Philip Roth

For these are the girls whose older brothers are the engaging, good-natured, confident, clean, swift, and powerful halfbacks for the college football teams called Northwestern and Texas Christian and UCLA. Their fathers are men with white hair and deep voices who never use double negatives, and their mothers the ladies with the kindly smiles and the wonderful manners who say things like, “I do believe, Mary, that we sold thirty-five cakes at the Bake Sale.” “Don't be too late, dear,” they sing out sweetly to their little tulips as they go bouncing off in their bouffant taffeta dresses to the Junior Prom with boys whose names are right out of the grade-school reader, not Aaron and Arnold and Marvin, but Johnny and Billy and Jimmy and Tod. Not Portnoy or Pincus, but Smith and Jones and Brown! These people are the Americans, Doctor-like Henry Aldrich and Homer, like the Great Gildersleeve and his nephew LeRoy, like Corliss and Veronica, like “Oogie Pringle” who gets to sing beneath Jane Powell's window trin A Date with Judy – these are the people for whom Nat “King” Cole sings every Christmastime, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose . . . An open fire, in my house? No, no, theirs are the noses whereof he speaks. Not his flat black one or my long bumpy one, but those tiny bridgeless wonders whose nostrils point northward automatically at birth. And stay that way for life! These are the children from the coloring books come to life, the children they mean on the signs we pass in Union, New Jersey, that say CHILDREN AT PLAY and DRIVE CAREFULLY, WE LOVE OUR CHILDREN — these are the girls and boys who live “next door”, the kids who are always asking for the “the jalopy” and getting into “jams” and then out of them again in time for the final commercial — the kids whose neighbors aren't the Silversteins and the Landaus, but Fibber McGee and Molly, and Ozzie and Harriet, and Ethel and Albert, and Lorenzo Jones and his wife Bell, and Jack Armstrong! Jack Armstrong, the All-American Goy!– and Jack as in John, not Jack as in Jake, like my father . . . . Look, we ate our meals with that radio blaring away right through to the dessert, the glow of the yellow station band is the last light I see each night before sleep — so don't tell me we're just as good as anybody else, don't tell me we're Americans just like they are. No, no, these blond-haired Christians are the legitimate residents and owners of this place, and they can pump any song they want into the streets and no one is going to stop them either. O America! America!

Portnoy's Complaint, (New York: Random House , 1969), p. 144-145

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