Me and Boeing’s 747 partners: Wheels Down at Ben Gurion Airport semi-close to Tel Aviv Israel late one afternoon, October 1977, just a couple of days before Halloween, found the Talmud. I mean tarmac.
My final destination, however was not Judea; it was The Sinai Desert, to live for eighteen months-plus on a mountain-top base camp,
Dubbed ‘Caddo Mountain’, (In deference to the Texans who built it and ran it and to whom I would soon become a compadre) some shit-hole between the Gidi and Mitla Passes: Historically, the only two routes armies could pass from east to west or west to east across burning Sinai to thwack upon each other’s opponents’ heads.
I was 40 days leeward of twenty years and a little more than apprehensive. (These Two States, Egypt & Israel, were still technically, At War)
I knew some of the history, but I couldn’t be bothered that day about ‘Ancient’ History (Yom Kippur War, Six-Day War, ‘Suez War’ of ‘56, Holocaust.
Nope: I was here for ‘New History’, ‘My History’, ‘My Adventure’:
A Dangerous Desolate Gig (my first). I had never been out of CONUS (Continental United States) before.
3.0and cock-strong! Fuck did I care for Mid-East Politics? I am here! Step right up! Texas has arrived! “Step aside, Son!”
Gathering my luggage (my father’s old sea-bag left over from his USMC Korean War days) and a few other bags, laden with tennis shoes, workout gear, books and magazines… way too much superfluous shit, I scampered to find my liaison, struggling with all my kit.
Finding him, a tall, skinny, thin-haired, gaunt-faced, ‘Middle-East-Hardened’ Texan Veteran (four months here previous to me, I discovered later), man who spoke with an air of, ‘Oh, you’re the ‘New Kid’… Follow me’ he said laconically.
He looked an old thirty-five to me. (Later I found out he was twenty-nine, but we were all so young there. Back then.)
Ignoring his attitude, I tried very hard to ‘get into the groove.’ It was hellishly hot, even for an October—a Texas October. I had jet lag and fatigue like a pup that had been crated too long.
Even though I was ‘stoked’, all I really wanted was a gallon of really cold orange juice, an air-conditioned hotel room, and a bed.
The ‘plane ride’ from Dallas to Tel Aviv had robbed me of some (I thought) important part of my young life and my health. I was severely dehydrated, completely spent, and pretty much left wondering if I had made some horrible mistake.
But, I sucked it up.
After a hot and hotter and even hotter bizarre drive (The Road signs looked so foreign to me, some form of hieroglyphic—never having seen Hebrew before—had not at that point read the Old Testament) from Ben Gurion Airport, through the busy streets of Tel Aviv (me resisting the urge to ask,
“Hey! are we there yet?”) we arrived at the Mediterranean Sea and the Sheraton Hotel.
My ‘liaison’ deposited me at the front desk of the ‘New’ Sheraton Hotel on HaYarkon Street Tel Aviv, telling me in parting,
“The R&R Vehicle leaves at 0800hrs; meet here in the lobby. Don’t be late. Goodbye.”
I checked in, and got me that room, such as it was. It was more a closet than a room, but it was cool and clean, and there was that bed tucked away in the corner…
I sped off still heading south. I observed her fade fast in my rearview mirror, but not before I saw her mouth hanging open in wide disbelief
(As if I were actually calling her bluff). After about a half-mile and her no longer in sight, I stopped, opened a beer, popped in a Joni Mitchell–Hejira–cranked it up, lit a Marlboro and waited.
Presently I could make out her petite form marching through the sandy haze, her skinny arms flailing back and forth, not unlike a power-walker.
As I watched her approach I snuffed out my second cigarette, tossed the empty beer bottle onto the back floorboard, turned down the volume on Joni’s Black Crow, and waited to see if she was getting back in the car.
She opened the door, threw herself in and off we drove, not saying a word until we got within about five clicks of Sharm el Sheikh.
Her face was dirty with trails of sweat running down, making small rivers of mud, her hair windblown and looking to have absorbed quite some substantial part of the Sinai.
