beach great 88 248.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
I am not in general a big fan of the beach. Sand gets in everything and the sun bears down on you like a robber in a shoot-out (how else to explain the need to take up arms - in this case sunscreen - to stay alive?). The way I figure it, if you want to soak in a hot body of water, go take a bath at home.
But when my wife, Jody, insisted that we embark on a water-fueled "family outing" - and all three kids actually agreed to come - how could I say no?
After debating our beach options, we opted for what Google Maps showed us was the straightest and fastest route from Jerusalem - the Palmahim Beach in Rishon Lezion.
Google Maps has only been working here a few months now but it's been a godsend. Fifty-four minutes door to door from our home in southern Jerusalem to the Mediterranean on the new Route 431 that completely avoids the traffic jams one used to encounter going through the Rishon city center.
We quickly found a partially unoccupied pergola and plopped down our gear. Then it was off to the water.
Despite my grumblings about beaches in general, Israel's Mediterranean is one of the most temperate in the world. If you're looking to cool off, you'll want to head to another continent. But if avoiding that midbody "it's so cold, I can't go any farther" response is high on the agenda, you'll be in heaven.
And once we were submerged, I really couldn't complain. Lapped by gentle waves with my wife and children surrounding me, Jody was right: A day away was a much-needed summer respite for a family hooked on electronics.
We were all having a grand time frolicking in the water when suddenly I felt a sting on my leg. It was just a pinprick so I didn't pay it much attention. But then 11-year-old Aviv cried out. He'd been stung too. And a moment later, I got it a second time.
WE'D HEARD that July was the season of the jellyfish - or medusot as they're known in Hebrew - but the woman at the beach information line told Jody on the phone that there were very few at this point in the season.
Apparently she was wrong.
"Don't worry, Dad," Aviv said reassuringly. "All we need to do is pee on your leg."
Urine apparently cures jellyfish stings. I just wasn't sure how we were going to get said urine on my leg in full view of thousands of frolicking beachcombers. Maybe we could enlist a friendly dog. "Here, boy, I'm a fire hydrant, see my red burning legs."
And then, out of the blue, he came, like an aquatic superhero here to save the day. He was trim with wavy black hair, a bit of a five o'clock shadow and wearing patriotic blue-and-white bathing trunks. He literally dived into the salty ocean water while the throng of onlookers gazed in confusion.
He came up for air and headed back for the beach. In his hand: a medusa.
It was truly hideous. I had imagined them as little creatures about the size of a starfish. But this medusa was enormous. A white quivering blob with tentacles all around. Our savior placed the medusa on the beach where some of the braver children poked it with a stick. I imagine it was suffocating out of the water. Call me cruel but I couldn't take my eyes off the scene.
And then the man jumped back into the sea. A few minutes later, he returned, another wretched ctenophore in tow.
As I watched him pluck one medusa after another from the coastal depths, I realized he was no ordinary Israeli. This was Medusa Man - here to rid the oceans of the dreaded threat to mortal merrymakers out for a day of carefree abandon.
If this was an Adam Sandler movie, a throng of buxom bikini-clad blondes would be cheering him on. Well, I can dream, can't I?
Could Medusa Man keep us safe from the stings of sorrow that threatened to ruin our day? Hardly. He was outnumbered by evolution. But as we returned to the water, we felt confident that our experience might be ever so slightly sanguine.
That is, until we got stung again.
The writer blogs at ThisNormalLife.com. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children where, thankfully, there is no beach.