Photo: Reuters
We don't listen to the Boss
Photo: Reuters

People like us

We never planned to turn out this way. It just happened

People like us will never get behind the wheel of a beat up old Buick and barrel down snow-covered highways from New York to California, stopping from time to time at Mexican diners where the raspy voice of Bruce Springsteen sings out from a small speaker perched on the Formica counter. We'll never discuss the meaning of life there with a guy named Bob.


Instead, every two years we’ll look for a cheap package deal to Prague and complain about the food when we get back.


People like us no longer stay up all night to watch a marathon of “Friends” episodes. We call friends the next morning to talk about the troubles that kept us up all night.


People like us have worries.


People like us have a holiday every five years. Once upon a time, we would only have Pesach seder and only at our parents’ house. Now we light candles with our children at Chanukah, dip apples in honey together with grandma at Rosh Hashanah and sit in the sukkah in Ronen’s backyard.


People like us no longer argue about the existence of God. Sure, there is "something" out there, but God knows what the hell it is.


People like us are a little embarrassed they still don’t have any Russian friends, would be happy to invite an Ethiopian family over and would love to meet an ultra-Orthodox person, besides the kosher supervisor for the bar mitzvah.


We remember that once, when we were kids, our parents took us to visit an Arab friend in a village where they ate delicious humus.


Now, we ask ourselves why we don't have any Arab friends, and how our parents got to know the guy they visited?


People like us go to a movie once a month, a play once every half year and once every two years, a dance performance. We sit in the dark and ask ourselves how, dammit, did she manage to persuade us to go out when there's such an important soccer game on TV?


‘Hooked up to the internet’


People like us have no problem with the fact that these days, young women are much more forward and give out their phone numbers. We are just a little surprised that this has never actually happened to us.


People like us understand that the law is the law for the police. We also understand the Jewish settlers who are distraught over losing their homes. We understand the government’s economic policy because the country almost collapsed financially, and we understand that it is impossible to abandon the poor because one has to also have a heart.


We understand why a security fence is needed. Fear has logic of its own. We also understand the Palestinian grandmother at the IDF checkpoint because she is just like their grandmother. The only thing we don't understand is what one does with all this knowledge.


People like us gracefully accept the fact that there will always be someone wealthier, someone better looking, smarter and more successful. We accept this because there are plenty of people like us.


People like us once bought pants that made us look fat, once tried moisturizer, once wore suits and ties that irritated our neck. We've listened to Stairway to Heaven on a record, a cassette and a CD, Walkman, Discman and an iPod. And on all of them, we've pushed fast forward at the screaming part.


People like us are hooked up to the internet. We know that it is the most revolutionary thing to happen in the world in the last decade and it is important to be part of it.


On the other hand, when we send out an e-mail, we try to pick the shortest, simplest words possible in English so as not to embarrass ourselves.


‘Better to yell than to quit’


People like us allow ourselves to give 20 shekels to the Scouts who are collecting on behalf of rehabilitation centers for disabled and challenged children. But it drives us crazy when those our kids forget to shut off the lights in the house before leaving to raise charity for others.


People like us don’t have the cars we want, the kitchens we desire or the 42 inch plasma TVs that "all our friends" have. On the other hand we've got the wives we want and the children we hoped for. All in all, we've got it good.


People like us have one dream that we've never fulfilled – an unwritten play, a backgammon tournament that we didn’t win, a million dollar business idea "if only we'd had the time and patience to develop it."


People like us are working less than ever before. Our children need less looking after and we only visit our parents once a week. We also go out less socially. But for some reason, we have less time than ever before.


People like us want to lose five kilos, run five kilometers, earn another 5,000 shekels, take a five day holiday at Passover, and retire in another five years. It’s also possible we are beginning to stress out about reaching the age of 50.


People like us still feel love. We can go home in the middle of the afternoon, and even if all the lights are out and our partners are sound asleep in the back bedroom, we know that she is home. There's no real explanation for it, but people like us always know when our wives are home.


It takes a lot more to anger people like us. We know it's better to yell than to quit, that the sex will be better when the fight is over, that the bank teller is not to blame, that most appliances aren’t insulted when you kick them. People like us know that Clint Eastwood always spoke quietly, in a whisper, like most really powerful people.


People like us know all our friends stories by heart. They can even recite them. 42-G is the one about the trip to the Galilee. 12-B is the one about how the car got stuck and no one came to help.


They also know each person's role. There’s the funny one and the girl friend who will always notice that you didn’t vacuum under the sofa and the one who always wants to argue about politics. The weird thing is that this does not bore us. If anything, it's actually comforting.


It’s too late for people like us to change the world. We will live in it until one day we will discover that we are the world: The national police commissioner is the same age as we are; that we were in the army at the same time as the interior minister; that our biographies are now being taught in high school history classes, that the war in which we laid terrified under a filthy tarpaulin is now part of the country’s mythology.


People like us don’t notice that there are a lot of people like us. When we realize it, it becomes a bit disorienting, but reassuring.


People like us differ greatly from one another but that is what they have in common. This, and the fact that we never planned to be people like us. It just turned out that way.


פרסום ראשון: 02.23.06, 18:47
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