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Culinary School Lessons for Life

Sweet Sixteen in 1994, what a cosmic joke
I was a girl in worlds that hated my existence
Especially two white-pride boys, top of school society
We all went to school together, then vo-tech
I was far more intelligent, strike one for me
A girl who didn’t fall for their charm, strike two
Semitic in a world of Aryans, strike three
The first two strikes were easily evaded
But the last one nearly cost me my life twice
 
Sixteen and studying to be a chef
Girl in a man’s world, already despised
Bad enough I saw them in academics
We shared bus rides and a long hall-walk
Taunting me as I walked ahead, unable to run
My pride and school rules forbade it.
 
“Jew, Jew, look at you, dirty Jew
One day we are going to do to you
What Hilter didn’t get a chance to.”  
Troy Sigfried and Steve Bauer followed me
Every day, five days a week, except for holidays
Off the bus, down the long hall, straight to my class
 
They in Metallica tees, shades and ripped jeans
Combat boots, bandanas and Dixie flags
Blond hair, black hair, blue eyes filled with hate
Strolling not a care in the word behind me
I was dressed in chef’s black’n whites
Dark curls hidden under a baker’s hat
Boots on my feet, no make up, stoic
With these two Neo-Nazis so close
My chef instructor at the door, hearing every word.  
 
Three weeks I suffered, Monday thru Friday
21 days my chef, the one I was supposed to trust
Listened and scolded but did nothing more
“Goldstein, I hear them, but my hands are tied.”
In 1994 this was not considered a hate crime
Boys just being boys, just ignore the little shits
 
 
On the 22nd day, a Monday, they got too close
That Monday, I could feel their breath on my neck
“Dirty Jew, watch out we’re coming for you..
You BITCH, stupid Jewish whore-bitch, you broke my nose!”
 
I was barely four inches over five feet barefoot
But I always punched above my weight
Steve got too close, so my fist smashed into his face
As I got ready to swing again, my chef yelled
“Goldstein, you’re suspended! Bauer, to the nurse!”  
 
I looked up at my chef, this man I’d been taught to trust
He was to be my chef for three years, day in and out
My heart dropped, chills ran down my spine as I realized
He was tall, he had blue eyes, he was German, too.  
 
I got suspended for a week, Bauer had to apologize  
The minute it was over, he glared at me, smirking
“Jew, you’ve only made it worse for yourself.”  
How true his words were, my life nightmarish
Pennies thrown at me daily to start Jewish parades
They tried to push me off moving school buses
Jews weren’t allowed on the bus, they all said
Swastikas in my driveway, mailbox run over
Demonstrating they could do whatever they liked
Every school day they followed me the rest of the year
Their words in cadence with my defiant footsteps
 
I fought them violently every chance I could get
But never in front of my chef, I needed to impress him
He was my ticket to my dream of becoming a chef
I had to prove women were men’s equal in the kitchen
Three years he taught me, never spoke about that day  
 
In the end, I graduated, working for a high class chef
Only three students had such coveted positions
I was also accepted to culinary school, to start in fall
“Goldstein,you did good. I’m proud of you and I’m sorry.”  
Two years too late, my trust never quite as complete
 
In cooking school, I learned two important lessons
Beyond how to measure, saute, braise and stew
One: I had to fight twice as hard for a solitary chance
Two: no one would ever take care of me..except me.
inechoingsilence
Author's Note
COMPETITION PIECE: (Memory) An autobiographical piece of prose about 16 year old me in cooking school. I learned a lot more than just cooking that year.
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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