A pregnancy to die for
All we wanted was a pregnancy break, but we soon find ourselves exposed to terror attacks. It may be good to die for your pregnant wife and your fetus, as this is the only thing that matters when faced with danger.
There is nothing that undermines your sense of masculinity than getting lost with Waze on and with your babe in the car. Frustrated, I try to convince her to trust my instincts, and lecture her at length about all the navigation exercises I did at officer’s school. But then, after turning Waze on and obeying instructions, I get lost. I find ourselves in the wrong lane facing traffic. And if it weren’t enough, a truck with headlights on soon approaches us, and I am here with two women who rebuke me, the love of my life and that lady from Waze.
All we wanted was a short pregnancy break, to enjoy the time that Babe is still able to dance Agadoo-do in the pool. We considered a trip overseas but the doctor decided it was risky to fly during this pregnancy, and I concurred that it was too risky for my credit card as well. So we decided to drive to the Dead Sea, no other place that we know is better suited for resting and lying around than the Sea of Death. So we packed some books, a card set and a few more items that we sure will not use by the time we get home.
During the trip, Babe reiterated that we should not drive on Highway 443, the short cut from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and on to highway 1 to the Dead. Her fears are based on several drive-by shootings and stone throwing incidents, courtesy of nearby villages: all news bulletins last night opened with warnings about possible terror attacks by shooting, rocks and what they call “incendiary devices”. But I know how to calm my pregnant beauty with decisiveness, assuring her that everything would be just fine and dandy, and of course, I know the way.
Sometimes, all you need to make people follow you is to be assertive, sure of yourself. In the end, they will thank you and admit: “**You’re wrong!**”, as did the lady from Waze when I thought she was on mute, and then my babe, as wives do, simply read the road signs: “I see the digits four-four-three. 443! This is not Highway 6! We are in the Palestine! !!”
…Babe is no less anxious than me, so I apologize like a man. Yes, I know, I made a mistake. If it weren’t for the steering wheel requiring both my hands, I would have strangled myself already
I blessed (cleanly speaking, of course) myself for not listening too well in geography class, or any other lesson that would have explained how I missed Highway 6 and arrived at Highway 443, otherwise known as the bloody highway, where a sniper might materialize at any moment. I imagined visions of armed jihadis pouncing on my paper-thin 2008 Ford Focus. I hold my babe’s hand to give her a feeling of security and to show her that I am in control of the situation, but soon enough it becomes unclear who is calming whom. The more we drive, the more cars with green license plates pass us, radio stations tune themselves to playing Allahu Akbar and my cell phone is roaming in a hostile territory with an unfamiliar country code. So I try hard to remember what the payout of my life insurance is.
Babe is no less anxious than me, so I apologize like a man. Yes, I know, I made a mistake. If it weren’t for the steering wheel requiring both my hands, I would have strangled myself already, I tell her. “But we have a birth coming up. Let’s try to be positive.” It does not convince her one bit, and of course I now hear, again, “You’re so irresponsible and you want to be a dad? I nod in submission and ask that she, please, if possible, look to the sides of the car to see that no one is hurling a cinder block at us.
I try to soften the atmosphere, even joking that we should have a selfie, in case something happens to us, at least the news outlets will have a photo titled “The moment before.” But this fails to make her laugh. Then I see an exit from this bloody road coming up. I hit the brakes, cross two lanes and voila! we’re out of the bloody road, but then, 50 meters on, we arrive at a big sign saying: “Entry is prohibited to Israelis! You have arrived here in error!” Thank you, really, as I if didn’t know I “erred” fifteen minutes ago. But this is a one way exit and there is no turning back. So what am I to do now?
My pregnant babe becomes pale, and me too, if I could see myself, but she’s the issue, a pregnant woman at risk. I look at her and promise that no way, we aren’t going to be prisoners today, both because I’m going to be a dad and her safety with the little fetus are my duty, and also because there’s a good chance that I break down quickly in interrogation and it wouldn’t take much for me to admit responsibility for killing the peace process and even worse things than that. So I turn around, hit the gas, and arrive back at the exit from which we came, hit the gas again and merge into traffic like a seasoned bank robber. I assume that speeding would reduce my chances of getting hit and increase my chances of being stopped by the traffic police, my would-be savior.
Of all my thoughts, the most striking is that I am about to enter a new stage in life. At this stage, I fear less for myself and more for my babe and my namesake in her womb. I imagine how I jump to protect them in case of danger. For the first time in my life, the fear of my own death is not the issue, as if I suddenly have an insight that this process of pregnancy and death is in effect my own replication and continuation, and this simile existence will be maintained only if I keep the fetus and his mom alive ─ as he would be the one to be me when I turn to ash. It is the first time in my self-centered life that I am off my own center, but it is a link in the continuation of another, whether the love of my life or the tiny fetus. It is the same soul, the same baby in the making, who will bear my family name and continue my tree of life, whether or not that “it” is already a person from a scientific or ethical point of view.
It is indeed the first time that I have felt that fatherhood runs in my veins ─ no need to wait until birth to feel so. My purpose now is to struggle for continuity, and by all means. Maybe this is what we learn from the creation story: that we must replicate ourselves to keep our existence. In each of us there is the blood of a parent who brought him to the world; in all of us there is a genetic code that connects our personality to the natural history of our ancestors. Along the years, we define for ourselves our purpose in life, and I’ve decided long ago that when I become a grumpy old man, I want to see the family that I raised in a nest of our own, and to realize this purpose, I must probably die today.
Roadblock! my babe calls out and our blue and white national flag flaps in the wind a few hundred meters ahead of us. We are saved! “We have brought peace on you,” we start singing the old tired song, then slow down when we come near the soldiers. I want to go out of the car and give them all the treats that we took for our vacation, kiss the earth and bless the Lord, maybe even tattoo “To the IDF with love” on my arm right now.
Then we get a few knocks on the window and a female soldier with a pony-tail offers us cookies, which I felt like an order to munch. “Say, aren’t you scared to be here?” I ask with a mouth full of crumbs, but she looks at me somewhat bored and says: “No. I put sunscreen on,” and then, “Are you going to drive on now or do you want to take my shift?”
I hit the gas pedal, and after a sharp U turn we turn on our tracks to leave this nightmarish road.
Now I do listen to my babe, who listens to the lady from Waze, and we are quickly on the expressway to the Dead Sea. Only now I have time to relive the fright of this past hour, to understand the buds of fatherhood which I have discovered in me. Maybe now, that the situation has calmed, I can also understand what was in that awful cookie that the pony-tailed soldier gave me.