The conversation in the breakroom went something like this:
Billy: Hey Howard, you’re a Jew, right?
I have never been comfortable being referred to as a Jew. I’d much rather be asked if I’m “Jewish”. Sure, it’s a semantic difference, but it still bothers me. The way he said it put me on the defensive immediately.
ME: Uh, well, my family is Jewish but I never paid much attention to it. Why?
Billy: Well, I wanted to ask you a question about it and thought you might be able to help.
ME: OK, I’ll try. I can’t promise you anything because I flunked ‘Jew 101’ way back when.
Billy: Uh. Yeah. Anyway. I know that circumcision is part of the Covenant…
ME: (holds up his hands) WHOA! WHOA! Hang on there, Dude. I have no idea why we do that. I just know that it’s done at birth and we have a big party. Other than that, I have no idea.
Billy: I understand. I was just wondering what they do for the girls.
ME: For girls? Uh, I don’t think we do anything for them. Yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing like that for girls. (pause pause) Um…Billy…you, uh, well, you know girls don’t have penises, right?
Billy: (flustered and red-faced) Well, yeah, um, yeah, I, uh, sure I know that girls don’t have them.
He turns around, walks out of the breakroom, and 3 seconds later I hear his office door slam shut.
I walk out smiling. Call me a Jew again and see what happens.