(cross-posted from Kosher Eucharist)
I tend to take a historian’s view of my twenty-one years of existence, which I imagine is fairly common since an air of cool detachment is often the only way you can reconcile the things you used to do (wear pants with enough fabric to comfortably accomodate your legs, a couple two-liter bottles of soda, your entire Jimi Hendrix vinyl collection and your 103-pound girlfriend) with the things you do now (cultivate facial hair, drink heavily). So I like to chart out significant moments, timeline style — that first knowing of woman (2001), that first live performance (2002), that first fateful encounter with illicit substances (2003), those first rebellious piercings and tattoos (2004), that first time getting reelingly drunk (1986) — so that in years to come, I can paint a nuanced picture of how exactly I wound up dressed only in a “World’s Greatest Grandma” T-shirt and a pair of bloody scrub pants attempting to work out my daddy issues with the help of Dr. Night Train and a flock of pigeons, or however exactly my life turns out.
I feel like an event that recently transpired may have to be added to the timeline, an event of such import that it ranks right up there in the Annals with discovering reggae (1999) and discovering that a little eyeliner and mascara go a long way (2003).
I found myself flipping through the new Ikea catalog with what could only be described as mild arousal.
I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to interpret this milestone. I figure there are three ways to go about it:
a) This is another major step in my winding road to shedding my American skin and becoming wholly Israeli, because the only thing Israelis love more than Thai-on-a-baguette and consumer electronics plastered with more American flags than the Republican Convention is modern furniture with clean lines and plenty of umlauts. “Ee-kay-a” is everything to Israel in 2007 that the Galleria was to John Hughes’ oeuvre circa 1985, the place where a society meets, shops, loves and discovers itself – and the Swedish meatballs are kosher. My sudden interest in spending my hard-earned, barely-extant money on sexy little end tables, if this is truly the case, is nothing more than inevitable assimilation into my new environment, along with speaking Hebrew and feeling that shoving an ocean of dirty water outside my front door with a squeegee-on-a-stick is a perfectly neighborly thing to do.
b) This means I’m maturing, and my priorities are gradually shifting away from what you can put in your liver with the most favorable ratio of cost-to-potability to what you can put under your butt with the most favorable ratio of cost-to-aesthetic appeal. This is horrifying, because I’m only twenty-one and I haven’t even woken up in an emergency room and been shockingly presented the error of my ways. Admittedly, I’ve always had a flair for interior design, but up to now my aesthetic has been chiefly centered around “found objects,” as the art professors say about terrible modern sculpture (LP sleeves, stolen crossroads signs, cracked Zildjians), not marginally-comfortable but deliciously-cherry-red-Fender-Stratocaster-color combination chairs/fold-out beds. I fear that this incipient maturity can only worsen, and soon I’ll stop thinking it’s “fun” to eat hot sauce right out of the bottle, draw on the refrigerator, or make snap judgments on people’s ultimate worth based on their appearance.
c) I should just stop pretending, and take up with a nice older gentleman nicknamed “Wanda” whose facility with vermouth outweighs his affection for “Dallas.”
I think I’m going to go with option (a), partly because it unnerves me the least, partly because I genuinely like the idea of becoming Israeli. (Is there a Hebrew verb for becoming Israeli? If there’s not, I propose “l’hityasrel,” whose possibilities are boundless: “Dude, don’t you already have two cell phones? Why are you at the Cellcom store shopping for another one?” “Hityasralti, achi.”) So next time you’re at Ikea in Netanya, look for me. I’ll be the one cooing at that royal purple Beddinge sofa bed.