The second of two parts.
“Aw, dude, are you serious? Nazis? In Huntington Park?” Buck
whistled through his teeth. “Wow. Dude, that’s not right, man. We
need to get the guys and go break their windows or something.”
I had made a vow to myself not to tell my friends that my new
girlfriend and her family were anti-Semitic. The vow lasted two days,
and then Buck asked me how things were going with Aubrey.
“No, seriously, Buck, don’t tell anybody about it,” I said,
suddenly sure that he would. “If you tell the guys, they’re gonna say
something to Aubrey, and I want to handle this myself, OK? Promise me
you won’t tell anybody.”
Buck looked down at his feet. “OK, dude. I promise.”
I left Buck’s house and went home. An hour, my friends Mike and
his brother Greg were at my door. “Dude! You’re girlfriend’s a Nazi?”
Dang it, Buck. I extracted the same promise from Mike and Greg,
but I knew the jig was up. It had been my plan to try use the power
of my love to turn Aubrey away from her Nazi-sympathizing ways, just
like Kristy McNichol did in the movie “Summer of My German Soldier.”
But now that my friends knew about it, I was out of time. The Allies
were closing in on Berlin.
The next morning, I walked to Aubrey’s house. Fourth of July was
just a week away, and several homes on her block were flying bright
American flags. When I reached Aubrey’s place, I saw a small group of
people standing on the sidewalk in front of it, looking up and
shaking their heads. I recognized them as Aubrey’s neighbors. I
looked up, and there, unfurled from Aubrey’s living room window, was
a big, red Confederate flag. The Stars and Bars.
“Oh, no,” I whispered. “Aubrey!”
Her head popped in the window. “Hey! Come on up!”
No way was I going up there. “No, you come down here!” She told me
to wait a moment and disappeared from view. I turned and looked at
the gathering of adults on the sidewalk, all of them Latino. They
glared at me in silence. Aubrey came running down the steps.
“Look at this garbage someone taped to our front door!” she
shouted, and held up a sheet of notebook paper. On it was scrawled,
in big, Magic Marker lettering, “NAZIS! GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME
“That’s terrible,” I said, recognizing the handwriting. “Who would
do something like that?”
“I don’t know, maybe they did!” She nodded angrily at the crowd
standing a few feet from us. “Maybe they don’t like our flag! But no
one’s going to intimidate us! Everybody’s flying their precious Union
flags, right? So we’re flying ours! This is our flag!”
“Well, how do you expect people to react if you’re going to do
things like that?” I said, exasperated. “Flying that flag’s just
asking for trouble!”
“So? We’re not afraid of anyone!” She turned to face the crowd.
“What are you all staring at? You’re standing on private property!
Get out of here, you --"
The neighbors flinched as if Aubrey let out a stream of racial
invectives. But they didn’t leave.
“Hey!” I shouted at Aubrey. “Don’t say things like that! I’m
Call it the blindness of puppy love, but for the time it occurred
to me that my girlfriend’s racism might apply to me, too.
“Well, you’re different,” she said.
“How am I different?” I said. “I’m just like them! I’m Latino! My
family speaks Spanish!”
“Yeah, but you’re -- just different,” Aubrey said, suddenly
And that’s when it occurred to me that Aubrey was in as much as
denial as I was. As my feelings for her had blinded me to what she
was, so had hers blinded her to my ethnicity. A thought occurred to
me that maybe now I had the key to unlock the racial harmony I
believed had to exist in Aubrey’s heart.
“Aubrey, listen to yourself!” I said. “You say that I’m different,
but I’m not! And you still like me, don’t you? Can’t you see what
that means? You and your parents keep talking about the truth, about
the Big Jewish Conspiracy, but you don’t even know what the truth is!
Did you know, for instance, that I’m Jewish?”
Now it was Aubrey’s turn to flinch. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m Jewish!” I shouted, putting my hands on my hips. “My mother’s
father was a French Jew. So that makes me a Jew!”
Actually, it didn’t make me any such thing, and I knew it. But I
figured Aubrey didn’t.
“You’re lying!” she shouted, her voice suddenly shrill.
“No, I’m not! I’m a Jew! And you kissed me, so you kissed a Jew!
What do you think your beloved Nazis would say about that, huh? The
Nazis would have hung you for kissing a Jew!”
Aubrey stood there staring at me, her body trembling. It was the
most pitiful sight, and suddenly my heart went out to her. “Look, I’m
just trying to say --"
WHACK! She punched me in the nose with her right fist. Hard. My
head rolled back and came forward, just in time to see her left fist
coming my way. WHOP! She punched me on the mouth. Alarmed, I grabbed
her arms by the wrists.
“Aubrey, for God’s sake, calm down!” I held her wrists until she
stopped struggling. “OK, I’m going to let you go. You’re calm,
Silence. I let her go. WHOP! This punch landed on my chest and
caused me to fall back a step. I looked up to see Aubrey rearing back
to punch me again, then suddenly one of the men who had been standing
on the sidewalk stepped up behind her and caught her arm.
""That’s enough,” he said to her in a thick accent. “You go inside
Aubrey started to say something, but she saw the women in the
crowd begin to move forward. She shook free from the man, shot me a
glare that caused me to flinch, then she ran upstairs.
I watched her slam the door closed. Something dripped from the
corner of my mouth and I reached up; my lower lip was bleeding. I
turned and saw the group of neighbors still there, watching me. Their
eyes told me that none of what they had just witnessed surprised them
in the slightest. I felt like I was about to cry.
“You should go home now too,” the man said to me gently. And I
That was, of course, the end of Aubrey and I as an item. Getting
over her was easier than I would have thought -- the power of my love
just couldn’t survive the power of a good right hook. It was the
first and only time I was punched in the mouth by a girl, at least in
the literal sense.
In fact, I would remember my time with Aubrey as a season of
firsts. My first girlfriend. My first kiss. My first real encounter
with anti-Semitism. I learned a lot.
I learned that love was sometimes a blinding force with a will of
its own. I learned that my heritage was something I was prepared to
defend. And I learned that when you’ve got an angry Nazi by the
wrists, you want to think carefully before letting go.
Editor’s note: The names of several characters in this column have
* DAVID SILVA is the editor of the Rancho Cucamonga Voice and the
Claremont-Upland Voice. Reach him at 484-7019, or by e-mail at