Kikar-itis

... And then, while relaxing the sphincter muscles, it is carefully removed. Anyway, I wish you good health ... Let's go to the next caller. Yes, who's on the line?

... And then, while relaxing the sphincter muscles, it is carefully removed. Anyway, I wish you good health ... Let's go to the next caller. Yes, who's on the line?

Doctor Curso?

Professor, actually ... not that it matters to me ...

Hello, Doctor .. I'm a 30- or 40-something man, generally healthy, and I'm calling about something that's a little weird.

Nothing is too weird for our radio program. What's the problem?

Well, Doctor, every so often I get this strange tingling in my hands and feet and head - a sort of restlessness, usually on Saturday nights, about once a month ... I don't know how to explain it.

Wait a minute, when you say tingling, do you mean an itching, stabbing pains or a feeling of antsiness - as if armies of ants were marching all over your extremities? As if your hand had fallen asleep?

Yes, that's it, exactly! Not just the hand, but as if my whole body has fallen asleep and I have to get up and go outside. To go out to the kikar ...

I'm not sure I understood you: To go out and "kick hard?"

No - to the kikar, the ki-kar ...

Which kikar?

Kikar Rabin, you know, Rabin Square. To a demonstration. That's the only place where the feeling goes away, but not for long. Doctor, without a demonstration of at least 100,000 people, about once a month - I go crazy, I climb the walls. I was wondering if there was some ointment, or pill ...

Hang on, what's wrong with a demonstration? Go out and demonstrate, it'll do you good - and then you won't need any pills or ointments.

But, Doctor, the problem is that I don't care what the demonstration is for or against - just as long as the square is full, and that all the same props are there, like in "that" demonstration - you know, the one with Rabin ...

You mean demonstrations with the big colorful balloon next to the monument and the helicopters hovering overhead? The sterile area, the barriers, the youth movements? The sitting on the grass on the traffic islands? You mean hearing that "artists will perform" and "Now I'd like to invite to the stage a great band that we all love"? And for the name "Rabin" to be mentioned?

Exactly, Doctor! You've described it exactly!

Even if it's a settler demonstration? Or a demonstration by carpenters for improvements in gluing conditions?

Exactly! See, I've found myself swaying on the traffic island to the sounds of Ariel Zilber at the settlers' demonstration, getting high to the sounds of Fools of Prophecy at the ecology demonstration, weeping to the sounds of Aviv Gefen at the Rabin demonstration, dancing to the sounds of Church of the Mind at the teachers' demonstration ... And I cheered ecstatically at all the demonstrations when the emcee said, "According to police estimates, there are over 150,000 of us here, and many more are stuck on the way ..."

Tell me: Do you feel that you simply must have a hit of a demonstration- in-the-kikar a month after the one you just went to, or else you're in a crisis?

Yes. Look, just so you understand, Doctor, last week I found myself at the pedagogical demonstration even though all I really wanted to do was sit in front of the TV and watch the game with Russia. I have no idea how I got there, or how I ended up cheering like an idiot at the Leninist speech of some elderly gym teacher ...

Well, what you're describing here are symptoms of a phenomenon we've been seeing for 12 years now - a syndrome called "Kikar-itis," or in layman's terms, "the phantom pain syndrome of 'that' demonstration." It's not clear whether it's really a physical or psychological disorder, but it's part of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum: You feel pain in a place that is already amputated and gone, and at the same time you want to repeat the same action over and over - and I mean precisely the same action, following certain well-defined rituals - for fear that if you don't, the world will collapse.

So what are you saying? That after "that" demonstration, every other one is a kind of disorder?

Good gracious, no! There are still just demonstrations left. But there's a difference between a normal demonstration and what we call Kikar-itis Vulgaris. In the first case, you come to demonstrate because you're angry about something or supporting something. In the second case, you come to the square to conduct a memorial to the previous memorial to the memorial demonstration for "that" demonstration, or, conversely, to protest against it. At any rate, you come to the square to try to quiet the tingling and to achieve some anti-aging benefit - which, of course, does not help at all, but actually increases the addiction.

And how does one recognize the symptoms?

Let's put it this way: If you came to a mass demonstration in the square for the parking, for example, and found that shiny balloon there, swaying on the side, and all the faces from the previous demonstrations - Rabin, Earth Day, the captive soldiers, Sabra and Chatila - with the same, somewhat self-satisfied melancholy expression, with the same hedonistic walking in the middle of the street blocked off to traffic, with the same desire to see and be seen at this Saturday night happening, with the same blue shirts, or knitted skullcaps, you hadn't seen since the last demonstration - that should serve as a warning light to you. Another clear sign is a suspicious escalation in songs of sorrow and grief, even when the subject of the demonstration is a pension fund or the recycling of boxes.

What can I tell you, Doctor. For me, a demonstration without a tearful moment and someone on stage saying "be strong up there" - even if they are referring to a hole in the ozone - just doesn't cut it ...

Another clear sign of Kikar-itis is singers who fancy themselves orators, and politicos who fancy themselves singers. But the most serious warning sign is an outbreak on the stage of Kikar-itis Demagogus, otherwise known as "Kikar-itis of the speakers."

Which is manifested how?

In the way the echoing of their voice over the loudspeakers fills them with awe and wonder and a feeling of intoxication; that their voice sounds so bombastic it could be announcing the end of the world; when the sight of the crowd from their perch dazzles them and goes to their head; when they start to imagine themselves as the reincarnation of Rabin or some ancient prophet, or Led Zeppelin; when the momentary megalomania makes them think that right now, they could upset the world order with just a few words from their mouths and spark a groundswell of the magnitude of the Bolshevik Revolution, at the very least; when they're overcome with anxiety in anticipation of the moment the magic wears off; when the echo of their voice over the loudspeakers will fade, the crowd will disperse and all will vanish and be replaced by mundane routine - this is the sign of a serious outbreak of Kikar-itis Demagogus. By the way, the strongest symptom is a certain wariness of descending the municipality stairs after the rally - a wariness, I'd say, that's mixed with a certain hope ...

And is there any medicine to treat Kikar-itis? A pill? An ointment? Something?

There is an ointment that may at least relieve the symptoms. It's called G-A-L ...

Hold on, I'm writing it down ... G-A-L ...

The name stands for "Get A Life." Try spreading on a thin layer whenever the tingling starts. Anyway, I wish you good health. And let's go to the next listener ... Yes, who's on the line