Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Us and Them

A danger most transplants lie prey to is the "we" versus "they" syndrome. "Back in Podunk, WE did it this way. Over here in Holy Land Central (HLC) THEY do it that way...How very ridiculously wrong of THEM"

I, personally, never fall into this trap. Above it all, I weigh each situation carefully, giving others the benefit of the doubt because, after all, we are each and every one of us citizens of this Glorious Universe. Not, mere separate beings emerging from our respective corners to mete out criticism and retreat but a mass of living, breathing energy meant to love and support one another eternally.

Ptooey, Kaka. I am the very FIRST to jump into the ring for my daily, 10-round bash. Why this way? Why not that way? What's wrong with them? Could it be any worse? Why did I come here? annessi e connessi, und so weiter.. It fills up time.

Today, however I caught a whiff of that universal groove, hippy goo love stuff, wrapped so delicately in nuance that it almost drifted on past.

My kid has been sick with the flu for a week now. Fever, stuffy nose, coughing, more fever, no school, birthday party cancelled, all three of us sick now , coughing, fevers, lovely, enough said.

The beauty of living in HLC, however, is generous health coverage benefits. For $1.50 you visit the doc and get treated, throw down another $3-4 at the pharmacy en route home and voila! Good to go.

When you're a returning resident, HOWEVER, you have to wait a tad for the bennies to kick in. New law. Has to do with people moving abroad to find fortunes, contracting terminal illnesses and coming back to the mother land for government subsidized treatment. Awwwwwww. Hell Nahhhh...said the Israeli government and slapped on a waiting period to make sure you're not back for the cheapie MRI.

ANYHEEEW, Turns out that even though a kid is entitled to healthcare no matter what, he can't be signed up if his mom's on hold meaning he can't be seen by a doctor meaning he can't be treated. You know where this is going and no, it wasn't pretty. Why couldn't his new-to-the-country dad sign him up, you ask? Because dad plays for the "other team" so he passes GO and collects bupkes.

So during round two in three days of sitting across from health clinic receptionists, I'm asserting myself between coughing spasms and chills, explaining that the child must be treated, his fever isn't dissipating and haven't they heard of the bloody Hippocratic oath? And then I laid in the final touch: When it's time for army service, National Insurance won't have any trouble finding him...But NOW when he needs treatment... Relevance? None. Effect? Sounds good but didn't help.

After my bold declaration, I needed a lemon drop to calm the cough. Noticing that the woman seated opposite was sipping tea with lemon and having a rough time herself, I held out a drop which she gratefully accepted.

Innocent as it was, I'm convinced the lemon drop was what got my son signed up, myself mysteriously taken off the waiting list and both of us seen by a doctor the same day.

Maybe there is something after all to all that San Fran touchy feely stuff....Feechs!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Me Here...You There...

Living far, far away from parents, brothers and sisters, nephews, nieces and grandparents is not an easy thing.

Even living a few, meager hours' distance from loved ones - assuming relations are positive - at times creates longings for kitchen table gossip, a shared meal, hugs, arguments, biting humor shared between siblings alone and familiarity that lies solely within the circle of family.

Yes, long distance rates make calling convenient and affordable and e-mail and IM'ing allows for instant gratification. But living several layovers away is still...Well, a few layovers away.

HOWEVER, I am here to inform that viewing only the glum side of this situation would be a most unfortunate vantage point, indeed. For there are benefits, however few, to a continental divide.

How could that be, you muse? I'll tell you:

I've bicycled past the families sitting together in Tel Aviv restaurants on Saturdays stuffing in cholent (a stick-to-the-ribs, brisket, barley and potato dish), chicken soup with matzoh balls and fried schnitzel in cream sauce. I've seen the miserable and longing looks on some of those family members' faces as they see me free-wheel on past. Not meaning to gloat but: Ha Ha! This was one of the benefits written into my contract.

Friday night dinners with family is okay...Occasionally. After all, schlepping to the in-laws' when it's been a long day and an even longer week is....a schlep! Especially if they live a distance away. Isn't it great that I can go to a movie on a Friday evening instead and not worry about offending anyone? Another contracted benefit down there in the fine print.

