Get ready for some good posts this week, people. I probably should have been at the beach this weekend instead of at my laptop but what can I say, you deserve better. With the help of the Billy Ocean-inspired title, let’s jump right in, loyal readers…
In honor of the beginning of August, it’s Great Accomplishments in Life Sunday! (And as always, yes, I’m going somewhere with this…)
In no particular order…
1) Earning 1st chair in high school band
It seems like just yesterday that I was leading the football team onto the field during the state championship, snagging cheerleaders, and earning all-state honors as an undersized yet nimble running back.
Ok, so maybe not. But I did have a letter jacket with “TUBA” written on the front. Why in the world did my parents or anyone for that matter let me or my band cohorts walk around with that? Couldn’t we have spent a tenth of the money on a t-shirt with “BEAT ME, PLEASE” ironed on? Actually I have only fond memories of band from junior high and high school (excluding the time I walked to school carrying my twice-my-size euphonium case only to have some driver slow down, manually roll down the passenger window across the car, and scream “BAAAAAAAAND QUEEEEEEER!” as he drove by while still maintaining control of the vehicle. In retrospect, still one of the more athletic achievements I have ever seen.)
Somehow, I overcame that moment to climb my way to the top of the high school tuba section where I made John Philip Sousa roll in his grave by figuring out how to play the line from “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” and entertaining my friend Roy by blaring it during warm-ups. Because really, who likes playing scales? (By the way, this is the second time this year I’ve referenced this song in a post….maybe because it rules?)
called a euphoniumist or a euphonist. Others might call him a dorkus maximus.
2) Surviving my first summer at sleep-away camp Ahhh….a major milestone in the lives of so many young Jewish children. Nope, no bumps in that road at all. Not one. Obviously, things got better from there.
3) Reading the Torah portion at my Bar-Mitzvah Is there anything more scary than standing in front of hundreds of people at the age of 13? Oh, I spoke to G-d that day, people. If memory serves, something to the effect of “Dear Lord, if you let me get through this day without wetting my Fruit of the Looms, I swear I’ll never eat treif again.” (Actually, by the late ’80s, I think BVDs may have replaced FOTL as the tighty-whities of choice. Ech omrim “tighty-whities”?) By the way, to my Israeli readers, if you’re not familiar with the American Bar/Bat-Mitzvah experience, it includes braces, awkward photos, and a musical medley of Belinda Carlisle, the Village People, and at least one song from “Dirty Dancing”. Gooooooo, 1987! (How has nobody made a Hollywood movie about this yet?)
4) Getting my Israeli driving license When Yom Kippur arrives, I pray that our aforementioned all-powerful G-d will forgive me for not documenting this entire process. I have sinned.
For various reasons, some of which were out of my control, it took me a couple of months to go through it all. Getting the tofes yarok (green form), going to the eye doctor, standing in mob at the Misrad Harishui (the Israeli DMV…should we even use the phrase “standing in line”? From now on, it’s “standing in mob”), taking a couple of lessons, etc. And of course, having my test postponed three weeks because of a strike. (Do people just wake up in this country, yawn, and think “Ahhhhh, it’s Tuesday….must be time to strike”?)
Finally, this past Tuesday, I passed the driving test. Was it just me, olim, or did this make you feel like you were sixteen all over again? When I got in the car, my heart actually pounded a little, mostly because I would have jumped off the Azrieli Towers had I failed. Yes, towers. After splatting onto the Ayalon, I would have climbed back up and thrown myself off both the circle and square buildings.
Three months ago, getting my license wasn’t even on my radar. Once I started my new job however, it became pretty clear that I would need it ASAP. With my Birthright groups running all over the country, a car is critical to not only visit them but to transfer tons of equipment and supplies, unless you enjoy carrying bottles of grape juice and a challah bigger than your head on two taxis, a bus, and a train from Jerusalem to Caeseria.
If I thought Israelis drivers were crazy before, this took on a whole new meaning after getting behind the wheel in Central Tel Aviv. Tustusim (scooters) passing on the right while I was IN THE RIGHT LANE, cars speeding up as you try to merge in front of them….ummm, family members, maybe you should stop reading now. The most, umm, “entertaining” lesson learned was that you’re not supposed to check your blind spot because if you use your mirrors, there IS no blind spot. Are the mirrors and the laws of optics different in the Middle East? From my funny friend Tal: “teaching a driver not to check his blind spot is like teaching a med student not to wash his hands.”
Anyway, by the time I got behind the wheel, I was pretty cool, mostly because the other student in the car clearly failed just before it was my turn to drive. This poor thing….it was a 50-something year old new immigrant woman from Uruguay who kept getting yelled at my the mamash Yisraeli (very Israeli) teacher while I watched from the back seat. The third time the teacher let her have it, I knew I’d have no problem. I got behind the wheel and mentally welded my hands on 10 and 2. Bar Refa-moron could have waltzed by throwing 200 shekel bills into my window with Aerosmith tickets stapled to them and I wouldn’t have moved a finger.
By the way, the tester dude had one of the worst combovers I have ever seen. It was Olmert-esque. Is there a name for Olmert’s combover? The colmert? Combolmert? Olm-over? Can we vote on this please?
After the tester got out of the car, I could see this woman was teary-eyed after being talked to disrespectfully and not passing. I gave her a little pep talk, saying I knew how she felt, and that I promised that “it will be ok”. Uh ohhhhhhh…….anyone recognize that phrase? I’M TURNING ISRAELI!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yet another post on “yiyeh b’seder” coming later in the week….
When my teacher stuck her head in and told me I had passed, I felt like the “Oh, what a feeling!” jumping guy at the end of the the 1980s Toyota commercials.
I’d love to see the Iron Sheikh try to get his license in this country.
After I told Tal I had passed, I received the following text message:
Congrats on the license. You’re now a member of a group more feared than the S.S., Khmer Rouge, and KGB combined: Israeli drivers.
So there it is. Although almost all my groups have come and gone, if I get to drive a rental car even once during my final group’s visit this month, it will save me a ton of time and stress. I just have to make one final trip to the Misrad Harishui and post office before I can drive.
And if they decide to strike this week, I will be fire-bombing their offices. If not, it will be party time on the highways real soon.
EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!
More on Olmert’s combover. An underrated post from the past, in my humble opinion…