Friday, March 23, 2007

And These Are My Hummel Figurines

Recently, my friend Betsy attended a dinner hosted by her Ph.D. advisor for all of his doctoral students. Her professor, a Czech Jew who survived Dachau during WWII, created the following awkardness before the meal:

Professor: [giving an impromptu tour of his home] ...and this is my personal library. That entire bookcase is filled with foreign language translations of my books.
Students: [oooh, aahhhh]
Professor: And over here is a collection of my brother's sculptures.
Betsy: These are remarkable. Is he a famous Czech sculptor?
Professor: No, he did these when he was eight...
Students: [mild, respectful laughter]
Professor: These sculptures survived the war. He, however, did not.
Students: [awkward silence, dry cough, sniffle...]
Betsy's imagined response: Oh, did you watch him die in your arms at the concentration camp? (Because really, what the hell are you supposed to say to that?)
Professor: And on this shelf is my collect of Hummel figurines...

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