“What do you want to eat? The people should be coming…In an hour. We should probably eat before the party.”
My friend is sitting on a mattress rolling weak joints. I think she uses too much tobacco. There is a street of modernist buildings behind her. Some of them are Bauhaus (I can’t tell). They mostly look as if they were designed by the same people who made kitchen-appliances. Un-decorated. Sharp-angled. Functional. All off-white.
“We could order burgers?”
Sure, “I want a cheese-burger.”
“No. It’s a kosher place. You can’t have that.”
It’s a strange feeling in Israel, when suddenly keeping kosher goes from being my choice, to somebody else’s. In the end we never ordered the burgers. And the guests started to arrive. People greet each other over-exuberantly. But like any party, things begin a little awkwardly. There is always the gap between what is supposed to be happening, namely ‘fun,’ and what you usually end up with. A group of people with problems who have just come out of class, work or whatever, with problems communicating and a very poor grasp of what is actually ‘cool.’
Somewhere in the ‘60s, they discovered a quick cure all for this. Class A drugs that could make everyone smile very quickly, regardless of what was going on. I might as well be in Oxford. There’s the same music you’re never sure who actually likes and the same stilted conversations about ‘art’ that degenerate into earnest chats about girls or reality TV.
I know these situations, apart from the fact this one is Israeli. Around me twenty people are cutting lines of MDMA. A yellowy-crystal crunched under credit-cards.
“So you’re leaving tomorrow? They tell me. Where are you going?”
“Lebanon, actually. I’m flying to Jordan and going via Syria.”
Ron is speaking to me. A man of very measured movements and real 2003-chic of white iPod headphones over a black T-shirt.
“I’ve been to Lebanon. All us guys went there together.”
A few guests are lounging in a corner. Looking a little gone, a classic dread-locked white guy is dancing stupidly in the centre. Familiar kinds of conversations. Druggies like to talk about childhood memories, music or other drugged experiences. Everywhere – it seems.
I don’t want to talk. I have nothing to say, so I sit somewhere quiet. A girl is sitting in front of the TV. Her eyes have no irises, and she hiccups slightly. I think I see her eyes role in the back of her head. Maybe, I didn’t. I’m not sure. Red-brown hair curls over headphones. They thud softly, then cut-out. Child-like she plays with a blanket. And swallows more pills.
I don’t know who switched on the TV. It wasn’t me, I was sitting next to her on the blanket. It takes a second for me to focus on the blueish-screen. Hebrew lettering is running along the ticket-tape. The in-human voice of the news-reporter draws no breath. An Israeli tank is rolling over a car in an Arab slum. It must be Gaza. I make out the lettering on the side of the armed-unit. Shai-6.
I was next to her then. She stopped playing with the blanket. Hiccupped. And began to shout.
“That’s my boyfriend…That’s his tank…That’s Yo’gev.”
Nobody calmed her down. I think somebody must have given her some valium, because she did go to sleep for a long time.