She’s telling me about something. I can’t say exactly what. Words that lead to sentences adorned by delicate hand gestures for emphasis. Her face lights up and the neurons fire a signal. Smile. Say Uh-huh. I do. And nod. But my thoughts are a million miles away. I can hear Al Stewart’s “The Year of the Cat” in my head. I haven’t heard that song since 1989. Why now? Ugh. My brain is a monkey on meth. I abandon her there in the living room and escape to one of my works in progress. A documentary film about a certain singer’s new album. Where can I add that shot of the drummer during the sound check? I love the way the dust particles glow in the light, like some magical dust fairy. That’s what I’ll do tomorrow, I conclude. I’ll add that shot, tighten up the opening sequence (I mean, the audience is NOT going to stick around if the opening shot is too long).
Wait. She’s asked me a question. Or is it just a pregnant pause? I nod and add a “huh.” I’m about to add an “interesting” when she continues. “They’re too small. I mean, why are they so stingy with the jam?” I hear water running in the bathroom. Did the little dude forget to turn off the faucet. Forget about the water bill. I mean we have much bigger issues, here pal. We’ve got a global water shortage. I mean, shit, haven’t you seen Mad Max? Not the original one with Mel. The new one. If every individual in every household uses this much water, we’re not gonna have any left. And all those terrifying commercials about the dangerously low water levels in the Kinneret? But wait a second. We’re the fuckin’ start-up nation. Can’t we just come up with a solution? Maybe turn chewed up sunflower seeds into drinkable water? That’s a terrible idea.
“And there was a line out the door. It’s like they’re giving them away for free.” I stand up abruptly. Turn off the water. Sit back down and focus on the conversation at hand. Squinting. Distracted ever so slightly by the light of the computer. Pulls me in like a tractor beam in sci-fi. Like sirens. Like Like Like. I need some likes. Facebook has my fix. I posted some street photos the other day. Maybe someone will like them. FFS I thrive on likes. Need them to breathe. Need them so…
“And they cost 7.5 shekels each!” I nod in agreement. Bastards. How dare they charge that much? I have no idea what it is she’s railing against but in my mind I’ve already organized the protest. We’re taking this shit to the streets, cottage-cheese style! No more 7.5 shekels for something or other. Hell no! Gonna burn down some banks. Gonna pillage. Gonna… fuck, I’m starving. I had a pizza and salad for lunch so I’m screwed. I don’t know what to do for dinner. Usually, if I have a salad for lunch I’ll have some carbs for dinner. If I have carbs for lunch I’ll try and have a salad for dinner. But lunch. Oh lunch, you fucked me. Now what, huh? Do I double down on carbs? Another salad? Screw that. I am not doing two salads a day. That’s crossing a line. Nope. “Anyway, it was a huge disappointment.” Fine. I’ll have some leftover stir fry tofu from the other night. “And I never want to eat anything from there ever again.”.
I’m standing in line for gluten-free sufganiyot at 3:00 in the afternoon. It’s a Sunday. I’ve just completed a rough cut of the documentary and I can’t tell if it’s any good. Has anything I’ve done ever qualified as “good.” I scan every single film, photograph, blog post for something “good.” It’s all shit. I’m shit. I’m 40 years old and I haven’t created a single thing of meaning. I sure talk a big game. Introducing myself as a “filmmaker.” You’re not a filmmaker. You’re barely a wedding videographer. Barely. Remember your friend from film school? The guy whose film came in second place at the annual festival behind your film? Well guess what you schmuck? JJ Abrams just tapped him to direct a major motion picture while you putz around with a documentary that no one will ever bother to watch. The beginning is solid now. Taut and lean. A perfect opening for a mediocre film.
“I’ll take four jam, four chocolate and all of the butterscotch sufganiyot.” The douchebag in line smiles at me with a mug full of perfectly white teeth. You greedy SOB. You’ve left me none of the good sufganiyot. And to smile at me, to gloat over your victory? Seriously? Whatever happened to human decency? Whatever happened to Kol Israel Achim? Huh fuckface? With your stupid haircut and your Freddy Krueger style polo shirt tucked in to your pants? I could murder him. Right there in line. Just reach out strangle him and steal the last tray of gluten-free sufganiyot. I know I wouldn’t last a day in prison. I’m too pretty for the slammer. I’m too ugly for the outside though. Maybe jail would be good for me, actually. It will definitely put my life in perspective. A stupid documentary versus learning how to survive in a world of sodomy and rapists. Now that’s drama!
Wow. This is depressing. Maybe I should buy a box of eclairs. I could use some emotional eating about now. The underpaid, overworked lady at the counter puts on the latex gloves while talking to a faceless voice. “Tell Simcha I can’t pick up Tohar from school today. Can Mazal pick him up? It’s a madhouse in here…” A surly, overweight baker with a bit of shirt peeking out from the oil stains brings out a fresh tray of sufganiyot just in time. Plenty of chocolate and butterscotch. Looks like everything’s coming up roses for ol’ Gilbert. I’ll get my lovely wife (who puts up with all my shit) a whole tray of gluten free sufganiyot. The whole fucking tray. What a gesture. I’ll be a hero. The husband she always dreamt of. Her knight in oily armor. How much? She doesn’t look up from the phone and says “7.5 nis each.” I don’t know why that number sounds so damn familiar.
“You never listen.” She says as she finishes off the second gluten-free sufganiya. “Look. Look inside. They don’t even fill it up with jam on the INSIDE! Cheap bastards.” It all comes back to me. Like a montage in a really bad film. Fragments. Of that conversation. Of how she stood in line for gluten-free sufganiyot on Thursday last. Of how little jam there was on the inside and how expensive it was. 7.5 shekels rings through my ears. I’ll never eat anything from there again. I’m an idiot. A total idiot. Only I could manage to turn a surprise gift of sufganiyot into a damning expose on my incompetence as a human and a husband.
“But I love you anyway, even if you don’t…” Don’t what? Wait a second! I’ve got it! I just need to open with the drum solo and the fuckin’ movie is a hit. I’m a genius!