But the person who walks into the room is not SD. It's Snotty. Which means there's someone else on her bed. I whip my head around and find Avi sitting there.

"Aaaahhhhhh!" I scream at the top of my lungs.

Avi just had a very big peep show starring yours truly.

Unfortunately my scream only alerts SD and Uncle Chime, who come barging into the room. SD's eyes dart back and forth between Avi and the half-dressed me with the BITCH shorts on.

"What's going on in here?" SD barks, accusing me with his eyes.

Avi actually saw me undressed ...my butt, my boobs, my cellulite thighs. My tongue is in shock, just like the rest of me. Even if I could talk, I wouldn't even know what to say.

Except I smell a rat.

I look at Snotty, who has this very subtle self-satisfied smirk on her face. She's the rat, no question about it.

Uncle Chime is eyeing Ron accusingly. I know I didn't do anything, but I feel like a ho nonetheless.

Out of the corner of my eye I notice Avi standing up. He says something in Hebrew to SD I can't understand.

Ron says something angrily back to him.

Snotty starts arguing with Ron.

Uncle Chime stands as straight as a soldier, blocking the door, his hands on his hips.

And I'm just standing here, half naked. I push past Uncle Chime and run to the bathroom. After I put on my tank, I still hear loud arguing coming from Snotty's room.

I sit on the edge of the bathtub until the arguing stops.

If this is my initiation to Israel, I'm scared to find out what the next three months here are going to be like.


You can attract bees with honey, but why would you want to?

The jet lag excuse works like a dream on the Sperm Donor my second day in Israel, with the added benefit that I've been able to sleep most of the day.

But now it's the late afternoon and I'm fully rested. After grabbing a bite to eat, I put on my jogging outfit, grab my iPod, and head outside. As I venture down the street, I spot Sofia sitting outside on a lounge chair on the edge of the mountain.

When she notices me, she waves me over.

I jog down the dirt road and stand next to her. Peering down the mountain, at the lake far below, and at the other mountains in the distance takes my breath away. "Chicago is as flat as ..." I'm about to say "Snotty," but I don't.

Instead, I say, "We don't have any mountains where I live. I guess that's why they make skyscrapers, they're like Chicago's mountains."

"I've never been to Chicago," Safta says.

"Well, you'll have to come visit me. I can take you to the Sears Tower. You can see, like, four states from the top floor. It's totally cool. And we have Lake Michigan. It's so wide you can't even see across it."

I get excited thinking about taking her around Chicago when she comes to visit me. She will love Millennium Park, where she can watch people and have lunch on the grass smack dab in the middle of the city.

And I bet she'll love the Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Science and Industry. The museum has awesome exhibits. My favorite is the dead baby exhibit.

It's really called the Neonatal exhibit, but I say just tell it like it is. It's a bunch of real, dead babies of every stage, all encased in formaldehyde or some other liquid. They have about thirty embryos and fetuses that are one week old on up to a full term baby. They even show identical twin embryos. It's the coolest thing I've ever seen.

Yeah, it would be neat to have Safia come visit.

I sigh, getting caught up in the moment. "I feel like I could scan the whole country from up here." Then I think about the malls, miles and miles from here. "But it's so far from everything."

"You're a city girl, eh?"

"Through and through. Give me a Kate Spade purse and a pair of Lucky jeans and I'm a happy girl."

She laughs, the soft, warm sound filling the air.

"I love it here. Away from the noise, away from crowds. It's the perfect place on earth for an old woman like me. Besides, at my age I don't need a Kate Spade purse or Lucky jeans."

"I'm sure you were one hot mama when you were a teenager," I say, then want to take those words right back. Talking to her like she's one of my friends is a stupid thing to do.

"I married your grandfather when I was eighteen years old."

"Was it love at first sight?"

"No. I couldn't stand the sight of him. Until one day he bought me flowers."

Flowers? That's the oldest trick in the book. "So he brought you some roses and you fell in love?" It's a cute story, if a little boring.

Safta pats my hand. "No, motek. He bought me the whole flower shop. And the poor man was allergic to pollen."

"Wow." I'd be sold if a guy bought me my own Abercrombie and Fitch store. Now, that would be true love.

Safta starts to get up, and I grab her elbow to help her. Even though she told me she's fine, I have a feeling I'm not getting the whole story.

"I'm going to lie down," she says once she stands. "Go explore the moshav, your father should be back with dinner soon." I watch as she walks back down the dirt path toward the house.

Taking a deep breath, I head toward the entrance to the moshav. The winding road will be a great place for me to take a jog.

As I reach the security booth, a guy sticks his head out of the window.

"I'm going for a run," I say.

He nods his head and opens the gate.

When I start to jog, the fresh air in my lungs energizes me. The mountainous view is like out of a movie, and the music in my ears reminds me of home. I'm in heaven as my stride matches the rhythm of the song I'm listening to.