Holidays are optional. You can go for the fun ones like Hannuka and Purim and skip out on the heavier ones like Passover. Don 't feel like sitting through a four-hour Seder? No problem. No one to answer to. Not meaning to sound like a heretic but if there's no one to offend and they won't be checking up on me...

No stodgy, obligatory Saturday visits. The day's all yours for bicycling, windsurfing, mountain climbing, hiking, sailing or sleeping.

Less grapevine evil amongst family members. This isn't to say that it doesn't happen because who are we kidding, eh? But you're less prone to rubbishing your brother to your sister down the phone when you only speak once a week and you already feel guilty over the distance thing. Makes us all a bit more God-like.

No fighting. How can you fight with someone you don't see? And we all know that this is a tremendous benefit; the sear of family feuding burns hottest of all because the hurts resonate deeply. Give it up? Don't mind if I do, thanks.

Did I convince you? Good. Now don't pick up and move on my account or anything silly like that. But if you find yourself missing your family, be sure to look over the benefits section of your contract. It helps.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

It's A Lie

For all those out there with children contemplating a cross-state, cross-country, cross-Atlantic, cross-continent move, I've got news for you:

When They tell you "kids are flexible" "kids adjust" "it'll be easier for them than you" "they bounce back quickly" ....and any other adage casually tossed about while you're so busy packing, searching for new digs, closing up accounts, gathering information and saying goodbyes that you need to hear something comforting, Don't Believe Them!

Because as we sidle up to month 3 of Tel Aviv occupation, I continue to feel pained while peeking through the window of our 4-year-old's kindergarden as he sits inside sucking his thumb and twisting his hair during end-of-day circle time, oblivious to the story being read or song being sung. Walking home each morning, I cry harder than he has moments prior during dramatic, good-byes at the school gate. I pain for him as he pines for a first, special friend or a whole slew of friends and daily I long to cave when he begs to stay home from "that school I don't like where they all talk in Hebrew."

I know that a lot of this is normal but I don't give a toss. Lurking on an ultra-conscious level is the sense that I may have wronged my son. Despite motives of coming here in order to provide him with the utmost possible within my means, a nagging sense lingers that I've uprooted him from popularity, from a fawning kindergarden teacher who fanned his ego, from a preschool where indulging in water play and nakedness (down to underwear) on a whim was acceptable and from an overall softer approach to living life and relating to others. And yes, I know that any life decision has its up and downside, but when I stand outside that window watching him twist his hair? ...See line one of this paragraph for my take.

I can't help but ask myself: Have I done to him what our parents did to my three siblings and myself by relocating from a mixed race, liberal, intellectual enclave during key, pre-teenage years to a Wonder Bread suburban setting where kids tipped cows for fun? To this day my sister and I still concur about how very wrong the move was for our inherent natures...

Will Rapha's nature which incorporates a love of painting and art, a desire for brightly colored items like the pink bicycle he requested for his birthday (NO San Francisco jokes, please!), extreme sensitivity and an ability to intuit beyond his years get smashed here?

I can only hope not; I stop dwelling now as a small, Birthday Child begging to be photographed has awakened. A Happy Fourth to my Dearest Dear!...I wish I could shield you from the worst while knowing exactly how to give you the very best. While I'm figuring it out, however, You are MOST welcome for the Ooh They're Beautiful, Thank You Mommy!! fairy lights.

Vive Le Turkey!!!

...Happy Thanksgiving Day to all of my Americana-Fantocious Friends!!

(only 30 more shopping days left)

Monday, November 21, 2005

...livening it up a bit...

For the five of us here in Israel divested of political immersion, the business of daily life at times necessitates a wee, waft of diversion. Or, as "Dr. Janet" of San Francisco's Alamo Square dog park puts it: In our family, the rule is that once a week each person has to go somewhere or do something outside of the routine to keep life interesting and fresh

For some, it never gets boring. Buddha says: This is Good.

