Zofia Stirs Up Trouble (Zapf Elliptical)

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Font: Zapf Elliptical 711 BT

Chapter: “Zofia Stirs Up Trouble”

Book: Newark Love Story

Written: 2007

File format: AppleWorks

Computer created on: 2004 eMac

Last year’s A to Z theme started with Allen and ended with Zofia, so it’s kind of fitting that this year’s theme is also bookended by them. Zofia is such an entitled, delusional, often mean-spirited bitch, like Anastasiya, but that’s part of what makes her so fun to write. I can predict exactly what she’s going to do, say, or think even before she does it.

Zofia is a young Shoah survivor, born in Warsaw in 1931, but that doesn’t give her carte blanche to do whatever she wants. Not everyone who survived was a saint. It would be beyond inaccurate to depict every single survivor as a good, moral, loving person. Zofia certainly didn’t earn her own survival. Her sister Maria saved her ass on more than one occasion.

It’s now February 1952, and the Roblensky siblings have come to Newark for third-born Jozef’s wedding to Svetlana Juric. Svetlana, who survived the brutal Croatian Ustashi camp Jasenovac with her mother and four sisters, was raped a number of times and later slept with a number of the sadistic overlords to save her family from deportation and to get them better rations. Jozef knows she was an innocent victim and did it to protect her loved ones, but Zofia is convinced Svetlana is a whore and is horrified Jozef is marrying her. In the wake of this discovery, Zofia is even more of a troublemaker than usual and acts up so much she’s eventually barred from the wedding.

Some highlights:

“This must be Zofia.” Mrs. Juric took a long hard look at the third-oldest Roblenska sister in her low-cut skintight blue blouse and a skirt coming up well past her knees.

Zofia would have no part in traipsing around a city she didn’t even know.  After fifteen minutes, she whined that her feet were tired and headed back to the empty apartment.  She went into Dalibor’s room, shut the door, picked up the latest issue of Life, and started reading.  An hour later she heard her brother and his fiancée coming into the apartment but didn’t give herself away.  When they went into another room and shut the door, she slipped off her high heels and skulked off to listen in at the door.

“Welcome to our family,” Elizabeth gushed. “We’re so glad to be adding another sister, particularly one who might soon be making us aunts and uncles.  And according to Jozek, you’re quite the intellectual.  I love a woman who isn’t afraid to be smart and who likes things like museums, art, and literature.”

“How can you marry this woman, Jozek?” Zofia began crying. “If only our parents knew their second-oldest son would grow up to marry a whore.”

“I listened at the door, Jozef.  You didn’t know I was in the house when you came in.  I’m so ashamed and embarrassed that you want to marry a whore, let alone a whore who willingly copulated with the enemy.”

Jozef slapped her so hard her jaw ached. “First of all, only God has the right to judge.  Second, this woman is going to be my wife and your sister-in-law, so you had better respect her.  Third, you had no right to be eavesdropping on our personal conversation.  I am your older brother and you need to respect me and my future wife.”

“How dare you strike me!” Zofia was in shock from anyone standing up to her with more than words. “And who are you to tell me what to do?  You no longer even live in our house, and you’re only two years my elder!  Hoch mir nicht ken chaynik!”

He slapped her even harder across the other side of her face. “Any more questions, you pathetic inhuman excuse for life?  I swear to God, Mania should’ve left you behind in the bunker!  Get out of this house right now unless you want me to do something even worse to you!”

“Don’t worry, whatever it is, I’ll accept your wife no matter what,” Elizabeth said. “As we all know, I’m not a virgin myself and don’t intend to keep that a secret from my eventual husband.”

“That’s just what she told me,” Maria nodded. “Don’t worry, we’ll accept them as our nieces and nephews.  We won’t have any doubt that Jozef is the father, though Zosia is welcome to live in a land of unreality.”

This afternoon she was dressed even more scandalously, in a mink-edged pink silk blouse showing more than cleavage, green suede heels even higher and spikier than her other pair, red fishnets, heavier makeup, and a black leather skirt well above her fingertips.

“Special as in modest, demure, and classy?  You dress like a prostitute most of the time anyway, so why should tomorrow night be any different?” Jadwiga asked.

Zofia stalked out of the room offended, still wearing her scandalous clothes.  Nobody else in their party would let her in their rooms either, so she resorted to sleeping on a pile of towels in the laundry room, uncaring she was putting clean towels onto the dirty floor.

At 6:30, Zofia was discovered.  She was outraged to be jerked awake by a bunch of angry maids and the hotel manager, who thought she was a prostitute, a thief, or someone who’d tried to be cute by staying overnight without paying.  In her exhausted huff, she gave Samuel’s name.

Samuel was irate when he was called down to the laundry room, before he could even get dressed or say the morning prayers with his little brothers, just to positively identity Zofia.

“Mania really should’ve left you for the Nazis to find and finish off.  I have nothing further to say to you.” Samuel dropped her onto the floor like a limp ragdoll and stalked away. “And don’t be surprised if, when we get home, you’re suddenly asked to move out.”

Daphne and Rózsika (Didot)

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Warning: Contains some mature language.

