Each year my son and I spend summers in the U.S. with my parents. It affords me quality time with my folks and siblings and I get to do relaxeyish, holiday kinds of things like eating someone else’s home cooked meals, cruising malls, vegging in front of the tellie, hitting the cinema and lounging poolside. My son – a soon-to-be 1st grader – spends time bonding with his grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles and keeps updated on U.S. culture via summer camp, cartoons, toys and outings. It’s a win-win family benefit thing.
I’ve concluded, however, that there are additional built-in benefits to spending extended periods away from my current home in Holy Land Central (HLC). . These include:
– Central Air: Everywhere, All the Time. This comes from a non-environmentally conscious place driven by the hedonistic zone of “Ahhh. There can never be too much comfort”. Yes, there’s a/c in Israel. But Middle East heat tolerance is high so most private homes or businesses don’t keep the air-con running non-stop 24:7. In the U.S., thankfully, businesses have come away from Arctic Circle summertime temps; Funny how a wee recession will influence thermostat adjustments. I needed my indoor sweater only twice this summer. Yippee. I love the comfort of not-too-cold a/c.
– Look Who’s Sporting Head Lice? It doesn’t matter that people say: “Kids in U.S. schools get head lice too”. I don’t feel better. I was a kid once who grew up in a U.S. school and I NEVER had lice. EVER. In the HLC school system, on the other hand? Fuggedaboudit. What a relief when counselors at my son’s U.S. camp handed out leaflets notifying parents of a lice outbreak. Yes, I was paranoid for a minute and no, we hadn’t brought little gifties from afar. MY SON was clean.
– Have Travel – Boost Confidence. Back in HLC, I gaze longingly through the showcase window of Tel Aviv’s Prada boutique but never set foot inside. I sort of figure the sales staff can sniff out who has it in his or her trusty wallet to cough up a cool $5000 for a Spring frock versus the wannabe carrying a Chanel knock-off she bargained for in Bangkok’s night market.
While on holiday, however… Why not breeze into BCBGMaxAzria and try on this number, this one and this without giving the matter a second thought? Yes, I did, thanks much. Oh Cabana Boy!!! Dry Grey Goose martini, chilled glass, 2 olives please! Hell, make one for yourself while you’re at it!
Sanitation. It’s just a different standard. That’s all. Like rubber gloves optional for emergency room nurses. Or 95 degree midday heat (35 celsius) in the crowded open air market with sweaty people rubbing up against you creating the desired yet suppressed knee jerk scream: “DON’T TOUCH ME!!! OH MY GOD YOUR SWEAT JUST GOT ON ME!!! AHHHHH!!!”
Versus a new item in Cincinnati supermarkets this summer: Lysol disinfectant wipes for cleaning the push handle shopping cart bar before embarking upon buying adventures. No germ swapping there. Disinfect to Protect. . Catchy, no?
Fly the No-Fun Skies. It’s downright scary when the El Al leg of travel is more pleasant than United‘s. U.S. air travel has taken on an uber-serious, quasi-nasty, downright no fun quality that makes flying the North American skies pretty un-friendly. Over-taxed and disgruntled over constantly shifting regulation and tariff rules, U.S. airline counter people are grim. In comparison, shock of shocks, Israeli security, ticketing and in-air staff come off as polite.
A Matter of Perception. Returning to HLC after a few months away carries with it the requisite re-entry eye openers. Like arriving at the local swimming pool to find the entire swim team, pool staff, coaches and lifeguard crew sprawled on the front lawn.
What? Is there a bomb scare inside? I casually ask the security guard, simultaneously becoming aware of the fact that the question came from the ingrained, casual question zone of my lexicon. Unusual traffic congestion, a sealed off street or the current swimming pool scene prompt automatic bomb scare thoughts.
Naw, the guard shrugs. It’s religious night at the pool.
There it goes again. I know what he’s talking about. Religious night means women only for two hours followed by two hours of all male swimming. It’s a modesty thing.
It’s great getting away and always good coming back but the getaway value is priceless for stirring awareness and thought.
(How was that for P.C., huh? )