Someone to Run With

Just one day after finishing David Grossman’s SOMEONE TO RUN WITH (for the second time), I had a very “Grossman” moment today.

I worked for eleven hours straight at the lit. agency, getting up from my seat only occasionally to pull a book off the shelf or walk down the hall to the bathroom. At the end of the day, I felt like I would die if I didn’t move a little, so I decided to walk to Ben Yehudah, get some ice cream, and come home.

On the way there, as I was walking briskly (while reading the newspaper, as I am wont), I noticed that a small, shaggy brown dog was following me everywhere I went. And not only that — the dog seemed to be possessed by some sort of demon. It was frantically zigzaggging back-and-forth between the sidewalk and the street, attempting, with each zigzag streetwards, to cross in heavy traffic. Several car drivers stopped short and gave me dirty looks, assuming that I was the dog’s owner. One guy in dredlocks waiting at a busstop said, “Shimri al ha-kelev!” At the next busstop I passed, a Hasidic man with extra-scraggly omer beard said to me, “Zeh ha-kelev shelach?” –“NO!,” I said. “But he’s following me everywhere. He’s going to get run over.” The Hasid’s response? “Better a dog than a child.” I resisted the urge to tell him that Dennis Prager would have agreed.

The annoying-as-all-hell, demonically-possessed dog followed me up Keren HaYesod AND King George, showing no sign of relenting. But I wasn’t completely annoyed, because I could appreciate the literary resonance of the experience. David Grossman’s SOMEONE TO RUN WITH (which is a must-read — I highly recommend it!!) is about a 16-year-old boy working at a summer job in the Jerusalem City Hall, where he is given the assignment to track down the owner of a lost dog. He walks with the dog all over the city in search of clues, finally finding the key to the owner’s identity on the Ben Yehudah pedestrian mall (where I bought my ice cream). It was quite uncanny — the day after I finished the book, I had my own someone to run with.

But fortunately the dog is now gone. Though I had visions of him following me home, he disappeared at some point as I was winding through the crowds in the center of town. Phew. Let the dogs go on with their doggy life, as Auden would say.

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