68. Nathan Lensky, Pharmacist

“Nope, not me.”

Nathan’s parents wanted him to be a doctor. It was not for him. To please them, after getting a degree in Philosophy, he went to pharmacy school. His Uncle Reuven had a pharmacy in a very nice part of town. Reuven had no sons, only daughters. And, back then, the Lensky family did not think a daughter should be in a business or in a profession, except to find a husband. So, the plan was that Nathan would eventually take over Uncle Reuven’s pharmacy and buy Reuven out. That plan went up in smoke when the big chain pharmacies began to move in. A year after Nathan graduated from pharmacy school, Reuven was out of business and he and Nathan were doing shifts in a chain drug store, filling prescriptions on a production line basis. Not what Nathan’s parents could have wished but, at least, they said, a decent profession.   So, the next thing was that Nathan was supposed to find a nice girl, get married, and start giving his parents grandchildren. But Nathan didn’t seem interested. Everyone was worried that he was gay. He wasn’t. He was deeply, clinically depressed. This was not the life Nathan wanted. He hated the store he worked in. He hated filling one prescription after another. He hated the customers. And one day, it all became too much for him. He did not show up for work. He did not answer his phone or respond to text messages. His mother heard about this from Reuven and got worried. She called Nathan and got no response. She went to Nathan’s apartment. She rang the doorbell. No answer. Then, she banged on the door. No answer. And then, genuinely scared, she called the police and told them to break down the door. They found Nathan. He was in bed, surrounded by stacks of books. Nathan had been reading. Nathan’s mother got a little crazy and started to scream: “Get up, Nathan. What do you think you are doing? Embarrassing your family. Lying in bed. Reading!” Nathan turned and said quietly, “Nope. Not me. No, I won’t get up. Get out of my house and leave me alone.” The cops apologized to Nathan about the door and escorted his now hysterical mother out while getting her an ambulance. Nathan went back to reading. He was polite to the psychiatrist they sent to talk to him but told him to go away. He did the same to the rabbi they sent. It was – as his father put it – “a fine how-do-you-do.” Some weeks later, they found a new tenant living in Nathan’s apartment. Nathan had gone. As if he never was. 

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