Colin Powell, Elvis Presley, and Mario Cuomo

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06/12/2014

Neighborhood: Kew Gardens Hills, Queens

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Often the Jewish dumpster is stuffed with bread: not tonight; but walking home a man in a hat says, “Excuse me. Are you Jewish?” I say “No” because last time I was asked that question I said “Yes,” and three Jews wrapped me in ribbons and made me repeat a lot of strange words.

So tonight I say “No,” and the Jew asks would I please unscrew the light bulb in his refrigerator. Sure, no problem. I follow him to his house. Up the steps and through the door we go. I meet the twin girls and their mother who, after I unscrew the light bulb in the refrigerator, offers me food. I say, “No, no, I’m fine,” but the grandpa snug in the cozy chair has words for me before I go. “You’re in good company,” he says, “Colin Powell, Elvis Presley, and Mario Cuomo unscrewed light bulbs for Jewish people.”

I say, “Well, it was my pleasure,” and see their dining room arranged for a feast. The house smells of seasoned, broiling lamb, and I want to confess that my grandpa was Jewish, stay here, be part of the family, or, if I am not good enough, perhaps they could put me in a chest and pull me out whenever they need to complete a trivial task.

John Oliver Hodges lives in Greenpoint, Brookyln, and is the author of The Love Box, a collection of short stories.

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