She did not look happy.
“Are you sorry?” she finally blurted out.
“Sorry? Sorry for what?”
“Sorry for being an asshole,” she said.
“Oh, that… What!?” I was genuinely confused.
“For refusing to have sex with me this morning after that Israeli dude left.”
Now I am laughing. She wasn’t.
“Are you fucking serious Janet?” I asked after I had regained some composure. “You heard the man. We had to vacate. Did you think I was in the mood for love? With the IDF watching us? Shit Woman! It was time to go.”
“There was time enough… in the tent,” she said somewhat between clenched teeth and somewhat subdued—at the same time—a talent she had perfected over some years.
(Ed. Note: Janet had five years on me)
“You are unbelievable. Okay, ‘I’m sorry for not fucking you’. Gimme another go? Right here. Right now. In this fuckin’ heat and in this fuckin’ sardine can of a car? Or would you prefer it on the burning sand with the scorpions and spiders?! For Chrissake Janet!”
“There was a time when you’d never refuse me, no matter where or what,” she said and then clammed up, starring out the window.
Fine! I thought as I gave the volume back up to Joni.
Just on the outskirts of Sharm (The whole Sinai Pennisula was ‘Outskirts’) we came upon a Bedioun ‘roadside do drop in’ sort of place.
“Hey Janet! Let’s check this out.”
“Can’t we just go in to Sharm?”
“No. I wanna talk to these folks. Besides they may have some stuff we need.”
“Fine.” (And then someday too soon, this woman would be my wife…)
I parked the car and got out. Janet cleaned her sunglasses and remained behind. I walked up to the ramshackle place and was greeted by an old grizzled Bedouin.
“Salaam alaikum,” I said.
“Salaam alaikum,” he said back. Then, “Amer-ca?”
“Yes,” said. “English? Speak?”
(I spoke just enough Arabic (and Hebrew) to get me into trouble back then.)
“Sodas? Coke-a-cola?” I asked.
I gave him a pack of Marlboros. He gave me two cokes. Apparently inflation had set in here. I smiled though and shook his hand, happy to have made some cultural advancement.
Jimmy Carter shoulda seen me that day. Got back in the car. Janet, still incogneto, remarked,
“Was that worth it?”
“Yes. It was. Thank you. We are reps of the State Department. WE are suppose to be ambassadors. Don’t you git it?’
“Yeah. I ‘git’ it. I get that I want this trip to end soon. I am tired and hot and sweaty and thirsty and hungry and horny. And I see no end in sight for me.”
We drove on into Sharm.
As I have reported, Sharm back then was not much. There was one hotel, but who had money (or desire) for that? It had a tentative look about it anyhow.
This was ‘Israeli-Occupied Egypt’ after all and finding investors to pump money into a region, however beautiful, must have been difficult, given the volatility of the times and the probability that Israel would eventually give the desert back to Egypt (even though Israel had ‘held’ the Sinai for more than ten years at this point)
Past the hotel was a small ‘camping ground’ of sorts. There were ‘bird houses’ for rent: ten bucks per night and a communal shower/latrine area. I say ‘bird houses’, because that is exactly what they resembled: Thatched roof, two wooden ‘bunks’ side-by-side, and too small for a six-foot-one cowboy to sleep on.
I lay down and test-drove one.
I discovered that by leaving the door open I could be fine with the sleeping arrangements, letting my feet hang out, though if Janet and I were to have some privacy for any ‘Woo-Hoo’ / ‘Whoopee’, we would have to pretend we were in the back seat of a compact car and make due. (Unless we opted to keep the door open: an option my shyness would never allow me to consider)
At this point I must admit Janet was always a trooper during such times.
She was of course a soldier, albeit a weekend one, and had previous experience with less-than-pristine habiliments.
After we had decided to spend the night at this place, taken our showers, had some drink and sandwiches, her mood (and mine) improved as the sun went down and the heat subsided. Behind us were the mountains. In front of us, the sea, and ahead of us, our future.
