HIGH SCHOOL NORMALITY contains strong language and some themes not suitable for audiences under 17. Viewer discretion is advised.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stand By Me

"This is a ticket for you. One day, when you do understand all of this, please come find me."

"What's going on?"
"My father's dead."

"We are now making our final descent into Ben Gurion International Airport."

"You are David?"
"Yes, and you are--"
"Ronit. I buzzed you in."
"Oh hi, it's so nice to meet you."
"I lived across ze hall from your fazer."

"Wow, I can't believe you're breaking up with me."
"I just don't know if I can handle a relationship right now."

"May I help you?"
"Calvin Adler is being evicted."
"Are you kidding me?"
"This is no kidding matter. Please tell Calvin Adler he has three days to get out."

"How--how did he die?"
"We assume it was suicide. We heard a gunshot and when we broke into his apartment he was just lying here, the gun next to his body, surrounded by blood."

"Are you sure that going to Israel is such a good idea?"
"David is our best friend. Whether he likes it or not, he needs us."
"Who is it?"

I expected it to be the landlord with another friendly reminder to pack up all of Cal's shit.

"Guess who?"

But instead I got the three people I least expected.

"Mark? Is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me."
"And me."
"And me."
"Holy shit!"

I buzzed them in and about a minute later, Mark Adams, Aaron Stanwick, and Michael Florence were standing outside my dead father's door.

"HOLY SHIT! It IS true! Oh my fucking God!"

To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. To say that I was ecstatic would be even more of an understatement.

"What the hell are you guys doing here?"
"Well, Aaron told us about Cal, so my mom's new beau found us three seats on the next flight to Israel."
"That easily?"
"He's more loaded than my cock."
"Dang it, Mark! We almost went an entire 24 hours without you making some vulgar sex joke!"
"Sorry, that one actually was really unnecessary."
"You think?"

My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And perhaps the biggest understatement of all was that now, more than ever, I needed my boys.

While the guys got settled in (meaning, while they slept like babies), I went across the hall to talk to Cal's very hot neighbor, Ronit.

"So she just dumped you?"
"Yeah. I mean, she wasn't planning on doing it right then and there, but she did."
"I am so sorry, David. You are dealing wiz so much right now. Zis was not a good time for zis."
"You're telling me."
"May I offer you some rebound sex?"
"No thanks. I'm not really in the mood."
"Okay. Just putting it out there."

Ronit was sexy, in her 20s, very easy to talk to, and seemingly even easier to get into bed, but between my grief over my father's death, my newfound singleness, and the fact that I needed to get all of Cal's stuff out of the apartment in the next couple of days, I had enough going on. At least the guys were there to help me out.


"I'll get it."

Ronit opened the door to find Michael standing in front of it. As soon as he saw Ronit standing there, the outlines of her nipples clearly visible underneath her tight pink t-shirt, his heart melted.

"Uh, hi."
"I'm--uh--looking for David."
"Hi Michael."
"Uh, hey. We're all awake."

Awkward silence.

"Michael, this is my neighbor, Ronit."
"Nice to meet you, Michael."
"Nice to meet you too."
"Michael I'll be there in a minute."

Ronit laughed weakly when the door closed.

"My three best friends flew in this morning to surprise me and have been sleeping for the past couple of hours. That one's usually a lot smoother."
"He's cute. Is he a virgin like you?"
"No, he's not a virgin...and neither am I!"

Ronit laughed hysterically.

"I'm only teasing. You should go to your friends. I will see you later."

That night, the guys and I went to Orna and Ella, a popular bistro. Over dinner, I brought them up to speed on my trip thus far.

