Here’s an excerpt from a letter my father recently sent me:
Curt has a way with words. (“Curt,” by the way, is what my brother and I always called our father. Our mother was “Judith.” It was the 70s. Being called “mom” and “dad” was not okay to my anti-establishment teenage hippie parents.) I know that pointing out my indeed big nose and confirmed bad temper are his way of complimenting me.
He’s not the first person to want to talk about the ethnicity of my nose (which I prefer to think of as aquiline, not big).
My last boyfriend’s father, a tactless and confrontational Hungarian refugee with ingrained anti-Semitic sentiments, once cornered me and questioned me about the heritage of my nose. I told him that my background was Scottish, English, and French, and that the latter influence was allegedly responsible for the shape of my nose.
Laszlo was nonplussed. “No,” he said, “I know a Jewish nose when I see one.”
I wasn’t sure what to make of this comment. While I don’t have any Jewish blood in my lineage (Judith having later married a Jew didn’t count, obviously), I wouldn’t have a problem with it if I did. However, I wasn’t. Jewish, that is. So, should I argue with Laszlo, because he’s wrong? Or just let it go, because it doesn’t matter, and he’s obviously just trying to intimidate me?
I must have told my father about this conversation, although I don’t remember doing so. However, I recognize that in his own way, Curt is forming an allegiance with me. We are father and daughter, and we both have big pretty French noses and bad tempers.