My flash nonfiction story appears in The Sun this month in time for Valentine’s Day.
IN NINTH GRADE I tried flirting by looking in a guy’s eyes and pretending everything he said was clever. It worked. A boy who sat next to me in homeroom asked me to go see the new John Wayne film with him. I wasn’t crazy about westerns, but I liked Chris. I’d never been to the movies with a boy before.
At dinner I told my parents about my date with Chris. My father put down his fork. “After dinner you’ll call him and tell him you can’t go.”
My cheeks flushed as if my father had slapped me.
“You can’t date non-Jewish boys,” he said, as if it were God’s law.
I argued that it was just a movie. I wasn’t marrying Chris. But my father was done talking and went back to his potatoes.
I left the table in tears.
Chris was incredulous when I told him I couldn’t go: “Why not? You said you wanted to.”
“I . . . I don’t really want to go.” I didn’t know what else to say, so I hung up.
I saw Chris in school for the next four years. We had a lot of classes together. If he so much as turned toward me, I would look the other way, too embarrassed to tell him the truth.
My parents had escaped Germany in the 1930s. Chris’s obviously Anglo-Saxon surname told them all they needed to know. He was a gentile and couldn’t be trusted.