This Purim, I was a dog. I put on some ten shekel Dalmation dog ears and got my nose painted red with whiskers. Then I went to the Shuk, collecting for my Holocaust survivors. This was Thursday evening and Friday morning when the Shuk was really packed. So picture this: a guy with CP in a wheelchair, face painted like a dog with stupid dog ears, a big plastic jar hung around his neck with a big sign sticking out of the wheelchair saying, “I am collecting for nine needy Holocaust survivors.” To top it off, I’m also going “woof woof” to anyone coming close to me. How do you think people reacted? It was the reactions that were really fascinating to me. So here’s a list of what I learned.
- Most people acted like it wasn’t happening. (I later learned that Israeli dogs don’t go “woof woof,” they go “hav hav.”) They just wanted to buy their schnitzel and get the fuck out of the crazy Shuk.
- If you’re fucked up in your mind or in your soul, you really don’t want a crippled guy going “woof woof” in your face. You can barely deal with the fact that you have to function as a human being.
- The best reactions were from happy people who were dressed up themselves and were with friends. These are the people who not only smiled at me, they gave me a “woof woof” back. They also gave me tzedakah.
- Arabs didn’t particularly appreciate it. I knew this from the year before, but I couldn’t help myself from trying. I’m pretty sure they thought that I was mocking them.
- I thought kids would respond more, but it turns out that they were just as freaked out as adults. The older ones responded better and I got some smiles out of 8-10 year olds. No kids “woof woofed” back though.
- Dogs were equally unresponsive. The fucking bitches didn’t even look at me.
- You can’t always tell who is going to respond. I would purposely “woof woof” at the super uptight looking people, and sometimes, miraculously, their whole face would change and they would give me a beautiful smile.
- Asian people didn’t get it, and I really barked extra hard for them. I think one nodded politely.
And what did I learn about myself?
- I crave attention so much that I’m willing to bark like a dog in the middle of the Shuk for four hours.
- I want to be understood so much, even if it means barking. I want to connect with people and speech gets in my way. That’s why it was so wonderful to bark. It was such a clear communication.
- I get so angry when I’m ignored. When I was doing this, I realized that it was much better when someone showed an annoyed face than nothing at all.
- I found myself wanting to be petted like a dog. Sometimes when a pretty woman stopped to give me money, I would crane my neck towards her, hoping.
- I think liked it so much because when people looked at me like a freak, I could tell myself it was because I was barking like a dog and not because of my palsy.
- I am an animal. Finally, I got to fully acknowledge the big animal that’s in me. I barely controlled myself from biting people.
If all of this learning wasn’t enough, I collected twice as much money as I normally do. In two hours, I collected over 700 shekel. One guy actually gave me 300 shekel. Of course it was Purim and it’s a mitzvah to give money to poor people, but I’d like to think that my palsied barking aroused the most charitable feelings in others. Next year, I want to be a grunting pig.