Albert and Tony were best friends who grew up in each other’s homes. Albert’s Jewish mother sent him off to school each day with the question, “Albert, do you have your books?” Tony’s Italian mother sent him off to school each morning with the query, “Tony, do you have your lunch?”
“If I were Muslim, I’d kill myself.”
No, that’s not what was said. It was: “If I looked like him, I’d kill myself.”
The speaker was my favorite uncle, commenting on an overweight man, across a hotel pool. Considering how much self-talk I had engaged in to convince myself to be seen in a swimsuit, visiting my California relatives, I absorbed this pronouncement in shame and silence, trying desperately to hold onto shreds of self-worth.