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Adina walks slowly up the three flights of steps to Rina's apartment, stopping at each landing to catch her breath.
"If I never eat again," she announces as Rina opens the door and greets her with a musk-scented hug, "it'll be too soon."
Rina smiles knowingly, handing her friend a large mug. One of her "concoctions," no doubt, Adina sighs, eyeing its contents with a mixture of suspicion and hope. As cynical as she is about her friend's lotions and potions, Adina has to admit that Rina always seems to feel as good as she looks. Though that could be due to her being so - so, what is it? - well, so unencumbered, Adina supposes. She's clearly got money from somewhere or other. Not her parents, that's for sure. They don't have any to speak of. And she's never really held down a job. Nor has she ever been married - which says a lot right there. Though that couldn't be the real explanation. Lots of women look ghastly and feel even worse when in search of a husband, always moaning about the woes of being single.
Nor is Rina a lesbian, though she attests to having dabbled in it "for the experience."
True, she does enjoy mood-enhancing substances quite regularly. But that wouldn't necessarily account for her being so cheerful. On the contrary. Most of Adina's acquaintances who drink or take drugs tend to be sort of somber and subdued.
Rina, Adina often concludes, is simply sui generis.
"You ought to figure out a way to clone some of your brain chemicals, or character, or whatever that thing is - then bottle and sell it," Adina told her recently, when everybody they knew was in a state of pre-Pessah anxiety - while Rina was utterly at peace with the whole thing.
"You know, that's an interesting concept," Rina responded, openness to the ideas of others being another one of her uncommon traits. One that leads her to experiment with - and on - everything and everybody. One that brought about today's little "happening."
"Come on," Rina coaxes, ushering a hesitant Adina into the living room. "This is going to be fun."
A few women are already in attendance - some milling around; others seated cross-legged on extra-large colorful throw pillows strewn across the floor - each of whom has a cup of the same brew Adina was handed when she came in.
"Me and my big mouth," Adina says, as the women say hello and thank her for having gotten Rina to organize this event. "If I had ever learned to keep it shut, I wouldn't have gained five kilos this week; nor would I be standing here having to drink this enema substitute."
Everybody nods and laughs.
"Well, that's why we're all here," Rina says, suddenly sounding more like the title on the business cards she had printed up right before the holiday than like a best friend. "Life coach" is what she is now calling herself. Yet another one of her "professions" that require neither a degree nor a license to practice, Adina thinks, trying to replace disgust with admiration. Rina's got to be given credit for her guts. At least for her lack of a need for incessant societal stamps of approval, unlike the rest of the people present, whose years of study and internships and tough bosses and time-clocks and laborious ladder-climbing have served to enslave them in external satisfactions, yet have been somewhat less successful in putting genuine smiles on their faces.
"ON A scale of one to 10," Rina begins, "How would you rate your lives right now?"
The ensuing groans give her energy.
"Much emphasis is put on 'holiday depression.'" she continues, when all the women have obediently finished their herbal tea which, in the end, doesn't taste so bad after all. "Whole segments of the news this week were dedicated to it, with experts discussing why more people commit suicide during times of celebration."
The women - two of whom actually participated in televised panels on the subject - focus intently on Rina. Though whether they are riveted by her words or by her beauty and charm is not entirely clear. What is clear is that they are all hoping some of it will rub off on them. And NIS 100 per head is a small price to pay for that - considering it's well less than half of what each pays to her hairdresser every time she gets the blues.
"But what about 'post-holiday depression'?" Rina goes on. "When all that's been put on hold has to resume. When all the gifts have been given, all the family has dispersed, and, of course, when all the extra weight has been gained. In short, when life has to 'go back to normal.'"
Adina sighs, thinking about the upcoming week, when she will be forced to monitor her children's schoolwork again. And schedule the appointment with her lawyer and accountant, both of whom will have returned from their vacations. Worst of all, she will have to face unpacking her carton of summer clothes and bathing suit, none of which she dares even try on in the privacy of her home, let alone wear in public.
"What nobody ever tells you, though," Rina says, leaning in toward the group to create a sense of secretdivulging, "is that all of these 'pre' and 'post' periods are manufactured."
"By matza bakeries, you mean?" Adina asks, causing herself and the others to giggle.
"By an addiction to self-pity," Rina answers. The women become silent. "So we create situations to induce it. Then we create the 'pre' situation to get a head start on it, and the 'post' situation to prolong it."
"By that logic, we should all be thrilledâ€¦ all the time," Adina challenges, sarcastically. "We should all be at 10, on a scale of one to 10."
"Precisely," Rina says. "See you next week."