Meir in the Middle

And so it Begins

Like Hogwarts, the IDF has a sorting day. Unlike Hogwarts, rather than being treated to an eloquent poem by a ratty, talking titfer, you are subject to a three sentence conversation with an enlistment officer- the first two comprising of, “how are you?” and “good.” I have my Slytherins (Golani and Kfir) and Gryffindors (Tzanchanim and Givati) so I’m pumped when I hear, “you’ll be going to Givati & they recommend you do the gibush for the special units there.” My “WHOOOHOOOOOO!!!!” makes this yeled nearly choke on his cafe hafuch in fright.

The drive to Givati’s trainee base is an ornate exposé of Israel’s only natural resources: sand and rocks. If you were to send me a postcard there it might be addressed as follows:

Meir Fox

Bach Givati

Middle of nowhere, no really

Desert, Israel.

P.S. Why can’t I find this on google maps?

Unlike Tzanchanim and Golani, which are rolling in the Binyamins, Givati’s soldiers sleep in used U.S. military tents because the unit actually has no money. This becomes more evident when the logistics commander makes this public service announcement: “If anyone has lightbulbs they can bring from home so you can have light in your tents, please bring them because as of now we’ve run out of funding for that. Also, the heaters in your tents don’t work and we currently can’t fix that.” It’s no surprise of course when taking a shower becomes akin to cave diving after some fool steals the lightbulbs from the bathrooms.

Since I now live like Avraham Avinu, to charge my phone I must walk past the base’s two resident donkeys (I promise) and fight for a spot on a 40 outlet generator. Meals are executed using two forks (nope, not enough knives) and cleared by my sleeves (nope, no napkins either). But as much as my standards of living have become more primitive, I’m kinda happy about it. A leaky, sand-crusted, naturally air conditioned shelter feels like the right home for a soldier.

Givati has three main infantry platoons (Rotem, Shaked, and Tzabar) and I’m placed in Tzabar, which is stigmatized as the unit’s “Dumb Bro’s.” But not bro as in “ma nishma, achi” but bro as in “sup brah.” “Wanna go to the shekem, brah?” Naturally, someone made a song depicting our stupidity:

To the tune of “Ani Purim:”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                            אני צבר אני דפר ויש לי קבא נעל                                                                                                 

              I’m Tzabar I have a low IQ and the intelligence of a shoe  

                       דפקו אותי ביחידה הכי דפוקה בצהל

They screwed me into the most messed up unit in the IDF

                                                 אז למה באתי לגבעתי לה לה לה לה לה

So why did I come to Givati? La la la la la la

Each platoon is made up of three machlakot- divisions- and each division has three kitot- classes. I’m not going to lie, at first I’m a little bummed out because I heard Tzabar is full of arsim and the last thing I need is to be kept up by some 18-year-old rocking a circulation-cutting dragon sequin t-shirt, serenading his g at 3 am to Eyal Golan songs. I’m pleasantly surprised then when I find that the soldiers in my kita happen to be good guys. Let’s meet some of them:

First, theres Dudi, our resident mizrachi singer, whose soulful in-shower Koby Peretz renditions take place out of the shower. (Just a side point about mizrachi songs, has there ever been one NOT about a guy having it complicated with a girl? Seriously, how do they continue to get away with this?) Then there’s Bibi who’s undoubtedly destined for commanders school and, like his namesake, is pretty much in charge of stuff. Next, Amiram, who’s convinced that Canada is the greatest thing since maple syrup/ that all american universities are like they are in the movies. And Netanel, who cannot process the fact that they don’t serve chummus in every U.S restaurant. There’s Chazut, who says “walla”, as much as Americans say ‘like’, and Lior, who complains daily how he wants to become a jobnick so he can spend the next 3 years getting with girls. Bringing up the rear is Shifron, who seconds as my hebrew coach (as long as I sing Adele with him) and finally, Matan, who busts dance moves at random while saying things like “Oh yeah man” and dropping the f-bomb. At the helm of my Kita is a smiley little sephardic chipmunk named Commander Sasson, who immediately becomes kind-of-intimidating when he starts barking orders at us.

Basic training has officially begun and I’m excited. But while I think I have a good idea of what’s to come, I ain’t seen nothing yet. 


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