The Dating Game

My wife and I live in constant fear of our children. Mainly of our daughter, who has long suspected us and occasionally begins to talk about the fact that she knows what we are doing.

"Do you hear?" my wife whispered in the morning, looking to the right and left to make sure that no one was in hearing distance. "I'll take a day off from work today - what do you say?"

"I say it's a wonderful idea," I whispered in turn. "I have a meeting in Neveh Ilan from about 8:00 to 10:00, half an hour and I'll be back home. I can put off the rest."

"Great," she smiled. "So I'll drop off the children and come back ... Oh!" she interrupted herself in alarm. The child stood at the entrance to the bedroom, rubbed her eyes with her two fists and gave her mother a suspicious look.

"What were you talking about?"

"Ahh, nothing," her mother stammered, "nothing. I told Dad that I have a lot of work today."

"Good," said the child with an unconvinced look, "I'm going into the bathroom."

Meanwhile our son also woke up, grabbed the bars of the bed adjacent to ours and stared at us as if we were a pair of criminals.

My wife and I live in constant fear of our children. Mainly of our daughter, who has long suspected us and occasionally begins to talk about the fact that she knows what we are doing - and the two of us, like novice criminals, swear to her that it's not true, that all her suspicions are unfounded. That we would never do such a thing. My wife and I are convinced from past experience that our daughter never really sleeps. She only pretends to sleep. It makes no difference what time it is, she will always wake up and give us that look and that nod of the head; we don't know where to bury ourselves when we see it.

It's not, God forbid, that she's ever really caught us in the act; after all, we lock the door. The last time, if I'm not mistaken, about half a year ago, I didn't just lock the door, but also moved the cupboard up against it. But still, I have no logical explanation for it; she will always knock on the door and make our hearts stop.

The little guy has also begun to exhibit alertness. If I come near his mother, for no special reason - let's say, even if I sit next to her on the sofa in front of the television - he immediately jumps on me and makes a fist, with a murderous look in his eye.

"I didn't mean it," I sometimes apologize to him. "I swear to you, my mistake, I didn't know it was your mother, I thought it was someone else."

I suspect that my son has inherited, not from me apparently, the business of Arab honor and jealousy when it comes to the women of the family. It would be one thing if I weren't known, but for a journalist like me with a respectable name, the headline in the newspaper would be problematic - something like: "Sayed Kashua stabbed to death in bedroom because of violation of family honor." Especially when the assailant is two years old.

"That's it," I said to my wife two hours later on the cell phone. "I've finished the meeting. I'll be with you in half an hour." I rushed to unlock the car door. But the door didn't open. And it was the one on the passenger side, because the lock of the other door was taken apart a long time ago in a burglary attempt and I never bothered to fix it. I pulled out the key only to discover that I had only half of it left in my hand. The other half had apparently stayed in the lock. Shi--t! I hissed in the Neveh Ilan parking lot. What do I do now?

The producer was sitting in the office. In contrast to my shouts a few minutes earlier about the conditions of the contract, now I begged for help. He looked at me, leaned back in his seat, and asked: "What, it's the key to the ignition, too?"

"Yes," I nodded. "I have no way of getting out of here."

"All right, my dear man," he said, "don't worry, it's no problem. Although I really don't understand your opposition to the contract. It's a good contract."

"You're right," I replied. "I regretted not signing as soon as I left."

"So, please allow me. I'll pick up a phone to the garage owner here in Abu Ghosh." He held the receiver in one hand and with the other held out the contract, the subject of the dispute. When I signed, he dialed.

Ibrahim arrived at the car in half an hour. After two hours he managed to take apart the door and remove the lock. He put the lock and the half-key in my hand and barked: "Go to someone who copies keys, there's one in Mevasseret, and pray that he'll manage to take out the stuck part and duplicate the two parts together."

"Thanks," I said, returning to the producer's room to ask for help with the trip to Mevasseret.

"Take these, my dear man," he said, taking out the keys to the Mercedes from the drawer, "although there's a paragraph here in the contract that I took out ..." I signed my initials above the correction without reading it and went with the keys to Mevasseret.

"Where are you?" my wife asked me over the phone just when I was standing in front of the guard at the entrance to the mall there.

"Still with the shitty car," I shouted in Arabic, while the guard leaned on the window.

"The trunk, please," instructed the guard, with one hand on his holster. The trunk didn't open, neither from the button next to the steering wheel nor with the key, nor after I did anything else. "ID please."

"The car isn't mine," I said to the guard like an idiot. A second before the police were called, and after I promised the producer to waive a few more rights, the guard was convinced that there was simply some problem with the electricity in the car and that I was after all not a terrorist with a bomb in the trunk.

"I won't call the police, but you're not entering the mall."

I had to drive to Wadi Joz, take apart a lock, copy the key, return to Abu Ghosh, pick up Ibrahim, return to the damned car, fix up the door, put in a new lock - and only then did I rush back home.

"Where are you?" said my wife, furious, over the phone.

"That's it, I'm finished. I'm on my way," I said.

"Great," she shouted. "Go by the school and pick up your daughter."