The following story comes from a dear friend of mine who recently made Aliyah. I’ve been explaining to him that life in Israel is full of really funny stuff and he’s been taking it all in. Yesterday, I got the following story in my inbox and I had to share.
For other funny stories, visit his blog.
Here’s his story…
Living in Jerusalem is a great challenge, especially if you go around assuming that things make some modicum of sense, like an insane asylum, where the lines of insanity are clearly demarcated by locked doors (insane) and guys in white coats (sane). Here, it’s also like an insane asylum, except there are no clear borders, everything’s mushed together like a Jerusalem mixed grill, and the only guys in white coats are the ones who stand behind smelly counters all day at the shuk and their coats are smattered with fish guts and they’re yelling at you, “Fish guts! 10 shekel a kilo!” in 5 second intervals, each one louder than the next, until you come up to him and ask him what kind of fish guts he’s selling and he yells at you for disturbing him because he was in a groove.
So as to the belief that there is some sense in this city – only crazed lunatics believe such nonsense. Nobody here does. Everyone here is completely honest with himself, he lives in reality, he has no fantasies, he’s a realist, which is why he never assumes that when the Israel Museum attempts to charge you 37 shekels for entry during what was advertised as a free weekend, maybe, at least, someone would be at the counter to sell you the ticket, and that the museum wouldn’t be closed for renovations after you got one.This is what happened to me last week when, what was advertised as “Hamshushalayim” – Israel jargon for Thursday-Friday-Shabbat-Yerushalayim-free-weekend-we‘re-just-joking-we-wanted-to-see-if-you’d-fall-for-it – said that entry to the Israel Museum would be free for the weekend in order to attract stupid tourists who believe in logic and truth-in-advertising. So my stunt-double and I, whoever that is, walked to the Israel museum and attempted to walk past the guard, thinking he was just there to stop terrorists from blowing up the Aleppo Codex without paying an entry fee (”Excuse me, are you here to blow up the Aleppo Codex? OK, that’ll be 37 shekel.”), but not to charge us for entry that we assumed we didn’t have to pay for because that’s what the stupid Hamshushalayim pamphlet said.
But the guard asked us if we had a cartis, Hebrew for “give me money,” and we said, “No, it’s Hamshushalayim, it’s free.” And he said, “That was on Thursday from the hours of 9 to 9:02. You need a cartis.”
So we went to the ticket counter, and there was nobody there. We asked the Jewish-looking guy with the big gun who probably was the real guy charging entry for anyone trying to blow up the Codex, where the guy selling the tickets was, and he said he was in the bathroom. So we went to the gift shop, the one place that they didn’t charge entry for, and stood by the Museum-side exit from the gift shop, waiting clandestinely for someone to open the door so we could do theimpossible and get into the museum illegally, past the guy with an M16 at the front.
Then someone did, we had our chance, and we splurted through the door like bats in the night, except it was day and we felt more like lethargic mice, which would be a great name for a pickup bar in Tel Aviv somewhere.
Our first stop was the Codex, because we wanted to see it because it’s the oldest copy of the bible in existence written in 200BCE, except the Arabs burnt most of it in the 50’s. Then we went searching for the actual museum. The main path to it seemed closed, so we had to go around through the art garden, which consists of large swaths of empty nothingness with random rusty spikes and weird-shaped metal blobs meant to convey the despair you feel because you can’t find your wayout of this crazy place to get to the actual museum. We escaped, and, still trying to find the entrance to the museum, we went through the water art exhibit, which houses such artistic masterpieces as – as we saw at the entrance to the magnificent water art exhibit – a sprinkler enclosed in a glass cube, circling around and sprinkling…absolutely…nothing. I can’t tell you how much Jewish pride I felt looking at that…thing. It was something like, “All those empires that tried to conquer and kill us are gone, but we survived throughout the millennia, and now we’re back in our homeland, and we have the freedom to build wacknutty pieces of crap like this useless sprinker enclosed in a glass cube and put it in our national museum and nobody can stop us ever again! Damn you Hitler!”
We escaped that horror as well, and asked the guy at the front of the water art exhibit, “Where the hell do you crazy sadists hide the friggin museum?”
“Sagur la’shiputzim.” It was closed for shiputzations. They’re renovating the thing.”
So let me get this straight,” I say, “You charge us entry on a free weekend, but won’t sell us a ticket because the guy is probably still in the bathroom, to a museum that is closed for renovations?”
“Fish guts! 10 shekel a kilo!”