Gut Punch

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Personal / Stories / Others’ /
@ K. 2004 04 19

I love this memory so much I have to tell it somewhere.
A bunch of us are waiting for the elevator in John Jay dormitory. David says out loud to Anton, right in his face, all hearing, “Who was that fat girl I saw you with the other day?”
Anton, no fighter from my knowledge of him to date, draws an elbow back for a level forearm and punches David, hard, in the gut.
David is staggered, now looks fearful.

“I was just kidding,” he protests.
“So was I,” says Anton levelly.

Ah, college days. Takes me back.

The incident occurred Autumn 1956. I can approximate the date because I had recently met the female in question, Anton’s Rose, for the first time. We’d all driven down to Philly to see the game. Lou Little’s Lions. (What was the quarterback’s name: Claude Bentham.)

“David” was definitely not the insulting party’s name: I just picked an alias that could function as Jewish. The party’s culture remains vivid to me because it was a Friday evening and he who was about to be hit had just refused a repayment of a cash loan. Who but a reformed Jew would try to pay an orthodox Jew cash once sundown commences the Sabbath?

That it was on toward Thanksgiving further reifies in my memory because the hair-bristling of the Christians forced to rub elbows with Jews for the first time in their mid-western lives had smoothed back a bit.

Columbia was only slightly more heavily Jewish than my public high school had been. The difference for me was that in high school I was civil but not friends with any male Jews: in college Jews formed the bulk of my closest ties. I mention this to set the scene for the following memory: September: some class or another is all but filled up. The mid-west Christian and the NY Jew sprint from opposite sides of the sign-up table and the Jew takes the last place in the role. The loser’s cursing could be heard for days: Boy, they warned me. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believe it! I came here without a shred of prejudice till just now!

This clown never noticed that the Jews who lost their sprints never screamed at half his volume. He noticed their competitiveness, his own not at all.

I’m also remembering the ethnicity of the mix in this context because it was Anton! punching “David”! Jews fight in Israel, not in New York!

Nazis clip Jew
Nazis clipping Jew
thanx newyorksocialdiary

I further add that I too thought of Rose as the fat girl when I first met her. After that, she was just Rose. Anton’s Rose. Still further I add that I thought Anton was nearly fat when I first met him. Loud and abrasive. (I loved it.) But then nearly anyone was “fat” compared to me. I weighted perhaps 132 at the time: got down to 122 for the regattas (where I, as cox, was the suet in the stern).

And that thought thickens still thicker my ethnic thoughts: There have always been tough Jewish athletes; but not the scholars. The scholars can barely lift their arms. I once wrestled Alan. Even at 132 I picked him up like a straw and slammed him down on the carpet. (I was always strong as weaklings go.)

Well, that was Anton’s story, put among the “Others’.” But I’ve gone and added my own stories to it! What the hell.

Here’s another much loved Anton story, real quick: One of my favorite things, a pretty girl has just come-on to me: in front of witnesses. This was 1957 or so, I could have all the details wrong except for one thing: later Anton looked at me with bemused affection and said, “She flattered Paul’s ass off,

And he believed her!

Got me, dead center. Deflated my conceit, just like that.

2006 06 13 Reading a Wilbur Smith adventure novel I was reminded of Anton’s comment. The English lady, raised in Khartoum, is about to be claimed as a spoil of war by the Muslim chief. Her old nurse is advising her to swallow his come as though it were divine nectar. “Tell him he is the light of your eyes and the breath of your lungs,” the old gal advises. “He will believe this.” Ha. Exactly.

2013 11 18 I told Anton a decade ago that I’d mentioned him on line, he responded that he wasn’t looking for any limelight. I mention him anyway, and it’s hardly limelight. And I’ll mention one other thing: relating to Jewish culture in America: all those words in quotes, italicized, in more quotes:
In 1956 my best friends were Jews, none better than Anton, except maybe David. When asked about his Jewishness David snapped, “I am not a Jew; I’m an atheist.” Actually I believe the other Jews I was close to felt similarly: atheists who wanted to sing in the choir at St. Johns: so they could perform Bach!
So: you’d never hear from Anton, or Alan, or David that they were Jewish, not in normal circumstances.
But, and here’s the point: by senior year, David got married, used a Jewish service, stomped on the glass. The brides had a say too. Jewishness is passed through the mothers! Even though the women had no part in the service.
Rose died, Anton remarried: and their home filled up with bar mitzvahs, orthodox Jews dancing on the wall paper …

What’s the moral? Don’t listen to eighteen year olds? Be careful what you listen to no matter the age? Avoid all media?

2014 07 07 Just though of another Anton & Rose story:
Rose was fat, yes. Rose was loveable, Rose was brilliant. Rose had the highest gradepoint average ever achieved at Bryn Mawr. Rose was the inspiration for Segal’s Love Story. …
All that’s known. Now I reveal further: Anton & Rose didn’t normally fight. Anton was irrascible, but not the entity Anton & Rose. But, on at least one occasion Rose got furious. I was reminbed last night, watching Daniel Deronda, Daniel marries Mirah, he stomps on the glass they’ve toasted from, wrapped in a velvet bag. … Rose got furious, with Anton, of course. She had to burn cities, smash, destroy … She took a coffee mug, made sure it was an unloved coffee mug, sealed it in a paper bag, and smashed it on the floor! So, she explained, it would be easier to clean up!

Stories by Age by Theme by Others

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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