Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

The tale of the lizard

So this is what happens when your pipe bursts in Israel. Again.

You refer back to the manual from the first time, only to realize it’s basically useless because:

1. This time it isn’t your sink. It’s your toilet.

2. And you’re out of wine.

So you call your landlord who can’t come right now as he is taking his friend to TEREM because “it’s Ramadan, Elohim Yishmor, and Muhammad is dehydrated.”

So you close the water, since you learned how to do that the last time. (Charleston Heston tries hard, but YOU know the dea,) and your kids are circling you and moaning. “we’re hunnnnnggggrrrrryyyyyy, FEEEEEEED usssssss!!!” so you grab the only thing in the fridge left besides hummus since you didn’t go shopping yet, and ask “who wants mangoes”

And they want mangoes.

So, you slice a mango while your kids (and now your cat) are circling you like deranged jackals, eyes glazed and drooling, then your cat begins airing his grievances loudly (the Iran deal? Yeahhhhh, prolly not — you’re betting he’s peeved by the rising cost of cottage cheese. Since rumor has it he’s 1/4 Persian Long Hair on his father’s side, anyway.)

Then, someone nips your second toe on your left foot — and oh please let it be the cat and not one of your kids who bit you!– so you jump, and scream, and oh what fun, your thumb instead of a mango, and there is blood EVERYWHERE because tis but a scratch your ass, and the water is off so you can’t wash the blood away.

And now your kitchen looks like something out of Texas Chainsaw massacre, and your kids (and also the cat) are fighting over who gets to put the bandage on you, and what bandage would look the best with your outfit, as you’re standing there and bleeding out all over the linoleum, and then your daughter asks “what happens when we die?” and your son answers “only PEOPLE die, not mommies,,” which makes no sense since they’ve seen Bambi and know the deal, and you say “Kids, don’t worry, I’m ok and I’m not going to die right now, and we will talk about this later, and who wants mangoes?”

And they want mangoes even though your blood is on it.


“When I grow up, I want to be a vampire! Or a caterpillar!”

And then the door bangs open and a man who you can only hope and pray is the plumber appears in an orange HAZMAT suit and a yarmulke. And he looks at the crime scene in your kitchen and says “so who died.”

Then he heads to the bathroom, “Elohim Yishmor,” he says. “Do you have a screw driver?” You give him a screw driver.

Crash bang.

“Do you have duct tape?” You give him duct tape.

Crash bang.

“Do you have an extra toilet somewhere I can use?”

You do not have an extra toilet somewhere he can use.

He leaves for a few minutes.

And it’s probably a really bad sign when the guy who is supposed to fix your pipes asks (with a desperate gleam in his eyes) “is there any chance you’re planning on moving in the immediate future?” You are not.

Or, at least you weren’t.

Crash, bang and the plumber emerges looking shell-shocked

“You need a new everything, and I’ll bring it all tomorrow.”

So, you walk him out to his car, and he tells you “listen, I may not arrive until the afternoon. I volunteer at the old age home in Rishon, where I am reminding everyone how to bake bread,” and he pops the trunk and reaches in past the tool box he didn’t bring into your house, and pulls out a loaf of bread, and hands it to you and you can only hope and pray that he washed his hands after being elbow deep in your toilet (Elohim Yishmor)

(But how could he have washed his hands since the water is off?)

And with a nod a wink and a smile he drives off, and you head back to your house just in time to head your daughter scream “Mama!!! There’s a a snake!!!!!!!” But the last time she pulled that crap it was just the wooden snake you got her in Jaffa last summer, so you say “oh yeah right, I’m not falling for that,” but then you realize that she isn’t pranking you, because there, stuck in the cello-tape on the door (because your pipes aren’t the only thing falling apart around here), there’s a dead snake, a dead baby snake, so little and cute, and trapped, only it has teeny tiny legs so maybe it isn’t a snake, and one of the legs is twitching so maybe it isn’t dead.

And now your kids are screaming, and the cat is screaming (and licking his chops) and you’re trying not to be screaming either, and slowly, gently, you peel the snake with its teeny tiny feet (which prolly makes it a lizard) back from the tape, only its tail falls off and wiggles into your cats mouth, while your son whispers something in Parseltongue,

Hometeam, let us not miss the point: the snake with feet (which means its a lizard) scampers off! It is alive! Hallelujah! Elohim Yishmor!

And then your cat vomits up the tail and two days worth of cat food all over your front door step, and you say with a sign “ah wonderful.”

And then your daughter says “yes! It is wonderful. It’s life!”

And it is.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.
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