Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Where Have You Gone, Yasser Arafat?
I remember the first time I met the man. I was knocking them back in a little dive in Tel Aviv, trying to drown the misery of my latest divorce, this one from Marla, who'd run off with the guy who married us about an hour into the honeymoon. I was on my fourth round out of a probable twenty when this scruffy-looking little fella in a checkered head wrap plopped himself down two barstools over.
"Davood, gimme a Heineken," he said, knocking a cigarette loose from his pack. He looked like I felt: too depressed to sleep, too tired to cry.
I tossed a few extra shekels on the table. "That one's on me, chief," I told the guy doing the fetching.
Yasser took a quick swig and then tipped the bottle in my direction. "In that case," he paused to light his smoke, "make it two." He offered me a cigarette and I disappointed myself by taking one. The smoke nearly made me wretch. It was fucking great.
I slid the peanuts in his direction. "Problems with your lady, Cochise?" I was desperate for some commiseration. Misery doesn't just love company, it positively joneses for it.
"Nah," he said. "My people were displaced when the Jews founded Israel and now we're being shoved into a tiny little area and our oppressors are showing signs of wanting even that. Zionists. Can't live with them, can't overcome their superior armaments and their support from America."
I sucked the last bit of vodka from my ice cubes and waved the empty glass in the general direction of the bartender. "Listen, pal," I told my stubbly-chinned new friend, "I'm on my fifth wife. Fifth divorce, I mean. I been kicked out of more beds than a flatulent hooker and I'm still going. I grant you, it may look like I'm not doing so well tonight, but that's 'cause the wound is fresh. Come tomorrow, I will be landing on my good foot and hitting the ground running. I'd be willing to bet that I'll be on the prowl for my next ex-wife this time Tuesday. If I can do that, don't even try to tell me that establishing a homeland in a politically and theologically volatile region is that tough."
"Wow," he said. "Either this Heineken is a lot stronger than I figured or you're starting to make sense to me." He offered another smoke, which, to the damnation of my eternal soul, I took.
"I'm telling you, pal," I told him, looking him right in the eye, but occasionally looking at an ingrown eyebrow hair that had caused a nasty inflammation near the bridge of his nose, "You just manage to even sit down and talk with those guys without going nuclear and you'll get yourself the Nobel Peace Prize."
"Yes," he said. "I will win the Nobel Peace Prize and then Madonna will convert to Judaism."
A little vodka spilled out my nose on that one, I laughed so hard. And that was it. We were friends. We'd call each other up every few months or so and meet for drinks. He'd try to argue that he'd never been what you'd really call a terrorist and I tried to argue that a few bought and paid-for blowjobs on business trips didn't constitute infidelity. He had really strong feelings on infidels.
We drifted apart after he moved to Ramallah. I was busy with my start-up. He was under house arrest for years. We still traded birthday cards, though. I miss him. How can you not miss a guy who does such a wicked Clinton impression? Yeah, Yasser taught me that a person can be responsible for bringing terror into negotiations with his ideological opposites and still play a mean game of darts.
Sleep well, sweet Bumpy Face.