Friday, June 4, 2010

A Finale in the Life of the Mac-Attack (Part 2)

I woke up on the Friday morning after my high school graduation feeling very strange. Obviously, nothing was different physically, but it was weird to know that I was no longer a high school student. I was done with Deer Valley High School, and while I was excited to be done with that place, something told me that I would somewhat miss the days that I spent there.

Graduation certainly was a big deal, but the way that I saw it, the big one hadn't happened yet. For me, the big one would be the West Coast Region USY Convention, taking place that very weekend. I think I was ready to say goodbye to high school, but saying goodbye to USY? That was gonna be another story.


My best friend Ben greeted me warmly as I arrived at the airport.

"Can you believe it, Ben? Our last Convention."
"Can you believe that in a little more than 48 hours, I'm going to be on a flight to Israel?"
"Have you told Sam yet?"
"I've decided to surprise her."
"Very nice."

Just then, my twin brother Darrin arrived at the airport younger brother JT?

"You're going to Convention, JT?"
"Duh, Michael! I can't be away from Joshie for an entire weekend. I'll go insane!"
"Okay, loverboy, go check your luggage."

He did so as Darrin joined Ben and I.

"Well, that was...educational?"
"Very. So, who are you rooming with?"
"Ben, Gahl and Max."
"Fourth year in a row."
"Yeah, son!"

We high-fived.

It was at that moment that Melinda entered the airport. I suddenly remembered the events of the previous year's Convention, when I realized that I was in love with her. Now we were going to spend Convention together, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

"Hey, baby."

We kissed.

"Hey yourself."

We kissed again.

Not long after, a flood of TBZ and Am Yisrael USYers arrived at the airport, including my good friend Brian Berg, better known as B.

"Hello, B. It's been a while."
"Yeah, dude. I'm sorry I wasn't able to be at the Passover Tournament. Although I heard it wasn't much fun."

"Well, we got our asses handed to us, but it wasn't too bad."

"Yeah, well, if it wasn't gonna be you and Ben, I'm glad that Jake won it. He deserved it."
"Do you hear from him much?"
"Not since he and Tara broke up again."
"I think this is the fifth time."
"Jesus, I thought Ross and Rachel were fictional."
"Apparently the real versions of them are Jake and Tara."
"When did they even get back together again?"

B explained to me that after the victory celebration after Jake took Tara out to dinner. It was never meant to be a date, but sometimes things just happen.

"Wow, we never fucked like that before."
"Yeah, that was good."

"Okay, so now we know how they got back together. What's the reason for the break-up?"
"Did I say that I was finished?"

About three weeks later, Jake got the call from the Nativ people about coming in for an interview. Tara had her's the same day. Obviously, with her being the Regional USY President, it wasn't hard at all for her to get in. Jake, however, was another story.

"So you've never served as a USY Board Member?"
"No, but--"
"And only one of your parents is Jewish?"
"Well, it's my mom that's Jewish. Therefore, I'm technically a full-blood Jew. My dad doesn't believe in religion."
"Okay then. Uh, we'll let you know."

"So Jake basically knew that he wasn't going to get in. But Tara did, and the fact that she wouldn't stay in L.A. for him upset him, so he ended it."
"Wow. That's harsh. I mean, I'm going on Nativ, but Melinda and I are working it out. It's 10 months."
"Jake didn't see it that way."
"This is the final boarding call for Southwest Airlines Flight 676 to Las Vegas."
"Our last Convention taking place right on the Vegas Strip. What could be better?"
"Amen to that."

The flight was pretty uneventful. I sat by Ben and Melinda and we chatted about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. JT and his boyfriend Josh were sitting across from us...cuddling and listening to Adam Lambert. Also on the flight were Tony Abromi and Amanda Braun, who were sitting as far away from each other as humanly possible. I mean, I knew they weren't fond of each other, but I wondered why they were acting more hostile than they ever had before.

Before long, I looked out the window and saw the Vegas Skyline. A rush of excitement hit me as I got off the airplane, excited to spend my last USY Weekend in Sin City. At Caesar's Palace, to be exact! I had been to Convention three times, and this year had the best loacation by far.

Not long after walking into the the Palace of Caesar, I was mauled by Gahl Sinai and Max Altman.

"Can you believe where we are right now? I mean, this is where they stayed in The Hangover!"
"There better not be a tiger in our bathroom."

I laughed.

"Benny Sheiner! What ado?"
"Hey, guys."

Melinda then approached us, along with Rivka Pasternak, Gahl's girlfriend.

