don't think there are any black ones."

"Oh, sure there are."

Another clerk entered the fray. This guy had a thick Nova Scotian accent and a terrifically crooked smile. "Black Jew Jews you's be wantin'? Yeah, we's got somes in de back. No ones likes 'em though. I can't stands 'em. Dems black ones is even worse than the regulars."


"That's just the way I's feels about Jews Jews. Whew! I can't even stand the smells of 'em."

"Oh, right," the first clerk said, laughing. "Jew Jubes. Sure, we've got all kinds. Cheap, too. Just let me check downstairs."

And the first clerk disappeared down the stairs while the second clerk unpacked a box of All Sorts.

"Jew Jubes," the daughter chanted. "Jewy, Jewy, Jew Jubes."

"That's right," said dad. "Big fat Jewy Jews. Big fat black ones."

Was it anti-Semitism? Probably not. But if it means anything, the name on the guy's Visa was Michalek.

So you can see how sensitive some Jews are to perceived slurs.

Another sort of sore spot with Jews is Jaws--the movie directed by S.S. (Stevie Spielberg, who is, himself, a Jew).

"Jaws?" you're thinking. "What does Jaws have to do with anti-Semitism?" Well, change a vowel, and you get Jews. OK, that's a little far-fetched, but let's think about it. It's a movie about a large fish--a white fish (herring?)--who washes onto the shores of WASPish Martha's Vineyard and scares a bunch of white people off the beach. It's bad for business; it has a taste for goyishe women; it has a huge angular nose.

My grandfather loves telling a story about his honeymoon in Quebec, and the signs our beloved seigneurs posted on their beaches: "No Jews or Dogs Allowed."

But what is Jaws? Is Jaws the name of the fish? No, that'd be crazy. Does Jaws refer to the shark's jaws--referencing his teeth? Maybe, but that's a little strange.

Jaws is Jews; one word suggests the other. It's like a movie about a strident black woman in Alabama; a movie set in 1915; a movie whose plot focusses on an apocryphal hero leading the WWI-era civil rights movement. And the movie's called Nagger. That's Jaws.

You might be wondering about my friend and the candy store, and what happened with the black Jube Jubes (as they're properly called). Finally, after listening to twenty minutes of "Jew Jube" talk, she smacked her palm on the counter and tossed up his hands. "For crissakes, why don't you just take a pound of my flesh. It tastes better."

1 comment:

Adam Goldman said...

My grandfather flipped out at a guy who asked for "Jew Jubes." It was at Albertson's in Miami Beach. The other guy rolled up his sleeve, and there were his numbers. He said, "They made US into candy."

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