For others, a list of suggested things to try for little to no $$ if you live in or visit Tel Aviv:

1) Walk along the Yarkon River at sunset. The sight is truly to be cherished
2) Rent a bicycle at OhFun! (corner Nordau/Ben Yehuda), ride up to Jaffa and back down to the Reading Power Plant area. Sit for coffee at one of the seaside cafes
3) Go to a movie at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday evening ...You'll find peace, tranquility and row upon row of empty seats
4) Visit the Rabin Memorial at the municipality. It is chilling and humbling
5) Climb the stairs adjacent to the Rabin memorial, go inside the building and check out the local, photographer's display on the ground floor. Good stuff
6) Stop for a coffee at either of the Rothschild Boulevard java stands just south of Sheinkin. You'll feel oh-so-hip
7) Check out the Interior Ministry's gorgeous, young security guards at the entrance and upstairs. Modeling candidates, every last one. While inside, view the acrylic and oil paintings on the ground floor and the photo-essay exhibit on the 2nd. Are we feeling cultured after our moment of lechery?
8) Get up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday and go outside. Hear the birdies singing and smell that fresh, morning air? (this one also works outside Tel Aviv). Buddha likes this too
9) Go for Jahnoun at the stone restaurant overlooking Metzitzeem (Old Sheraton) Beach. Cheap, tasty eats inside an open fortress with a view
10) Spend 50 shekels for an introductory wind-surfing, kayaking or surf lesson at the club on Hilton Beach. They provide the wet suit and instruction, you get invigorating fun
11) Stroll the Opera House grounds and gardens. You'll feel sophisticated
12) Go for gelato at Vaniglia on Ashtori Ha'Parhi 24 in the Basel compound. G'head already. You deserve it and it's worth it

Just Like San Francisco...

...Only a lot less rampant

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Jaffa Cool and Not....

To break away from our North Tel Aviv neighborhood and pick up a rosary for devoutly Catholic, ex-neighbors back in San Fran, the family ventured out to Jaffa last night.

Each time I take the time to go there, I'm impressed anew by the architecture and history within the stone structures. Jaffa shares cousin Jerusalem's historical and aesthetic beauty, but the port city lacks the holy city's heavy sense of foreboding despite similar religious and political intensity.

Judaism cites Jaffa as a shipping gateway and fortress, mentioned in The Book of Joshua and ruled by Kings David and Solomon during the 1st Temple era and The New Testament stakes this as the place where St. Peter resurrected Jesus' disciple Tabitha, the tomb site still intact.

More recently, King Richard the Lionheart took control of the city after Salah El Din's, 5-year reign in the late 12th century and in the Here and Now, it's a mixed Arab/Israeli, Tel Aviv outer limit which is way, way cool.

Yes, there's Mafia-style killing, drug dealing and theft but there are also primo, abandoned, warehouse spaces partially occupied by live-in loft artists, world class eats and the lively, flea market. Read: Very, very hip.

The old men playing backgammon and swilling beer in the back alley bingo-hall-joint off Yefet Street have been there for at least 25 years (75, according to vendor 'Moti') as have some of the tired restaurants serving up Middle Eastern, kabob fare at huge prices to unsuspecting tourists opposite Moti's chatchke shop where we bought Holy crosses, Holy dirt and Holy vials of water, all blessed by a Holy father. Amen.

I don't fancy myself an unsuspecting tourist, at least not in these parts anymore, so how did it come to pass that my family and I sat for a meal in one of these truly awful, dives??

We were hungry, Tonny was carrying 40 pounds of sleeping, dead weight, aka Raphael, a wee voice inside whispered to give the place a chance despite appearances and we felt sorry for the restaurateurs: their place was barren.

For future reference: Toss pity out the window and press 'mute' on the inner voice. Now, vegetarian and vegan friends, why don't you hop on out to the kitchen and fix yourselves a tofurkey sandwich with sprouts while we go over this next part, hmmmm?

Lesson #1: In years past, I truly savored grilled, goose liver. Loved the soft, fatty texture and gamey flavor. Sue me. Ethically, it's a travesty, I know. So isn't it wonderful to have put that craving to rest? I gagged after one bite.

Lesson #2: If the grilled turkey tastes like traces of ammonia are running through it, STOP EATING AT ONCE! Which is what I did. No matter how you cut it, ammonia is meant for cleaning toilets, not for recycling through one's digestive tract.

Lesson #3: If the chips (french fries) are so heavily weighed down by the vat of oil they've been soaking in overnight as to droop forward when you pick them up, Put Them Back On the Plate. Your complexion and arteries will thank you in the morning.

Silly me, I asked these guys why business was so slow.

