The Beetroot Jew (Post #413)

IMG_8071I had no idea that things would turn out this way. How could my grandmother of lead me to this place? Nothing that I have Googled says anything about what to do about this problem. I’m angry. Angry at the world. Angry at other people who have been treating me like I am some sort of freak. How could I have been so naive? How could I be so stupid? Why would no one help? I’m not sure how to resolve this. I did not listen to my grandmother when she was alive, so why did I do it now? I have places to go. I have to work but I can’t go looking like this. I don’t even want to go out of my house.

My immune system had been low for some time. This was unusual for me since I had always prided myself upon my strong immunity. Swollen glands, scratch in the throat and feeling fatigued had all become a normal part of how I was feeling. I tried all kinds of remedies; high doses of vitamin c, cordyceps, elderberry, circumin, colloidal silver and a plethora of Chinese herbs. The swollen glands were still there. The fatigue and the scratch in my throat laughed at these natural remedies. Nothing worked. And then my Jewish grandmother came to me in a dream (she was wearing a long dark purple dress) and said:

“Beetroot Randall. Beetroot! Beeeeeeetrooooooooot. I do not understand why you are not remembering what I taught you. It really hurts my feelings that you would forget. Remember all of those times I would make you Borscht when you were not feeling well? Remember how much that helped you? Why are you forgetting about your Jewish heritage? Why are you becoming a gentile? Please take the beetroot and start going to Temple again. You’ve really disappointed your grandfather and I. You must keep our Jewish heritage alive and consume beetroot. Go to Temple, ok?”

Being subjected to guilt from family members all of my life has made me very skilled at subverting feeling guilty. Feeling guilty is one of the main feelings that drives Jews. I don’t fall for it any more. My grandmother’s spiel about hurting her feelings and disappointing her didn’t work on me. I have no desire to go to Temple and if I am letting the Jewish heritage go, that is ok. All things must end. Besides, Judaism no longer appeals to me. I like to think that I have grown beyond it. But I don’t know why I had forgotten about the main ingredient in Jewish remedies for all things that ails a Jew- beets! That afternoon I bought several bottles of beetroot juice from a health food store.

The directions explained clearly: No more than two tablespoons a day. But it was beets! I used to drink bowl after bowl of my grandmother’s beet soup, so how harmful could it be? I ignored the directions and drank two large glasses full of beetroot juice everyday. Immediately, I began feeling better. Within a few days I had my energy back, my glands shrunk and the scratch in the back of my throat vanished. After a week I was even getting my erections back. So I kept drinking one or two glasses full of beetroot juice everyday, for weeks.

I don’t know why I did not notice the signs. Maybe it is because I am lost in thought all of the time. Why did it take a friend of mine saying something about it for me to notice? How did my wife not notice? Humans really do not see each other, when we see each other everyday. We become habituated to one another. We only see the image that we have formed of the person in our mind projected onto the person standing in front of us. We do not see the actual person in the present moment, as they are. Wether it is ourselves or someone we live with (see all the time), after a period of time we only see them as we think they are. This was proven to me by what happened with the beetroot juice.

For weeks I was drinking so much beetroot juice that my skin, nails, eyes and hair all turned a darkish purple color. It was almost as if I was covered in dark purple paint. My gray hair had turned dark purple. My white nails had turned dark purple. My brown skin had turned dark purple. The whites of my eyes had turned dark purple. Without my wife, dogs or I noticing, I had turned dark purple!

My friend asked me why I was covered in dark purple paint and I said, “What do you mean?”
“You are dark purple!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Are you kidding me? You really don’t know?”
“Don’t know what? I really don’t get what you are saying.”
“Randall! YOU ARE DARK PURPLE. Go look in a mirror.”

So I looked in a mirror and for the first time noticed that I was covered in a darkish purple color. Hair, skin, eyes, nails- everything was dark purple. I had been going to work, going out to cafes and restaurants and no one had said anything to me! But everyone one had been treating me differently and I could not figure out why. This is why I became angry at the world and other people. I was being made to feel like I was some kind of freak. That there was something wrong with me. Little did I know that there was! But someone could have said something.

