My brother might be a spy. Granted, all my knowledge of espionage comes from the classic 80’s documentary “Spies Like Us” with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. In which they single handedly end the cold war.

Having children is a great crash course for life as a spy. Let’s say you’re deep undercover in a European city. Basel. And your cover gets blown. Your Russian captors will attempt to torture you. And having kids, you’ll be prepared for the following methods of torture:

1. Sleep Deprivation. I haven’t slept in three years and three months. And I’ve only got one kid. My brother’s got two. The eldest is nine. So he could go weeks. Months. Years even without a decent night’s sleep. When we were growing up in Israel in the late 80’s he used to drive to all night parties in Jerusalem, at the legendary “Underground” club. And he’d come back hungover and stoned just as my dad was waking up to go open the tennis center in Jaffa. And he’d hand off the keys. And my dad would just shake his head. And tell him to get ready for school.

2. Loud Heavy Metal Music. I read about this method of torture about a decade ago. Then I saw it in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”. It was later verified by a Marine friend who had served a couple of tours in Iraq. They would use loud Heavy Metal music, blasted from speakers to torture any potential operatives. And my brother LOVES heavy metal music. I spent the better part of my early teens being subjected to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, WASP to name a few. You put my brother in a dark room and blast Skinny Puppy or Pantera not only will he not crack, he’ll smile and start headbanging.

3. Physical Torture. Now this is the one that usually gets people talking. But having a son like D. I’m used to getting kicked and punched in the groin. Repeatedly. Which is one thing if you’re ready for it. You can brace yourself. But out of the blue? It’s devastating. Just ask Houdini. But my nephew is like D. on steroids. And he’s been to judo classes. So he’s a real bad ass. With training. And I visited my brother in Leiden a few years ago and my nephew punched me so hard in the crown jewels that I saw stars. Just like in the cartoons. So my guess is my brother could handle anything you threw his way.

4. Hypothermia. My brother lived in Leiden, The Netherlands for a decade before seeking a “warmer” climate in Freiburg, Germany. Having visited him in Leiden, in February, and freezing my balls off I realized how ridiculously inured he was to cold weather and hypothermia. I froze my balls off. That’s worth repeating. Because of the wind chill. And since we couldn’t smoke indoors we were forced to step outside into his enchanted garden that reminded me of Shakespeare’s “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream”. I was shivering so badly I almost dropped the joint. Which is a big no no. He was wearing flip flops and a tee. He didn’t even flinch when it started to drizzle. So yeah, his captors could throw cold water at him and he would flip those fuckers the bird. “Is that all you got?”

5. 20 hour interrogations. A few years ago my brother asked me if I would be interested in making a short corporate film for a large pharmaceutical company. Having nothing better to do I agreed. And as part of the research I attended several meetings that this company held. And they would go on for hours. And they were so fucking boring. A real snooze fest. I would stab myself in the leg to keep from falling asleep. But my brother was nodding his head. And offering suggestions for improving efficiency. And making eye contact. So as far as I’m concerned he could withstand any number of hours in the interrogation room. Particularly with heavy metal music playing in the background.

6. Waterboarding. Now this is a tricky one. I don’t think any human alive could hold up under this horribly inhumane form of torture. “The prisoner is bound to a declined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Material is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over them, asphyxiating the prisoner.” From Wikipedia. And here’s the thing. He’s got two kids. He’s up on his feet from like 5 in the morning until ten or eleven at night. He’s running around, going to meetings, sneaking in a workout at the gym, taking the kids to ballet or judo, making dinner. You get the picture. I think he would welcome the opportunity to be able to lie down. And relax. With his feet up. So my guess is he’d just take the opportunity to get some much needed rest.

7. Environmental control. Some reports indicate that the use of extreme hot/cold temperatures have been used in certain torture methods. He could definitely handle the cold temps (see article 4) but what about the heat? Well in the early 90’s my brother was in Givati, an infantry unit that split its time between the Negev desert and the Lebanese DMZ buffer zone. And I remember attending his “beret” ceremony after he and his comrades completed a 70 kilometer run through the desert. And anybody that can run with all that gear through the hot desert in August can put up with it in a room. He’d probably be so happy to be out of that European cold he’d ask his captors for a Goldstar beer and some sunscreen. Maybe even some Hummus.

Every time I visit my brother (when he’s not away on a “business trip” to China, Poland or Moscow) he always manages to make the acquaintance of an Israeli “friend” that just happens to be living there. Coincidence? I think not. More like handler.

Sometimes I ask him whether he’s a spy. Because we tell each other everything. And he just laughs. And smiles. And passes me a joint. And he doesn’t comment.

Of course if he is a spy I’ve totally blown his cover. And put him and his family at risk. And without getting any money from the Russians. Or Iranians. Or the Times of Israel.

My Brother's Numerous Identites on Display (Photo Courtesy of Ulrike May www.umaydesign.net)

My Brother’s Numerous Identites on Display
(Photo Courtesy of Ulrike May www.umaydesign.com)

Lucky for him very few people read my blog.