Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #57 – inverse proportionality and some kids’ stuff

I happily paid 60 shekels for a sub-par manicure in Jerusalem today.
The amount of material things you long for decreases as the length of your stay here increases.

Inadvertent experiments in brand loyalty - Poland Spring, Tropicana, Ziploc...
It took about a month for the kids to forget about Poland Spring. It took me longer but now if I get an ice cold bottle of Mai Eden or Neviot I can enjoy them at face value. For Bob, on the other hand, one of the luxuries (there aren’t many) about flying back and forth is gulping down a bottle of Poland Spring water each time he arrives in New York. The down side, I suppose, is that he requires a few shots of ‘petal’ to flavor his Israeli water.

This week, exactly 14 weeks since the last time we woke up to Tropicana orange juice, my kids finally asked for (and drank) some of the Israeli orange juice that I’ve been consistently buying and using for recipes or drinking myself. There you have it folks – it takes 14 weeks to forget about Tropicana. Well, maybe not totally. Asher still has not let go of his Tropicana memories. Tonight, in fact, Rosie told him, “It’s good. Do you want me to drink it for you?” He took her up on the offer. Incidentally, I pay 19 shekels for the orange juice. Seems the orange juice cartel has a stranglehold on prices worldwide.

Before I left, my neighbor teased me as I packed box after box of Ziploc bags in every imaginable size. He warned me the Israeli children will tease my kids, call them spoiled Amerikayim even, if they show up to school with Ziploc sandwich bags. Not knowing how to function sans Ziploc bags I just went about my business and packed more bags. A couple weeks ago when I was doing my pre-dawn lunch drill, the kids came into the kitchen and requested I use the Israeli sakim (impossibly thin, closure-less bags I had accidentally picked up in the makolet) in lieu of Ziploc baggies for their lunches. It seems there had been some comments made at school – I couldn’t believe it!

One Persian
Whenever we’re with his (Persian) Israeli relatives, Bob loves to take off Becky’s glasses and cover all of her face except for her eyes and eyebrows. “See! Parsi!” he shows them. It’s true. She’s exactly him from the eyes up and the look is totally Persian (Parsi). But who knew she was paying attention? This morning she danced around my kitchen holding persimmons (parsimon) from the shuk, demanding, “Feed me parsi-mon! I’m Parsi! You have to feed me parsi-mon!”

A Banker and a Spender
There are some kids who will hold on to every penny (or shekel) they’ve ever had. This is my Asher. When I took my kids to the makolet to buy candy yesterday, they were ecstatic – enthusiastically laying down their shekalim for candy. Except for Asher. He was visibly upset. Torn between buying candy and holding on to his shekelim. Of course it is Asher I turn to when I am short tip or pizza money. He’s like a little bank. Barbara suffers from the opposite affliction. She will spend or give away her last penny or shekel. Once when I sent her to the makolet she told the cashier to “keep the change”. When the cashier told her it is not the custom in Israel for a cashier to “keep the change” she answered with a very sincere, “But I insist!” The down side to this openness, of course, is that you quickly run out of money. When we returned from the makolet, Asher with full pockets, Barbara with nothing, she went through her things from America and came up with $35 in savings from allowance, the tooth fairy, whatever. She asked Bob to please change it to shekels for her. He said no problem. Then she asked me what $35 x 4 equals. Four? I told her the exchange rate has been 3.75 since we’ve been here. The legendary and elusive 4:1 exchange rate (used by my rental car company – go figure) has not existed since before we landed here in July. “But that’s what shekels are! You have to give me four!” I wish it were four! I stood firm on my 3.75.

Sometime later...
The kids are home early from school (Yom Shlishi - ki tov!) and off to the "sticker store" with enough each for 2 packs of stickers and one 2 shekel slushie (a kid's answer to the five-dollar shake).

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