After I returned home from being with my friend, I immediately Googled the effects of too much beetroot juice. There was nothing about the external parts of the body turning dark purple. I don’t know why or where this came from but I then Googled: Beetroot Jew. To my surprise several entries on this topic came up; Jews Turning Purple, Jewish Beetroot Syndrome, The New Beet Jew, Beetroot And The Jew, What Every Jew Should Know About Their Favorite Soup.

Turns out that because of a Jewish person’s biological constitution, if they ingest too many beets or beetroot they are prone to turning a darkish purple color! I could not believe what I was reading. Why did my grandmother neglect to tell me this? I continued to investigate. In the 1930’s and 1940’s there was a phenomena of Jews using Beetroot to cure themselves of various serious ailments and many of these Jews ended up in hospitals because their entire bodies turned a darkish purple color. One Jew in particular, Abraham Yisrael, after not being able to rid himself of the color change, joined the circus and was referred to as The Beetroot Jew! I couldn’t believe it. As I sat there at my computer reading all of this, I felt like I was going to faint. What if I was going to be the Twenty-First Centuries version of The Beetroot Jew?

I don’t know what to do at this point. Now that I am aware of what I look like, I will not go anywhere. I refuse to go to work, which has put a huge strain on my economic and marital situation. “Just go to work. Who cares what you look like,” my wife says and I become angry at her terrible advice. (I work as a psychotherapist. Being a successful psychotherapist is dependent on the therapist’s ability to present as being the archetype of mental health. If I show up for work looking like this, no one will take me seriously. I will lose my psychotherapeutic reputation.)

I have been angry at my wife for several days because I can’t believe she didn’t notice what was happening to me! If she would have just said something, so much of this could have been avoided! How is it that she was so preoccupied in her own life that she was not able to notice these drastic changes that were taking place in the man she falls asleep with every night? How can something so obvious be missed by the one person in the world who is closest to you? I don’t understand how it is that she missed the obvious effects of ingesting too much beetroot juice. A a result I feel neglected. This has made me very concerned about the state of my marriage. I have recommended that we go see a couple’s counselor in order to try to get to the bottom of this (obviously I will not go until my normal color returns).

I stopped drinking beetroot juice. All of my low immune symptoms have returned. I have been drinking a lot of water in an attempt to flush the dark purplish color out from my cells. Nothing on the internet tells me anything about what to do in this situation. Should I go ahead and join the circus like Abraham? This is not an option for me since I think the circus is not what it used be. I’ve been trying to get in touch with my dead grandmother, but have heard nothing from her. This is typical Jewish behavior. Jews are so filled with guilt that the moment they feel like they have done something wrong they retreat so as to avoid feeling the guilt. I know this because I used to do. This is one way I have grown beyond being a Jew. Now, when I have done something wrong or wronged another person, I confront it right away. Even in death my grandmother is obviously yet to get to this level in her personal growth. She is still hiding away, since I am sure she feels bad about what has happened to me. I understand, so I will wait. I will wait for her to reappear and hopefully she will know what I should do next.


The Beetroot Jew.

The Loneliest Place On Earth

imagesThis holiday season I will be surrounded by people who love me and who I love. I will be given gifts and give gifts. I will feel grateful for everything that I am experiencing. I will drink and eat too much and I will laugh more than I normally do. I will engage in superficial conversation and talk to people that I would be happy never having to talk to again. I will give a lot of hugs. I will try and open my heart, have no judgement and relax into the Christmas celebration. My wife, whom I love more than anything in this universe, will tell me to smile more and she will probably take a beer out of my hand and tell me that I have had enough. I will have fun. I will try to appear like a confident and happy guy. However, despite all of this, one thing that no one will notice about me this Christmas day is that even though I will be attending a party filled with friends and strangers- I will be in the loneliest place on earth.

