Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

Diary From Tel Aviv

Day Two: Limping amid salves and sirens

Print Email

In the evening, a boyhood friend calls me, in tears. His house in Haifa has been destroyed. I hear a siren in the background. I’ve lived my whole life, 76 years, from one siren to another. My first love was in Haifa. We were fourteen. She let me touch her blouse and cried and wrote me a poem. Now she’s married to my dying friend.

This is our first war without a name.

That old idiot, M.—I remember that even he called himself M., the jerk—explains to the government on TV how it should run the war. I’m talking about myself in general now. I have things to do. I write a blog for America. Two hundred million Jews in America will read about my ailments. My mother will come back to life and say, he turned out okay after all. But I’m a wreck. You don’t need a war in order to die.

I died twice, once in a war and once not in a war, and it wasn’t too bad. Doctors haven’t decided that we have to live longer; they’ve decided that our old age should be longer. I go to the eye doctor, the urinary tract doctor, the ear-nose-and-throat doctor, the mouth-and-jaw specialist, who’s been called up to the reserves and there go my tests. They examine me and say I’m like new and write me prescriptions. I limp to the pharmacy and everyone’s listening to news on their transistors and the noise is terrible, but we can’t hear too well anyway, and I get pills against high blood pressure, blood clots, heart palpitations and hemorrhoids, a salve for sores and irritated skin, pills for depression, pills to get me up in the morning, pills to put me to sleep at night, pills against my deceased wife, pills against my children, against my grandchildren who listen to music that rips open what’s left of my ears and who want my apartment so they can sell it and buy new cars. All of that so that in the morning, half an hour before breakfast, I’ll take those pills.

Later, I take another seven pills, watch my diet, walk half an hour with Shimon from the National Insurance and I’m hot. I’m tired from the pills, I want to sleep and there’s pressure in my bladder. I stumble to the bathroom, sit there half an hour until it comes or doesn’t come—there are small enemas now that make everything come. I go back to bed angry, take a one-milligram tranquillizer and all of a sudden, my ass hurts, pressure. There’s a salve, where did I put it? I look for it, fall asleep standing up and the night passes. I take the pills for cholesterol, for leaking urine, try to remember, do memory exercises, forget what the exercises are, stuck like a pathetic leech to my life, which ended when I was 65, and I live from one pill to another, one test to another, one operation to another.

What can I actually do at my age? Sit on the boulevard and watch the girls with their navels? Look at them the way you look at the menu in a restaurant window when you can’t go inside? My children drive me to their homes and my grandchildren say hello and run to the Internet and laugh when I tell them about how I fought with the British army in Tobruk and they don’t know whether that’s a new food or a computer game. I tell my friend after another barrage of Katyushas in Haifa that they should leave us in peace. Each to his own genes.

Why do I need a long old age?

Let’s say I’m in a retirement home, smiling at an old lady, even uglier than I am, who’s smiling at me. A young woman who gets us dancing comes over and I dance a tango. I never learned anything else. We jump around like idiots, up and down. On TV, they’re selling dresses as if a dress were a naked woman in heat. My old lady from the retirement home doesn’t see well, neither do I. I can barely hear. We didn’t ask to be such a heavy burden, but if they give it to you, and it’s free from social security, you take it.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Diary From Tel Aviv

Day Two: Limping amid salves and sirens

More on Tablet:

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

By Vox Tablet — Reporter Sarah Wildman’s grandfather escaped Vienna in 1938. Long after he died, she discovered the life—and lover—he left behind.