"So then, after the funeral, I call Callie and she breaks up with me!"
"Seriously? Why?"
"She said she couldn't handle a relationship. I think it's about the whole Joy thing, but she'll never admit that because it would be showing a sign of weakness."
"What a ho."
"That's not even the best part! Right after the break-up, some douchebag comes to the door and hands me an eviction notice!"
"Yeah, so I have to get all of Cal's crap out of the apartment in the next couple of days."
"Where are you going to put it?"
"Beats me! I mean, I guess I could ship it back home, but that's gonna cost a ton."
"Well, maybe tomorrow we could go through everything. You know, help you figure out what you want to ship and what you feel you can leave behind."
"Is that really my decision? I mean, it's Cal's stuff."
"But you're his son, and you're entitled to make these decisions."
"I guess you're right."
"So, what's the story with Ronit?"
"Ooo, you like her, huh?"
"Who's Ronit?"
"This beautiful woman that lives across the hall."
"You have a girlfriend."
"Oh yeah. Sorry, it's still kind of a new concept to me. I'm gonna call her right now. I'll be back."

His hand was already halfway down his pants as he headed toward the payphone.

"Anyway, what's the story?"
"Well, she lives alone, she wears very little clothing most of the time, and she has offered me sex twice."
"And you haven't taken her up on it?"
"Well, the first time I was in a committed relationship, and the second time I really didn't feel like it."
"God, if I were you I would have been in her before she even finished offering!"
"Who are you, Mark?"
"Seriously, this really isn't like you at all."
"Well, it's just that ever since me and Leslie broke up I have been hornier than a ram!"
"Well, if she's offered David sex, I'm sure she'd be more than willing to serve you as well."
"She did think you were cute."
"Oh my God! She talked to you? What did she say?"
"She asked if you were a virgin, and I said no. By the way, do I seem like a virgin to you guys?"
"I don't really know how to answer that."

After dinner, we went back to the apartment and sat on the floor in front of the fireplace.

"He killed himself. No warning signs, no note, just a pistol lying in a pool of blood."
"Damn. I'm so sorry."
"No one saw it coming?"
"No. Ronit said that they heard a gunshot and that was it."
"You know, he never called once while he was here. Never wrote, never e-mailed. Never cared."
"I'm sure he just wanted to give you your space."
"And you know, I never tried to contact him either. I guess I didn't really miss him. I don't even know why I'm here paying respect to a man who I obviously don't care about."
"If you didn't care about him, you wouldn't have come."

Michael was right. I did feel like I needed to bring some closure to the situation. Cal and I hadn't spoken since he left back in December, and to be honest I didn't really feel a need to contact him, but he was on my mind constantly, and the idea of rebuilding my relationship with him was always there. I just wished I'd had a chance to save our relationship before he was buried.

The next day I woke up before the other three, so I threw on a sweatshirt, a pair of gym shorts, and a hat, and headed toward the beach to take a walk.

The early morning tide crashed in as I walked along the sandy shore of the Tel Aviv beach. It was about 6 a.m., and there were very few people around. The sun had begun to rise and I couldn't help but smile at the beautiful sights around me. It was all so calm, so refreshing. For an instant, I felt that everything was right with the world and just breathed it in. What started out as a walk became a jog, and what became a jog transformed into a run. I felt free as I sprinted across the the sandy threshold. For the first time in a while, I was genuinely happy.

When I got back to the apartment, Aaron had begun making a large pan of eggs while Michael channel-surfed and Mark updated his Facebook status on his iTouch.

"Good morning. Where have you been?"
"Woke up really early so I went for a run on the beach."
"How was it?"
"Exhilarating. It was a good way for me to clear my head."


I opened the door to find Ronit, wearing a tight halter top and low-cut jeans.

"Boker Tov, David!"
"Good morning to you, too. Won't you come in?"

The guys' jaws dropped at the sight of her.

"Guys, this is Ronit. Ronit, this is Aaron and Mark, and you met Michael already."
"Nice to see you again, Michael."

Michael blushed.

"So, what are your plans for ze day, gentlemen?"
"Well, we were going to start going through Cal's things to see what we should ship back home."
"Zat sounds--boring."
"Well, unfortunately he's being evicted, so it's something that has to be done."
"Look, you are only going to be in Israel for a couple more days. Zere's so much to see. You can pack up his stuff later. Right now, we are going to Jerusalem."
"Jerusalem? Isn't that kind of far?"
"It's only an hour's drive to ze most beautiful city on Earth. Come on!"