(Quick note: I’ve bolded this post because Didot is a little light on the eyes.)

Font: Didot

Developed: 1784-1811

Chapter: “Daphne and Rózsika”

Book: Cinnimin

Written: 10 June-18 August 2009

Handwritten

This is Part LII (52) of my magnum opus, at least per the current table of contents. (I now strongly suspect I’ll need to add a lot more to Saga I, the Forties, when I finally transcribe and begin editing and rewriting. Now that I’ve permanently shelved the WTCOAC series and will be significantly restructuring some of the earlier Max’s House books, I have much more free reign to show Cinni’s life in the late Forties, and the full development of her romance with Levon in 1942-43. Those things are just WAY too rushed in the original.)

I wrote this in a 100-page college-ruled notebook, and it’s one of the longer Parts of Cinnimin. Some Parts are more like short stories, long episodes, or novelettes, but this is one of the ones I feel could stand on its own as an actual book. It’s from Saga VI, the Nineties, one of my favorite Sagas to write. Though the older characters continue to prominently feature, I’m primarily writing about peers who grew up at the same time I did. I’m not doing historical research, I’m writing about events I actually lived through and remember.

It’s set from 8 March-6 August 1998, and so much happens over those months. It presents two cautionary tales about two teen couples who think they know so much better than everyone else about their respective situations. One story has a happy ending, the other a not so happy ending that only gets worse later on.

Cinni’s 16-year-old granddaughter Rózsika recently began having sex with her longtime boyfriend Walter. They’ve been caught by a number of their cousins and friends, and keep insisting that going unprotected won’t hurt.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Daphne is blazing ahead with her unpopular plans to marry her longtime boyfriend Berus. Even people who used to be on her side turn against her as her behavior gets worse and worse. 

Some of the many highlights (avoiding any spoilers):

Ernestine walked into her brothers’ room to retrieve a book she had lent John. What she didn’t expect to find was Rózsika bouncing up and down on top of Walter, both of them completely naked. Her shriek made both of them abruptly stop and dash under the covers, grabbing for their clothes.

“Are you really into the whole marriage thing, or are you just gung-ho for the fairy princess wedding and the chance to have sex without feeling guilty?” Phoebe asked.

“This isn’t funny,” Walter insisted. “And you two made me lose my erection.”

Daphne could hear their conversation from the airvent upstairs and was boiling. “Who the hell do they think they are? In two months, I’m going to be Mrs. Berus Amichai Roblensky, and they won’t be able to do anything about it then.”

[Spoken by Kit, of course] “The rig ain’t a homing pigeon. You have to guide it in.”

“Ew, Daphne must think all teen girls have the same lousy taste in music as she does.” Phoebe held up a Backstreet Boys CD. “I hope you kept the receipt so I can exchange it for something more to my liking.”

“This is Samuel Roblensky. I’m sorry to disturb your evening, but your granddaughter Daphne and my nephew Berus thought it would be neat to let themselves into my house while Filipa and I were away, help themselves to my food, and throw their dirty towels on my couch after they came back from the beach.”

“I can’t be expected to love him the same way you love Grandpa. I love him the way any girl my age loves her boyfriend, even when he humiliated me in public with that tiny cheap-ass cubic zirconia.”

“I’d recommend the Hitachi,” Juliet smiled. “It’s like ten thousand men at once.”

“Why are we being serenaded by CDs of MTV pop acts?” Kit asked. “If they wanted mixed CDs instead of a band or deejay, at least they could’ve chosen upscale adult wedding music!”

“There are five positions?” Karyn asked. “I thought there were only like two or three.”

[Spoken by Violet about her lifelong rival Kit] “I called her an old slut, not old in general. Anyone who’s this age and still bragging about her sexual exploits, giving X-rated advice, and sharing her entire sexual history is a slut. Damn, I hope I never share blood with that woman.”

Daphne reached for a bottle of alcoholic lemonade in the fridge. “The marriage formula of yore worked perfectly. Do you even care the doctor they gave me was my great-uncle Sammy? I’ll never be able to look him in the face again.”

“It was so humiliating, Grandma! He said I had no hymen or cysts or anything, but he couldn’t even examine me with the smallest instrument! He told me I just needed to drink wine and relax.”

[Describing Daphne’s efficiency apartment] Kit had been right. It was twice the size of that tiny stateroom in A Night at the Opera.

Zofia

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Name: Zofia Roblenska Kohl

Date of birth: 1931

Place of birth: Warsaw, Poland

Year I created her: 1995

Role: Secondary main character, antagonist

My dear Zofia, how I love to hate you. She’s a different type of Shoah survivor than my belovèd Grumpy Bear Kálmán. Zofia is completely unchanged by her experience, and remains superficial, stuck-up, selfish, and mean-spirited. Even now that she’s in her sixties, she’s still a bitch, superficial, and dressing inappropriately. Most recently, she had her ass handed to her for her odious behavior and comments at her great-niece Morgana’s bat mitzvah, and she and her equally-repellent husband Kurt just went back to their hotel and sulked at the indoor pool, instead of feeling any sense of remorse.

