Shashi Ishai
Shashi Ishai

Ask Avigail: My Two-Humped Camel Was Attacked By a Crazed Amalakite

Dear Avigail,

I am writing to you from across the Mediterranean, from the isle of Mykonos Mousus. Your fame and sagacious words have comforted people, from all walks of life. I hope you can help me sort out a few of my own problems…

I came from a small Greek fishing village. Since I hit pubosis, I was viewed as nothing less than a Greek Goddess. My father owned a taverna, to which all the men came to eat, drink and ogle, for which a heavy surcharge was added to their bill. Some shnorosos* tried to smuggle in their own ogle, in a paper bag, but were caught and turned away.When I wore a peasant shirt, which was my own, private “tribute to Anna Magnani”, business soared. However, I never did anything to dishonor the family name, Pinchituchalotos. Occasionally, a sweet shepherd would try to woo me with his rendition of “Your Bleating Heart.”

One day, a pirate sauntered into our taverna. His “nickname” was Sneezy, as he was allergic to his exotic, but arthritic parrot. His claw was gnarled and dug into Sneezy’s shoulder, which caused both to have chronic, grouchy dispositions. The pirate’s real name was Testos Gonados. He glanced at the menu and threw it to the air…He growled. “I want you…now.” Testos arched his eyebrow in my direction; and, with his hook-for-an-arm, caught a marinated octopopolos from the buffet, and silenced his opinionated fowl, Dirkus.

My father hastily arranged a taverna wedding, and this Greek G-d soon turned out to be a G-d Damned Greek. My father was skeptical of his new son-in-law. Instead of breaking ceramic plates, Daddy tore paper ones. Besides Testos giving me an endless pile of laundry, dishes and demands, which served as compliments, Testos gave me a son, Ixmo. While he was in my womb, I had a dream that the midwife delivered him and smacked his bottom, so he would cry. Instead, he lifted his fist and belted her in the fanny. She took off her spiked heel and whacked him into last Tuesday. When his actual birth came, there was an indentation in his forehead, the size of a stiletto ball. If he is anything like his father, I can see his future clearly: a Rhodes cobbler- being told to “hit the road” from every Greek Isle and Crete.

Please, I am desperate!!!

The GlassMenAchingly

Oh My Dear Greek Goddess,

My heart goes out to you. I would like to tie 10 empty Woolite bottles together, as a musical instrument, take that parrot, stuff him, and use him to play the “Woolzphone” across those two useless heads and clunk out my own soulful rhapsody. Wow that felt good; how about you?

Seriously, you are not alone. Take for instance, my cousin, Lillian Wertheim and her lovely husband, Saul. You are supposed to “sheep nachos*” from your children, which means, that is why you develop stretch marks that resemble alien crop circles in some Montana cattle ranchers farm, right? That’s why you sleep like a turtle on its shell, never able to right itself, unless your husband happens to turn in his sleep, right? But not Lillian and Saul. Their twins, Roni and Rami wrote graffiti in her womb, tried to strangle each other with the umbilical cord and played hide and go seek whenever it was time for Lillian’s gyno exam, so the Pharaoh’s magician could only hear one heartbeat. But, he charged, as if he heard two.

As the children grew older, Lillian and Saul noticed that their neighbors, both Egyptians and Hebrews, found excuses not to socialize, but to actually shun them. They were so isolated; their kids didn’t even catch the normal childhood diseases and plagues that ran rampant through the city.  At one alarming point, however, Rami became itchy. But it wasn’t chicken pox, they were vegans.

As teenagers, Roni and Rami defined the term implicitly. One day, as they were cutting class from Ramses Jr. High, and waxing each other’s excess chest follicles, an important edict went out to all pubescents seeking to take the two-part Drivers Examination. This test would be given on this date, at this location, in Hieroglyphics. No re-tests would be given under any circumstances. If you failed to attend, you would never be able to own/rent a licensed chariot or any wheeled means of transportation.  Signed, The Minister of Traffic &Transportation.

As was their tradition, they never lifted a symbol, or posed a question of importance. They slept, got drunk, ordered in, drank some more, reveled in their irresponsibility and slept way past the time the exam was to be given.

They frantically mounted their two-humped camel, Batulelhamdi, and sped off to the auditorium. They smacked her flank, and she lazily sauntered back to their home.

They ran into the huge amphitheatre and lay prostrate at the podium of the Grand Professor, who looked at them with cynicism and disdain. Then he spoke to them.

“Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeees. Can I help you boys?”

“Oh Sir, we are so sorry, so very sorry that we are late to take the test. You have no idea what trouble had befallen us, on the way. A person of lesser courage, of lesser fortitude, would have given up and just gone home in depression and rejection, never to ride so much as a bicycle…”

“My brother, Roni, speaks the truth. When we started out from our house, we had ample time to arrive punctually. We rode on our beloved two-humped camel, Batulelhamdi. We stopped for a small snack under a palm tree and had a drink of water. Suddenly, a poisoned arrow, wouldn’t it have been enough, if it had been just an arrow, in itself, pierced the hump of our beloved beast. She fell in an anguished cry, as paralysis set in. A crazy, cruel Amalakite* revealed himself from behind a boulder and began to hurl curses at us. We never saw him, never had a bad word with him. Suddenly, what seemed a tribe appeared and dragged him away, bowing at us and repeating “shuchran”*. Now, what were we to do?”

“I said to Rami we must make a painful choice. We must leave Batulelhamdi in G-d’s hands. When we return, if she is still alive, we will worry about how we will bring her home. But for now, we must beg for your forgiveness, and please show us mercy and give us another chance to take the test.”

The Proctor pursed his lips and looked from one boy to another.

“I have it in my heart to give you a second chance. The test, however, will consist of just one question. You will sit on opposite sides of the room. Put your name on the cover; then, turn the paper over and circle the right answer, and bring it back to me.”

The Proctor took a few minutes to prepare the test; then, handed it to each student. Rami and Roni went to either side of the room, each with a residue smirk on his lips. They had concocted a lie to take a re-test, and it was only one question!!! Each turned it over. This is what they read.



FRONT HUMP                         BACK HUMP



*sheep nachos – NOT a Mexican corn chip snack

*shuchran- Arabic for thank you

*Amalakite- Tribe of people whose mission is to hate the Jews.

*shnorosos- person who feels entitled to empty all the sugar packets into his own satchel.

About the Author
Shashi Ishai is a former stand-up/cartoonist from Teaneck, N.J. She resides in Netanya with her husband, Yacov; daughter, Zehava; son Zaki and dog, Stanley .Shashi is the author of ASK AVIGAIL: Advice from a Biblical Era Sagette, available on Amazon.