August 24, 2020
A City of Secrets
We got up early. I think it was around 6 am. I rubbed Nate's fuzzy tummy a couple of times before getting out of bed. We were heading up North to meet Nate's good friend, Joseph. Yes, I was the third wheel. You know the type of friends where they finish each other's sentences and produce energy that could power nuclear plants? That's what Nate and Joseph's friendship was like. Because of this, you could say I wasn't excited to go. Maybe it was jealously. Or the constant reminder of our limitation as a couple. Why can't I make him laugh like that? Either way, I wasn't in the mood.
We collectively decided to go to a Druze village called Daliat el Carmel. I had heard about the Druze people; they had a mysterious essence to them. No one really knows anything about them. They keep their community tighter than a nuns legs. And if you know me, when there's a secret, I'll weasel myself in to hear it.
We headed through rocky mountain terrain, the tight curves shifting our bodies from side-to-side until we finally made it. This village doesn't look so secretive, I thought to myself. Gasp. You idiot. That's why they want you to think.
We parked the car and started exploring. I bought facial soap from a friendly old Druze woman, and casually slipping in non-conspicuous questions like, "so, how do you feel about human sacrificing?" and "the Druze religion fascinates me, where can I meet your leader?" But she was tight-lipped, and I respected that. Finally, after walking through the cobbled streets, listening to Nate and Joseph's stream of inside jokes, the three of us decided to grab a bite to eat. I pointed to the cafe where the owner sat outside, smoking a pipe. Could you be any more obvious?
The owner nodded to us as we took our seats, smoking his pipe melancholically. His wife popped out of the kitchen, wearing a patterned apron and handed us some menus. Not a word was spoken. Oh my god, so many secrets.
We ordered some coffee and a plate of hummus. To be honest, the last thing I wanted to eat was hummus. It's all I ever ate, and I was getting fucking tired of it. Hummus at lunch, hummus for an afternoon snack, hummus for dinner. I couldn't take it anymore. I was growing so much chin hair; tweezers weren't enough. So, I suggested we order a plate of olives to off-balance the excessive estrogen I was about to shove in my mouth.
Nate turned to the pipe-smoking owner and made a joke that I didn't understand. They all laughed, so I laughed as well. I sipped my coffee quickly, as I tried to decipher the Hebrew language, which I had almost no knowledge of. Wait, are they talking about cars? No, I think he said something about the weather. God fucking damnit, would it have been so hard to learn the language, you sack of shit?
My frustration was brewing inside of me, literally, in fact. Coffee has always had that effect on me. I poked Nate and whispered under my breath, "I need to go to the bathroom." He looked around, "pee?" I stared at him in silence. "Are you serious?" he replied. "I just drank coffee! I wanted to know if Druze coffee tasted different!" Nate turned towards the old man, mumbling some words. The other man nodded and, with his pipe, pointed to a small alleyway. "He said it's a small brown door right behind the restaurant."
I got up and walked quickly, making a sharp turn behind the restaurant. There were three small brown doors. I suck at this game. Eagerly, I open one door after the next, with the last door being my place of salvation.
The bathroom was what you could call a former crawl space. A sheet divided the room from the kitchen, where I could hear every move of the owner's wife. Ah, she's preparing the olives now. Hunched over, I made my way to the toilet. Relief. I rested for a moment, happily thinking about how I managed to not shit my pants. Now, where's the toilet paper... I looked around, not a sheet of toilet paper in sight. It's fine; you have a tissue in your bag. I scrounged around my bag, not one restaurant napkin. It's fine, it's fine. Just text Nate and ask him to bring you something. I grabbed my phone - no wifi.
With cheek-to-seat, my pants rested around my ankles, I sat, contemplating what to do. You have nothing. Nothing. I started to panic, oh fuck, umm, okay, you need to think of something quick. You'll have to McGruber it. I looked around for any toilet paper-like object, but the once former crawl space was stripped clean of anything useful. Check your bag one more time. I rumbled through my bag, looking for a sign of hope. And then I spotted it. A small crinkled receipt from Zara. I opened it up and read it. When did we buy two t-shirts from Zara? But this wasn't the time to ponder about consumerism. I smoothed the receipt out; it fitted gently in the palm of my hand.
Holding it like a bible, I looked up to the leaky ceiling, ashamed of what I was about to do - I was used to 3 Ply.
I left the bathroom with a warped sense of pride. I achieved the unachievable, yet at the same time, I was completely ashamed of how I did it. Are these the type of secrets the Druze kept from the world? I sat down at the table, with Nate looking suspiciously at me. "Are you okay?" He asked. But I didn't answer. I was far from okay; I had just seen a side of me I never wanted to see.
"You seem a little off, what's up?" he said quietly, avoiding any group discussion.
"I didn't have any toilet paper," I replied softly.
"Why didn't you text me?"
"I didn't have any wifi."
"...so what did you do..."
"I don't want to talk about it. I just hope you don't have any t-shirts to return to Zara."
He looked at me with an expression that can only be described as horror and slight amazement, "I've never met anyone like you."
I ripped off a piece of pita and aggressively dipped it into the hummus, "yeah, you and me both."
After finishing the plate of hummus, the three of us were slumped in our chairs, Jospeh unbuckled his belt and let out a sigh of relief. I twitched at his sigh; it brought back the fresh trauma of the bathroom. The wife came over with a guest book and gestured us to write a message. With a smile that barely reached my eyes, I grabbed the pen and wrote, "What happens in Daliat el Carmel, stays in Daliat el Carmel. Ps. Amazing coffee."