Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two For One


- You're the other American.
- I am.
- They say you and me tell similar stories. Vicious Jewish families, disappearing Hungarian wives. They asked me if I knew you.
- They asked me if I knew you.
- Do you?
- No.
- They're processing us as a package deal.
- Yeah. They say they get a better price on the tickets, I don't know how.
- Me either. One way tickets, Budapest to Tel Aviv aren't expensive anyway. Maybe the attraction is not saving money, but double the result for the same effort. It makes it easier to justify to themselves the exception they are making, the Israeli Agency dealing with Americans in Hungary. It's a strange coincidence. Or maybe it isn't. When did you first come here, to this office?
- A few days ago. When did you?
- Two years ago. They told me to go back to L.A. I did, and a year later the Los Angeles office told me it would be immoral to help me go to Israel.
- Really? Why?
- They said I wouldn't be a success.
- But they've changed their minds now.
- Yes. Where did you get the idea from? To come here, I mean.
- From the Consul at the American Embassy.
- Of course.
- Why of course?
- The diplomats over there take an interest in my life.
- You mean they knew you had applied to go to Israel, and they sent me over to go with you?
- That's the way it looks. They forbid me to enter the Embassy, they send you over to Israel.
- They won't let you in? What did you do?
- I told them they were wrong. What did you do?
- They couldn't help me.
- The American government is too busy taking bribes from corporations, doesn't have time to deal with Americans anymore. Sends them over to Israel to handle. Anyway, it's good luck for me.
- Why?
- Because my application was stalled until you showed up. Two for one!


Outside the Odeon Cinema Cafe the friendly officer of the Jewish Agency and I chance to meet. She lives down the street.

- Have seen you the other American today too?
- No, but I just talked to him on the phone.
- It's hard for me, having a double of like that.
- You noticed too? It's strange.
- We're not really alike. Only our circumstances.
- What circumstances?
- American Jewish families that hate truth, love money. Seeking truth is part of the religion, but lying is more profitable. The conflict leads to extremes of behavior.
- They hate you two because you tell the truth.
- Yes, believe it or not. Maybe we learned to love truth more because they hated it.
- Not every American Jewish family is like that.
- A lot are.
- The whole world is moving that way.
- Yes.
- You could have stayed in the U.S. and looked for better people.
- I thought I'd have better luck in Europe. I did have better luck. Then luck ran out.
- Why?
- As you said, the way the whole world is moving, it's the way of the place I was trying to escape.