How dare he bring Mitch into this ...this ...this ..."I bet he wouldn't even want to," I say back.

For the rest of the afternoon, I copy the yell-stomp technique Avi showed me and I've become quite the herder.

At one point Ron even said, "Good job, honey." He'll never know how much those words meant to me.

Right after the adults leave the pens for the day, I watch as the teens gather together on bales of hay over ten feet tall.

I walk past them until Ofra yells down at me. "Amy, come up here."

Snotty glares at her, but Ofra ignores her.

"No, thanks," I say.

Avi is up there, sitting like he was born ten feet off the ground.

"She's scared to climb up here," he says. "She's got big words, but little courage."

Unbelievable. One minute he's trying to help me and the next he's being the biggest showoff and insulting me. It doesn't take more to get me climbing up the yellow, wiry straw

When I get to the top, I don't know where to sit. I hang my feet over the edge of the hay and lean back. All eyes are on me. I turn to Avi and give him a little to stew about.

"Why do you hate me?" I ask.

I know this shouldn't be laundered in public like this, but I can't help it. I need to know, and I need to know now.

Avi doesn't answer and everyone else is looking away from him.

"Don't take it personally," Doo-Doo says. "He's been like this for a while."

"Why?" I direct my question to Doo-Doo, but I'm still looking at Avi.

Nobody says anything. The tension is as hot as the sun beating down on my back.

Avi barks out words in Hebrew I obviously can't possibly understand. My Hebrew vocabulary is limited to about five words. He knows this. Snotty knows this. Hell, they all know it.

Which makes me feel like one of those flying spider-looking things back at the house. Not a spider, not a fly. Just somewhere in-between.

They all start arguing. At once. Very loudly. It sounds like one big phlegm-fest because it seems as if every word in Hebrew has the 'ch' sound coming out of the middle of their throats.

It'd be nice to know what they're all talking about. Are they discussing why Avi hates me? It sure feels that way. But they're arguing.

It's obvious Avi and Snotty hate me, I'm so glad the other kids have been nice. O'dead leans his body closer to Snotty's each time he talks. Interesting observation I'll reserve for later. I wonder what it is about her that attracts all the guys? Anyone can have black makeup running down their face.

I stand, ready to climb down from this haystack. I feel so uncomfortable around Avi and Snotty

"You want to come on a camping trip with us?" Doo-Doo asks.

My eyebrows furrow. Before I can answer, Avi interrupts me.

"Mah-pee-tome!" Avi says to Doo-Doo.

"Llama-low?" Doo-Doo says back to his friend.

"Hello? Why don't you speak English?" I finally say. "Don't you realize it's rude to talk privately while I'm right in front of you?"

Ofra leans back on her elbows and nods her head. "She has a point."

My eyes blink. I could almost kiss the girl on the lips for supporting me so much. Although I don't go that way. But if I did, I would.

Avi groans.

"I don't go camping," I say.

"You said you were going with your boyfriend. I heard you on the phone," Avi challenges.

Think quick, Amy. He's got your number.

"Yeah, well, I only go with him. Mitch has been a Boy Scout since he was, like, five years old or something."

Snotty hisses. "Amy, you make up stuff to try and look good. What's real with you and what's not? Avi's right about you."

Silence. Until I feel my patience snap inside my body.

I know I shouldn't start up with someone I have to share a room with. And I know it probably isn't the smartest thing to go off on my cousin in front of an audience. She probably won't understand what I'm going to say anyway because of the language barrier. But I can't help it, there's like an overload of adrenaline running through my brain.

Even as I tell myself to keep my mouth closed, I hear myself say, "Do you get off on being a royal bitch? 'Cause ever since I met you, you've treated me like a piece of shit." I'm on a roll and my mouth is working overtime. "I can't stand you, your short shirts, tight pants ... or your sorry excuse for breasts! How's that for being real?"

I wave my finger at Avi. "And you, all you've got to offer is a bad attitude and a chip on your shoulder. I will go camping, just to piss! You don't like it, don't go. Then you can be an Israeli with a big mouth and little courage."

"You think you got courage?" Avi challenges me.

"Damn straight. I could push you off this thing without thinking twice."

He stands up, his mouth upturned in a smirk. "I dare you."

Okay, I think about it. But only once. Then I push his chest with all the strength I have.

He doesn't budge, the guy is like a rock.

When I hear his laugh, I turn around and jump down the piles of hay until I reach the ground. Wouldn't you know it a feeling of rationality comes over me right now. And I think:

I don't know why tears are rolling down my face.

I don't know why I just blew up at two people I'm going to have to see for the next month.

And I sure as hell don't know why I agreed to go on a camping trip in the middle of a war zone with people who hate me.

God, I'm in Israel, the Holy Land. Where are you?


When the pickins are slim, you take what you can get.

That night after dinner, I'm watching television with Doda Yucky when Snotty's friends come barging in the door. Why don't people lock their doors around here?

