Children of the Dream

In a Kibbutz you wouldn't think of going out drinking in the nearest city if you get drunk or lonely - in a Kibbutz you have a family.

It's that same feeling again: The minute I open my eyes, I am seized by a powerful desire to move somewhere new. I have to get out of here. Maybe to some small isolated village - in the desert, maybe. Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll try to get a little more shut-eye now, and when I get up I'll start checking out in depth the possibility of moving with my family to the desert. The farther the better, but not near Eilat. Not near anything that has a restaurant or a bar.

It doesn't bother me to go on drinking - there's no point trying to fight that again now. But I have to change my habits. The recent policy - in which I don't keep alcohol in the house and buy only wine or beer when we have guests over for a meal - has failed. Last week I went out to drink three times. Which reminds me that I have to stop with this lie that I tell myself about how just one night of drinking a week never killed anyone. It's true that lately I have also begun to worry about cirrhosis of the liver, but my main problem with alcohol is the level of the inanities I am capable of spouting publicly in the course of an evening.

There's no denying that I am an absolute idiot. If I were just your regular idiot, that would be tolerable, but I am a celebrity idiot: People recognize me. It's always a surprise. The problem is that I'm recognized only in the wrong places; my name has never been recognized in places where celebrityhood could actually help, even if only a little. Security guards, policemen, people whose car I bang up in the middle of the night, bouncers, people in the customer service department of my cell phone company and the satellite TV company, bank clerks, the girls who say "Bezeq, shalom," Internet support people - none of them have ever recognized me or identified my name just when I wished most that they would.

I always introduce myself and wait eagerly for some sort of reaction - maybe "Ah, it's you?" spoken in an enthusiastic, joyful, heartwarming tone of voice, and above all one that leads to forgiveness, accompanied by some type of concession or price reduction.

Somehow, the "Ah, it's you?" that I encounter is always accompanied by a scornful look, by disappointment: "Ah, it's you? And we, like idiots, took the trouble to read you. Look at yourself, you should be ashamed, you have a family, a wife, children, shame, shame."

Illustration of man riding camel.

By the way, all the Haaretz readers I know in Jerusalem get drunk. But most of them stay cool and collected, maintain their dignity and above all the dignity of the person standing next to them. Cultured people, without a doubt. Whereas I - with the third drink that slides down my throat, I forget everything I learned about good manners and everything I believe in about individual rights. "Ah, it's you, so there's nothing to be done," they will think with a slight nod of the head. "Contrary to what we thought, apparently when it comes to Arabs, they're all the same."

If only Amos Biderman were a slightly less talented illustrator. I had a talk with him a few weeks ago in which I asked him to modify the illustration gradually, so the readers won't notice - every week another gentle daub of the paintbrush, so that in time, without anyone taking notice, he would produce a different portrait, one that would return me to being just an average guy.

Where in the world was I last night? Ah, that's right, at a demonstration. That's to say, I thought it was a demonstration against settlement in Sheikh Jarrah, but in the end it turned out to be a party against settlements. I got a lot of the scolding "Ah, it's you" tone of voice. The same idiot behavior: I finally decide to be politically involved and right away wander into a party. But what do they want me to do? Is it my fault that the demonstration was in some hangar at the site of the old train station? Is it my fault that there was loud party music there, and plenty of alcohol? True, they showed slides on the wall of what's going on in Jerusalem and in the territories in general, but that's no reason not to dance, to trip the light fantastic for sheer joy.

I have no choice but to move to the desert, maybe to some kibbutz. A kibbutz is good, a kibbutz is perfect. I'll probably have a social life, too. The urge to get out of the house and the desperate search for company will be replaced by a bunch of bored families just like ours, pushing up against each other. In the kibbutz everyone knows everyone, everyone is friends, people will adopt us, we'll integrate. The uncontrollable urge to find a social life will sublimate into meetings with pals in the dining room or around a campfire. True, it's a bit tricky to find wood in the desert, but that's not really a problem.

A kibbutz resembles village life. In the kibbutz I will rebuild my disappeared family. How I envy my brothers and my parents who live in such close quarters, and if they get bored some evening or three during the week, and feel a little alone, a little stressed, they would not conceive of starting up the car and going to get drunk in the nearest city, when within just a few steps they can be surrounded by family.

"There's nothing like the kibbutz," I declared when my wife asked, "Where's the car?" That's it, I decided, a desert kibbutz. In just a bit, when I manage to get out of bed, I will look for kibbutzim in the Negev. The secretariat will probably not recognize my name.

"You didn't answer me," my wife insisted with the lack of consideration she typically shows when I am trying to calculate moves that will bring only happiness and tranquillity to her and the family. "I have to take the kids to school and get to work."

"Ah. Yes. I came home in a taxi," I told her. "I was just drinking and I didn't want to drive back. It's not legal, and it's dangerous, too."

She didn't bother to answer, just ordered a taxi and left. I really did take a taxi home, but it was because I looked for the car for nearly an hour and didn't find it. Maybe it was stolen. There are a lot of thieves in the city. I bet there's not even one thief in the kibbutz.