For Your Thanksgiving, a surprise | The Truth, part 4: The Great Betrayal
And a Thanksgiving Gift!
I want you to do something for yourself, and then I’ll do something for you.
I want you to take a moment and think of 3 things that happened to you this year.
A year like none other we have known.
Where a deadly pandemic still rages, then ebbs and rages again.
Where political divisions are deepening and becoming toxic and oppressive. Turning neighbors if not into enemies—but into the “others.”
Where inflation is causing prices for nearly everything we want and need to skyrocket—tortuously straining our finances.
Where the future, as always, is unknown—and now even more unsettling.
Yet, and even so, I want you to cast all this aside, and think.
Of three things.
Three moments of joy
Three things that brought a smile to your face, and a gladness into your heart.
Three things for which you are grateful, and thankful.
Do that now. For yourself.
And I’ll give you a small gift...
A $10 coupon to use towards the purchase of our ever-popular teak shower bench.
But you must use the coupon before November 29th.
Because at midnight of the 29th it’ll expire.
So, when you’re at checkout, enter code: Happy Thanksgiving.
And you’ll automatically receive $10 off our teak shower bench’s regular purchase price.
Hopefully, it’ll make your Thanksgiving a little brighter and happier!
And if you’d like to share with us the three things you’re especially grateful for this year, please write them in the comments at the end of this post.
Now for The Truth, part 4:
The Great Betrayal
To read this epic, spell-binding saga, soon to be a motion picture (yeah, in my dreams) from the beginning, where I tell you who I really am, click here.
Alone in my hotel room...
There were just two things I wanted to do.
Take a piss, and take a shower.
Behind the only other door in the room was a closet-sized room with a fairly large hole in the middle of the floor.
Above there was a showerhead, and a large squeegee broom leaning against the wall.
And the bathroom?
Like I said, there was a fairly large hole in the middle of the floor.
Done with my toiletry, I unpacked my suitcase, lied down on the bed and promptly fell asleep.
When I awoke, it was dusk.
I pulled open the window curtain.
Across the way, and not very far away at all, was an apartment building, about 5 floors high, with maybe 4 or five apartments on each floor side by side.
And each apartment had a wide balcony with large picture windows.
I could see into every apartment, and what I saw in every apartment was the exact same thing.
It was a Friday night, the start of the Jewish sabbath.
Families had gathered around their dining tables, on which two sabbath candles were lit.
Some families were in the middle of reciting prayers over the Friday night wine and challah (ritual sabbath bread), others were still gathering, and others were already seated.
These were all Jewish homes.
Well of course, duh!
But they were unabashedly Jewish homes. With blinds and curtains open to the world.
Growing up in the Bronx I didn’t necessarily hide the fact that I was Jewish, but I also didn’t proclaim it to the world—and for good reason.
I remember, years ago, my friends and I were shooting hoops at a neighborhood park in the shadow of Yankee Stadium.
Out of nowhere, a bunch of kids came over and knocked the basketball from our hands.
Clearly, they were looking for a fight.
And they were bigger than us.
One of them said, “hey, you know where we can find some Jews? We wanna kick their asses.”
My friends and I looked at each other, all of us Jewish, and shook our heads, no.
So they shot a few baskets with our ball, and eventually they left. With our ball.
Now though, watching all these Jewish families celebrating their Judaism in such a public, uninhibited way was...well, unexpected. Shocking really.
And oddly pleasing.
As I got dressed to go out and find something to eat. I turned on my transistor radio.
I found a music station, and the song playing sounded very familiar.
It was Neil Sedaka’s Oh, Carol!
But it was sung in Hebrew, obviously by an Israeli.
I thought it funny and ironic for an Israeli to sing an old American rock n’ roll song.
However, when I mentioned this to Moshe, who joined me in the morning for breakfast…
He told me the singer on the radio was indeed Neil Sedaka. Who is Jewish, and speaks fluent Hebrew.
Wow. Who knew?
Another revelation on that first night
I was starving. I hadn’t eaten since I was in Rome at the airport.
By the time I was outside on the street, it was completely dark and quiet.
Not one car, not one person was on the street.
The entire neighborhood was eerily silent.
I walked until I found a large thoroughfare, a main street, with stores on it.
And I was immediately struck by the fact, as if I hadn’t noticed before, that all the store signs were in Hebrew.
It was another “duh!” moment.
Up until my arrival in Israel, the only place I ever saw Hebrew was in prayer books.
And even then it wasn’t completely Hebrew.
Jewish prayer books are written in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, a close relative to Hebrew.
Nonetheless, out on this distinctly desolate and silent street, I was beginning to feel a sense of comfort.
A remembrance of things past.
Clearly, I was in a foreign country, yet it was strangely familiar.
In a way it felt like home.
What didn’t feel like home was the fact that nothing was open—on a Friday night!
Israel, I learned, completely shuts down beginning at sunset Friday night until sundown Saturday in honor of the sabbath.
Some might consider that quaint and charming.
But, shit! I was starving!
Well, there was nothing that could be done but go back to my room, wait for morning, and scarf on the continental breakfast included in the room rate.
This is breakfast? Seriously?
This was no breakfast, continental or otherwise.
One hard-boiled egg, a slice of soft white cheese, 2 crackers and something I thought was yogurt, called “eshel.”
