The new academic year officially began on Saturday. I can only take this to be an anti-semitic gesture on behalf of the state. On this occasion I shall let it pass.
As dewy-eyed undergraduates molest the West End, I am reminded of a beautiful occurrence almost exactly twelve Judeo-Christian calendar months ago today:
I had gone along with a student friend to the freshman fair so that we could investigate the clubs and societies available to young clever types.
As an employee of the university – honorary chair of fluff studies – I am entitled to join these student societies but had never really considered doing so before.
But what to join?
There’s the chess club for losers; the Pythagorian Society for other losers; the football team for the biggest losers of them all; and the ironically named ‘Loser Club’ (“Where Everyone’s a Wiener”) but I’m no elitist.
In front of me in the queue for general club enrollment was a cripplingly beautiful girl clutching an old-fashioned legal pad. Much like that pad, she was at once unusual, chic and spiralbound.
She was older than the other students in the room but I didn’t recognise her from the staff either. Perhaps a new PhD candidate? In any event, I suspected she had the right flavour of stuff to join my illegal underground army so I approached her, affecting the most remarkable nonchalance.
“Hi there,” I said, trite as a pestle pathetically accommodating a mortar, “What club and/or society are you here to join?”
She rolled her eyes and sighed, disinterested.
“Oh, you must be here for the superior indifference club,” I tried.
“The standoffish mysterious harlot society?”
“The easily bored society for detached young women?”
“I give up then. What are you here for?”
“I’m Jewish,” she said.
To another man this remark may have been received as non-sequitur but Hemi-Hebrew myself I instantly recognised it as by way of an explanation. Why join a club when she’s already a part of God’s chosen people?
Me? I’m half in, half out.
I have many clever jokes about being Semi-Semitic (see?). My favourite is “So I’m not a complete prick”. But I resisted the opportunity to show off and tried to remain casual, coblike.
“I’m similarly awkward,” I confessed.
My student friend, silent until now, began to get restless as if asking for an introduction. “Don’t mind the shiska, I told the chic girl. She is neither girlfriend or wife. I just keep her around in case I ever need a human shield”.
Now feigning an interest, the girl said: “And what do you do?”
“At the moment I write comedy”.
The next morning:
“You’d never slept with a Jewish girl before had you?”
“No. But that’s not why I did, you silly racist.”
“Cool. And I’m not doing this because you’re a comedy writer”.
I didn’t realise writing comedy was even currency. Surely that’s akin to sleeping with someone because they assemble Kinder Egg toys for a living.
I never saw the girl again. It was one of those whirlwind romances. I don’t even have her telephone number. This is all well and good but one year later I find myself thinking:
If she wasn’t joining a club, why the hell was she in that queue?