Vacation consequences of the conflict

As a Palestinian, I have lawn mower fights and the dividing line is more vague than the Green Line.

Miami Beach (photo credit: AP)
Miami Beach
(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 “possession jihad.”
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.
My first 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 first.
THERE IS a methodology to the whole process that I have fine-tuned during 30 vacations over the last decade. It’s called “ownership documentation.”
I position the lounge chairs perfectly, spacing them out for comfort.
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 obsessive behavior.
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 pyramid.
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 later.
By 8:30, we’re all sitting in our conquests, staring each other down – until a beautiful topless woman jogs by and steals our attention.
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 morning.
Until, that is, I leave this resort and return to Chicago.
The writer is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host.