Back in the 1990s, when the term "urban legend" was in vogue, a silly rumor made the rounds about a young bride from Herzliya who gave birth to a black baby after having sex with a stripper at her bachelorette party. Israel was divided into two kinds of people: Those who swore they personally knew the bride's family, and those who knew people who knew the bride's family. That division repeated itself when a new rumor spread about a bride who, to the amazement of the invitees, confessed under the huppa at her wedding that she had had an affair with the best man. Half the country claimed they attended that wedding, the other half knew someone who did.
As it tends to do, history repeated itself and another story has surfaced to divide Israel in two: Those who know the family that mistakenly threw away a mattress containing their $1 million life's savings, and those who know someone who knows them.
There's nothing to say, really; things like this happen once in a hundred years. A story tailor-made for the newspapers' back pages. A story so fantastic, so grandiose, so "funny and amusing" that it almost seems made up, like it were written for the screen: an urban legend with a twist. Or perhaps, the biggest practical joke in the nation's history.
The affair involving celebrity Dudu Topaz, who is suspected of ordering assaults on television executives, with all its psycho-dramatic elements, seems to have irreparably blurred the boundaries between the normal and the bizarre. But the mattress story has managed to outdo the Topaz affair and take first place on the list of "salon talk." Consider this: Our nation's discourse is not focused on the fatefully approaching address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Bar-Ilan University; the elections today in Iran, or even the shooting at the Holocaust museum in Washington. Rather, a lousy mattress with $1 million inside (in hundreds? in quarters? Maybe in monopoly money?)
Now the masses are excavating the Hiriya landfill, where the mattress is said to have been dumped. It is just another sign of the growing detachment between the public in Israel and reality; its disconnect with its surroundings and, particularly, its loss of mind. Good luck searching. Wherever the mattress lies, whether it is found or not, the story already stinks. My bet? The black stripper's son from Herzliya is going to find it.
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