Monday, 21 November 2011

The Ego trip

If an establishment was judged by its toilet facilities then the Ego Trip would be less than zero. Toilet paper was unheard of as was a toilet brush which I once gave to my aunt and uncle as a present. My uncle still uses it but my aunt has gone back to paper, snobby cow. My family was so poor that I could not read newspapers unless cut into squares. Nothing so lavish existed here.
Every bar in Israel had a ‘Muriel’; it was state law. The Ego had a scene from The Wall and a Dali. It was more famous for an obnoxious green drink that was an aphrodisiac, not that I needed one, and judging by the stains it probably was. For me, it was quite the reverse. It reminded me of The Exorcist as I saw heads turn.
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The weather had taken a turn for the worse which affected my job prospects. Construction was halted and nobody was eating out at restaurants. We were all down and had no money, therefore the Ego was empty during the week.
When my back is against the wall, not the mural, I am at my best. I like to think of it as a British trait, but I always thought that Dunkirk spirit was your duty free allowance on a booze cruise.
I hit upon a wizard idea and approached Sami, the boss. He was a large man who would have made a fine second row. My plan would be to make full use of the Ego’s facilities. The dance floor was only used at weekends. I envisaged possibilities to expand this potential.
As far as I knew there was not a single Karaoke machine in the whole town. Sami had a PA system; it would have to do. All I needed were the backing tracks. There were enough show-offs to merit a try.
Also, I could see aerobics classes. They adored American hype. All I had to do was find someone mug enough to teach it. I was certainly fit enough but could not handle the jargon.  ‘Work your bodies’ and ‘Go for the burn.’ definitely not me.    
If I had greater confidence in this venture I would have offered Sami a flat rate, but, as all my other enterprises had met disaster, I decided to negotiate a percentage deal, safe. It took a while to convince him as he had previously done some business with Ken.
Ken was the epitome of a Brit in Israel- full of himself knowing that the stories he told about how good he was could never be disproved. He had been there, done it or knew several people that had. I first came across him while he was working at the No 1 hostel, such a fine job for such a talented man. I was looking for Susie. I walked along the corridor, into reception, nodded at him, saw no Susie so walked back to the lift. I heard his footsteps behind me.
He knew I would not harm him so he could be wonderfully brave and besides he dressed too smartly. I think the thing that really bugged me about him was he wore a white belt.
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“What are you doing?”
“I don’t want to see people walking around the hostel, you understand my viewpoint.”
“I walked in a straight line in and a straight one out.”
“Next time ask, please.”
The lift arrived and, as I closed the door, I said, “I’ll try.”
He was full of himself and only got to show any respect for me after I had established myself in the pecking order. He would say things to me prefaced with ‘some people have been saying…’. My stock answer would be ‘I don’t care’, knowing full well it was his own ill-thought out opinions he voiced.
His jobs-worth attitude stood him in good stead with the management but he felt the need to expand his empire. He told me, and I do not know why I listened, that he wanted to improve his financial position. “20 shekels isn’t much. What if you get a bird or something?” I wondered what he meant by ‘something’ but he was not one for chosing his words very carefully. 
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“We’ve got hamburgers, cheeseburgers, sausageburgers.” and he would finish by making a big eyes raised emphasis on, “Egoburgers.” Anyone’s intelligence would be insulted if they did not realise it was a mix of all 3, but he delighted in explaining it.
Most of our community would give it a go. I am not sure if it was the decor, dark and dingy, the smell, stale beer, smoke, vomit and urine, or the fact the food was just plain awful, but 1 visit was more than enough. Ken was to culinary arts what Claude Van Damme was to origami. This left Sami with a freezer full of manky burgers and a large bill. As soon as it all went as pear-shaped as Sami’s figure, Ken disappeared, never to be heard of again. I like to think he found a bird or something.

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