The story starts just after Depeche Mode finished its headlining set. I was walking away from the stage and back towards my hotel when a girl I'd never seen before ran up to me.
"Are you Jewish?" she asked.
It just so happens I am. So that's what I said. But by way of weirdness, I should add that I don't wear a yarmulke or tzizit or payis or a Star of David necklace or have a chai tattoo or display any other obvious signifier of Judaism.
Anyway, after I said that she had correctly guessed my religion, this girl, who was wearing glasses, a white tank top, jeans and had her shoulder-length brown hair tied back in a ponytail, asked me why it is that Jewish people have sex through holes in bed sheets. (For whatever reason, the myth that ultra-Orthodox Jews do that is still floating around.)
I told her that Jews didn't, in fact, do that. She seemed disappointed by my answer.
Then she asked whether or not I knew that because Jews don't marry outside their faith, there is a higher instance of retardation among Jewish babies.
I'm not making this up.
"I don't think that's true," I replied. "And if you're trying to be funny, it's not really working."
I didn't see anyone watching us, so I don't think that someone was putting the girl up to whatever it was she was doing. And because she seemed sober and--if we ignore the content of what she was saying--relatively well-spoken, I figured that maybe she was trying to be dumbly provocative rather than straight-up anti-Semitic.
But rather than find out for sure, I told her our conversation was over and that I was leaving.
She said, "Okay, Jew," and skipped away. I wanted to clock her.
The sheer randomness of the encounter (A complete stranger picked me out of a crowd? At a music festival? In Chicago?) left me feeling more confused than upset or angry. It was easily the oddest thing that's ever happened to me at a rock show--or maybe anywhere.
Have you ever had anything like that (or even just anything similarly befuddling) happen to you at a show? I hope not. But if you have, tell us your story in the comments section.
See more at www.spin.com
SPIN's 20 Best Albums of 2009 http://www.spin.com/gallery/20-best-albums-2009-so-far
Search 1,400 Album Reviews http://www.spin.com/reviews