The Finkler Answer

My friend, Yelsel, called the other day to recommend a book that she was reading.  The book , The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson, surprised a lot of people this year when it won Great Britain’s prestigious literary award, the Man Booker Prize.  I knew something about the book–that it was a somewhat humorous novel about Anti-Semitism (you know how riotous that can be)–and had intended to read it at some point.  But Yelsel’s call speeded up my rather plodding pace in getting around to these kinds of things.  So, I went on Amazon to place my order.  On the site was a YouTube interview with Mr. Jacobson in which he comes across as a  very charming, down-to-earth guy. (  He has this wonderful Jewish face, nose and head of hair that makes him look like a cross between Bob Dylan and an old, dear friend of mine (you know who you are).  And…he has that English accent, so that everything he says sounds very smart and winning.   Me… I’m stuck with this fuckin’ freakin’ ( this is a family blog) New Yawk accent  so that even the really smart things I say, sound boobish.  To counter this, I’m considering writing in British; so it’s probable you’ll be seeing a lot of words like colour, humour, grey etc. in the blog.

In the interview, Mr. Jacobson discusses his feelings about his friendships with men.  Although he says he has a lot of male friends and revels in their camaraderie, he recognizes that men have a hard time feeling much beyond envy and competition when good things happen to even their closest friends. 

I was thinking about this competitive nature when I was at the gym the other day.  (You haven’t asked but I’ll tell you.  I’m reluctantly making a pilgrimage there once or twice weekly.  The best part about my going has been that, as yet,  I haven’t gotten any fungal infections; the worst part  is… well, everything else.)   Often, when I’m using the weight machines I have to adjust them to lighter settings; meaning that whoever had used them just prior to me was stronger.   Sometimes,  I have to make huge adjustments in the settings.  On those occasions, I’m totally bummed out and want to just throw in the towel on the whole adventure. (Which would be pretty easy since the towels they hand out are hardly larger than wash cloths.)  As if my visits to the gym aren’t already unpleasant enough, now I’m finding myself  feeling competitive with someone who is essentially, a ghost.  But I’ve hit on an idea that I think is going to make me feel a lot better about the entire matter.  After I’m finished with whatever machine I’ve just been struggling with, I’m going to reset the weights to an impossibly high level.  I feel  bad for the person who might be using the machine right after me, but really….that’s her problem.

Look familiar?



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