Thursday, June 18, 2009


He walked into my bank with a definite swagger. His thick black hair was combed straight back and his handsome face was nursing a cigar. His strong voice rang out as he greeted several people and he settled in at the desk of our young vice president who smiled broadly at the man. My first thought was mafia for there was an air of power surrounding him along with a disregard for protocol.

"That is Carl Rubin." my head teller said quietly as she saw my interest. "He is the new states attorney."

"He sure is good looking but he really is cocky." I observed.

"Too bad he is Jewish." she said behind her hand.

"So?" I snapped, quite irritated. I learned a long time ago that prejudice had no place in my life.

Carl had evidently noticed me also for he asked the vice president to introduce us. I would have been put off by his cockiness if it hadn't been that he had the kindest eyes I had ever seen. We started dating.

Carl was a great date. He wined and dined me at the best restaurants. He was a bold but very good dancer and an interesting conversationalist. He was the type of guy you loved to ask,"And how did your day go?" He always had great stories. What was not to like?

We became serious in a hurry and were maybe too soon making long term plans. Religion stayed in the back ground but the under current was there. Carl's brother Ben and his wife would often double date with us. Ben's wife was a gentile also who had converted to Judaism. Carl was OK if I converted or OK if I didn't. He was not strong in his religion.

While Carl was a successful attorney and was quite well off, his family was very wealthy. Part of the wealth was in cattle but most was in finance. They had a very large ranch in central Florida. Carl used to love calling himself a Jewish cowboy. I loved going out to the ranch with him. He was a fine horseman and thrived on the hard work. Easily, we were the happiest there.

Carl's father was deceased and his mother had been on a trip abroad for months. I had not met her and was a bit worried about it. Ben had told me that Carl could very well be disowned if he married outside his faith. Ben said that she might even go so far as to declare her son dead. I had never heard of such a thing. I was getting more worried as the time got near to meeting her. I loved him but I certainly didn't want Carl to lose his family over me.

Then came the meeting with Mama. There was a welcome home dinner when she returned. Her house was lovely and was on the Gulf. It was the first time I ever saw Carl nervous. He was always so confident but not that night.

He brought me before his mother to introduced us. She was as put together a woman as money allowed. Very striking and I saw where Carl got both his good looks and his confident demeanor.

Carl very carefully pronounced my name. The most amazing thing happened when she heard my very Irish last name which was all I retained from my ex-husband. She didn't care how I got the name and in fairness, my maiden name was equally gentile sounding. 

As he pronounced the last syllable in my name, I disappeared, vanished, was no longer there. Instantly I became invisible. She looked right through me, turned on her heels and made a show of greeting another person. She never spoke to me or to Carl for that matter the rest of the evening.

Carl was angry and very hurt, I was just stunned. We left the party ushered out by the whispers of the curious. All my life I had fought prejudice but had never been the victim of it. Trust me, it is not a good feeling.

Later she made it clear to Carl that if he pursued a relationship with me, he would be disinherited. The ranch would be taken from him and all contact with his mother would cease. Carl said he didn't care but I knew he did and I didn't want him to suffer such drastic measures. The wedge was driven between us and in time caused a irreparable breech. Eventually over something unrelated and very silly, we broke up.

That was not my first experience with prejudice. However, it was the first, though not the last time, it had been directed at me. Such an ugly emotion, either giving and definitely receiving. I'll never forget it.  Have you ever been victim??


  1. I couldn't forget it either, but the prejudice I experienced at the hands of my boyfriend's mother had nothing to do with race or religion. My old boyfriend's mother had disdain for me because I didn't come from a wealthy, well-known, socially-prominent family. I was dirt under her feet. It was so unfair - but she got her comeuppance. He eventually married a woman who already had twins, and she was just as much of a nobody as I was. That mother never got over it.

  2. In my high school days my first true love was the president of the senior class. He was African-American. I got called names by fellow classmates and strangers that are simply not repeatable. I understand the pain of prejudice.

  3. Hi Patti,
    I am now in our summer cottage and don't have my dictionary here.
    I'll try to understand your all story but there are some difficult words.
    Anyway, that man was not destinated for you.You maked a good dessition.

  4. Patti, You did have (are having) such an interesting life.. You've met so any interesting people. Glad you didn't end up with that one. Even if he loved you, that 'wedge' would always have been there. Too Bad!!!!

    How did you get to Arkansas?????

  5. kenju
    Isn't it funny what value people put on us that have nothing to do with us. Prejudices come in so many forms but are always judgements about us that we have no control over. In a way, you were lucky, she would have made your life miserable.

    You had courage to try. I can remember being bashed in high school for saying I thought Harry Belefonte was sexy. You would think I had painted graffiti on the Virgin Mary. I can only imagine what you went through.

    I am so sorry, I have tried for hours on end to get a translator for you. That one you told me about just doesn't work here.Might have to do with my template Honest, I haven't given up. Thanks for still trying, so will I.

    You are problbly right for the mother would have been a constant cause of conflict and the loss of his family might have eventually made him turn on me or at the very least, made him an unhappy man. I'll send you the link to "why Arkansas."

  6. You've certainly led an interesting life, Patti.

  7. Pat
    i have just lived long and for the most part, single. Lots of opportunities with no obligations.

  8. My first boyfriend, thru high school and a couple of years of college, had a mother that hated me. It took me a while to realize it wasn't really me she hated, just anyone who might come between her and her son. Sad really. So glad we parted ways and went on to marry other people. My dear mother-in-love passed away a few years ago, but I will always remember her with great fondness. I'm trying hard to be that kind of mother-in-law to my childrens spouses.

  9. Brighid
    Thank goodness you got out of that. A bad mother in law is the subject of many jokes but it is no joke having one.

    My mother in law was a peach, it was just her son that was the pits.

    You had two examples of what to be and what not to be. I'm sure your kids will love you for being the "good" one.