15 September 1987

Parents, Ira and Martha, decline to raise allowance from 3 to 5 dollars a week. It’s now very clear they are becoming more and more bourgeois each day. How else can you explain that nasty incident at Macy’s last week when, while shopping for a nice shirt for cousin Ari’s bar mitzvah, Martha questioned the rationale of putting two security guards near the escalator? “I don’t know what they are so worried about; it’s not like we’re going to steal anything,” she sneered. Of course, though, she is stealing something: the soul and dignity of the working man.

And, at this point, Ira delighted in the fact that the store was now open until 10 p.m. instead of closing at 8 p.m. I instantly saw this as another vindication of the capitalist’s attempts to shortchange the proletariat and ran away, yelling, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” A big scene was made, but I quickly recovered in the women’s lingerie section.

Mother retrieved me from a dressing room an hour later—I was lecturing a janitor, a small child, the cosmetics girl, and six mannequins—and took me straight home without the traditional stopover at the Dairy Queen. Nietzsche, I’m afraid, was right: “Aber dies: den Tod, den ganzen Tod, noch vor dem Leben so sanft zu enthalten und nicht bös zu sein, ist unbeschreiblich,” which I believe loosely translates to “Give them [the people] ice cream and they will behave.” (I have so much to learn!)

No ice cream tonight, and I thirst for the blood of the land-owning elite. I will dream of purges and pistachio nut cream. Communism and cookies-and-cream: Delish!

17 September 1987

I’m now certain this conflict over the allowance is just another attempt to minimize their expenditure and keep my surplus value at a maximum. I discussed this over video games with Bernie (hereafter referred to as “Vlad”; his parents finally consented to that name change), and he had a similar argument with his parents: Mr. and Mrs. Shapiro did not approve the mohawk, the smaller quota of homework hours, or the allowance raise. How typical. Teenagers of the world unite!

20 September 1987

Vlad and I got into quite an argument yesterday afternoon while baking hammer-and-sickle gingersnaps. When will the revolution come? Vlad, being the quixotic dreamer that he is, naively foresaw total revolution before his first sexual experience.

(A quick run of the numbers: Vlad is 15 years, three months. An unknown glandular problem puts him just under 5 feet. Now, considering his high-school graduation coincides with puberty, and that Marxism retains its inherent sexiness among coeds into the 1990s, Vlad will lose it just before 21. The specter of communism in Peoria by 1993? Come on.)

Of course, I disagreed: there’s no way we’ll have a total dictatorship by the proletariat until Gorbachev does something about that birthmark. Sheesh, I know Marx was no looker, but talk about an eyesore. How are the world’s downtrodden supposed to rally behind this cartoon of a communist—something straight out of a Ben Shahn painting? All hail the Revolution! All hail cosmetic surgery!

22 September 1987

Relations with parents quickly worsening. I wonder if I can ever forgive father for moving out of the vanguard of the revolution by becoming an attorney. What if it comes tomorrow? We will surely be purged. Oh, I wish I had Vlad’s parents! Mr. Shapiro, an electrician, would make a great father and a great Comintern member.

As noted, cousin Ari’s bar mitzvah was this weekend, and went by without the putsch I had expected. It seemed as if there was enough red wine to ignite rebellion: it would work to inebriate, of course, as well as to remind all of my family’s effete ex-socialists of the worker blood spilt by the capitalists. Nothing happened.

(There was the Electric Slide, which is, at least, a rebellion against good taste. I think it was the great thinker Melnick, in fact—who, among other things, discovered worker exploitation in termite communities—who presciently foretold the revolution in Russia based on an increasing recalcitrance toward the Charlie Brown at Muscovite get-togethers before 1917.)

Snuck away with an older cousin for my first experience with marijuana. Spoke about our general religious apathy. He found my comments on “religion as the opiate of the masses” entertaining and not at all derivative (I hope). Passed out after second hit and awoke with a drawing of a penis on my left cheek. At least it’s in red permanent marker.

24 September 1987

Embarrassing incident in school today—the red penis of social revolution (I added the final bit to cast it as a self-imposed political statement) has cost me a date with Emily Danzmiller to the freshmen dance. If only I could grow a beard like a good socialist!

Who am I kidding? I’m too principled for licentiousness like that. Name me one social revolutionary who hasn’t been totally sexually repressed. Vlad has a theory for this that he’s working into a paper: “Waiting for Justice: Revolution and Autoeroticism.” He’s a very brilliant boy. He’s trying to finish his Marxist erotic novel before he begins driving school. I wish him luck.

25 September 1987

Free association for the perfect Marxist sex joke to tell at next Youth Comintern: Boy, I’d love to be her substructure. She can be my superstructure any day. That structure is super. I’d like my substructure to underlie her superstructure. These are all bad. If only I had Stalin’s gift for socialist humor, as seen in his unjustly obscure plays: A Gulag for Gogol and Three Cheers for Agriculture!

I got it! I’d never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member. Wait, my mistake: that’s a Marx joke, not a Marxist joke.

28 September 1987

Awoke suddenly last night following a terrible nightmare. I dreamt the Kaiser taught my history class and wouldn’t let me interpret every event as a Marxist struggle. I was rendered completely unable to monopolize class discussion; points with Emily surely lost. Additionally, the Kaiser began to taunt me with his hat. Those imperial frills and feathers shake eerily to his song-and-dance number against Serbian self-determination. Despair.

29 September 1987

Father came abruptly into my room and demanded I get a job. Idea sounds like a typical attempt to lure me into the web of capitalist exploitation. (Remember last summer’s attempt? “Max, you’re getting braces and learning how to operate a loom,” he told me, just before Hebrew school.) I refused, and was promptly beaten with my lacrosse trophy. I awoke hours later. Freshly drawn red penis on my right cheek.