And before I could argue the importance of getting our work done, Michael, Mark, and Aaron were out the door.

By the time we got to Jerusalem, I was glad we blew off going through Cal's stuff. It was more beautiful than I had ever imagined; the walls were covered in ivy and some of the buildings dated back so long ago that I couldn't even begin to estimate how old it was.

Finally, after walking around for a while, we approached the Western Wall in time for morning minyon. Ronit went to the other side of the mehitza (the curtain that divides the men and the women) and the four of us went closer to the wall. There were people of all walks of life; elderly men, college students, and even children were there writing notes and placing them within the cracks of the wall. When they took the Torah out, I was nearly brought to tears; it hit me that every Jew at some point in their lives had faced eastward toward the wall. Whether they were in America, England, or standing right in the spot that I was, their eyes were fixated on the same exact point. At the end I said the mourner's prayer for Cal and wrote a short note to stick in one of the cracks.

We met up with Ronit and headed back toward Tel Aviv for dinner. She treated us to lunch at Tazza D'oro, a delicious cafe in the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek. Afterward, we went back to the apartment and the four of us began going through Cal's stuff.

"First thing's first, are you going to want any of his clothes?"
"Well considering he was much shorter and fatter than I, I probably won't be wearing any of it."
"Okay, how about his sheets?"
"They're nice, but I'm not sure they're necessary."
"How about his furniture?"
"Well, we have furniture at home, so I don't think we need to ship it."
"How about the pans?"
"The dishrags?"
"Is there anything here that you do want?"

I didn't say a word. I just headed toward his room.
I looked around. The bedsheets and the floor were still stained with blood, and a chalk outline of his body had been drawn, but overlooking the crime scene was his jewelery box, sitting neatly on the dresser for him to grab a watch or a necklace or a ring. In looking at it, none of the other horrible sights in his room seemed to matter. Cal had died; I knew that. But I knew also that I didn't need every single thing he had in his possession to remember that although he was no longer living, and although I hadn't spoken to him in many months, I still loved him, and he still loved me.
"This is what I want," I said as I held the box for them to see. "It contains all of his jewelery, which he probably treasured most in his life. If anything should be saved, it should be this box and everything in it."

The next day we packed our bags and got ready to leave. I had gotten the closure I needed, and it was time to go home.

"Come on, guys. Our flight leaves at 3."
"It's only 9."
"But there's something I need to do before we go to the airport."
"Get your swim trunks on, boys. We're going to the beach."

We brought our bags to Ronit's apartment in case the landlord came to lock up Cal's apartment and throw away the key. I took one last look at the apartment where my father had lived and died, and then we advanced toward the beach.

"David, you know I'm all for fun in the sun, but do we really have time?"
"This will only take a minute. Help me dig!"

With our feet we dug a small hole in the sand and when I thought it was deep enough, I placed the box inside.

"Are you sure about this, Dave?"
"More sure than I have ever been about anything."
"Wait--I don't get it. I thought you were going to save the jewelery box."
"Yeah--for Cal."
"Well, these watches and necklaces and rings don't belong to me, and they don't belong to that damn landlord. They belong to Cal, so I figured that if I bury them, then they'll be with their rightful owner."
"That is potentially the most beautiful thing I have ever heard."

We kicked sand over the jewelery box and stood for a moment, staring at the sand.

"So...what now?"

We stood for a moment in silence before I broke the solemnity.

"First one to the water's a rotten egg!"

We raced to the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea and just screwed around like teenagers are supposed to do. We dunked each other's heads and pushed each other around and laughed so hard that we cried. The sun was shining, the water was warm, and above all else, the four of us were together.

And once again, in the waters of Tel Aviv, Israel, everything was right with the world.

David Adler
Normal High School Student