Secret Message

April 5, 2012

My original entry was shaping up to be a silly rebuke of gourmet cupcakes, decrying that enormous whorl of icing eclipsing the nub of mealy cake, and then my husband showed me the ghostly word he’d discovered on the backside of the drywall panel separating the doors of our not-quite finished closet: kike.

Scrawled in Sharpie, it appears to have bled through the paint daubed over it, suggesting that it was not meant to be discovered, and yet the slur would not be concealed. Too many people have been in our house recently, contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors, etc., for us to have any certainty about the culprit. And the work is not complete, which means he’s likely to return.

This is my first real brush with anti-Semitism. I’m not Jewish, but my husband is, and that’s how we’re raising our sons. I grew up Southern Baptist, but now I am nothing, and the void in my identity suggested by that phrase is not unintentional. I’d like them to be something, though probably not Christian. It’s nothing against Jesus the man; my beef is with Jesus the policy, Jesus the line drawn between saved and damned.

When I was nine I walked to the front of the chapel of my own accord and asked to be baptized in his name. Though my fervor faded, I still love that he radically allied himself with the downtrodden, walking among drunkards and prostitutes. I love that my great-grandmother freely invoked his aid when searching for a parking space. I just can’t think that much else matters beyond acting with kindness, whether per Jesus’ example or someone else’s.

I’m sad and a little queasy thinking that someone in our home, witness to our good little boys at play, noted a telltale symbol here and there or sized up my husband according to some vicious criteria and concluded “kike,” a sentiment so powerful it had to be inscribed.

This close to Passover, I am reminded that the Israelites marked their own houses—in blood, not Sharpie—so that the final, deadly plague would leave them be.

 

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