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The kitchen serves as a meeting place, which means I often sit here and wait for something to happen, such as Gunn wandering in to complain how much I try his patience. The other day he really shot himself in the foot, though. We were talking about the unfortunate name “Tristan Virgin,” who is a real person Gunn apparently knows. “I don’t get it,” said Gunn “Why do people think being a Jew is funny?”

I chortled at him and then remembered that I had made the same vocabulary mistake. My friends and siblings would put on Christmas plays for our parents every year, with the moving climax of us passing a doll dressed in rags around in a circle as we sang “Silent Night.” I was Joseph. As such I would wail and beat the floor after finding out “that my betrothed was with child,” although I wasn’t really sure why. When you’re a kid you do things that make no sense merely because you have a vague knowledge that this is how things go. So the scene of Mary and the Angel would surface (a blonde Mary confronted by a blond Gabriel in a nightgown) and Mary would say in her eight-year-old fake English accent, “but how can this be, since I am a vehgin?”

And I would think, as I’m sure the other members of the cast did: what’s being Jewish got to do with it? As I had only ever heard “virgin” in the context of “the Virgin Mary” and a few Old Testament passages, and Mary was obviously a Jewish girl. (Incidentally, I also grew up thinking “Madonna” was a bad word. Also “Apparatus.” Also “Saxon.” This comes from being home schooled and having no television but two parents who like creative/scientific euphemisms)

So, Gunn: I laugh WITH you. My shrieks are shrieks of nostalgia.

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