Neo reminded me with her post that I wanted to write down an amusing scene from 3 weeks ago.
One of the (very few) perks of being a volunteer at OHNY is being invited to an after-the event party, where one can chat with the hierarchy and eat quantities of bad cheese. After my 5-hr shift ended, I went to the party, lagging with me attendance sheets and signed pledges.
The mood at the party might be described by an apocryphal quote from a elementary-school essay: “Tired but satisfied we returned home”. I was circulating between groups of people, some faces familiar, some not, perfectly happy and full of goodwill. Until I came to a circle where I saw a familiar couple, Liz and Ben, who introduced me to a guy they were talking to (forgot his name…OK, let him be Dave). We were socializing quite nicely (discussing OHNY’ policy on uniform t-shirts, as far as I remember), until we came to describing the sites each went to on preceding Saturday.
Dave chose a mosque. Out of over 300 sites listed in the brochure, from Rockefeller Center observation deck to Masonic Lounge to underground subway substation he chose an “islamic cultural center”.
-Why did you go there? – I said, surprised -architecturally, it is nothing to look at
-Yes, -he answered, – it is rather dull, vast and gray inside, like a big warehouse, but the architect was there and explained the concept of Nothingness between a praying spirit and a Force of God.
I fought back my laugh – he sounded so self-important and “multiculturally-appreciative”, spouting that nonsense, but I’m used to threading lightly in NY limousine-liberal (or wannabe same) crowd, so I was going to make a small joke and move on, when he probably detected luck of admiration and challenged me with “Why? Wouldn’t you want to educate yourself about one of world’s biggest religion’s place of worship?”
Nope, -I said, beaming.- I don’t need to. I have lived among practitioners of that religion since I was 2 till 23. I know all I need to know about them. In fact, I live among them right now, again, and have been since 1999. If their mullah paid me his daily take I wouldn’t go see their dirty Indoctrination, sorry, Cultural center.
-OOOOOH! – screamed Dave – I can’t! I simply can’t talk about terrorists and muslims! I can’t! It’s beyond my endurance! – and he slapped his palm theatrically on his forehead. – I came here to relax! And enjoy company! Not to be cornered by Rightwing Crazie ! I refuse to talk with intolerant Bigot!
…and he ran, yes, ran spilling his white from the plastic cap to the other side of the hall. Liz and Ben, terrified by my tactlessness, ran after him. I was left with mouth agape and a piece of Swiss stuck on a toothpick in my hand. Whispers accompanied me when I walked the room for another 10 minutes. Glances. They practically pointed at me!
I felt too tired to brave the waves and left (I spent 5hrs on my feet); on the way back I tried not to get that rotten incident to spoil my day of perfect architectural enjoyment – but I was quite pissed. Then, when I woke up next morning, whole thing appeared to be rather flattering…they were afraid of me! They recognized The Enemy and ran! Why, if I stuck around, I might have had the room to myself!