Monday, June 05, 2006


We got back from Israel a couple of weeks ago.

The day after we returned A. got violently ill. He though it was food poisoning. I did too until I got the same exact food poisoning complete with violent hurling and flaming muscles and the ass-id spackling of the toilet while puking into the trashcan. And then there was the crying and prayers for merciful death - that was A., I moaned and rocked myself like a catatonic mental patient.

This was after the grueling flight home; twelve hours from Tel Aviv to Toronto and then an hour and a half layover in "the room" where El Al places it's passengers, sort of a holding cell between flights, and the final leg which takes about five and half hours but it feels like forever, especially that last hour.

Our flight was scheduled to leave Tel Aviv at 1am on Sunday morning. We arrived with an hour and a half to spare, but A. had to return the rental car. As I sat in the airport with all of our luggage, tickets and passports, the time passed. At first I was kind of fascinated by the hordes of Hassidic Jews. It looked as though the entire cast of Fiddler on the Roof was shuttling luggage through Ben Gurion. Actually more like the cast of about 10 different productions of Fiddler. There were just tons of them everywhere. And they get very miffed when you stare at them which is strange considering that they're wearing knickers and white stockings and shiny bathrobes and fur hats. What else are people going to do but stare.

Adi finally showed up after about an hour and 20 minutes and El Al doesn't look very kindly on passenger who show up when the plane is boarding, out of breath and spewing excuses about the rental car. He had to drive to a completely different terminal to return the damn thing and then shuttle back to our terminal and Ben Gurion has about 30 miles of road circling it so it was lucky he made it back when he did. After some pretty intense grilling we were allowed to put our luggage through the x-ray machine and then get our boarding passes whereupon it was discovered that they'd given our window aisle seats away. We were provided with an agent to walk us through security and someone came up in a special elevator to take our luggage directly to the plane. When we arrived at the gate A. everyone was on the plane but us and A. started throwing a fit about our seats not being held. I just wanted to get on so I plopped down next to this very sweet boy who was on his way to LA for a vacation before he started his military service. He and I got to talking and he offered to give A. his seat so we were able to sit together. This didn't necessarily make the flight more comfortable, it was 12 hours in coach after all, but at least we could lean against one another.

We landed in Toronto at a tad after dawn. As the sun's first rays gleamed on the wings of the plane the many Hasids among us began praying and davening in their seats. How are you not supposed to look at this? It's not something you see everyday or even on the LA to London flights. As soon as we land A. is all over the El Al employees at the Toronto terminal. He wants to sit in our original seats and he isn't going to stop until they give us those damn seats. I on the other hand have noticed that a group of Orthodox Jews are starting prayer service in the corner. These are regular looking guys who've pulled out their prayer shawls and the teeny, tiny top hats that they wear at a jaunty angle on the front of their heads, attached with straps that wrap all the way down the arm. Kind of like bondage gear. I move closer to watch as they bob in prayer, chanting aloud and facing the wall. I ask A. what the teeny tiny top hat is for and he tells me that it allows God a direct line through their foreheads and into their brains.

I believe him for like two minutes.

I very much want to take pictures of these guys, but I got in so much trouble taking pictures of the Hassidics in Jersualem I'm afraid that they'll yell at me too. And I will have a long ride home with them so I don't want them hating on me. I actually aooreciate all the praying by the Fiddler crew and by these guys too. When you're flying on a plane, up at 35,000 feet, you can never have too much prayer.

A. made a huge scene with the El Al people and I left him at the gate to go the the seat that they assigned me. They found two seats together in the center section for us and, note to self, when flying in the 2-3-2 configuration with another person ask for seats in the center section, aisle and aisle, at the rear of the plane. Odds are you'll get the whole three seats to yourselves. A. wore down the El Al agent and got himself upgraded to first class which serves me right for leaving him, but I did get both of our seats for just me and slept for a good three hours. He roamed the plane because he doesn't like to sit without me, and I do believe it turned out that there was no room for him up there.

When we landed we blew through customs and our bags were the first ones off the plane. They were freezing cold as if they didn't actually make it into the luggage compartment, but were strapped to the outside of the plane. I didn't really care because our luggage came down the conveyor and then they shut it off leaving everyone else to stand there for who knows how long while we jumped into a cab and got home by 11:00am.

I managed to stay up until 8pm that night and woke up on Monday at 6am raring to go without a bit of jet lag. Yeah! A. was puking by 2:30 and moaning and crying all night. I took care of him and he was just starting to feel better when I crashed. He wasn't quite well enough to take care of me although he did totter out to the kitchen to get me some ice chips, but it was hell for 24 hours and as we laid there in agony he looked at me and said, "it's against the rules for you to get sick at the same time as me - who's going to take care of me?"

Oh puhlease.

The jet lag came on with the virus and neither one of us felt well or human until after Memorial Day. I spoke with A.'s brother at the end of last week and he told me that his little boy had a horrible stomach virus the week after we left so we probably got it from him.

And gave it to all those people on the plane with us.

I certainly hope their prayers included good health and no airborne diseases.

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