LEAVING EVERYTHING BEHIND

Do you think you could feed me now?

No, Stanley, I have to feed the birds.

The birds! Again the birds! Excuse me, I know those feeders are only three-quarters full, which sends you into a panic, but I’m starving.

I’m sorry, Stanley, but this is what I was taught by my grandfather. The only thing I remember from all those reminiscences about the shtetl in Rumania is that before you feed yourself, you feed the animals.

I’m the animal around here. Not you, not the birds, moi!

They also had dogs, Stanley. They had two with Rumanian names, like Altu or Banu, something like that. Too bad they had to leave them behind.

They left behind their dogs?

When they went into exile. They were given 2 hours’ notice to leave their village of Stefanest and walk all the way to Botoshan, a city far away.

They left behind their dogs?

They couldn’t take anything with them, Stanley. I think they even left them chained,

I’m getting sick! They left their dogs behind, chained?

I know, it’s kept me up at nights thinking about it, but what could they do, Stanley? They couldn’t let the dogs follow them into exile, there was no food or anything. Beside, do dogs even go into exile?

They left the dogs chained? That’s who you learn your behavior with animals from?

They were refugees, Stanley! Like the refugees we get from Syria and Vietnam and Afghanistan. At least, we used to get them. When you’re a refugee you leave your home behind, your job, probably your family, you leave everything and everyone behind.

Did they shave their heads?

Why should they shave their heads?

Like those people in Asia.

You mean, Buddhist monks? That’s different, Stan. Buddhist monks want to leave things behind. Refugees don’t, and they aren’t given a choice.

Do Buddhist monks leave dogs behind, too?

Now you’re getting silly. You don’t understand anything about suffering, Stan. What could you possibly know about the Holocaust, you didn’t go through it.

Neither did you.

True, but there are things I just feel in my bones. You, on the other hand, Stan, have had it easy all your life.

I have not. I’m getting older, I’m stiffer, Leeann is dead—

Leeann isn’t dead, Stan.

She’s not? Then where is she?

On vacation.

What’s vacation?

Stanley, vacation is when you don’t go out on outings with dogs, you just lie around doing nothing.

See, I told you she died.