If only Mitch could see me now, jogging down a mountain. He's a nature nut. My best friend Jessica is, too. She'd probably be jealous of me.

While I'm thinking of Mitch and Jess, I whiz past some white boxes. Only after I pass them do I realize what they are.


What the hell are beehives doing on the side of the road?

I think I'm safe, until I see one of the stinging suckers has followed me. "Go away," I say, running faster. The bee flies faster, and he's doing circles around me.

I stop and stand as still as those guards in London who stand at the palace, hoping that will make him go away. But it doesn't, it only attracts another bee. And another. And another.

It feels like time has stopped, except my iPod is still playing music in my ear.

"Help!" I scream, and take off again. I'm waving my arms around like a madwoman, trying to get the bees off of me. Gross, I think one just got caught in my hair!

I'm running.

And waving my arms.

And shaking my head.

When I spot a car coming up the road, I'm hopeful it's Ron. But I'm shaking my head around so hard that I don't see who it is. The car passes me, but then I hear tires screech.

I run toward the car, until I realize who's getting out of the driver's side.


The last possible person in the world I want to see.

"Get in," he says, opening up the passenger side.

I have two options: get in the car with a jerk who saw me buck naked or get stung by seven bees.

Call me crazy, call me stupid. But I choose option number two. "Go to hell," I say, and keep running down the mountain.

About three-quarters of the way down, the bees finally leave me alone. By some miracle, I've managed to avoid getting stung.

But now I'm stuck at the bottom of the mountain. And I don't want to go back up and pass the beehives again.

I have a brilliant idea. I'll wait for the Sperm Donor. Softa said he'll be coming back soon.

So I wait. And wait.

Forty-five minutes later, I'm still waiting.

I swear, this vacation is a total disaster. If I were home, I'd be playing tennis and hanging out with friends.

An hour goes by before I spot a car coming up the road. I recognize Doo-Doo. I wave my arms in the air like an air traffic control guy to make him stop. There's a girl in the car with him. The girl sticks her head out the window. "Do you need a ride?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Get inside."

Doo-Doo introduces me to the girl as I hop in the back seat. Her name is Ofra, and she also lives on the moshav. I lean back and enjoy the air conditioning blasting in the car.

"O'dead says you're going to come to the beach with us tonight." Ofra turns around and faces me from the front seat. "It's a special occasion."

"Your birthday?" I guess.

"No. Moron is going to the army."

That's something to celebrate?

Ofra looks excited when she says, "You have to bring something of yours to give him, then offer a piece of advice. It's the moshav ritual."


I think I'm allergic to rituals.


Before you speak up, make sure you know what you're saying.

The beach we go to is sandy, and borders a huge lake they tell me is called the Kineret. It's all seven of us tonight: me, Ofra, Snotty, Avi, Moron, Doo-Doo, and O'dead. The guys have made a huge bonfire, and we're sitting around it.

Avi leads Moron to a chair he's placed in the sand. Then he pulls out a shirt from a bag with Hebrew letters ironed on it. When he holds it up, everyone laughs.

Except me, of course, because I have no clue what's written on the shirt.

"What does it say?" I ask Ofra.

"Where's the bathroom?" she says.

"I don't know," I say. "I guess you're going to have to wait or pee in the sand."

They all laugh harder. And I realize they're laughing at me. "What?" I say.

Ofra pats my back. "I wasn't asking you where the bathroom is, I was telling you that's what the shirt says."

Oh, man.

"Avi, speak in English so Amy can understand," Ofra says.

He stands there, totally intimidating. "Beseder," he says begrudgingly. "My friend Moron here has gotten us lost on many occasions. His sense of direction is legendary, to say the least. So with this shirt, he might not be able to find his way home, but he'll be able to find his way to the nearest sheruteem." Then he looks at me and says, "That means bathroom."

Everyone else chuckles and claps.

"And my piece of advice is ...don't flirt with any of the female instructors. They all have access to weapons bigger than yours."

This amuses everyone. I assume Moron has a reputation for flirting with girls.

After Avi sits down, Ofra and Snotty go up to Moron and give him a wrapped present. He opens it and holds a pair of boxer shorts up to us.

The front is just plain white, but ironed to the back is a map of Israel. "This way," Snotty says, "when you get lost you can always find your way back home."

"Yeah, but he's got to get naked to see the map," Doo-Doo says, laughing.

I laugh, too. Imagining Moron stuck in the middle of the desert, lost, wearing a shirt that says Where's the bathroom while he's naked from the waist down as he examines the map on his boxers, is pretty hysterical.

Ofra sits on one of Moron's legs, and Snotty sits on the other. "Our piece of advice is ...let us shave your head instead of the army hairdresser."

I watch as Ofra pulls a cordless razor out of a bag. Moron gives a nervous smile to the rest of us. To be honest, he has a great head of hair. It's sandy brown, almost reaches his shoulders, and is really thick. Is he gonna let them shave it off?

Ofra turns on the razor, then she and Snotty stand up and go behind him.