We were after all, two lovebirds deep in love and in our own private birdhouse.
We made love in that birdhouse after sundown.
And with the door open.
And why not?
We were young.
(And we had all that ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ bullshit to boot)
I love Joni’s smile. She don’t smile often, but when she does… magical shit happens. Shoots bolts right through my heart Baby!
To Be Continued…
ED. Note: I Only ‘Like’ My Own Posts, in an effort to Help the Algorithm
TA’ Does Not Always Necessarily Mean ‘Tits an’ Ass'” Happy Belated Purim! Is-Rail Is REAL!
I Love Jewish Culture.
“If I Were A Rich Man”
Sadly, I Am Not!
Shamelessly Lifted From The Brilliant Film,
(I Only Steal The Good Shit–How I Roll, Y’all Know….)
“I Realize it is NO Shame To Be Poor…”
Poverty is Somewhat
It Provides One’s God-Given RIGHT
To Invite ‘Rich’ People To Go Get Fu*k’d!
I ‘Embrace My Poverty!
And With Two Loving Open Arms’
I cannot find my Gladys Lehanni Post.
Give me time…
Arrived Tel Aviv one afternoon Late ‘78.
Soon to be Stoned, Dazed and Confused and Somewhat Abused.
One of my fellow SFM drivers, Perry, a good bud of mine, had convoyed with me through the Sinai Desert and into TA. Each of us driving deuce and a’halfs and at dangerous, reckless speeds.
We checked into the Pal Hotel which SFM had migrated to after the New Sheraton had made it plain they no longer desired nor needed the patronage of Sinai Field Mission Types, specifically the Texan ones–Which made up about 88 Percent of Sinai Field Mission Personnel.
I/We, preferred the Pal Hotel anyway. (They loved us and our fun-loving ways and how we were always, without fail, Big Tippers to The Hotel Staff)
“Fuck You Uptight Sheraton New Hotel!”
(This sentiment was unanimous amongst all-of-us-Texan Expats)
Of course for both of you Lenny Fans out there in ‘Radio Land’ I just had to drop this audio bit in. It really is not germane (nor certainly not German) to the point, but it do expand on the title somewhat.
It occurred to me that when using the term ‘Tits an’ Ass” some would not know the etymology. Lenny first coined the phrase. (Bless his heart). He did some jail time too… for his transgressions.
After settling in, Perry called me from his room, “Hey Lance. Got anything goin’ tonight?”
“Nope,” I replied. “Not a damn thing. You know Gladys done dumped me for that Venzu-walon dude.”
(Some Histoire on Gladys — Or as Bart Armstrong Called her: “Happy Butt”):
First Israeli Love. Her name was Gladys Lehani and she spoke French, English, Hebrew, and Lies. I was instantly enamored. She worked nights at the Tel Aviv Sheraton in the ‘Kum Kum’ Lounge, a bar. During the afternoons she was a cashier in the little lobby area of the hotel. A place where one could look out the huge windows at the Mediterranean, have a cocktail, read a book, and flirt with her. I spent many hours there doing all four.
“Come on up to my room.” Perry said, “We’ll smoke a bowl.”
“On my way,” I said and hung up. We smoked a few bowls of hashish,
(All we could get in The Middle of The Fucking East–Which we would have Killed For In Texas, But after a few Years of NOTHING But Hashish, We Missed Good Old, Old-Fashion Pot)
drank some Amstels, and decided to head over to Dizengoff Street to check out the action. And sate some munchies. Just yet another night in TA.
We stepped out onto Hayarkon Street just after sundown and proceeded to float on toward Dizengoff, a few short blocks away.
We were stoned beyond repair. As we tried to navigate across the busy Hayarkon four lane, we noticed more than the average number of folk on foot.
As soon as we had arrived on the leeward shore of Hayarkon, a teenage girl came running up to us and smacked us both on the top of our heads with a little plastic mallet. Then said something unintelligible in Hebrew and ran giggling away.
“What the fuck was that?!” I asked Perry.
