Sayed Kashua black car
Photo by Amos Biderman
Text size

I got a new car this week. Not just any car: an "executive" car. I've never had one like it - and I've never been an executive, either. It's a whole different world, the world of executives. You have to experience it in order to understand what I'm talking about.

Suddenly, from a small car with a small engine, I have this huge company vehicle and have no idea how to park it. Lucky for me I have those reverse-parking sensors - not that I can calculate the distances behind me according to the beeps, but I am still very happy to have those sensors. If the government weren't so racist it would install those sensors in the back for every Arab car, at its expense. Arab kids are always playing in the yards behind the cars and it's the duty of the state to safeguard them. It's also a lot simpler than building playgrounds for them.

Anyway, I got this fancy car. And it's black. With a turbo engine that knows how to generate 156 horsepower at 6,000 RPM. A car with black leather seats and buttons on the steering wheel that have names like: cruise control, telephone activation. Every click of the button changes the image on a screen, and there are a lot of screens in the new car. I also control the audio system via the buttons on the steering wheel. What an incredible system. I've never heard Israel Radio so clearly.

"Listen up, listen up," I instructed my wife and children on the way to Tira immediately after getting the new car. "Do you hear this?" I shouted, turning up the volume and changing stations with a gentle press of buttons.

"Amazing," the kids said and asked me to turn it up higher.

"It's awful," my wife said.

I immediately castigated her for not knowing how to pay a compliment: "Instead of enjoying such excellent sound quality like this, you say it's awful?"

"I was referring to the story on the radio about the Palestinians who were accused of raping that boy."

"Why do you have to spoil things?" I scolded her and changed the station.

I had to go to Tira. To drive through the streets slowly, as slowly as possible, and look around so people would recognize me and know it was me driving that luxury automobile. And see that I, too, in the end, am some kind of success story. And that yes, it's possible to make a living, even to get rich, from writing. Even though that's not true, but no one has to know how I got a gorgeous car like this.

It started with shouting. That morning, I arrived for a meeting with the chief producer of the company I work for. He asked how the script was coming along and became furious when he understood that because of me, the company might not meet the timetable it had promised the broadcasting bodies. Which would delay the shooting schedule and cause economic damage. The producer, noticing that I was suffering from a hangover, started to shout at me like no one has shouted at me since primary school. And I, hypersensitive in the wake of another night of drinking and surprised at the yelling, simply started to cry.

The producer had not expected that a respected author like me, who on the day before had been at the Sapir Prize ceremony, would howl like a small child. He gave me a hug, asked the secretary to bring me a glass of water, brought me tissues to wipe away the tears and patted me gently on the back, saying, "There, there, I'm sorry." But the crying wouldn't stop.

"I'm so sorry," the producer went on, "I didn't mean it, I just wanted you to work. Stop already, you're tearing me apart, what can I do to calm you down? Enough, I'm crazy about you, you know I love you. You know what: I'll get you a new car. Not just any car, an executive car. What do you say?"

My parents were taken aback when they came out upon hearing the honking of the horn. What a honk this car has, a honk with character, a honk you have to pay attention to.

"Use it well," my parents said. "How much did it cost?" my father asked with pride, and I, wanting very much for him to think I had bought the vehicle, said casually "Two hundred," with a questioning tone in my voice.

"That's all?" he asked, surprised.

"The rest in installments," I added, all of us still sitting in the car.

"Well, aren't you coming out?"

"No, we have to go on."

It's so nerve-racking, these streets of Tira. How do they expect me to drive a car like this on these bumpy streets with all the potholes? I've never seen such inconsiderate behavior toward executives. With all due respect to respect, I thought to myself, I'll have to visit my parents less often.

It's amazing the effect a car like this has on your inner self. I drive and I know I am holding the steering wheel differently, with a kind of feeling of self-confidence. I look differently at the other drivers waiting with me at the red light, as though I have more control over my life, as though I have cracked the secret of success and from now on I'll get through rough patches and difficult stretches with pulsating pistons and fabulous suspension.

Now, as my wife sits beside me with her legs stretched out full length, I know she feels she made the right choice. The children are sleeping in the back with a smile on their lips, knowing that I will always be there for them. What pride fills my heart when I return to the parking lot next to the building, knowing that this is the most expensive car there. I am the kid who made it all the way from Tira to a black executive car. I am the one who will prove to everyone that it's possible, really possible - you just have to believe.

"Ya know what," my neighbor, the one with the Ph.D, in art, said to me the next morning when we met in the stairwell. "this building is going to the dogs. Really scary."

"What happened?" I asked, frightened.

"It looks like some serious goons have moved in here," he said. "Didn't you see the black car parked next to the building?"