Me and the Good Guys

Girlfriends that really know me well say that at bottom, I am what in American is known as a 'bimbo' and in archaic Hebrew as a 'blonda.'

Girlfriends that really know me well say that at bottom, I am what in American is known as a "bimbo" and in archaic Hebrew as a "blonda." To reinforce this opinion - which even a blind person can see is refuted by every aspect of my appearance - they cite certain evidence. For example, that for years I allowed Lilia, the manicure queen, to paint cherries on my toenails. But the strongest proof comes from the period when I still believed that I was going to get a driver's license. One day back then, as we sat in a cafe and I shared my tormented thoughts with the group about which car to buy, a pink Mini Cooper drove by us. "That's exactly what I want!" I shouted, knocking over the coffee in my excitement.

In my defense, I maintain that true bimbos tend to fall in love eternally, if not for longer, with people who can buy them pink cars. I, in contrast, was my father's daughter, and whenever we were driving in our 10-year-old Lark (later also 16 years old) and a new car passed us, he would raise one hand in a questioning gesture and shout, "Dear God, where is the money from? Where is the money from? It's not from work - maybe they received reparations from the Germans, may their name be blotted out." If it was a BMW or a Mercedes or a long glittering American model, he would simply mutter laconically, "Well, there goes a mobster."

In other words, in practice I remained a captive of the concept of the intellectual and of spiritual riches. Never did I succeed to fall in love with someone only because he was rich. Which says nothing, by the way, about the objects of my fantasies, in which I myself am also someone completely different. That's probably the reason why the person who is the embodiment of a sex symbol for me is fat, with a somewhat limited intellect and a traitorous, cruel and chauvinist character, lacking the inclination and the skill to hold conversations on the subject of "our relationship - whither?" His name is Tony Soprano.

In my estimation, I have read every nonfiction book ever written about the Mafia in the United States. My favorite film genre is Mafia movies, a category under which I include not only well-crafted movies and television series, but also, and indeed mainly, all kinds of totally inferior products no one but me watches, along with crappy Mafia movies that wait only for me in the video lending library. I also have no hesitation about watching reality shows featuring Mafia widows with fantastically long fingernails and diamond-studded belts or documentaries about the trials of American crime figures. And, I have to admit, I have not missed one episode about the life of Yaakov Alperon, as filmed for the reality program "Once in a Lifetime" on satellite TV. (All of this, by the way, is in contrast to my own reality, in which, when I have met people of influence in the underworld as part of my work as a journalist, the only feelings that were aroused were deathly fear and loathing.)

Why am I so drawn to Mafia movies, I ask myself time and again. After all, I hate violence, and pain frightens me. I think that part of the attraction is that in movies like this, the rules are completely clear. The good guy, who is usually the bad guy in the underworld, is good; the bad guy, who is a law-enforcement official or maybe just someone who doesn't obey the rules of the Mafia, is bad, and always gets his comeuppance, without clarification, without hearings, without commissions of inquiry and without being declared incapacitated or suspending himself from his job. In contrast to the legitimate world, and particularly in contrast to what is happening in our upper political echelons, the people in Mafia movies are aware that everything has a price, and they are going to have to pay it: Nothing will help, least of all a court of law.

Ettie says that maybe what attracts me is the family thing: Crime families have a distinctly patriarchal structure and a lot of good food. But after all, every pure Sephardi family driven by self-respect, like the one I have on my mother's side, has that same structure.

The explanation, regrettably, lies in the advantage of heredity over environment. My mother married a yeshiva student who lost his faith and became a doubting, cynical intellectual. She herself had a left-wing outlook, but all her life admired army men with names like "Raful" and "Gandhi" (the Israeli version), whom she considered "real men," meaning people with no "feminine side." And I, for the same reason, love Mafioso in my fantasy life. Alongside a man like that, I, too, would have been able to fulfill my bimbo destiny. And whenever I felt the need to talk, I would get into my pink Mini Cooper and go to visit my girlfriends.