Next time, we'll hit the galleries and then eat at Cordelia. My ridiculous pride of not seeing owner Nir Tzuk (Nikko, to me) for 4 years, assuming we're on the outs and so having too large an ego to step into his divine place, kept me from enjoying what would definitely have been a sumptuous meal. Next time.

Vive Le Jaffa!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

"Foreign" Workers

Disclaimer: I'm a Stranger Here Myself

I'm at Supersol's deli counter waiting for the Russian lady to finish slicing my Tal Ha'Emek cheese - very tasty stuff: Swiss-esque flavor with a rubbery texture - when an aged gentleman clearly not getting enough circulation what with his tweed overcoat and cashmere glove ensemble on a 75-degree day, pulls up beside me in a wheelchair. Pushing him is a slight, mid-40's woman with dark hair and dark eyes.

She: What do you want?
He: Nothing. I don't want anything
She: But you said you wanted herring
He: Why are you bothering me? When did I say I want herring?
She: Nu? Ach! We get all the way over here and now you change your mind! I'm going to go crazy!

..and so on and so forth. Listening to these two go at I'm chuckling inside. Not because the exchange is unusual in these parts; This one was tame. More like: Since when did George Costanza's parents move to the Middle East, learn to bicker in Hebrew and infiltrate the bodies of a crotchety, ex-European and a petite Filipina?

Ten years of not being here, the gradual influx of Asians has eluded me. These are people coming from Thailand and the Philippines via government or privately sponsored programs they pay to hook into. They stay, work and send earnings to family back home or settle in search of an improved standard of living.

They're working in agriculture replacing kibbutznikim and moshavniks who have opted out for private sector jobs and they attend to the country's elderly population, frequently as private home care aides. On any given day at the Work Visa Department of Israel's Interior Ministry, a handful of Southeast Asians can be found in line beside employers clutching paperwork on their behalf, quietly listening to procedure and protocol explained in English.

Based on the VERY LITTLE I've read, they have been cheated and exploited throughout the years but Watchdog organization intervention and standardization of work permit procedures has led to some stabilization.

I am NOT going into depth on this one because the issues are vast: equal rights, equal pay, displaced, Palestinian laborers, sub-standard living conditions, absent health insurance and benefits, etc.

Mine is the perch of observation: On a tachles (bottom line) basis, the Asian population here has clearly integrated into and influenced society. Thai teenagers animatedly chat in Hebrew on the bus, Filipine men and women occupying park benches read books to their elderly charges or prop them up as they stroll the park, Thai and Chinese children are enrolled in nursery schools and kindergardens, couples converse in Tagalog over espresso at trendy cafes and numerous shops selling such items as galangal and lemon grass make preparation of an authentic, Tom Kha Gai a practical endeavor.

I'm pleased and tickled each time I hear someone of Pacific Rim origin utter a Hebrew phrase. It's sort of a "does not compute" moment akin to first hearing the rumored name of NBC's Egypt-based producer: Abdullah Schleifer....I wonder if he's still around.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Rabin Memorial, November 2005

A few words about tonight's 10-year memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin at Rabin Square:

- Attendance - several hundred thousand - was tremendous. Literally, a sea of people

- Security was massive and logistically, quite impressive. Several days prior, police barricades were erected outside the city hall, memorial site. This morning, police patrolled the podium area, square and memorial. By afternoon, roughly 5 hours pre-ceremony, dozens of police were on the square with armed, military back-up. By nightfall, security was at full volume. Barricaded streets, detours, X-ray machines for bags and backpacks, blocked entrances...I've never seen anything like it at an open-air, public gathering.

- The evening highlight was not, as anticipated, Bill Clinton's speech with wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea at his side. It was folk singer David Broza's stirring rendition of "Yeheeyeh Tov" (It'll Be Alright), tailored to foster a message of peace and suggesting withdrawal from the territories.

- Clinton's quiet speech, however (was his microphone turned off or is he suffering a bout of laryngitis?), was in its own way poignant. Pointing out that had Rabin been there this evening, he'd have told everyone: Enough mourning already. Get on with it - was 100%. Do I believe that he thinks about Rabin on a weekly basis, as claimed in his speech? Actually, yes. I think there was a tremendous connection there.

