Every year after moving to Florida, my good friend Tom threw a St. Patrick’s Day party. And his tradition was that each attendee tell an Irish joke. Tom took the joke telling seriously and had a team of judges announce the winner at the end of each party. He also had a trophy on which he engraved the winner’s name. I got my name on the glass statue one year. It was the year that Bigg Schatz missed the event.
Bigg was one of our golf buddies and he always had a joke to tell. At Tom’s parties, he delivered the best, most original joke with a flawless Irish accent. And he became the perennial winner. But then his mother-in-law moved in with him, and life changed. He and his wife brought her to the annual green celebration. And Martha, who was 92 at the time and sitting in a wheelchair offered to tell a joke. No one took her seriously, but at the end of the competition, Martha shared her story about two men competing with original poems using the word Timbuktu. Martha told the lengthy tale, including reciting both poems verbatim and crushed it. Bigg was speechless as Martha took the prize and had her name engraved on the trophy. He argued that his joke was told with a perfect Irish accent, while Martha’s was in Heartland English. But his complaint fell on deaf ears.
Although Bigg was Jewish, it was a fact that he rarely mentioned. With his command of so many accents and dialects, it was hard to know his ethnic background. But an event occurred when he traveled to the east coast of Florida. He got stopped by a state trooper and was given a speeding ticket. This incensed him and he was convinced that he was a victim of DWJ (Driving While Jewish). He was boisterous in sharing this incident at the end of Tom’s party following Martha’s win. I couldn’t help myself, and I vociferously disagreed with him.
I argued, “Bigg, you went to the east coast, where there are more Jews than the population of New York City. How did the officer pick you out to target? Do you think you look particularly Jewish while driving a car going over 50 miles per hour? You don’t even own a Cadillac.”
Indignantly, he said that he didn’t know how he was stopped in the first place, as he wasn’t speeding. But when the officer saw his name on his license, he knew.
I countered, “Bigg Schatz is not a Jewish name. Schatz is the past tense of Shitz. And besides, if you thought he was discriminating against your Jewishness, why didn’t you speak to him in an Irish accent?”