Friday, May 1, 2015

Stray observations about IDF Parents' Day

Let me begin by saying that I could not have more gratitude, respect and general appreciation for the Israel Defence Forces. Without them my life, my family's and friends' lives, and the lives of unappreciative Jews everywhere, would not look as they do today -- which is a far sight better than they looked 75 years ago.

That said, I am not above finding the oddities in their procedures amusing. I have no doubt that many native born Israelis or long-time immigrants don't notice these things. And that's why I am here.

Yesterday we attended our first Parents' Day at our son's base. Our previous experience with children in the army did not include a Parents' Day, so this was all new.

Stray observations:

  • There is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait time. For fear of missing the bus to the base we left home at 1:15 for a 5:30 program start-time. Since I don't want to mention where the base is located you will simply have to trust me when I say that we could have left at 3:30 and been totally fine driving ourselves right to the gates of the base. Instead, we took what seemed like an endless trip by car and bus -- and we were still 1.25 hours early.
  • If you have not met people from every conceivable segment of Israeli society then you have not been to an army Parents' Day. I did not notice any cross-dressers but they may have been there too since everyone else was. And I would probably have overlooked them because they were dressed better than half the other women there .....
  • There are a lot of inappropriately dressed woman in Israel -- from 60-year-olds in short shorts and high heels to 20-year-olds in pants that have more holes than material. 
  • The big military kahuna of the day's events was 25-years-old. And he has a lot of soldiers under his command. I still think I could have taken him or gone down swinging.
  • The next-level-down commander tried his terrifying stare on me when my son introduced us, but it didn't work. I asked him how old he was. He said 22 and I sneered knowingly. He then smirked and made sure I noticed his very large gun. I did -- but I still wasn't scared. All the while my son was looking for a rock to hide behind.
  • There was a noticeable absence of paper towels and the likes; I do not think hand washing is a big priority there -- and apparently Hezbollah and Hamas don't care. As an aside, think twice before shaking a soldier's hand. Better to just wave.
  • The barracks make my son's previous home in a decrepit caravan at a hilltop yeshiva in the Shomron look downright posh. I mean five-star posh.
  • "Ass" and "underneath" are yet another two words in Hebrew that can be mistaken for each other. So are "mattress" and "food". Who knew? My son took to walking behind me explaining my lousy Hebrew, and I just kept talking, knowing he would clean up after me.
  • Grass fires in dry grass -- bad. And enough said.
It just goes to show how deceptive outward appearances can be because truth be told, I would take the 22-year-old glaring commander with the big gun and the even bigger attitude over just about anyone, any day.