Letter: Lost in translation

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Editor of the Reformer,

I grew up in an almost exclusively Jewish community on the north side of Chicago. My high school, Von Steuben, had a student body numbering well over 90 percent Members of the Tribe. When I graduated, I matriculated into Loyola U., a Jesuit university, also on the north side of town.

There is a Yiddish word, macke, which translates to a pimple or a boil. So, it was common practice to call zits mockeys and refer to some one with severe acne as a "Mockey-face".

At a freshman assembly at Loyola, I sat next to Joe, a guy I met in one of my classes and with whom I had struck up a friendship. Waiting for the assembly to begin, we were chatting and he asked me what high school I had gone to.

I replied, "Von Steuben."

He then said, "There are a lot of Mockeys there, aren't there?"

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I was dumbstruck. I had never known that my alma mater was notorious for its acne problem. So I kind of looked at him and said, "Huh."

He replied, "You know. Kikes."

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That word I knew. But it was nice to add a new word to my anti-semitic lexicon.

I told him I was Jewish and he said, "Oh, I thought you were only half Jewish," and that's a whole `nother story.

Return to now. I generally put my brain on mute during TV commercials, but the other day my head snapped up when I heard an ad for the new Ford Mustang Mach-E. Except the announcer pronounced it Mockey. I thought, "How appropriate for the company founded by one of the most virulent anti-semites in American history to throw out an ethnic slur." I must admit that after that first day I have not seen any further ads. I have a feeling someone may have wised the ad agency up and they pulled it.

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But I conjured up a scenario wherein I would be stopped at a red light driving my new Ford Mustang Mach-E, and someone would yell out, "Hey, Mockey!"

I would sit there, confused, trying to figure if I had just been ethnically slurred or if he was admiring my car. So I'd look over at him, shrug my shoulders and point to myself.

He'd then yell, "Yeah you, the Kike in the Mach-E. Nice car. "

Bob Fagelson

Brattleboro, Nov. 25


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