“Dude, I gots no idea, but look yonder!” he said pointing up the street. Sure as shit, there were people everywhere; all armed with similar plastic mallets, just wailing the shit outta each other’s heads.
“Dude! We gotta sort this out.
This is just too weird. Must be some kinda religious ritual.” This is what my hashish soaked brain was telling me anyway. We made our way to Dizengoff, after having our heads bonked repeatedly by overzealous religious fanatics. I spied a street vendor displaying the plastic mallets with aplomb.
“Perry, we gots to git one ah them for self-defense.”
We purchased one each and went to whackin’ pretty Sabras about the head. (Great way to meet women, I must confess—Kinda Neanderthal—but what the hell?) Later I was told we had experienced some joyful Israeli Halloween-Like festival. Mardi Gras, it weren’t but dammit! I had fun. (But I didn’t get any beads)
Nor Did I get laid that night, In spite of me whacking the heads of so many Pretty Sabras.
To this day, I do not know the holiday, or festival. Are there any out there who would care to enlighten me? Tis one-of-those-unknown-things that still haunt me today. Perhaps if I had not been stoned…
My Jewish Friends: Was it Purim I had experienced? My enquirin’ mind really do wanna know.
Some of you may know of my history in the Mideast. Most of you may not. Some of you may know I get emotional about issues.
Some of you may not.
Some of you may give a shit.
Some of you may not.
I flip a coin
It comes down on both sides.
It lands on edge and remains thus…
No matter: I don’t have a dog in this fight: The current Fight between Hamas and the IDF (Israel)… Actually, I did, once upon a time, have a dog. He died. But that was many moons ago.
And we did/didn’t call in the dogs back then: the ‘Fight Between the PLO and Israel’… “Let ’em duke it out!”
–Ronald Reagan, “et them all, et tu, Brutus?”
And about who could wrap some arms about Yasser Arafat? No one. Not even Ronnie. Then he (Arafat) became ‘Rocky Balboa’ to some of rest of the world. Yes! Fast forward… but who among the thinking of us and the remembering of us, can ever forget
Munich in ’72?
And I was on the ‘good’ side.
I was for the ‘Home’ Team: Israel! Nineteen Sixty Seven! The shining moment of the IDF! Just like the Lord: ‘Fought for Six Days and Rested on the Seventh.”
“Didn’t them Jews kick the ever-lovin’ shit outta them A-Rabs?! Fought for Six Days…”
Biblical! (Yay God! and Madison Ave…)
Then I learned to read (and listen)
I, as most of us (I hope) want the killing to STOP. It hit ‘Home’ today when I went to buy a beer. There were Palestinians in the road… In Memphis America! They were not happy. Unhappy Palestinians. Goddamn Right! They were unhappy! In Memphis!
I do not blame them. I am not happy either, but that said, Israel has some right to defend… don’t they? If you would like to argue, I welcome that, as I, more than some of you out there, have lived on both sides of that pond. And on both sides of that issue.
I have driven through Gaza. Too many times. I have seen the refugee camps. The poverty.
And I had intimate sex (is there any other kind?) with an Israeli Sabra, of Yemenite ‘distraction’ (i.e., she was Arab: Arab Jew) More than twice… Yet that sex did not prejudice me… (Well, maybe it did… just a little)
Putting sex aside, I know some politic, especially when it comes to Israel and Islam.
I have been on both sides.
Call me out, yet consider that I am foremost and always just a simple Texan.
Months before the events inked here, here, here, and here, I found myself in Paris (actually two Paris’s—One Texan—One French). Confus’d yet? Stand by: it grows worse(r)
Let’s back up a mite (mites are hard to back up by the way, militarily that is: damn small and damn slippery, them mites… and they tend to mite-bite one, usually on one’s ass)
We call that “Green on Blue” and if you are following the recent news cycle, you will surely know that, that is inappropriate. But that is just how I roll. Fuck Afghanistan and their pretended bullshit “We gonna take over security of our country…” Won’t happen. But after ten plus years there (and some several months there by me, after Iraq–got ‘liberated’–now there is yet another joke, I can speak to the idiocy that is ‘our’ foreign fallacy.
