The Garden of Science. That’s what they call it. It’s located near Rehovot in the world renowned Weizmann Institute. And you should go there with your kids. On a Saturday. To see the dinosaur exhibit. But not if you’re so hungover you throw up in the eco-dome. Because what happens in the eco dome doesn’t stay in the eco dome. Or if the world of science makes you feel stupid. And slow.
I felt really bad for those poor (nearly life-sized) dinosaurs. Not because they’ve been extinct for millions of years. But because they too were looked down on by those smug sciency bastards.
Like the Stegosaurus. Who had a sign right next to him proclaiming him as having “The Smallest Brain”.
Or the Torosaurus who had “The Biggest Head”. Or T-Rex. “Most Carnivorous”
Which sucks. And maybe true. But they’re not there to stand up for themselves. Or defend against those harsh accusations. And if I were a dinosaur I’d probably have a sign next to me that read:
“The largest Moobs”. Ouch.
And the more I walked around that garden of science the dumber I felt. Like at the “Discs Ahoy” exhibit. And I looked on like this kid.
But not in awe or wonder of the great world of science. But in shame. I had no idea why the discs acted in such a way. Not after reading the explanation in English. And then in Hebrew. And then in English again.
Nor did I quite understand “The Pipes of Pan” though it seemed like the twelve year old next to me did. The snotty little over achiever was explaining the phenomena to his friends. But I was too busy taking selfies with my head being eaten by a dinosaur.
And just when I thought the world of science couldn’t make me feel any more imbecilic, I took my little Mohican into the eco-dome for a guided tour.
And we sat in the back and waited for people to come in. And the first question the teen guide asked was whether anyone knew what “Ecology” meant. And I thought about it. Long and hard. But I was nauseous. And focusing almost singularly on not throwing up. Again. And the snotty little science kid raises his hand: “It’s from the Greek meaning the scientific study of the interaction of organisms…”
Being a senior citizen it took me a few days to recover from the hangover. And the humiliation handed to me by science. Just in time to get dragged, kicking and screaming, to my nephew’s third birthday party. Which, in the world of Judaism is a special occasion, since it’s the first time you’re supposed to cut the child’s hair. It’s called a “Halake” in Hebrew. But I call it an excuse for my brother in law to torture me with loud Mediterranean karaoke music, vodka red bull cocktails and thirty of his closest, Kappa sweat suit and kippa wearing cronies.
And my brother in law greets us in the parking lot. Wearing his festive sweat pants. And a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He smacks his hand on the car hood and I slam on the brakes. And he laughs. And opens the back door where D. is sleeping peacefully. And blows the smoke into the car. And grabs that poor child. And God help us all I can hear is the deafening cacophony of Lior Narkis and the collective spitting out of sunflower seeds. But at least it is loud enough to drown out my son’s screaming.
Eventually the Rabbi arrives. And the birthday boy is propped on a chair. While the Rabbi holds the scissors in his shaky fingers. And I get nervous anytime I see a Rabbi wielding anything sharp. And so I ask M. if this was yet another circumcision. Because if so I need to start drinking. Heavily. Like a teenager from Bat Yam on the night before he’s conscripted.
He rambles on for a good twenty minutes. About the negative energy in hair. Or the need to fulfill this commandment or that. While the Mediterranean music blares from behind him. And the stench of cigarettes wafts in from the hallway. And finally my brother in law, in his infinite tact, nudges the Rabbi as if to say: “wrap it up, padre”. Like when they cue the music during an Academy Award acceptance speech that goes on too long.
And the irony was not lost on me. After all I’ve started a global movement called Janu-hairy not two weeks before. The whole idea was NOT to cut my hair all of January and support a cause. Any cause. And here I was attending a religious ceremony dedicated entirely to cutting hair. And I felt really stupid.
Really, really stupid.
Like an idiot. Because I hadn’t thought about doing something like this at all. We had close family and friends when D. turned three. And certainly no Rabbi to cut his hair. A modest affair. With Joni Mitchell crooning softly. Barely noticeable. And wine. In actual glasses. And quiches. Gluten free quiches.
My brother in law had invited all of his friends, co-workers and I believe some random people from the neighborhood. All bearing gifts. Or checks. All drinking Vodka Red Bull and singing off key. And he must have made out like a bandit. And that was a stroke of genius. Absolute genius.
But a few nights ago I was sitting on the carpet in D.’s room. Reading the newspaper while he tried to figure out a puzzle. Which he couldn’t. And so he handed it to me. And we solved it together.
And when we were done we admired the completed puzzle.
And he looked at me with such unbridled admiration.
And I knew that to him, and for this brief moment in time,
I was the smartest person in the world.