Waiting for Beckett [Flash Fiction

I used to judge the intelligence of people by whether or not they liked or understood or got it in some way or accepted its validity, the play, Waiting for Godot.

How Well We Know Kosher Pastrami

Might Tell Us Something about

How Well We Understand the Nature of Politics

and an Individual’s Relationship to the Political

This government of the state and by the state et cetera will certainly never perish, I’m sure. I used to tell friends of mine who had immigrated to the United States that they firstly and fore mostly immigrated to the federal government and not America, that what they saw first was the state and not the country, and I do not mean the State of New York,but something akin to the French l’etat. I believed this then of them, and can continue this argument effectively; the difference today is that this is increasingly becoming true for me as well, a native born citizen, whereby I live in the state more often and more encroachingly than I do in my country, a place where we are expected daily to increase our devotion to the state and to the Public while abandoning all hope of ever recovering the people, a people of the people, by the people and for the people without fear of perishing except through abdicating our responsibility to the people.

Love of country cannot be equal to love of state or love of pastrami; that is, no more than the public can ever entirely be the people or a vat of pickles. In the America I had been raised to love–in the New York I was raised to love, the Brooklyn I was raised in by people I loved–the government was never your friend, and that was something I had also been taught by an ex-Marine father who was yet always faithful. However, it was possible to have a waiter in a Jewish Deli who was your friend, or so you could assume and blow smoke up each other’s ass about, as he gave you extra pickles or had the counter man put a few extra slices of pastrami on the sandwich or make sure the fat was kept off or put on in whatever way you liked, of course friendship was fertilized with tips and so yes money fertilizes in way bullshit cannot.

Moreover, my dad had taught me that in America, the government is just a little bit less the enemy of the people than in other countries, and reminded me, of course, that I would not want to be living in Red China or the Soviet Union, where bureaucracy administered proctology exams take place more often and without vaseline. He also taught me that if you want pastrami you go to a Jewish Deli and if you want lasagna you do not go to a Jewish Deli, although there were plenty of old Jewish ladies with some kind of blue for hair to cover the gray who ordered lasagna at the Kosher Deli because they felt like Italian.

But as I set myself the task of waiting, and waiting, and waiting, amid the many yawning faces here at Central Jury, I wonder how any of the officials I have so far herein seen can expect any one of the people to have respect for the State, seeing how inarticulate these very officials are, ineffective, for sure, as they show–another mumbled roll call, and another garbled announcement, and another non-native speaker murdering my mother tongue–I never ordered tongue at any kosher deli, not after having tried the tongue my mother ordered one day because she actually liked it and in fact ate so many of the things in a kosher deli I can no longer pronounce or have ever tried. I always thought that Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was the arch-typical representation for waiters . . . a myth for waiters, who are a lot more like Didi and Gogo than anyone anywhere has ever been anytime.

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