Snotty and Ofra come out of the bedroom dressed in slinky, short, tight-fitting dresses. Avi, Doo-Doo, and O'dead are wearing jeans with long-sleeve T-shirts.

I don't ask where they're going tonight, because I don't care. I'm perfectly happy to sit in front of the television all day. I've been pleasantly surprised that there's a lot of American shows on TV in Israel. That's probably why Israelis know so much English.

Ron, who has been talking on the phone most of the evening, comes over to me. "The kids are going to a disco."

A disco? Discos went out in, like, the seventies. "Good for them," I say.

"Don't you want to go?"


"It might be fun to get off the moshav."

If he only knew what I said to O'snot earlier. I insulted her clothes and her boobs. I'm not about to admit those little facts to Ron.

"I'm going to ask them to take you," he says, and before I can stop him he stands up and walks over to Snotty. He says something in Hebrew to her.

She says something back.

At this point Doda Yucky interrupts her, her voice in a scolding tone. Then my aunt walks over to me and takes my hand. "O'snot wants to take you out with her friends."

Yeah, right. But the lady just fought on my behalf, and I don't have the heart to argue with her. Instead, I shoot a scalding look at Ron, the person who got me into this mess in the first place.

Ten minutes later I find myself in Avi's car, being driven down the mountain. Avi and Snotty ignore me, but I don't blame them. I hate them, they hate me. It's a mutual

hate-hate relationship.

When we pull up to the "disco," I get out of the car and follow Snotty, Ofra, Doo-Doo, O'dead, and Avi to the entrance. It looks like a large warehouse. Loud music is blaring from the place and colorful, blinking lights are shining through large windows.

I halt as soon as I scan the long line of people waiting to get in. "Is it safe?" I ask.

"I promise there aren't any snakes inside for you to accidentally step on," Snotty says, then laughs at me.

My eyes flash in outrage as I focus on Avi. How could he have told Snotty about the snake-guts mishap? What a betrayal. Now I feel humiliated because of him.

"Come on," Ofra says, locking my arm with hers as she leads me to the line.

I toss my hair back and stand in line. When I reach the front, an army guard makes me open my purse and he checks the contents. I expect him to ask me for an ID, but he doesn't. I guess in Israel there are no age restrictions for dance clubs. When the army guy waves me on, I have to go through a metal detector in order to enter the 'disco.'

Boy, they're not taking any chances. If we had a soldier at the entrance to every town, shopping mall, and bar in the United States, we'd be out of soldiers. There wouldn't be anyone left to protect our country.

I walk in, and the floor is vibrating to the beat of the music because it's so loud. Snotty, Ofra, O'dead, and Doo-Doo go directly to the dance floor and start dancing. Avi is leaning against a railing, brooding as usual. But he's surrounded by girls while he's standing there so he doesn't look like a loner.

Me? Well, I'm standing here alone because I don't feel like dancing right now. It's wall-to-wall people, but I manage to squeeze through the crowd, heading for the bar. I need a Coke, or at least something in my hand so I'm not just standing around staring at people.

Luckily, I snag the only open barstool before anyone else can get their butt on it.

I take a moment to take it all in. The people at the disco are wearing very trendy outfits. They're also dancing, laughing, and drinking. The air smells like cigarette smoke; obviously there aren't smoking laws here.

I don't go to clubs back home because I'm only sixteen and they won't let me in until I'm twenty-one. But when I do, I'm going to have as much fun as these Israelis.

The bartender says something to me in Hebrew and places a beer mug in front of me with yellow liquid inside.

"I speak English," I say at the top of my lungs so he can hear me above the music.

He leans forward and says in my ear, "The guy over there bought you the drink."

He points to the other end of the bar, where a guy wearing a white button-down shirt with most of the buttons undone is sitting. Is he kidding? The guy looks as if he's about Avi's age, and has long hair. And it's not cool long hair, it looks like it's been greased back with too much hair gel. He's probably the one uncool guy in the whole place.

Great. I'm an uncool guy magnet.

To my horror, the guy is walking over to me as if he's some macho dude. He's wearing a huge grin on his face, which looks like it hasn't been shaved in a week.

I need help here.

Snotty and the gang are on the dance floor so they won't be much help. I search the room for Avi, who's obviously moved away from the railing. If I find him, I could pretend he's my date so this guy will leave me alone.

When my eyes finally settle on Avi, I realize he's not brooding anymore. He's dancing with some Hilary Duff look-alike.

To make matters worse, he's a good dancer. Not one of those guys who only moves from side to side. No, Avi moves like he's been born to dance with a girl in his arms.

I watch in disgust as he leans forward and says something into her ear, then they both laugh. For some reason I wish it wasn't so loud that he would have to be so close to her to talk. I don't care about him, I'm just pissed that he's having a good time and I'm not.

"Alio, ay zeh cusit" Uncool Guy says once he's weaved his way through the crowd and is now standing in front of me.

"I speak English," I say, shrugging apologetically.

"My English not so good," he says. "You American?"