Israel Lite: Priorities, priorities

Growing up an army brat gave me an appreciation for other cultures, and taught me how to live deal with rude foreigners.

haircut 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
haircut 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I've moved a lot, more than most, I dare say. Growing up an army brat, I lived in Japan, Hawaii, France and all over the US. That's before I got married. Not everyone likes that life, but me, I thrive on it. It certainly gave me an appreciation for other cultures, taught me to live in substandard housing, deal with rude foreigners and get along on the local economy. And sometimes I just mean Waynesville, Missouri. After I married we continued the wanderlust life. Israel was a far-off dream for us, although we cheered every advance Israel made, donated to Zionist causes and toured as often as we could. We wanted to make aliya but could never really see how it would happen. Ari's business kept us moving around the great American Southwest, and my admiration for mother grew as I realized the yeoman's job she had done, uprooting and replanting kids, cats, dogs and houses without pulling out her hair. She maintained an equilibrium I could only wish to achieve. For sure, moving from city to city and state to state may prove daunting, but at least we all speak the same language. As a veteran mover, I found that certain rudimentary things had to be done before I could be fully at home in the new environs. And I don't mean getting the kids started into a new school. Kids adjust, kids bounce back. I don't mean a day job, either. That goes without saying. No. I mean the hairdresser. I mean the coffee shop. I mean the good restaurants. I mean the mall. Do I hear a rallying cry? I'm right, huh! Ari is, after 44 years, very astute at reading my "moods." While I wrapped up the loose ends in Ireland, where we'd spent the previous five years, he came to Israel to find us a house, receive the household goods, set up everything and generally save me the headaches and heartaches of watching moving men batter our belongings. I will be forever grateful to Ari for that - for the television already hooked to cable, the phones and fax lines already humming, for the... What? The house didn't come with a stove? No refrigerator? No oven? He saved those items for me to pick out. But the best thing he did, knowing me as well as he did, was to find out where I could get my hair done. I accompanied him to a local shop, a unisex place that had great prices. We won't discuss it further. As he left the shop I was assuring him with the old adage, "There's three days between a bad haircut and feeling better." He had volunteered to be a guinea pig for me, and well... I spent a few heady days being grateful for finally achieving our dream of aliya, and then settled into the abyss of depression, wondering if I would ever learn to speak the language, or if we'd use up our life savings before one of us found a job. But Ari, ever aware of my state of mind, started taking me for a drive every day, straight to a local mall, where we joined other couples our age walking in the sunshine, holding hands and stopping in the little shops. And then I found a hairdresser. "What did you done to your hur?" he asked me, waving his hands frantically as he fussed with my tresses. "Look dese - dees - undertings. Eich ohmrim zot," he pointed to my white roots, a look of horror on his face. "Roots," the answer came back. "Look dese rhoots, zis not good, you know?" I nodded my agreement. "Oh, no!" He was almost wailing. "Look! Your eyebrowns, such ragged." I knew he meant to get me into a chair and pamper me the way I had grown accustomed to. I was as amused at his English as I was when a Korean facial artist, years before, had said I needed a facial "cos you wrook wrike a wrerewruf." I kid you not. He assured my husband that I was in good hands, and I could tell Ari did not feel threatened. He left me there, told me to have a good time and went off to amuse himself for a few hours. Got the roots taken care of, got tweezed, plucked, shaped, scrubbed, masked and generally overhauled. I was crimped and curled, and, my hairdresser assured me, "You is looking like movie star." Well, I wouldn't go that far. Before I left the staff gathered around me to ooh and ahh. My new hairdresser wagged a stern finger in my face. "I want to be de boss of yur hur. You does what I say, and you be beoooootifool all de time." Ari picked me up, gave me that all-important nod of approval. "Like him?" "Yeah." "Good. Feel better?" "Yeah." "I have a surprise for you." He drove us to an American-style steakhouse. Yup. First things first. Aliya is great, but home isn't home till you've found the right hairdresser and a good place to eat. The rest just comes naturally.