“Hate the goyim as you might, Potasznik, it cannot be denied.” Micah Mushmelon, Boy Talmudist, slammed his fist onto the table, leaned forward and stuffed his mouth with chick-peas. I waited expectantly. What apparent paradox, what seeming contradiction of all the rules of empirical observation was about to come out of him now?
I took a long look at the boy in the chair opposite. He was possessed of a cone-shaped, somewhat foreshortened body, softish and plumpish, tapering downwards and slightly out of true to a pair of tiny flat feet that could still have borne baby-shoes—a punching bag with fringes in the middle. A kashkèt, called by him a dashikl, rested on the top of his head; this was a bloated satin Dutch-boy cap affected by Hasidic children of Polish descent, beneath which, in the case of this child, lay a blotched, cantaloupian face, a ten-cent sack of freckle misshapes, a coconut-flecked, kosher-for-Passover marshmallow with a mouth. “Were I to reveal myself as I am,” he would say with a meaningful stretch upwards, “Could Schwarzenegger support his family? Would anyone publish Susan Sontag? Someone has to keep the world in balance.”
How wobbly young Mushmelon had been made aware of his calling—while herding his sheep in Prospect Park or sitting alone in an empty bes-medresh, flicking the lights on the memorial plaques and waiting for a sign—no one ever knew, and Micah himself was understandably loathe to tell. But that he had been chosen to re-align the world—to this I can attest from my own experience.
Cartoon of Micah Mushmelon on the cover © Graham Robson 2007