By the Book

Every time people would come to visit us, they'd say: 'Wow, have you read all these books?' And Neri would modestly say: 'I've read much more than that, but I've forgotten most of them.'

Yesterday we went to my new dog park, which is called Gan Ha'ir. The place has a battered fence, wooden benches, a hard asphalt surface and no used condoms like the ones that sprout every morning in Ruppin Park. There are many square kilometers of grass and stone steps that Neri can sit on while she's making friends with the new neighbors, and even a kind of elongated pool. It was raining hard, so Neri shouted to me: "Shoshana, don't ...." Too late, but anyone who's afraid her dog will get wet shouldn't take her out for a walk in the rain.

The water in the pool was very pleasant, not too cold for me at all, and I began to think that maybe there's also something of a Siberian Shepherd dog in me - as the homeless man Genady, who feeds the cats in Ruppin, said. Usually he shouts at me because I chase the cats, but this time he spoke nicely. Maybe because Neri brought him two synthetic quilts, the fleece gloves she bought in Canada for her children and nobody wanted, and a few sweaters as a present. Is it possible that the homeless are so materialistic? On the other hand, he was most excited about a few books in Russian with lovely bindings etched with gold letters that Neri's son once found on a street in Jerusalem.

Neri says you can see that Genady, who at least once a week shouts a lot in the park and two weeks ago fainted because he was drunk, is an educated man. Every morning he sits in the cafe owned by a Georgian who feels sorry for him and gives him Turkish coffee free of charge, as much as he wants, and he reads Russian books and newspapers there. Neri really likes educated people, even though life has taught her that there are people with lots of degrees and very bad characters, who are actually stupid, and there are people with almost no degrees, like Miriam from the park, who are the best and smartest people in the world.

But Neri has a thing about books. Before we moved to the new apartment at the end of last week, the whole house was covered with books, not only in the huge bookcase in the dining room and in the medium-sized bookcase in the dressing room (look who's talking about tsatskes ) and in the small bookshelves in the study and the living room, but also large piles on the IKEA tables purchased for NIS 90 at the entrance and on both sides of the bed and also inside the service closet on the balcony. Every time people would come to visit us in the old house, they'd ask: "Wow, have you read all these books?" as though it were a big deal. And Neri, who every year gives away at least 200 books, would modestly say: "I've read much more than that, but I forgot most of them a long time ago; well, that's how it is at my age."

The books were the first thing that worried her when the landlady told her she had to vacate the property. The landlady sat in the cafe with black sunglasses and with her very very old husband, also with black glasses, like the Blues Brothers but without the humor and the talent, and with white hair (she ) and a bald head (he ). He didn't even answer Neri when she said hello to him, and didn't turn the sunglasses in her direction even once during the conversation, which lasted exactly six minutes and during which Neri said no more than 15 words.

She said "great," when they informed her and in the same breath she also said: "So cancel my coffee" to the nice waitress at Cafe Mapu, and she also said: "Come Shoshaneleh, we're going home," before she left the cafe and went to collapse on the sofa.

"And what will I do with all my books? Just thinking about starting to pack the books and all the odds and ends and the shoes," she said over the phone to Amalia, who tried to tell her it would definitely turn out that something good would come of this bad thing.

Later, for about two weeks, Neri only sat on the sofa in the living room and stared at the television, mainly at reality shows on the E! channel. She learned how to go out on dates, how to apply makeup, how to be cured of anorexia and food additives, and also whatever you have to know about the Kardashian women, who incidentally have no books at all in their homes, and so what? Occasionally she would answer the phone and declare that she was having an anxiety attack but she wasn't willing to talk about it, and then she went to a meeting at a cafe with quite a well known book critic.

He came to interview Neri for Einav Galili's program "Room 101" on television, whose subject is what annoys her interviewees. Neri immediately told him that it was hard for her even to get angry, because she was suffering from the blues because of the "Blues Brothers" (a play on words! ), in other words, because of the owners of the apartment. And what a coincidence, that same man told her that entirely by chance, he and his girlfriend were leaving the apartment where they had been living for quite a few years and which is in an excellent location. And so, at the end of the interview (Neri, who felt much better, still found another 50,000 things that make her angry ) she went to see the apartment and decided on the spot to take it.

What's the point? That the books that kept Neri stuck for three years in an unbearable apartment, are also (all right, not they themselves, but the book critic ) what provided the solution, or in short, something good came out of this bad thing in the end, just as her friends Amalia and Orna said!

And because she wants to share all this goodness, Neri decided to donate most of the library, except for books with dedications and several that she particularly likes. And since then, every time we leave the house and go out into the street, she says to me enthusiastically: "Shoshana is a dog from Megiddo Street!" like in the children's story by Leah Goldberg (Hint: we moved there ).

P.S. My caricature doesn't look like me at all; I'm actually tall and thin.