Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Help me interpret this dream

My cousin Yosef heard this, and he wouldn't interpret it, but told me to go see a shrink. But maybe some of my loyal readers can help.

I'm driving a car through the desert. At first I thought it was the Negev, but then I noticed that the landscape was green. Green from all the cacti and other desert plants. No, this wasn't Israel. Then I saw a road sign: US 385. Where the hell was I? I was driving a 1967 Sussita with expired Israeli license plates, and I sure didn't want to get stopped by some redneck state trooper in the US.

Finally, a sign by the road, brown wood with the familiar National Park Service arrowhead logo:

Big Bend National Park

WTF? I'm in Texas! Come to think of it, I was in Texas when I went to sleep, but I was about 250 miles to the east. I've always wanted to go to Big Bend, but there certainly wasn't time to do so on this trip. And the rental car company at the San Antonio airport gave me a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, not a Sussita (thank God!).

Well, what could I do but stop at the entrance station to pay my fee, but it was closed. A notice tacked up on the window said to drive the quarter mile to the Persimmon Gap Visitor Center and pay the entrance fee. When I got out of the car, I noticed that it was about 115 in the shade. Why I didn't notice that before puzzled me, because they didn't sell 1967 Sussitas with air conditioning, and so the car should have been hot as hell. Oh well, that's dreams for you.

So I walk into the Visitor Center, and there's this grandmotherly lady ranger at the desk, so I ask her about the entrance fee.

"Oh yes, it's $20 for a week," she says with a very pronounced Texas drawl, "But seeing from your car that you probably only have Israeli money, we'll take 80 lirot."

"Lirot?" It's been decades since Israel dropped the "lira," the Israeli pound, in favor of the "shekel. And why would the National Park Service take obsolete Israeli money? But I pulled out my wallet and found it was stuffed with Israel banknotes from the early 1970's. I guess that goes along with my driving a 1967 Sussita. I pulled out a bill.

"Do you have change for a Herzl?" I asked, referring to the portrait on the 100 Lira bill.

"I sure do," she says, and, after taking my money, handed me four banknotes with pictures of Albert Einstein, each worth 5 Lirot. For some reason I didn't reflect too much on why a lady park ranger from west Texas would know what a "Herzl" was and give the right change.

"So what do recommend I see in the park?" I asked after perusing an exhibit about how Jefferson Davis sent an army expedition to the area in the 1840's to see if camels would make useful mounts for the soldiers.

"Hell, the only place I'd come visit in July is the Chisos Basin, as it's about the only place where you won't fry your brain. But then, you're probably an Israeli, so you're used to brain-fries, I guess. Most people have more sense than to come here this time of year, so you won't have to worry about crowds. But go up to the basin, it's at 5,400 feet, that's 1,600 meters to your Israeli buddies, it should be tolerable up there.

"But when you're up there, watch out for the DovBears..."

"The what?" I said, mystified.

"The DovBears," she repeated. They look like regular bears, but they're chasidic or something. "

OK this is starting to get wierd when a lady with a west Texas drawl starts talking about chasidic bears.

"Anyway," she continued, "we had some folks visit here from some town in New York called Monsey, or maybe it was New Square, and they tried to talk the Superintendent into letting them hunt the DovBears. They said it was very important to protect the spirtual health of America from kefira. Well, the Superintendent didn't buy it. We just don't allow hunting in National Parks. Of course, if the Dovbears wander outside the park boundary....

"Come to think of it, I don't think you need to worry about the DovBears. You look like a Reform Jew, so protecting you from kefira is a lost cause..."

"No," I challenged her, "I'm not Reform, I'm Conservative."

"Yeah, right," she said, "if you're Conservative, then why the hell are you driving into the Park on Shabbos? Your rabbis only let you drive to shul on Shabbos... I guess you're another one of the dweebs who attends a Conservative shul, but is really Reform."

"Um, thanks," I said as I slipped out the door. What the hell is going on? A redneck Park ranger in West Texas is talking Jew stuff? And she has obsolete Israeli money in the till?

"Oh sir," the ranger came out the door and called out to me. "Y'all be careful out there. This here road is also the Comanche War Trail, and they sometimes send raiding parties down into Mexico to steal livestock and capture slaves."

What???!! Oh sure back 150 years ago, it was the Comanche War Trail, but is she serious that there are wild Indians about in the 21st century? Sure there are still Comanches, but raids to Mexico? I think she's been stationed out in this sun-blasted desert too long and needs a reassignment to a park with more moderate conditions.

Now thoroughly puzzled, I got back in my car and continued driving down the road through the desert. The scenery got a little more "Israeli," if you get my drift. More rocks and sand, less cactus and mesquite. I was starting to enjoy the drive, despite the sever heat shimmer that sometimes made it hard to see which way the road was going, when I noticed a large dust cloud ahead of me. As I drove up, my blood froze. For the dust cloud was raised by the hooves of hundreds of mounted and armed Indian warriors.

--To be continued


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