Zofia is kind of like Anastasiya in my Russian novels—sure she’s an antagonist, but she’s not an evil type of antagonist, and she’s fun to write because of how predictable her behavior is. And don’t we all know stuck-up mean girls like that, who think the Sun shines out of their asses while hypocritically trying to condemn other people for things she only half-understands? And since I have quite a few Shoah characters, it’s nice to have a number of different types of people among them.

Zofia is always rotten to the core, no matter what happens to her. Not every Shoah survivor can be a saint, after all. It would be intellectually dishonest to make all my Shoah characters as sweet as Marie or as daring as Lazarus.

Here are some typical Zofia scenes and lines:

“I don’t understand why we have to take the boys with us,” Zofia began whining in German. “Girls are always more useful during wartime.  They’re not going to get drafted or be suspected of being circumcised or just get in the way.  Why can’t we just leave these three behind in the train station and let them fend for themselves?”

“Why is he so special?  We all went through the same thing!  All we had to do was be smart.  The stupid, uneducated, depressed types were the ones who didn’t survive.”

***

“This must be Zofia.” Mrs. Juric took a long, hard look at the third-oldest Roblenska sister in her low-cut skintight blue blouse and a skirt coming up well past her knees.

“Yes, don’t I look like a model?  All my dates complement me on my gorgeous body.  May I have some breakfast?”

“We just ate on the train,” Samuel warned her.

“I can always eat again.  Is the wedding going to be held here?  An apartment is no place for a wedding.”

“Jozek told us it would be at his new shul.  Don’t you ever pay attention?”

“I know it’s not very nice weather yet, but maybe you’d like to walk around the neighborhood.  By the time you come back here, Jozef and Svetlana will also be back, and you can meet your new sister-in-law.  I have errands to run, so you might as well meet back here in two hours.”

Zofia would have no part in traipsing around a city she didn’t even know.  After fifteen minutes, she whined that her feet were tired and headed back to the empty apartment.  She went into Dalibor’s room, shut the door, picked up the latest issue of Life, and started reading.  An hour later she heard her brother and his fiancée coming in but didn’t give herself away.  When they went into another room and shut the door, she slipped off her high heels and skulked off to listen in at the door.

***

Zofia had run out into the street, hobbling along in her high heels, which she’d insisted on bringing in lieu of more sensible shoes.  Everyone on the street was staring at her scandalous outfit and heavy makeup.  It seemed as though a thousand years had passed before she found Samuel standing outside Jozef’s apartment.

“Samueleh, you go back to that woman’s apartment and you inform Jozek that he’s no right to slap me not once but twice and presume to tell me he can tell me what to do when he’s only two years my senior!  He hit me so hard, across both sides of my face, that I’m surprised he didn’t break my jaws or dislocate any teeth!”

“Someone as mild-mannered as Jozek hit you?  Wow, you must’ve been even worse than usual and done something extraordinary to provoke him.”

“I asked him why he was marrying a whore who bedded down with the enemy and told him I’d found this out by eavesdropping on them.  I went back to the apartment, but they didn’t know I was there.  And he still wants to marry this prostitute.  Unbelievable.”

“You dared to say such a base mean thing to my dearest brother and his betrothed?  You’ve sunk to a new low.”

“Just ask him.  He’ll confirm she was a whore.”

“Look how you’re dressed, idiot.  You look like a call girl.  I’ll probably go back and be told by Jozef that you badly misinterpreted something like only your diseased mind is capable of doing.  Why in the name of God did you of all people get to survive, while good people like our mother and Tante Mila were slaughtered?”

***

Elizabeth watched Zofia very closely as Morgana reached down the lectern for the pages of her speech. Her one-year-younger sister, as plump as ever, was wearing a tight low-cut black satin top, a short orange skirt, red hose, green spike heels, and heavy green eyemakeup and berry lipstick. The outfit looked as horrible on her 67-year-old self as it had when she’d worn those trashy outfits as a younger woman. A surly and bored expression was on her face, making her look even more unattractive. Kurt, three years her senior, looked just as bored and obnoxious. Elizabeth wished both of them could be divorced out of the family as easily as Raphaela had been.

***

Zofia was almost falling asleep as the rabbi praised Morgana’s speech and gave her the standard bat mitzvah gifts. She read a fashion magazine during the remainder of the service and then bolted to the bathroom as soon as the end finally came.

She was redoing her makeup as more women started coming in and forming a line. With Elizabeth at the head of the line, she jumped at the chance to express her disgust with her older sister.

“So, Elza, how does it feel knowing your own granddaughter publicly exposed you as a whore and your real firstborn child as a mamzer?”

Elizabeth grabbed her arm, turning her sharply around, and used her other hand to slap her so hard Zofia thought she’d popped a blood vessel.

***

Zofia picked herself up and brushed past her brothers in the hallway, fuming and humiliated. Kurt rushed over to join her and gave his in-laws annoyed looks as they walked out. Once on the street, Zofia was catcalled by several men and felt proud of herself for still attracting male attention. She planned to put on her yellow string bikini and go to the indoor pool as soon as they got back to the hotel.