Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Small Thing About S.

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This is a fragment that fell out of the book and doesn't seem to have a place in its 100,000 words. Please enjoy it as a look into Cassie and S.

Despite his sexual fantasies inspired by the writings of the Marguis de Sade, S. is a child of post-Third Reich Germany. That means he's always profoundly ambiguous about his German-ness around me and others: "I'm not personally responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews, though it doesn't mean I'm not a bit ill-at-ease dating a Jewish girl," he admitted over coffee when I quizzed him about his New York girlfriend. He was even uncomfortable admitting there IS a Jewish "girl" in his life. Turns out she's a senior in an exclusive Manhattan private school.

I hated her right away.

"She'll do ANYTHING I ask her, she begs me to think up new ways she can please me."

I could never tell if his diffidence in most things is genuine or the expected self-put-down we feel "good Germans" owe us because of their country's past sins. Finally one day I cornered him about it.

"Which would you rather it be?" he responded with a question of his own. "Will you like me better if I'm contrite about the Third Reich, or if I tell you I have no debts to repay? You see, my family was not in the army, we didn't kill any Jews I know of, and I don't think any of my relatives voted for Hitler. But if I say it's past time to move on and let Germany be German again, and not some sanitized French fantasy about Germans, then I risk being called insensitive and recherche. Shit, it's even a French expression we'd use."

I'm a bad one to assess such matters: his German-ness and the uniform thing played right into some of my oldest fantasies. I've always thought guys in uniforms cool and sexy, so cool and sexy I once upon a time imagined joining the Marines like my dad (don't ask, it would take years of therapy to figure THAT one out).