Thursday
Apr072016

In Re

Ilana Masad


 

Re: The brown leather briefcase.

It was being held by a man going up an escalator. Twenty meters away, we sat at the Re:Bar, a local chain where the menu strove to re-everything. It recharged and related and reorganized and reserved and rejoiced and, when it came to the pink drink they made with inexplicably pink mush squeezed and blended out of apparently pink fruit, it refemmed. As a refeminist, excuse me, a feminist, I objected.

Israel reinstated itself after millennia of persecution. Israel is often mispronounced by English speakers as Is-re-al. It is real. It has been re-allotted, realized, realienated in international media, realistically and unrealistically criticized.

She sat across from me with a headband in which two golden elephants' ears were welded together. It was New Year's Eve and she was going out. Maybe. She hadn't decided. I described my bad luck on previous Sylvesters. Sylvester, like the cat who retries to eat Tweety Bird, is what they call the night that comes before the day heralding a new year. The conversation may have actually happened while we were walking outside on King George Street, but I have resituated it for the purposes of retelling it better.

"Do I want to go out tonight or not?"

"I don't know. Do you?"

"I don't know. Do I? That's the question."

"That is the question."

"Do you want to try any of this by any chance?"

"Come on. It's fruit. It's me. It's fruit. Yech."

"Yeah."

"Why, are you tired of it?"

"That's it, exactly, I didn't expect it to be this big. I think I've exhausted it."

We were talking in Hebrew, which is why verbs like "exhausted" are being used. Google Translate says it is the correct word to convey my meaning. I don't think it's quite right, and it doesn't catch the essence of the Hebrew word "mitziti" but it's close enough. When I had my friend read this over, her "translator brain"—her words—went into action. She believes that "I'm over it" better captures the meaning of the term "mitziti" in this context.

(An aside: It's a shame that neither she nor I picked up on the fact that mitz, which means juice, is so similar to mitziti. It would have made us look so witty, inserting puns into our conversations so casually. I don't want you to think we aren't funny girls, because we are. We just didn't think of it at the time.)

 

You might be wondering what the man with the brown leather briefcase has to do with anything. He doesn't, but we saw him, and she remarked that he was carrying a brown leather briefcase. Then we tried to find the translation, from English to Hebrew, of the term she used for her observation. I realized that there wasn't a one-word term for it in English, and she, who used to be in the Secret Service and knows how to translate things very well (not for nefarious purposes, though maybe for those too, because how would I know? She's not allowed to tell me anything, and if she broke the law she might be retaken by the military and put into jail), she said that the translation was "with regards to."

(Another aside: we also didn't realize at the time that we were sitting at Re:Bar, talking about Re:Garding a briefcase, while there was a guard standing at the entrance to the labyrinthine mall who was checking people's bags for explosives. That would have made another fun word game to insert into our conversation, but we didn't think of that one at the time either.)

When we got up to leave, not having concluded whether or not she wanted to go out that night, we had a misunderstanding that was quickly resolved. She thought I was staying and I thought I was going, so I ended up going, but we walked together towards the exit first. We hugged and promised to see each other soon.

(A final aside: Israel is like that kid who was bullied in school and is growing up to become a bully in response. If someone had thought to put Israel into therapy as a kid, maybe it would have become a counselor and anti-bullying advocate, but I guess they didn't think of it at the time.)

In my head the man with the leather briefcase goes up the escalator over and over and over again during our conversation. He is as bland and blankly brown as his briefcase, though not as leathery, and he doesn't know we're watching him. He takes a great amount of pleasure in going downstairs and up the escalator and downstairs and up the escalator and downstairs and up the escalator.