Sunday, April 24, 2011

Swirling Thoughts #197 – I take back what I said

Originally I thought the key to understanding the Israeli psyche was in the language. I’d like to revise my hypothesis. It lies, mostly, in the grocery store experience.

Guns welcome
Absolutely welcome. In the supermarket. (Also in the bank!) More on guns in a future post.

Pay close attention
Look carefully at the chocolate spread display in the photograph. The small sign under the bottom shelf reads: Chametz (in other words, not Kosher for Passover). The small sign under the seemingly identical top shelf reads: Kosher l’Pesah (you guessed it, yes Kosher for Passover).

Only when you realize that the penalty for transgressing the laws of Passover is spiritual excision (okay, that’s for intentional transgression, but still) do you truly grasp the walking-on-a-tightrope-without-a-safety-net experience that often characterizes life in this country. As I stood in line to pay for my Kosher for Passover chocolate spread, I picked up an assortment of colorful bar-b-q lighters. Just next to the candy and other impulse purchase items at eye level. Eye level for a 6 year old, that is.

Not believing my own eyes I asked the cashier.
Are these to light a fire?
Why, yes!
Wow! They look like toys.
You’d better be careful, ma’am.

She was clearly dismayed, concerned even. About me. Like maybe I was going to play with the lighters.

Like the spikes in the supermarket parking lot, unforgiving consequences lurk in every aisle, check out line and driveway. All you can do is pay close attention. There’s always something to the effect of a knee-high land-mine fence (with signs reading ‘land mines’ every 400 meters or so) to suggest impending doom. Pay close attention so you don’t miss it.

We keep it real
For better or worse, Mustafa and Moshe park, shop, and work side by side in the supermarket here. But don’t expect to read about it in the Times.

If you bring it, we will sell it
Barbara got a cute mug for her birthday last year. It had a bunny. And colorful eggs. At some point she came to me and asked if this mug had something to do with Easter. For that same birthday she received a wind chime for her room in green and red. It was, without a doubt, a Christmas decoration but somehow she never realized that. I was in the toy store one day and noticed, in addition to the Easter mugs and Christmas chimes, they were selling inflatable beach balls. With the Canadian maple leaf design. As I purchased one for 2 ½ shekels as a gag gift for my Canadian friend, I asked the store owner what the deal was with all these obscure items. She confirmed my theory. Closeouts.

In America I used to buy fancy paper dinner napkins for Shabbat and Holidays. During the week we used those thin square napkins that come by the 500-pack. Here in Israel I am excited if I can find those thin square napkins in white (often I find only yellow or red or blue) by the 85-count. Fancy dinner napkins, were they readily available (I’ve heard rumors of their existence here), would seem excessive and inappropriate in a place where paper is so rare and so valued. So imagine my surprise and excitement when I stumbled upon a fancy napkin section in our local supermarket. I picked up the first package. Snowflakes. Hmm… not really shouting Passover. The next one, hearts and “Happy Valentines Day”.

I quickly determined there was not a plain white package in the collection but was now fascinated by the eclectic mix of “fancy” napkins and, as tends to happen more often than not, became totally sidetracked and busy taking pictures when I should have been busy filling my wagon. Napkins with Dutch writing about dieting. Napkins with the German for “Do Not Make a Mess”. I had to laugh when I saw the cheeseburger napkin.

Okay so the fancy napkin section was obviously a section of fancy napkin closeouts. Even so, this one had me laughing out loud

I wonder how Mark & Cornelieka are doing now. I wonder if they've taken the time to visit an Israeli supermarket in their 14 years of marriage.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that last one totally cracked me up! I LOVE this country! :)