Articles of Faith

“Man of the Year”

by Steven Stark


(CNS News) There is only “one known Jewish resident” still living in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department. That is despite the fact that Jews have lived in Afghanistan for nearly three millennia, and had a local population that was 40,000 strong as of the mid-1800s  . . . .


I am happy to accept this award as the Man of the Year 5772, awarded by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Afghanistan, in conjunction with the Kabul Bnai Brith.

Please, hold your applause.

I am unworthy of this honor, as well as the “Fiddler on the Roof” trophy you have bestowed upon me.

I’m glad it was unanimous. (Laughter)

I’m also honored this morning to announce a cease-fire between three of the bitter factions here in our homeland.

I’m referring, of course, to the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. (Laughter)

By the way, what do you call a piece of sandpaper in Afghanistan?
A map.

And, what do you call an Afghani with his hand up a camel’s behind?

A mechanic.

Now that we’ve got the serious stuff out of the way (laughter), there’s an old Yiddish saying:

“אויב איר טאָן ניט עסן קנאָבל, איר וועט נישט שמעקן שלעכט.”

It means, of course, “If you don’t eat garlic, you won’t smell bad.”

The learned rabbi who coined that proverb had obviously never been to Afghanistan.

But my friends, we have.

Next year in Jerusalem. Or, actually, anywhere but here.



“In Which a Titanic Crew Member Loses His Cool at St. Peter’s Gate”

by Natalie Grant


Yes, hello — Butterworth, comma, John. Who am I with? I’m here with all the rest of these frozen idiots. Look at me, I have icicles dangling from my nostrils. I have snotcicles. That’s not a fashion statement. Really, Pete?

Occupation — Saloon Steward. Of course you don’t know what that is. No one does. I don’t even know. I lurk around tubby grannies in that massive room with the glass bubble for a ceiling, bringing them replacement cutlery and making sure they’re still satisfied with all their pearls and vino and superfluous cash.

Whoa whoa, hang on — why are you letting those two broads in ahead of me? I’ve been waiting all morning, for Pete’s sake! For your sake! Who the hell do they think they are? I mean, not to sound childish here, but last time I checked it was no cuts no buts no coconuts. I’m cold, I’m exhausted, and frankly I’m a bit miffed about this whole gender-based ranking system we seem to have going on here. She popped out a kid and suddenly she’s got an all-access pass to paradise? You’ve been letting chicks by me all day, man! This is bullcrap.

And now three more?! Okay, that’s it. I’ve officially had it. Shit’s going down, buddy, right here right now. Going down like an unsinkable ship.

Womb privilege, that’s what this is! This whole “women and children first” thing is a pain in my ass. Literally. Have you ever tried to stay alive for almost three hours while being stomped on, shoved around and shrieked at, all while balancing sideways on a non-horizontal deck covered in puddles and razor-sharp chunks of ice, attempting to do your duty and maintain something resembling order, knowing full well the arbitrary nature and utter irony of telling people to remain calm while a fifty-thousand-ton object is falling apart all over them? Eh? And then keep afloat in thirty-degree water until you lose consciousness, while a bunch of mommies and their spawn suck lollipops and stare at you from the safety of half-filled lifeboats as if to say, ha-ha, we have wombs and/or recently emerged from one, we have womb privilege? Watching them kick back while you suffocate in water so unbelievably cold you forget that you actually are just a few hundred miles south of Nova fucking Scotia?

What do you mean fair is fair? Like chicks can’t swim? They don’t have legs or something? I mean, I get it, save the uteri so we can continue to procreate our species and all that — if we were the last remaining humans, so be it, but we aren’t, are we?

Say what? Irrelevant, you say?!

Gimme that book, dickhead. The big one with all the names. Right, here we are. So… we got half the kids rescued, and three out of every four women, and — surprise, surprise — one out of every five men. 20%. I mean, Christ. By this count, our odds of survival are worse than that of a blind penguin with Down syndrome. Are you telling me my survival odds are only slightly better than a disabled flightless bird’s? I mean, Christ.

Guess that makes me part of the 80%. Our voices WILL be heard! Occupy St. Peter’s! OCCUPY ST. PETER’S! We are the 80%! Let’s get some picket signs here, pronto. Who’s with me? Who’s–

— hey, excuse me, miss, I’ve been waiting. Yeah, there’s a line here. A queue. “Where?” Are you for real? See this big mob of people lined up who all want the same thing as you? No amount of curtsying or eyelash-batting is gonna get you inside these gates before me, okay lady. Hey! Hey wait! INJUSTICE! THERE’S AN INJUSTICE HAPPENING HERE! ANYONE? DOES NO ONE SEE THIS BUT ME?

Come on Petey, you gotta work with me here. How can you justify this? So I was born with a schlong — my bad, apparently — and yet suffering through a terrifying, lonely, tortuous drawn-out death isn’t enough? Still I gotta wait? I feel like holding us dudes responsible for millennia of sexist societal structures is just blaming the victim here.

OI! GET BACK IN LINE! Don’t touch me! Mister St. Peter did you see that? Did you? She deliberately shoved me! What’s that, Sir?

…Did you just say, “Women and children first?” Did you just say that to me? That’s funny, I could have sworn you just said WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST!!

Screw this. I’m outta here. Yeah I’m aware that I don’t know exactly what’s at the bottom of those stairs, but I hear hell is pretty toasty, and frankly I’d rather suffer for all eternity than spend one more minute standing out here in this meta-anti-postmodern-postmortem shitshow. Come on, 80%! Follow me! We’re leaving! You spoiled bitches can have paradise all to yourselves. You and your pearls and vino and cash and shameless womb-having are, it seems, more worthy than the likes of us – we crew members who were simply doing an honest day’s work by sacrificing our lives for shitty pay and no benefits, other than prematurely meeting a brutal demise.

And I’m taking Wally and the band of steadfast musicians too. Not gonna be the last ones standing this time, eh? Plus I could use a bit of Wagner or something, I’m feeling quite tense now that I’m thinking about how my human rights were violated at the workplace. Petey, if you need us, we’ll be downstairs, playing our violins and violas nostalgically until the ship of discrimination-disguised-as-chivalry goes down in flames.

Gentlemen, I bid you farewell.



Natalie is a writer and journalist living in San Francisco or wherever she happens to be right now. She does have a womb but tries not to abuse womb privilege, especially when escaping large oceanic transportation vessels or entering the gates of paradise. You can stalk her here or here.


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