Flipside: Surprise, surprise

By RUTHIE BLUM LEIBOWITZ
March 13, 2008 13:50
4 minute read.
ruthie blum 88

ruthie blum 88. (photo credit: )

When the anticipated tempest erupts, Dan and Dganit are taken by surprise. Though proud of having turned self-awareness into as much of an art form as it has been a lucrative profession, they are nevertheless stunned by the storm's arrival, and even more so by what triggers it. In fairness to the couple (whose "coaching" business was born of their meeting at a conference in Tel Aviv five years ago and deciding to shack up barely before the bouquet of flowers Dan sent Dganit the very next day had wilted), their response is no different from that of people shocked by the "sudden" death of a terminally ill loved one. They know it's coming; they discuss and prepare for it; in some cases, they may even wish it would just happen already, so they can stop sitting around fearing the inevitable and get on with the process of mourning it. Yet, when the moment of actual demise materializes, it feels like a tragedy that could have been avoided somehow. If only someone - anyone or everyone - had been more vigilant. Or hadn't been sleeping on the job. So, too, with our hero and heroine. Each has been sensing for some time that their relationship is on the road to ruin. Each has been lying awake nights silently calculating post-breakup finances instead of initiating sex. Each has been blaming the other for spoiling the special bond they enjoyed up until now - a bond each is claiming responsibility for having cultivated with care, while attacking the other for not having done enough on its behalf, or of actively sabotaging it. The only thing the two seem to be able to agree on completely is that they are no longer in love. And the conclusion they have reached is that it was their having been smitten with one another that caused them to believe they had so much else in common. Now that all the starry-eyedness is gone, they can't seem to get a handle on what it was they thought was there in the first place. Even their different methods of coaching have become a bone of contention, not to mention the source of a great deal of screaming. Dan believes in the pragmatic approach that enables corporate executives to make their managers more efficient, their low-level employees more satisfied and, therefore, their companies more profitable. Dganit's attitude, on the other hand, is shaped by and geared towards the realm of the spiritual, which she finds in the Kabbala. Her purpose is to help others discover their calling in life, and to live accordingly, even if that means resigning from high-powered positions to take up oil painting - or even house painting - full-time. Another topic that gets them going is money. Dan accuses Dganit of careless frivolity, which she takes to mean wastefulness. Dganit makes fun of Dan's unnecessary frugality, which he interprets as her calling him a miser. Then there are the children: Dan's married ones, who assume it is Dganit's fault that their father is not helping them pay their mortgages; and Dganit's son in the army, who can't stand coming home for the weekends to an apartment that doesn't feel like home to him any more. Rather than calming the kids down by setting them straight, Dan and Dganit have come to agree with the gripes of their own offspring. As if all the above weren't enough, the subject of politics has come into play. IT DIDN'T take long after their first encounter for Dan and Dganit to discover that he was on the Left and she on the Right, though this seemed insignificant at the time. Both opposed the government. Neither was an activist in any direction. And watching the news together, or reading the newspaper on Shabbat rarely led to more than mutual teasing. Until the spark went out, that is. Since then, the sparks have really begun to fly. Each Kassam that lands on Sderot precipitates a renewed round of fighting on the Home Front - the one in their Tel Aviv abode - with Dan attributing the escalation of Kassams and Grads to Israel's actions in Gaza, and Dganit going as ballistic as the missiles falling on Ashkelon whenever he verbalizes this sentiment. This is something he has been doing a lot lately, eliciting the same reaction from Dganit: her stressing the imperative that the IDF carpet bomb the terrorists from the air and conduct a massive invasion on the ground, collateral damage be damned. It is no wonder, then, that the nail in the coffin of their comatose coupledom is the shooting at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. For his part, Dan is saddened by the "senseless loss of lives on both sides." (Subsequently, he goes even further, daring in Dganit's presence to denounce an angry mob of protesters for calling Education Minister Yuli Tamir a murderer.) As far as Dganit is concerned, Dan's words constitute a declaration of war almost worse than that which the Arabs have been waging against the Jews since time immemorial. This, she announces, is the "last straw." In what has become utterly unusual in their exchanges, Dan acknowledges that she is right. THE TSUNAMI of emotions that ensues is as mysterious as that which sweeps the country over the brutal killing of eight young and innocent victims by a common jihadist thirsty for Jewish blood, made all the more tasty by its being of the religious-Zionist variety - A+ type. That Dan and Dganit are now putting their shared property on the market after all they've been through may be grounds for grief, but why - one wonders - is it a shock to their system? The answer undoubtedly lies in the nature of their condition. The human one, that is. Otherwise how - at the height of an ongoing, overt onslaught against the citizens of a country surrounded by and filled with enemies bent on its destruction - could anyone, let alone the citizens themselves, be so totally surprised by a bunch of bullets and yet another slew of shiva calls? ruthie@jpost.com


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