I was in Sinai, 1978 (if memory serves), and I received a letter from my step-sis. This was not unusual back in those days, as we were still ‘speaking’. She sent me a rather long and boring letter regarding Honey Grove and all the ‘Happenings’ thereabouts. The letter was indeed ‘boring’ until I got to her ‘PS’. It read and I quote (loosely), “By the way, R is marrying J. Jesus-Beezus!”
This was, to me, devastation by way of bad, unspeakable news!
‘How could she?! She was MINE. Mine to mine and to have and to hold… just as soon as I finished with my wanderlust. How dare she?!” How DARE she?!
What to do?
Well, I had some R&R time ‘on the books’ so I hopped on a freighter (airplane), and flew back to Texas, ostensibly to break up the marriage, just like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Problem was, was that I screwed up the dates and the logistics, and arrived not in time to bust up the wedding, but just in time to see the happy couple speeding off fast to Waco and their honeymoon…
Never having been more depressed at missing a rendezvous, what to do? Rebound Son! Rebound!
So, I sought out Janet. Let’s call it a ‘bank shot rebound.’ I knew she was working at the Hopkins Lamar (See? To this day, I never know which county I am in) County Courthouse as a probation officer, so I timed (this time, my timing was spot on) my entrance during her lunch break: Intercepted her coming down the stairs of the courthouse.
“C’est moi! How’s Trix?”
“You are supposed to be in Egypt,” she said.
“I escaped,” I said. “Wanna have lunch?”
“Uh… Sure. Why not?” (Why not indeed)
We went to lunch. Then she took the rest of the day. We went to her apartment and drank gin. Later that eve, after I had regaled her with fantastical tales of the Middle of the East, she took a drag from her Virginia Slim and asked, “So are you gonna fuck me tonight, or what?”
I said, “No Ma’am; I am gonna make love to you—something I should have done five years ago.”
So we did—I did—make love to her.
The problem now became that I had a plane to catch to that other Paris: that one in France. The other part of the problem was that my plane was waiting in Houston. I was about five hours at seventy miles per hour away from my Air France plane at Houston Intercontinental. I had to go. Now.
I hit the road to Houston, not really wanting to go, but I had promised my buddy, Bart, Black Bart, that I would meet him in Paris on such and such a day. Naturally, I ended up missing my flight and arrived Paree a day late. On the taxi ride from Charles de Gaulle airport, we drove under a bridge and the taxi car lost its windshield to a lone rifle shot. (my theory) “Terrorist?” I asked the cabby? (en français).
“Merde!” Was all he said, as he dodged the flying glass. (true story). I did not care anyhow, but this rather happenstance occurrence did not bode well for my first day in Gay Paree…
“There’s my hotel!” I exclaimed as he had managed to (somehow) keep driving.
I paid him off, got out of his now mangled, windshield-less cab and made my way into the cheap hotel lobby. Went up to my room, dropped my shit; then went looking for my buddy. Found him at last sitting on his rack, rather sullen in mood. I checked out his room. It had a wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower.
“So Bart,” I asked finally, “What have you done here in The City of Light for twenty-four hours?”
“You see that tower there?” he asked, pointing to the window.
“Yep,” I said. “That would be the Eiffel Tower.”
“Well, since you didn’t show, I went out on my own… and hey! Ya know, they don’t speak English here? I went out on my own. (You mentioned that) Walked over to that tower, looked up at it—kicked it—and said to myself, ‘Yep. That there Bartamus, that there is the Eiffel Tower. Then I came back here and took a nap. And would you please tell that France Maid that I do not want no fuckin’ breakfast? She wakes me up in the fucking morning with her biscuits (‘croissants’ Asshole) and lousy coffee.”
“Sure Bart,” I said. “I will post a note, en français on yer door.”
“You speak France?”
“Well Hot Damn then! You be Bogey. I’ll be Bacall.” (of course)
“I weren’t able to bust up the wedding.”