If you want to know where the loneliest place on earth is, find a Jew on Christmas day and then there you are (if you find this Jew you would be doing him or her a great favor by giving them a hug and telling them that you love them even though they will pretend everything is fine). Being Jewish at this time of year kind of feels like attending a party in where you are not really sure if you were invited. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that being Jewish at this time of year is like traveling in a foreign country. When in a foreign country you can enjoy the sights, sounds, the language, the food and everything else that makes up the experience of being in a foreign place but you can not escape from the deep loneliness that you feel as a result of no longer being in familiar territory. There is a photograph that I always like to look at when I use the urinal at one of my favorite pubs. It is a picture of an eastern European man holding up a big sign in a crowd of people. There is a sad smile on the mans face and his eyes are wide open in anticipation. His face is the face of loneliness. His sign reads: “Waiting For My People.” This is how I feel on Christmas day.

However are not my people the family and friends that I will happily be surrounded by on Christmas day? I love these people and even though they are my wife’s family they are my family. I feel more accepted and supported by my wife’s parents than I ever have by my own parents. The love that my wife gives me is so strong that I literally can feel it penetrating my skin. So with all this love, support, celebration, gratitude and gift giving why the long face?

Maybe it stems from growing up as a Jew in America. Christmas day was always the elephant in the room. I had to pretend that it was not there. No one really talked about it. While all the other families that I lived around decorated their homes with lights, Christmas trees and scarey blow up Santa Clauses my house remained dark. I remember being a kid and feeling that I was being left out of something important that was going on. On television there would be Christmas shows, at school there would be Christmas parties, all over my neighborhood there would be Christmas celebrations and I was stuck in the middle of it all, kept arms length from all the festivities. I felt like my parents were sheltering me from a potential threat. My father always expressed a certain kind of disapproval towards all the “Christmas crap.” Over time there was this feeling of isolation that developed in me as a result of not not getting to participate in the Christmas celebration festivities. By the time I was in college, I got used to spending Christmas eve and Christmas day alone. I got used to wondering the streets on Christmas eve and noticing that everything was closed (except Chinese food restaurants). I got used to feeling like I was in the loneliest place on earth.

But maybe this is not quit it. The Christmas season always makes me unpleasantly aware of just how Christian of a country I am living in. During Hanukkah which ends a week or so before Christmas I will see very few signs of the holiday in my culture. Maybe a star of David being sold in a boutique gift shop or Hanukkah candles for sale at Target. Other than this there are no gratuitous displays of the Jewish holiday anywhere. This can make a Jew think that they are a member of a secret cult. That their holiday is somehow hidden away, deviant and maybe even unimportant compared to the significant place Christmas holds in people’s hearts. I can not tell you the last time that I celebrated Hanukkah with my sister, my parents, friends and my extended family all together. Hanukkah for me has become a holiday that is more apart of my past than it is apart of my future and maybe on Christmas day when I am with my wife and her family it is hard to forget what is missing.

Loneliness is a strange thing. You can be lonely in a huge crowd, you can be lonely when you are surrounded by people who love you, you can be lonely when you are lying in bed at night with someone you love. Loneliness is not always a rational thing. It is an emotion that begs for attention and arises in response to something that you are feeling or thinking. We can not always control what we feel and think, sometimes feelings and thoughts just happen in relation to something we smelled, ate, drank, noticed or heard. Just as we do not always know why we caught a cold, we do not always know why we feel lonely. It is just there. This is what happens to me on Christmas day. There is this deep emotion that settles in my bones in response to a certain feeling. I try and push it away and keep a smile on my face. I drink beer and eat. I am happy for my wife who loves this time of year and I am happy that I get to be apart of the festivities. I try and have fun. But still I will feel like something is missing. Still I will feel like I am in the loneliest place on earth. Still I will release a sigh of great relief when all the Christmas lights start to come down.