True story: I played Bananagrams* for the first time recently, and one time when the winning player was reading off his board, he tried to hide one of the words, saying, “It’s a bad word.” When forced, he uncovered it — the word was “cum” — and his mother (!) did not appreciate it. I, however, pointed out, that it didn’t have to be dirty. Point is, get your this-title-reading mind out of the gutter, you perv.
Essay, or Blabbermouthery
I left the house in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon with my mother, Sara; younger sister, Melody (age 20); mother’s husband, Ira; and stepbrothers, Josh (16) and Brian (13). I was scheduled to be on the 5:05 Alitalia flight, and they were flying Virgin at 6:00. The cab-van dropped me off at my terminal, and I did all the airport stuff, pretty much hassle-free (just like the Platinum One card!). And then I got to the gate…
Long story short, the flight was delayed a few hours — I made the connection in Rome, but the luggage didn’t. Until the following Sunday night. (The Turkish Air flight of my sister Grace (age 25) was delayed and then canceled, which was kind of suckier but kind of not.)
I got to Jerusalem via sherut (group-cab, lit., service) – I hadn’t been to Israel in two years to that point – and visited a few friends in the Old City (henceforth, at least occasionally, “The City that is Ancient”), looking out at but not approaching the Western Wall (henceforth, also occasionally, “The Wall that is Westerly” or “The Wall that Doth Wail”).
I then walked to the hotel in downtown Jerusalem (henceforth, “J-town”) where my family would be staying, checked in on my own, washed some of my clothing by hand (I’m gross, I know), hung it up to dry, met some other friends at a restaurant down the street – don’t ask how I was dressed; it’s complicated – ate their fries, faux-danced in my seat to Israeli radio, walked with them to the place my family was having dinner, ate some kind of steak wrap, took a walk, and returned to the hotel. When conditions were right – the lighting, the music, the mood – I washed up and went to bed.
The following morning, Friday, the day before Shabbat, we arose from our repose and enjoyed a pretty weak breakfast, and then headed to our scheduled City of David tour. (The 3-D video was pretty cool, but 3-D is kind of lame at this point, isn’t it?) Melody and I left early on, so I could buy lots of clothes: I was at that point wearing Brian’s socks, boxer shorts (get over it, guys), and t-shirt, and I wouldn’t manage through Shabbat on that plus the clothing I had worn on my flight. So, much was bought and much was spent. Guten zeiten were had by all.
That evening I walked to the Wall that Doth Wail, situated in the City that is Ancient, where many groupings of people recited the Acceptance of the Sabbath. I saw Keith, an old friend now studying and working in Israel, which was solid,** as sightings of, and interactions with, Keith tend to be. (Luckily, I bumped into him again the following night, so I could get his number — you know how it is, you flirt on your own time, not on God’s time.) Later on, after dinner at our hotel, instead of reading the DFW essay I had, I ended up talking to an increasingly intoxicated Birthright-er. It was fun, sorta. And not so stimulating, sorta.
On Shabbat day I compleeeeeeeetely slept through the services of the Dawn (fem.), ate lunch with the family plus Melody’s boyfriend Matan, took a nap (yup), walked with the latter two to the apartment of our friend Rivky’s sister Tzippy.*** That night, I met up with friends who were studying in the City that is Ancient. We ate on Emek Refaim. That turned into chilling**** with camp friends I bumped into, which turned into meeting a camp friend, her sister, and her sister’s boyfriend. I love chai lattes. It’s a fact.
But not as much as I love Mountain Dew. Are you ready for this? Basically, the first night I happened to find a store that sold Mountain Dew. In my experience, Israel didn’t have the Dew. Israel was Duden-rein. (Too soon?) But then it wasn’t. My sense of the possible had been warped in a way it had never been warped before. I started looking for it everywhere, hoping against hope, wishing against wish, aspiring against aspiration, that I would find it again. Alas, alarum, and alabaster, I did not succeed. Was it better to have Dewed and lost than if I had never Dewed at all? Mmm, hard questions and harder answers.
The following few days were spent mostly with the fam, crisscrossing, ticktocking, and kingkonging the country in the quest for excitement and lunacy, intrigue and piracy, awesomeness and privacy. The final adventure was Papagaio, the Brazilian-meat, all-you-can-eat restaurant in Herzliyah. Eizeh wai wai!*****
Then I was outside of Bar-Ilan University, then inside the Hebrew University, then out and about, then in Jerusalem all the way through Sunday morning, then on the way to, and then in, Tel Aviv on Sunday, where I ultimately met up with the group whose doings and seeings are the reason for this here little blog. On this more later.
Notes, and Further Ridiculousness
* FYI: Bananagrams is a game the object of which is for each player to build an independent and fully coherent Scrabble board with the letters dealt hir. One wins when one is the first to complete a board when there are no letters remaining. It’s fun, if you like words. And frustrating, if you’re competitive. (That’s you, Rafi.)
** “Solid” here is meant as a synonym for “righteous” and “gnarly” and “bitching.” E.g., “Daled is solid, but Alef speaks Wolof!” Get it? No? How about, “Gases may be gaseous, and liquids may be liquidy, but solids are solid!” Still nothing? You’re just not worth it…
*** I think those are actually their legal names, not just nicknames. Rivky is like Rivqah, or Rebecca (like the biblical overbearing mother), and Tzippy is like Ziporah, or Ziporah (like the biblical neglected wife). Sheesh, Becks is gonna kill me for this…
**** “Hanging out” is so vulgar, no? The Hebrew verb, levalot, actually means to become worn out. As in the Talmudic passage about the priestly vestments that had been so worn that they became unfit and were declared impermissible. Hat’s off, Rav Ashi!
***** Lit., “What a ‘wai wai’!”; Fig., “Wow!”; Sig., “Stop dreaming about your mother!” — I could go on, like this, you know: Dig., “Don’t kiss him, Cho, I still love you!”; and Gig., “I like to be in bed by nine… and home by eleven!” All right, enough of that.