“Oh you mean between R and J?”
“Yep. That one, you moron.”
“Yer better off,” he said.
“OK. Then why am I so depressed?”
“Dunno. Did you have any other adventures while you were back In-The-World?”
“Matter of fact, I did. I hooked up with Janet.”
“Nope. No bullshit. Why I missed my flight, in fact.”
“Well, I was just about pissed off at you, but now I unnerstand.”
“Thanks for that,” I said.
“Hey!” he said. “Let’s smoke a bowl and you can tell me all about it while we go and kick this town in the ass.”
“Light her up,” I said. We smoked and drank and then off we went stoned and semi-drunk and in Paris (France) Just two more ugly Americans (Texans)
I hesitated while choosing the vid to represent this post. Then I swerved onto this one below. It is somewhat depressing, yeah. But, but… This is how I see my life ending up. I hope you will take the time to watch, listen, and comment.
“We made love in that birdhouse after sundown. And with the door open. And why not? We were young. (And we had all that ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ bullshit to boot)”
Thus ended my last ‘serious’ transmission regarding my recently orphaned series, bits of which may be found herehereherehere…
WordPress is not Facebook and I would do well to remember this, yet if memory serves, the above is indeed how I did in fact, end my last sober transmission regarding this never-ending (Insha’Allah) story I still call without shame or sham, My Life.
Guess what Friends. I am gonna end it now. Hang onto yer butts.
All true, but I have a tendency to grow bored with my own writing and this does not bode well, well…
I have just recently been returned from my Sabbatical, (kicking and screaming) which was spent in some dark happy place looking for answers.
Finding none, save one, I have returned to these pages more or less now unobstructed and with fresh thoughts unobscured.
“Whatever does he mean, “Unobstructed”? “Hey Y’all! Come look he’ah! Lance done lost his mind!” (a-gin)
Means, Dear Readers that I am just gonna tell “THE TRUTH” from now on. Not that I have not ‘til now been telling same but, now I am gonna tell the Whole Truth, because by omission, I have been lying.
No Sugar, no mas.
This I gleaned from my Sabbatical. “So thanks Sabra. And thanks for the lobotomy, and gee! That shock therapy was da bomb!”
Oh! And to tie up that last loose end:
Janet and I spent a wonderful day or two at Sharm, then went back to SFM and carried on. Things kinda went to shit after that… for a spell.
But then we got married and it was all copacetic–For about two hours.
Yes it was on our honeymoon
… and we got into an argument and ended up after the ceremony un-ceremoniously sailing our newly purchased and vowed-upon wedding rings off the balcony of the Sheraton Hotel, (tenth floor) gleefully watching them bounce on the sand in front of the Mediterranean Sea,
To wait there for some intrepid happy beach comber to later discover and claim ‘pirate treasure’ no doubt from Sodom and Gomorrah… (Yes, American tourists are stupid)
After we had ‘dissolved’ our new marriage in that ancient simple way, we went back to drinking and fucking, and for some I suppose that is what one could call a decent marriage, at least in the early stages.
And honestly, I think that is all way too much information about my time spent with her and Moses in Sinai and in the ‘Rest-of-the-Holy-Land.’
But perhaps not.
(See? I am sharing “deep thoughts” here) with you thanks to my newly ended Sabbatical. Now don’t you feel ‘very unique’? (Ed. Note: I HATE that! There are no degrees of ‘unique’. You can look it up)
If ya wanna…
I really don’t want to write about Janet but… damn it! She is such a wonderful, truly true, truly colorful, truly unique, one-hundred-and-one pounds of fun character, especially after we arrived in Nacogdoches Texas and began our ‘unique’ married life.
We are all, all of us, ‘very unique individuals’.
Or aren’t we all just deluding our own unique selves?
Probably will be continued when They let me out again for ‘Social Time’
And Finally I leave you with a good Sunday Morning Song. We used to sing this as we ran in formation to chow when I was in BUD/s Class 158. Can you imagine? Probably not.