It’s midnight and D. wakes me up. He’s soaking wet. And smells like the subway stop at Broad and Locust back in Philly. And by the time I change his clothes and wash my hands he’s sound asleep in my bed. His head is on my pillow. And I’m wide awake.
So I grab a pillow and head over to the couch. And stare at the ceiling. For an hour. And luckily I’m not a neurosurgeon on call. Or a Prime Minister. Or anything of importance really.
And I try to sleep. Will myself to sleep. Close my eyes and wait patiently for slumber to come but it doesn’t. It rarely does these days. Not since I stopped smoking pot. And drinking. As much as I used to, anyway. And this would be a perfect time to smoke a cigarette only M. made it clear that doing so would be the end of our marriage. She drew the line in the sand. At cigarettes. Not at me wearing her clothes. Or blogging about my sexual fantasies. Or my ever-expanding girth. Cigarettes.
Everything in this country would be better if things were open twenty four hours a day. I would take my car in for its annual inspection. The “test” as they call it here. And I’d probably be the only one there. And I’d sit and have a cup of coffee while my Suzuki was probed and prodded. And it would pass. Or not. But I’m sure the technician would be glad to see me. After all it must get pretty lonely at the service station around 2 AM.
I would probably head over to the bank next. And the teller would greet me. With a smile. Because it’s been a few hours since anybody came in the bank. And she would offer me a cup of coffee. Or a cookie. And then I would ask her about her children. Because she has a photo on her desk. And she would tell me all about them. All three of them. In great detail. And I wouldn’t be in a rush. And neither would she. We would connect. Like we were the last two human beings alive.
My next stop would be at the supermarket. Oh the glory that is an empty supermarket. Nobody pushing and shoving. No run on the registers. Just me and my shopping cart strolling leisurely down the aisles. And since I’m not really hungry I only get the healthy essentials. No junk food. No booze. Definitely no cigarettes. And I would chat with the grocer. And since he was so bored he would go back to the enormous fridge and bring out the choice lettuce and tomatoes. The cashier would make sure that I had taken advantage of the special on tuna fish. Which I hadn’t. And she would wait for me to go get another can since it was two for one. And she wouldn’t even make a face. I would then load my groceries into the car which is parked right out front.
But it’s only 3 AM. And M. is still in bed. And so is D. But he’s sprawled out and I don’t want to wake him. Besides I still have a bunch of errands to run.
So I drive down to the mall. And the security guard greets me with a smile. I ask him if he wants to check my bag. But he shakes his head. And I offer to get him a cup of coffee. Or a croissant. But he declines. Tells me his wife wants him to watch his weight. And I smile knowingly as I walk into that dreaded hall of consumerism that I so violently detest.
But the mall is friendly at 3 AM. Even to an agoraphobic misanthropic shmuck like me. There are a few elderly couples walking around. Some kids still awake from the night before. And me. Because this is what Israel looks like at 3 AM.
And so I walk into a clothing store. Because winter came suddenly. Yesterday. And I’m too obese to fit into my clothes from last year. Which normally would depress me. But not now. Because the saleslady is so happy to see another human being. To interact. She lunges at me like she’s my own personal shopper. My in-house stylist. “This would look really good on you.” And “This makes you look really thin.” And she’s not doing it for the commission. Nope. She’s doing it out of sheer boredom. And I walk out of there with a new wardrobe, which, as fat people will tell you, is the hardest thing in the world to do.
On the way back home I’ll stop at Napoleon’s hill on the Ramat Gan side of Yarkon Park and watch the sunrise over the rooftops of the small homes. A sly fox will look at me and I’ll think what every new father thinks when he sees a fox: The Gruffalo. And the fox will run off and I’ll yawn as that timeless and breathtaking reminder of the universe’s many wonders ascends through the autumnal air. And I am reminded of my own transient nature. And how short my time is on this planet. And how every minute, every second should be used to love. Passionately. Intensely.
It’s morning when I get back to my small apartment. I hit the couch and my head falls on to the pillow like a cinderblock plummeting into the depths of the ocean. And finally I’ll feel myself falling asleep. And I’m consumed with a sense of accomplishment. I have completed my honey-do list and now my time is my own. I am free to do whatever I please. Create art. Music. Film. Or sleep.
And as I cross the invisible, barely perceptible threshold into slumber I hear my alarm clock going off. And D. is standing above me with an empty bowl of cornflakes and the remote.
And he hugs me.
As I get him ready for another day at the nursery.
And I get ready for another day at work.