My grandfather is a schmuck. Yet to him, that insult is doubly offensive, because he is also anti-Semitic. He tried to stop my father, who was raised Catholic, from marrying my mother, who was raised Jewish. He recently divorced my grandmother, after 58 years of marriage. My grandfather has told me many stories, most of which were either exaggerations for the more boring ones or altogether facetious, but always mind-numbingly dull. In fact, I have fallen asleep on the telephone with him before, only to wake up to his snarling, growling voice reprimanding my ear. He also repeats stories many times, because his memory is equivalent to that of a mosquito. I have to thank him three times for any gift, which is always money, because if I don't, he forgets and refuses to send a $20 check for the next occasion.
However, there is one story my grandfather tells, which exemplifies him and really holds a dear place in my heart.
It was the summer of 1941. My grandfather was 18, and had just been drafted into World War II. The Nazis had invaded much of Western Europe, though my grandfather didn't really care, because they were "Goddamn hippie Jews" anyway. He promptly went to training camp, where he was lauded by all of the lieutenants as a future general. He set national records on the ropes courses, and still had time to help out in the mess hall, with all of the "negroes". He was in peak physical shape; a potent weapon ready to be released on the Furher and his armies.
But as in all good stories, there is a villain, and in this story, this universal figure took the form of the 300-lb, 7' man-nurse who performed a final physical on the troops before they were...