Saturday, August 13, 2011

soldier boy

It's Saturday afternoon and I've had a much needed afternoon nap.  I've been off work for 3 days now on our two weeks forced  August vacation and am happy that I have so much  vacation time, but there is nowhere to go but go local in this heat and in this economy.  Vacationing in Israel is expensive and crowded during August and flying anywhere during the world's vacation month will be crowded, expensive and annoying.  I'm an off-season person anyway.  My first day off work I went semi-wild buying various boutique undergarments and the next evening went to Jaffa's flea market for their Thursday evening fair with stalls open, and artists and music in the streets. Hubby was too tired to join me and I was grateful a friend took me up on the offer. We ate a meal at Regina's at the Tachana - the old Ottoman train station buildings now revamped into restaurants and expensive boutiques -  for a delicious meal beforehand.

And this past week saw a major rite of passage for my boy.  At 19 he was finally inducted into the army.  He didn't want the particular unit the army wanted him in and he held his ground and stayed in this horrific-sounding place called "the vacuum" - where recruits gather and from there go into their various units.  He's on the phone constantly with my friends who know the system and my husband's workers who have just gotten out of the army and who also know the system.  They are telling him not to get into uniform because if he disobeys orders - like going to the unit where they want him to go and where he doesn't want to go - he'll go to army jail.  So he stayed in the "vacuum" not in uniform so they couldn't arrest him.  I was surprised at his stubbornness to get what he wants, but then I'm like that too, aren't I?  I just wish the world was such that we didn't need to have an army and had beforehand given him the speech that he is only in the army to defend our country against those elements trying to destroy it - like terrorists, Hezbollah, Al Qaida or any other retarded group.  He knows that regular Palestinians are human beings who just want to go on with their lives and earn a living  and are not our enemy and I hope he will continue to believe this.  I still dream that we will be a confederation with Palestinians and that they will join the army too to become the PIDF (Palestinian/Israeli Defense Forces).

The entire family jokes around the night before his induction.  He reads an hysterical blog from a soldier about the first few days in the army - especially the public showers with no privacy whatsoever. The blog says "don't be ashamed to show your small package to everyone - there'll be all sorts there, big ones, little ones, red hair, pimply, ones with beauty marks and don't stare at anyone or they'll think you're gay.."

"Don't drop the soap" his sisters warned.  I then showed him the proper way to bend down to pick up his soap by bending the knees only and covering your ass with your hand - which left everyone in hysterics.

He watches videos of the different units and chooses the ones he wants to be in.

"It looks just like in the movies, doesn't it?" he tells me.

Yeah, but unfortunately, this is real life and real war is not  fun to watch and to participate in.  I hope there are no future wars with our neighbors, and he can just have the special camaraderie with his unit buddies - something  everyone knows goes along with this army service - and it is something he craves badly.

He finally puts on his uniform to go back to his home for the weekend and I admire how handsome and how much older he looks.