Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Falling over a reminiscence: Only victims count

Let me set the scene. You are lounging about with other old people, making polite conversation.
In the beginning you swap stories about your physical ailments. After that you start talking about the past.

How long have you been together?
48 years.
Wow, that’s a long time. Was it love at first sight?
Then my partner tells her story.

She was sunbathing near the swimming pool with her travelling companion, the sister of a journalist who later became a junior minister in a Dutch government for three days. (That is another story).
The swimming pool, like the rest of the kibbutz, was built on strategically higher ground.

They looked down and saw a big cloud of sand approaching.
What is it?
At a certain moment the cloud started to fade and the surrounding air began to shimmer, like it does in the desert.
The first thing they saw emerging from the shimmering air was me, riding without a saddle and stirrups on a black Arabian horse. I was only wearing shorts and sandals.
Behind me was a large flock of sheep.

They looked at each other and said, “I want him”. They made a bet about it. My partner ends the story with, “I won”, and I smile sheepishly.
There are glaring inaccuracies in her account.
An example, the horse was brown, not black. But I let them ride, as it does illustrate how wonderfully independent and liberated my female peers were.

However, I have been having doubts about whether it is wise to continue telling the story.
Willem Melching, a Dutch historian whom I admire, wrote recently that we live in an age that reserves the most admiration for victimhood.
So, in the future my partner will get less admiration from young people, because she is not a victim in the story.

Besides that, I do not seem to fit the bill any more.
The last time she told the story was to a tipsy girlfriend, who then looked at me and burst out laughing.

No, the story has not aged well. 
It belongs to a different era. To the counterculture of the 1960s and the 1970s with its empowerment of the individual, not to the present culture of political correctness and empowerment of the mob.

Perhaps, I should forget the fun and excitement in Israel and stick to the Diaspora discrimination stories.

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