I’m a terrible brother-in-law. Everybody knows that by now. Like a few weeks ago we were over at his new house. And he looks me up and down. And asks if I have trouble taking my wedding ring off. Because of my sausage like fingers. And as I’m about to defend myself and lay the blame squarely on a high sodium breakfast he goes on an unsolicited ten minute rant about some co worker of his who needed to have his wedding ring removed surgically. And I kept fantasizing about strangling him. With the elastic cord from his sweatpants that he keeps twirling in my face. And strangely, this thought gave me an erection.

But what few people know is that my ineptitude doesn’t end at being a shitty brother-in-law. Turns out I’m a terrible uncle too. I never remember my niece’s birthday. Or my nephew’s. On either side. The last time I visited them in The Netherlands I totally spaced on buying a gift. Even though their mom had promised them that I was indeed bringing them a gift from Israel. So I took out a half eaten bag of bamba. And asked them to share.

I’m even worse at being a cousin. She was here from the States and we skyped her fiancé one night. But I was drunk. And stoned. And being obnoxious. Because of his German ancestry. But the next day M. took her to the Shuk Hapishpeshim, the flea market in Jaffa, as a way to compensate for me and my ghastly behavior. And my cousin bought her fiancé a postcard. I guess he likes postcards. Personally I hate postcards. Hate them. Because pretty much anyone can read the message you wrote, from postal sorters to nosy neighbors. Fuck postcards. Especially this postcard. It was a retro “1972 Munich Olympics” postcard.

Don’t even get me started on my son-in-law skills. Because we’re packing all of our stuff and moving into my mother-in-law’s house. And she has gracefully accepted that. But when we there last weekend measuring the rooms so we could decide what makes the cut I saw an open box of cookies. So I had one. Or four. And she turns to me as she’s about to light her cigarette and says:

“You look like you could use a cookie. Are they feeding you at home?”

I’m a terrible father. Really. The other night M. went to an impromptu high school reunion. And she left me home alone with the little hell raiser. And I did what any hard working man would do when left to baby-sit. I bought a bottle of cava, downed a few codeine pills and put on an uber violent cartoon for him. On loop. While I trolled facebook for “friends”. Or looked for a job. Or wrote drunken emails full of typos and sexual innuendos to random contacts in my address book.

I suck at being a husband. Really. I mean let’s face it, I’ve asked my wife to move back home because I can’t earn a decent living. So we’re packing all our earthly possessions into two types of boxes; long term storage (for when we get back on our feet and move out of my mother in law’s) and stuff we need for our day to day. And we come across our government issued gas masks. And we have a major argument. Nuclear. Because I say you never know in this country. Crazy shit can happen. Better to have these things handy. And I went into detail on several doomsday scenarios. Mad Max type shit (while singing Tina Turner’s “We don’t need another hero”… you know to drive the point home) And she disagreed. To put it mildly. And so we gave each other a few hours of awkward silence.

I’m not a good son. Shocking, I know. Like my mom has a birthday today. And in lieu of a present I thought I’d dedicate a blog to her. Because it’s the thought that counts, right? At least that’s what cheap unimaginative people like me tell themselves. So I thought about a blog topic. Since my mom was born in 1948, the same year as our great country, I thought I’d do a blog detailing all the similarities between Israel and her. But sadly all I could come up with was:
1. She isn’t surrounded by neighbors who want her tossed into the sea.
2. She isn’t the size of New Jersey.
3. She isn’t desert-like and arid.

So I decided against it.

I used to be a terrible grandson. Because my grandmother would write me letters when we were in Israel. She would always address them “Master Jason”. And I would open them and look for a check. And if the envelope was empty I wouldn’t even bother reading the letter. Until my pop stepped in and insisted I write a letter back. And so I did. But under coercion and threat of sanctions. Like, I imagine, an abducted soldier or captive would write to inform his family that he was still alive and that his captors meant business.

Finally, and probably most importantly, I’m a terrible human being. I’m selfish and egotistical. I’m condescending and aloof. I’m a smart ass. I’m obnoxious as hell. I’m self righteous and petty. I hold grudges. I hurt people’s feelings. I’m a real dick.

But for some reason my cat loves me. He greets me every morning as I stumble through the dark apartment with my morning wood. And rubs up against my feet. And begs me to run my fingers through his soft fur. And I’ll sit down on the cold kitchen floor waiting for that electric kettle to boil and I’ll pet him.

And as terrible a human being as I am, when I’m alone in the dark with that mangy cat I’ll feel like maybe there’s still hope for me yet.

And then I realize that his food bowl is empty.

Mao the cat (photo courtesy of Wai Wong)

Mao the cat (photo courtesy of Wai Wong)

And I’m the only one tall enough to reach it.

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