There were other highlights: speeches, performances, ballads... But the peak really was the turnout. Surrounded by thousands upon thousands who were there to mark the date, there was a feeling of hope that has been missing in these parts for a very long time. Time will tell.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Where's the Money?!?

A note about getting paid in Holy Land Central: Avoid it if possible.

Let's backtrack here. I'm not advocating a "work for free" policy - Are you kidding? "Capitalist" is printed in bold below the e-mail address on my letterhead. But what I am saying is that from a Yankee perspective, the payment thing over here is slightly nuts.

Having only worked as a salaried employee for reputable, Anglo corporations during my previous, Israel domiciliation may account for a gap in understanding freelancer provisions. But this much I know is true: The cushy days of monthly paychecks deposited directly into a dwindling, overdrawn account are long gone. Welcome to "Let's Make a Deal": It's your money on our terms!

Said terms are confusing, binding for the contractor, non-binding for the revenue source and go something like this: Payment 45 days after receipt of invoice due by the 7th of each month after which time the 45-day-period begins the following month and payment is forthcoming 45 days thereafter.

Translation: You do a job in September and invoice October 1. Cold cash will not be forthcoming until at least December 15 - roughly three months after project completion - because that's how the system works. And don't forget: minor delays invariably crop up: paperwork gone missing, an accounts payable person on 3-month leave or an absent doctor's note from your great, great grandmother's internist in Kiev, circa 1600, proving your surname really is Rodrachevsky-Jones.

The laughingest part of it all is that those of us twiddling our thumbs, buying groceries on credit at Itzik's Discount Bargain Mart with social lives restricted to grazing Supersol aisles on Free Sample Thursdays are deemed lucky. Apparently, the whole payment issue is optional.

The good thing about us is that you WILL get paid
an editor confided encouragingly when THE MONEY TALK arose. As if actually compensating for work is an unusual, honorable practice.

Oh Damn! And I had hoped it would be another of those Zen, volunteer gigs where love is all we need. Silly me. They're going to give me $$...

My advice? If you're contemplating working here as a free agent, stockpile your reserves. Otherwise, the Winter is liable to be long and cold.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Missed Rabin x2

While semi-mindlessly skipping down Blog lane over the weekend, I came upon Lisa’s latest entry and was horrified.  I had missed Rabin.  Lisa’s stirring piece marking the 10-year anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination evoked personal shame of having just published my own piece on the rather profound subject of restaurant menus.

How could the date have escaped me?  True, I had just visited the memorial where he was gunned down two days prior and true, I can beg off being somewhat in the dark due to not owning a television (by choice) and yeah, I’m busy.  

But, Ach, I’m making excuses.  Surrounded by glaring newspaper headlines and my own, supposed conscience, I failed to remember on the actual day of.  So preoccupied with attempting to tread water and make my mark in this world was I, that even despite my daily, Internet surfing habit, the juncture went missing in my world. (personal note: Change homepage news preferences).

It isn’t SUCH a big deal, after all; I can attend Bill Clinton’s tribute memorial at the square down the street this weekend and breathe my sigh of redemptive relief.  But not really, because this is old guilt: I’ve been absent twice, the first time being the actual day of his assassination.

Visiting my parents in Ohio at the time, the first, CNN breaking news reports were surreal.  But as anchors droned on with pieced-together bits of information about the assassin, speculation over motive and updates from the hospital, my father’s comment broke through the din.  A practiced physician, he observed: “This isn’t good.  It reminds me of Kennedy. They keep downgrading his condition.  I have a feeling he may already be gone.”   And sure enough, seconds later the final proclamation was announced.  

I broke into choking, loud sobs for long moments, hiding in my parents’ formal dining room in the dark.  The crying was to come and go intermittently for the coming week but when it finally subsided that late afternoon, I ran to the phone.  A producer/correspondent for Reuters Jerusalem at the time, I hoped against hope that somehow they would need me to come back.  That somehow I could DO SOMETHING, be involved, make a difference and lose myself in work rather than continue experiencing the utter frustration of being abroad and watching events unfold without me.  

But they didn’t.  Alone I watched the funeral and news reports, read the papers and spoke with Israeli friends via telephone comprehending the frustration my pal Steve described years prior, attending to his ill father in London while watching scuds sail into Tel Aviv over the tube.

