Walther Matthau as Nat in the film I’m Not Rappaport
The movie, starring Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis, was based on the Tony-award winning play by Herb Gardner, which starred Cleavon Little and Judd Hirsch on Broadway. Here’s Nat’s speech from the play. I actually like the quote from the play better, with "alterations," since it makes more sense, like a Jewish tailor using sewing terms to say "the truth don’t fit."
Not lies – (sits upright on bench) Alterations! I make certain alterations. Sometimes the truth don’t fit; I take in here, I let it out there, till it fits. The truth? What’s true is a triple By-Pass last year at Lenox Hill. what’s true is Grade Z cuts of meat from the A. and P., a Social Security check that wouldn’t pay the rent for a chipmunk; what’s true is going to the back door of the Plaza Hotel every morning for yesterday’s club-rolls, I tell them it’s for the pigeons. I’m the pigeon. Six minutes dead is true – (takes bunch of pages from briefcase) here, Dr. Reissman’s bills; here’s my phone number, call him. A fact. And that was my last fact. Since then, alterations. Since I died, a new policy! This morning I tell the counterman at Nedick’s I’m an American Indian. An Iroquois. He listens; next thing I know I’m remembering the old days on the plains, the broken treaties, my Grandpa fighting the Cavalry. Not important he’s convinced; I am, and I love it. I was one person for eighty-one years, why not a hundred for the next five?!