An actress has many faces, but they’re not just for getting into character. They’re for living life.
Last Thursday, I put on my party face and set out to celebrate the New Year in Tel Aviv’s most happening scene, the Namal (harbor). But I hadn’t prepared myself for the zoo-like atmosphere, and even the incessant pushing of my 8 siblings didn’t prepare me for the likes of the mob trying to squish it’s way through the over-crowded night club doors. I was debating if any New Year’s party is worth losing 3 toes for, when out of the mass of humanity a strong hand offers me support. I grab the lifeline and find a tall, handsome man attached to it, and the crowd becomes background noise.
“You look like you could use another pair of elbows!” Prince Charming yells, and before I can react, he grabs me by the waist. Then he turns to the bouncer and tells him, confidently, “She’s with me. Right, doll?”
“Oh,” I say, discretely returning my pepper spray into my pocket. “Sure.”
2010, here I come! I think to myself as the bouncer parts the sea in front of us, allowing my Gallant Knight and I to enter the club. This is my lucky night! If only I’d known that I wasn’t the only one getting through the barricade. Good ol’ Murphy entered right behind me, determined to follow me into the new decade.
It isn’t long after we all shout “Happy New Year!” that I realize I have little to smile about—My wallet is missing. At first, determined not to give up my cool façade, I continue to dance nonchalantly, as my eyes frantically scan the crowded floor for my wallet. A woman in a state of panic is not a pretty sight. Which might explain why I had no trouble enlisting the help of hundreds of party-goers who went on all-fours, searching for my wallet. A few guys even offered to lift me above the crowd so I could get a better look at the dance floor, but I wasn’t sure about their “helpful hands”.
Okay, no big deal, I think logically. I’ll just make a couple of phone calls to cancel the credit cards. But of course, as I step out of the club to make the call, Murphy’s hot on my heels, and true to his style, my phone battery dies before I can dial. I almost forget to say good-bye to my disappointed date, who apologizes for not bringing along his white horse and chariot to give me a ride in, but quickly stuffs a 200 shekel bill into my pocket for the cab-fare home.
During the next twenty minutes I learn there’s no such thing as a vacant taxi on Sylvester, so I prepare for the mile and a half walk home – in heels.
“Listen,” I say out loud, turning to my invisible partner (for life?), “As much as I love companionship, don’t you ever take the night off?!”
HIS answer comes fast and furious.
The first morning of 2010 begins with a practical joke. My alarm clock decides to ring every half hour starting 4 AM. By 7, I rush out of bed, realizing that I’d better run to the bank so I have some cash until the new credit cards arrive. My philosophy is anything can be fixed with a good cup of coffee and cake, but of course the ants have gotten to the cake, and I forgot to buy milk yesterday. Never mind, I try to convince myself, It’s just a chance to start off the new Year with a new habit. I’ll go all out and make French toast. Too bad that only after attempting to crack the egg into the batter for the third time, do I remember the brilliant idea I had last week – to hard-boil all my eggs. It works out for the best, since a minute later my alarm clock rings again, causing me to jump up in surprise and spill the batter all over the place. I’ll just go buy a falafel!
“I’m afraid to go to the pool,” I confess to my sister over the phone, walking back from the bank whose brand-new policy is to be closed Fridays – starting today. “With the luck I’m having, I’d probably drown in the Dead Sea, never mind the swimming pool.” I’m frantically licking Tahini off my fingers, as the bottom of my pita rips open and the falafel balls race down the street. “And don’t get me started on all the things that can go wrong in the shower. Ever see Psycho?”
“Tiferet, you let one little event drag along an unnecessary chain reaction,” my sister points out in her usual logical fashion. “If fate was out to get you, a tree would fall on you in the middle of the street. What you have to do is think positive and the universe will reward you with good things. Who knows? Your wallet may even turn up.”
“Easy for you to say,” I retort. “Now that you’ve put the notion of a tree falling on me, how do I know the universe hasn’t heard you and is working on it as we speak?”
“Look at the up-side. With the money your shining knight gave you you’ll get through the weekend until the bank opens. And you’ll have your new credit card before you know it. So slap on a happy face and—“
“That’s just it,” I reply. “It’s bad enough dealing with the money loss, but all my membership cards were in my wallet. I dread to think what someone may be doing with my face!”
I’m normally a pretty optimistic person, I always try to roll with the punches, constantly adapting myself and switching my “masks” to fit the scene. But at this point, preparing for the worst seemed like the right tactic.
Only it wasn’t. I made an instant switch from my glum mask to my happy one when I received the call that my wallet had been found. Happiness leads to happiness and my White Knight called, asking me out on a date.
I grin, and turn to my imaginary side-kick. “Wearing you down, am I?”
After picking up my wallet, I’m so caught up in the euphoria of how everything has turned out for the best, how my sister may be right, and thinking positive makes the energy of the universe work in your favor, that I forget to worry about what can go wrong. As soon as I skip gleefully out of the building and onto the pavement, my right foot makes solid contact with a pile of not-so-solid dog-shit.
Crap! If I weren’t so busy “thinking positive”, I would’ve remembered to look a step ahead and prepare myself for the universe’s sense of humor.
Undaunted, I try to cheer myself up by going to a grocery store to buy a nice cool drink. I reach into my wallet to find I only have a few coins left.
“How much?” I ask the cashier, holding my breath and the bottle, hopefully.
“8 shekel,” she replies.
I spill the coins onto the counter and quickly add them up. To my utter disbelief, I have exactly the right amount. It seems the laws of universe and the laws of Murphy are fighting over me. Whether I’m in for the “worst of times” or the “best of times” I realize I should prepare to be surprised in 2010.
The teller, noticing I have exactly 8 shekels in small change, gasps excitedly and says: “Wow! This must be your lucky day!” She leans over and smiles knowingly: “You’d better go fill out a lottery form this instant!”
“I would,” I answer. “Except that I just gave you my last shekels.”
I grab my drink as Murphy and I make our way back home to scrub some shit out of my shoes. We’ve got a date to prepare for, with a guy who makes me want to throw away my pepper spray.
Not that I will. I don’t trust Murphy. Or the universe.
As far as I’m concerned, I wear my poker face from here on in!