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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Klong

Before I clear up the issue of what the word ‘klong’ means, I should begin by saying that I was all set to post a breezy…even witty (if I may say so) entry today. I whipped it up last night, and since it was too cold to have my coffee out on the back balcony (as has become my habit), I spent my coffee sippin’ time this morning ‘fluffing the pillows’, ‘straightening the paintings’, and otherwise making changes to the post that neither helped nor hurt it. When I was finished, I scheduled the publisher to launch it onto the Infobahn about the time my east coast family would be rolling out of bed.

Now, ‘Klong’ is a word coined by my friend Mike Spengler (or perhaps a friend of his…I can’t remember). [accuracy update: I heard from mike that the word was actually coined by William Safire...thanks for keeping me honest and accurate] In any event...It means, “the sudden rush of shit to the heart”. It describes the feeling you get when you reach into your pocket at the airport and realize you left the plane tickets and passport on the kitchen counter. Witty word...witty blog post...this was turning out to be one big witfest.

Anyway, I’m not feeling very witty right now.

My boss poked his head into my office a few minutes ago and asked if anybody in my family was in Jerusalem. Here in the holy land, that kind of question can mean only one thing: a bombing.

KLONG!

Immediately my A.D.D.-addled brain started doing the Israeli version of that old TV ad (“It’s 10:00…Do you know where your children are?”). With sickening frequency, people here have to take a mental role call of their loved-ones. Anyone unaccounted for? Break out the cell phone numbers! Once everyone has checked in, there is that horrible mix of relief and guilt; Relief that you and yours were spared; Guilt that your relief comes only at the expense of someone else’s grief.

I knew the big kids would be in school, but I couldn’t be absolutely certain where Zahava and Yonah were. Had she said something about going into Jerusalem today with a friend? Was that my overactive imagination fabricating this recollection?

I calmly dove for the phone and dialed my home number (getting it right on only the 3rd try). One ring…two rings…shitshitshitshitshit.......”hello”….sigh. Ok, plenty of time now for that mixture of relief and self-loathing to wash over me as I read to my wife from my computer screen that there had been a bus bombing…"8 or 10 dead…50+ wounded…at least 10 critically." Like one of the town's people in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, I’m relieved that, once again, someone else's wife drew the paper with the black spot.

Now it was Zahava’s turn to experience the wonder and beauty that is klong. She had made tentative plans to go into Jerusalem with our friend Marcy, but Yonah had kept her up last night, so she had decided to stay home and maybe catch a nap. But, had Marcy gone anyway??? And so the familiar process began again and again, with people all over the country passing along the gift of klong, and calling friends and family on cell phones to make sure they hadn’t drawn the paper with the black dot.

Postscript: Marcy answered her cell phone…at home. She had decided to go into town another day. With every panicked call that was answered this morning…there came the sickening realization that amid the ruins of a city bus, there lay a shattered pile of cell phones that will never be answered.

If you have a strong heart, click on the image below.

View image

Now go here and say thank you.


Posted by David Bogner on January 29, 2004 | Permalink

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I know this is one of your older posts, but I was looking through your archives and I couldn't help but comment. You see, there are very few things that make me cry. This post, however, brought tears to my eyes as I recalled the tragic events of that day.

Posted by: tmeishar | Jul 20, 2005 8:49:52 PM

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