In our neighborhood I remember one couple who provided "entertainment" for us as kids, though in truth their story was more tragedy than comedy. Sammy and his wife Sonia lived up the block from us. You could often hear them yelling at each other with Sonia getting the upper hand in yelling, But Sammy, who was a carpenter, knew how to take a swing, and he often did – at his wife. So their arguments would end in a "boom!!" "crash!!", like in the Batman T.V. series, with Sonia taking a steak out of the freezer for her most recent shiner and Sammy storming off to replenish his energy at Barnaby's, the local bar.

How'd we know all this in detail? Once, Loonie Louie came to visit us "backwards" Chicagoans in our natural habitat. Backwards, because we didn't know enough to put our subway underground, and for us "pop" wasn't your dad, but a sweetened carbonated drink, whereas soda was something only your pop drank. My brothers and I showed him around the neighborhood. Walking up Mozart St. (local pronunciation: Motzart) we passed Sammy's house as the windup was starting.

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"Wazat racket?" Loonie asked us.


"Aw, that's just Sammy going after his wife Sonia with his kid's tennis racket", we answered.

Louie's interest was piqued: "Ya? Let's take a look-see".

Before we could stop him he crawled up to the front window, taking cover between the evergreens, and snatched a look through the window. I guess that urge to see came from his being a New Yorker, always going to theaters off-Broadway. Still, we followed, and watched just as Sammy was using his carpenter skills on Sonia. "wham!!" "poof!!" Only this time Sonia threw a knife – a butter knife she had in her hand – at Sammy. It missed Sammy by a mile. I guess she didn't play much baseball. The knife sailed out the open side-window at us. Loonie ducked, my brothers did too, but I was mesmerized by the flying piece of metal. It hit me in the finger. Lucky I wasn't made of butter!

My brothers grabbed me and my mouth and Loonie covered our retreat as we quickly went back home. Getting there I whooped in pain as Loonie Louie whooped in ecstasy: "That was great! We gotta make some popcorn and go back for more!" We didn't (make popcorn), but – from that day on we noticed how Sammy would beat his wife almost regularly.

A few months later I was on my way to meet up with some guys (we were fifth-graders) to go bowling (average score: 84). I was looking down, counting my money, not noticing where I was going, until I literally bumped hard into Sammy and fell. Sammy gently pulled me up and asked: "You okay boy?"

I was petrified and could barely nod my head: yes. Sammy, still holding me, revealed that he had seen us watching him hit his wife often, by saying: "I see youse guys looking at me and Sonia. Youse guys gotta know it ain't right to hit a woman. But Sonia – she's different. Youse guys sees – I loves her, she's mine wife, mine love, so I gotta hits her sometimes, to make her better. See?"

I didn't, but nodded "yes" anyway, scared that he might start making me "better" right there in the street. It was the weirdest, dumbest, wrong and possibly most evil thing I had heard until then: I love my wife, so I beat her, but only her, not other women.

For years I thought that only a dumb, uneducated carpenter could say such a thing. But recently I saw the exact same thing from a couple of Jewish professors who professed to be "lifelong Zionists". They wrote that they loved Israel, but Israel, the wayward love, isn't listening to their advice. Therefore they're calling for a boycott of Israel to force Israel to do something that a majority of Israelis think is not only utterly stupid – but dangerous, too.

That's love? Hey – they can't even hide behind the "I'm just an illiterate dumb carpenter" excuse!

So – keep your love to yourself and your hands in your pockets!

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