Back in Tel Aviv a mere two weeks later, things were different.  Collectively, the country had been shocked into maturity, numbness and cold speculation over an atrocity committed by “one of their own”.  Exhausted professionally and not wanting to experience an impending Netanyahu government, I packed it in for San Francisco months later.

And now, a decade on, I’m back.  And if I’m honest with myself, it’s okay about forgetting the other day. Because, duh, it's not about me.   

And it's okay because on the occasion that I stop by the memorial site and climb the stairs to the dais area from which Rabin addressed rally-goers that fatal night, I imagine the crowd, the feedback from the microphone, the cheers and the singing.  And then I imagine what it must have felt like to look out over hundreds of thousands of happy supporters.

And if he felt the way it feels for me when I imagine all that, then there is some solace and knowledge that the path he cleared for us all was not in vain.   And to be callously frank?   What a hell of a send-off.  

Friday, November 04, 2005

Can We Run A Spellcheck, Please???

Since my first visit to Holy Land Central as a teenager, the general mangling of the English language on menus, printed billboards, shop signs, press releases, you name it, has provided plentiful occasion for comic relief. Clearly not a private joke, other Anglos have devoted blog space and entire website pages to the subject.

Follow me, won't you?

I stopped into my restaurateur friend Dita's place today after a hiatus of several years. When we first met in the 90's via my social-butterfly, ex-husband Shlomo (great guy, by the way), Dita co-owned the oppressively dark, Beivar pub/restaurant on Ben Yehuda with her single, over-forty, bitter sister Edna. Back then, Dita spent hours in the hot kitchen, cigarette dangling, hovering over ovens and burners emerging with heaping plates of tasty bits prepared with love and sweat for the branja (gang). She always had time to sit, smoke another cigarette, chastise Shlomo, listen to gossip and yell at a server or bartender for some minor infraction.

Since, she has changed locale half a dozen times, upgraded gradually and shed the scowling Edna. Regardless of her up-the-ladder ascent, however, Dita has maintained a down-to-earth, rebelliousness which is part fiery woman from hell, part Jewish mother with ample bosom and bulging waistline scrutinizing every bite lest a morsel be left on the plate un-eaten.

Her current place is gorgeous. Taking up prime, real-estate turf next to Max Brenner's Chocolatier on Rothschild Boulevard, Dita has definitely moved on up to the East Side - she's listed in Fodor's for Criminy's sake!

The decor is still dark but tasteful. The menu retains her signature entrees of Entrecote in creamed pepper sauce, plum basted spare ribs, schnitzel in creamy Dijon and Roquefort hamburger despite today's global trend towards macro-biotics and sashimi. Dita still hangs out in the kitchen with a cigarette hanging from her mouth, the staff still quakes when she barks and she's still saucy as ever: Give her the coffee AFTER you bring my grapefruit juice; I'm first she curtly demands of the server attending to our table.

The notable differences lie in a sizeable, Bistro style kitchen commandeered by milling-about chefs in whites and toques, a 120-capacity dining room, a kind doorman who bids good day upon departure and an expanded menu.

Can I look at a menu?
I ask the server upon Dita's retreat to the kitchen. And here's where I have to ask all of entrepreneurs here and the world-over the same question:

You invested hundreds of thousands into your place. Crystal chandeliers, culinary school trained chefs, re-upholstered antiques, exclusive wines, stained glass windows, marble sconces. Why not go that extra mile and pay someone $50 MAXIMUM to proofread the ferkakte menu/marquee/billboard so that diners don't have to puzzle over Sole with torture sauce, Digeustifves (is this a Czech delicacy?) or Intreecote?

And could someone please get Jesus on the phone? The Gentile Shoe Shop in Tel Aviv is holding a 1/2 price, sandal sale.

Dita, I love you. Next time hire a copee-edeetore

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Notes from Tel Aviv

Bicycling down the congested, Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv this evening, it occurred to me as I loudly yelled: Jerk! What are you doing? to the taxi driver cutting me off: Hey, I can actually say that and not worry about getting beaten with a lead pipe or shot..!!

Further along the journey, I'm searching for a specific address which happens to be on "Pines" Street - pronounced like the male anatomical part, wink wink. At one point, after asking two rather handsome young men for the street's location, I have to laugh aloud: This is surreal! I am asking people for a street called... (you know)