(photo credit: AP)
As a Palestinian, I have this need to control and protect land. It includes
battles with my neighbors over where my grass ends and their grass begins. We
have lawn mower fights and the dividing line is more vague than the Green Line.
I’ve been like this all my life and it has consequences.
But it’s not
just maintaining a well-manicured, Malibu- lighted, dark greentrimmed
carpet-of-a-lawn that my “Palestinian-ism” has impacted. It goes far beyond,
including even when I go on vacation.
Yes, I don’t go on vacation to
relax. I go there to sharpen my Palestinian skills.
Every morning at
dawn, while on vacation in places like Punta Cana or at a resort along the
Cayman Island’s famous Seven Mile beach, I find myself compelled into a
I don’t get up and walk to the beach at six in the
morning simply to enjoy the sunrise or the pristine coral sand.
concern is staking out beach-front lounge chairs or a palm cabana with an
idyllic view of the ocean.
Sounds like a strange way to start off
relaxation, but it’s an ugly world out there. You have to stake your claim
early, or be occupied and oppressed for the entire trip. Eventually, a mass of
like-cultured people stampede to the vacation resort shores to lay claim to
their own lounge chairs.
As a Palestinian, I just have to be there
THERE IS a methodology to the whole process that I have fine-tuned
during 30 vacations over the last decade. It’s called “ownership
I position the lounge chairs perfectly, spacing them out
I push other lounge chairs away that look to be “too close.”
I neatly wrap three beach towels on the three lounge chairs. Then I go back for
a second round of claims, and on each, I lay down something of “apparent value”
but that is really valueless.
On one chair, I place a copy of Chelsea
Handler’s many books – I wish they had more pictures and less writing of her
sexual exploits. That will scare anyone away.
On another, I pile plastic
sand toys, shovels and buckets, shamelessly exploiting my nine year old in my
Who can steal a lounge chair location from a child?
But for those who consider theft, I provide an offering to the icon of unethical
vacation- goer criminality – a copy of Sarah Palin‘s hardcover book. If there
are beach thieves, chances are they are tightly wound Republicans who would grab
the book thinking it a prize and run. I even faked her autograph on the inside
cover: “To Ray, with passionate love. If I were not exploiting racial fears to
become president someday, I might become your fourth wife, my olive-skinned Rudy
Giuliani. All my GOP Love, Sarah Palin.”
Of course, it’s not enough to
just prepare the beach lounge chairs like the crescent of a Mayan sacrificial
I sit there and smoke a cigar with my look of conquest, a macho
scrunch of thick brows and confidence.
Like the young Michael Corleone
shouldering-up to protect his father – who was the target of assassins at a New
York Hospital – in the movie “The Godfather.”
And I watch as the others
do the same as me, grabbing their perfect spots, except many minutes
By 8:30, we’re all sitting in our conquests, staring each other
down – until a beautiful topless woman jogs by and steals our
By that time, the cigar is but a smoldering stogy. The
imagined tension with the other men at the beach who also claimed their spots
finally dissipates. And right about then, my wife and son meander along as if
there were no worries in the world.
But before the sun goes down, I am
already scheming to repeat the whole process again the next
Until, that is, I leave this resort and return to
The writer is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talk