But it wasn't yogurt. Whatever eshel was, it was gross. Tasted like sour buttermilk. And as hungry as I was I just couldn’t eat it.
I had planned on going to the Western Union office to pick up my money. But Moshe quashed that idea.
It was Saturday. Shabbat. Everything is closed.
So, according to Moshe I had two choices. Go to a synagogue, or walk to the beach.
At the beach, another revelation!
I was immediately taken aback, not by the endless expanse of sand, nor the vast Mediterranean sea.
But rather by what was on the sand, and in the sea.
The entire city of Tel-Aviv apparently.
Thousands and thousands of people.
And unbelievably beautiful girls in tiny bikinis everywhere!
I took off my shoes and shirt, and waded into the crush of people.
Along the water’s edge, guys, girls, old and young were playing on odd ballgame that eventually became popular here in the US…paddleball.
I found an empty space close to the water, and next to two of the most gorgeous girls I’ve ever seen.
Both were around my age. One had long blonde hair and green eyes, and the other was a raven black-haired girl with brilliant blue eyes.
And they both had athletic bodies that didn’t stop.
They were stunning, beautiful Amazons!
I had no idea they grew girls like that. Anywhere!
And they certainly didn’t look Jewish—at least not like any Jewish girl I had ever known or dated.
Both were sitting up, eating grapes and looking out into the water.
Carnal desire left me as my focus shifted to the grapes.
I was still starving, and now, too, thirsty.
Apparently, the black-haired girl noticed.
She said something to me in Hebrew.
The only person I had ever heard speak Hebrew, was the rabbi in the synagogue where I was bar-mitzvahed.
Now Aphrodite was speaking Hebrew. And to me.
“Sorry, I, uh, I don’t speak Hebrew.”
“Would you like grapes,” she said, in the most beguiling accent.
“Oh, yeah, thanks!”
Her name was Dafna. She was a student at Tel-Aviv University studying to be a lawyer.
I was falling in love.
Suddenly, she called out in the direction of the water.
My jaw nearly dropped.
Out of the water stepped Daniel Craig.
Well, not the real Daniel Craig.
But he sure looked like Daniel Craig. If you can remember, when Craig stepped out of the water in his first James Bond movie, and into the hearts of many a woman.
Well, this guy, who Dafna was calling to, coming out of the Mediterranean was just as tall, muscular, blonde, and ridiculously handsome as Craig.
And as he came closer, what really threw me for a loop, was that around his neck and nestled between is amble pecs was a large shiny silver Jewish star.
I didn’t know anyone who wore a Jewish star, much less in public.
I wouldn’t have.
But Daniel Craig was wearing it as if it was a badge of pride and honor.
There was no way I could compete with him for Dafna’s attention much less affection.
Not only because of his ridiculous good looks.
But because, as I discovered, this guy was an Israeli Air Force jet fighter pilot. He flew American A-4 Skyhawks for Christ's sake!
Who the hell does that? Certainly no one I knew.
Back at the hotel, staring out the window, I kept shaking my head in bewilderment.
I could not fathom, not understand, if I ever did, what being Jewish meant—or even what a Jew is.
I no longer understood my place in the universe
Well, obviously, that was why my father sent me to Israel.
He knew I was lost. Lost to myself. And needed to be found.
Next morning, with my mental equilibrium tentatively restored, I downed my one egg, one white cheese slice and two crackers and headed straight for the Western Union office on foot.
I wanted my money. I wanted out of there. Out of Israel.
This place was too…too confounding, too confusing, too alien, too, too…not me.
These people were different—and other than Dafna and Daniel Craig—extremely annoying.
From hairy women underarms, to the inability to form a line, to what I discovered on my way to Western Union.
Which was this…
On not overly crowded sidewalks, people were constantly bumping into me as they walked passed.
At first, I thought these collisions were my fault, and I kept apologizing for them.
But it wasn’t me who was at fault! I was being careful. Mindful.
These people, on the other hand, just wouldn’t keep their distance, and respect my personal space.
And nobody was apologizing for violating it.
To these people, bumping into one another, albeit unintentionally, even among the sexes, was neither noteworthy or unexpected.
It was natural. Culturally acceptable. And therefore ignored.
Except by me.
Every time someone knocked into me, without a Hebrew version of, “oh, sorry!” it drove me up a wall.
I so wanted out of this country!
I needed my money.
Lions and elephants were waiting for me on the African savannah.
Of course, as luck would have it, there was no money waiting for me at the Western Union office.
I asked questions, and more questions, but there was no money for me.
My money hadn’t yet arrived.
Why hadn’t my money arrived?
I went back the next day.
I went back the following day.
Still no money.
I was fast running out of what little I had.
Finally, on the fourth day of no money arriving…
I made a collect phone call to my parents.
I tried to sound happy and wonderful as we talked, answering all their questions about my flight and my time in Israel.
But I was choking on the only thing I truly wanted to talk about—the only thing that really mattered.
I wanted to know…
WHERE’S MY MONEY????
So I asked them!
In next month’s The Teakster: The Truth, part 5, I’ll tell you the rest of the story.
In the meantime, please let me know below in the comments if you enjoyed reading this month’s Part 4 of The Truth.
Until we meet again—have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving—and stay teak strong!