"Hello, boys."
"Rivka, my dear, you're looking lovely."
"Flattery won't make up for the fact that I haven't heard from you since Passover."

I laughed as I hugged her.

"Gentlemen, ladies, how are we tonight?"
"Good to see ya, B."

Suddenly, we looked at the entrance to the hotel to see that the Tuscon people had arrived, including Ari "Mohawk" Barnes.

"Now it's a party."

Max and I told Ben and Gahl that we would check in, B and Mohawk decided to do the same, and the girls decided to go off and do their own thing, leaving Ben and Gahl just standing and talking.

It truly felt like a reunion. Everyone was together, the same way we were at our very first Convention, back when we were freshmen. The location was Beverly Hills. I remember it well because that's when Ben hooked up with Ariel Woods, the ugliest girl in all of West Coast Region USY (and probably the only ugly girl).


Speak of the devil.

"Shit. Hide me."
"You mean you don't wanna see your one true love?"
"That's not funny, Gahl."
"Relax, dude, I mean it's not like you took her virginity and she's still attached."

Ben said nothing.

"It wasn't my fault, Gahl. I swear! It was last summer. I mean, that's a lifetime ago!"
"So you fucked her?"
"She fucked me, if you wanna be technical. She's the one who was on top!"
"You're an idiot."
"Ben, it's you!"

She approached him and gave him a very suggestive hug.

"You're on your own with this one, buddy."

Gahl walked away, trying to contain his laughter.

"Benny, it's been so long. You never return my phonecalls."
"Um, I live in a very bad service area...GAHL!"
"You're so jumpy. I think you need to let some of that energy out...I've already checked into my room."
"I have to get some water."

Meanwhile, Max and I were waiting in line behind Tony, who was being a real annoyance to the concierge.

"Lemme ask ya sumtin. Is this the real Caesar's Palace? Did Caesar live here?"
"Sir, I believe you have seen 'The Hangover' way too many times."
"The what?"
"Will you be checking in, sir?"
"Uh, yeah. And, uh, make sure there's a 'do not disturb' sign in there. You know what I mean?"

He began laughing at his own wishful thinking.

"Have a nice stay, sir. Next?"
"Are you also here for the USY Weekend?"
"Yes, sir. I'm Michael Maccabbi and this is Max Altman."
"It says here that you two will be sharing a room with a Mr. Sheiner and a Mr. Sinai."
"That is correct."
"Here are your four room keys. Enjoy your weekend."

That's when I saw Ben sprinting toward us.

"She still wants my balls!"

The concierge didn't look amused.

"Please excuse us."

Max and I took Ben aside.

"Who still wants your balls?"

"You mean the little mermaid? She's not real, Ben."

I gave Max an odd look before continuing.

"Ariel Woods?"
"No, Ariel Moore from Footloose...OF COURSE I MEAN ARIEL WOODS!"
"She's here? She hasn't been to an event all year."
"Well, I guess she thought that this was a great weekend to start!"
"And she doesn't know you have a girlfriend? I mean, you and Sam are Facebook Official!"
"Ariel doesn't have a Facebook."
"Really? I thought the only people who didn't have Facebook were the Mennonites."
"Mac, Ben, Max!"

And there was Jake Josephson...followed by Tara Hudson?

"Hey guys...Jake."

You could pretty much cut the tension between them with a knife.

"Well, um, I have to check into my room."
"You know, I think I'll just wait for Melinda and Rivka to check in."
"They already did. You should be good to go."
"Okay, cool. I'll, uh, see you guys later."

She walked away awkwardly.

"I'll have to thank Melinda later."
"So this is where you guys are at now? Can't be in the same room?"
"No, we can be in the same room. We just can't be right next to each other."
"Jake, this isn't good."
"It's not my fault, guys. It was her decision to end it."

I wasn't so sure about Jake's logic. However, I didn't have a lot of time to analyze his thought process. It was nearly 5:00 and we hadn't even gone up to our rooms yet. Shabbat would be starting in an hour.

Once we were all dressed accordingly for services, I got into the elevator, where I had an awkward moment myself.


Brittany Zieglar, the one who got away. Her and I had come very close to having a thing fairly recently, before Melinda and I got back together. I'd be exaggerating if I said she wasn't the last person I wanted to see.

"How's Schuckman?"

That was a little harsh. However, she deserved it.

"I deserved that."

See what I mean?

"Can't we just start over? I mean, we're in Vegas. Sin City, if you will. Don't you wanna commit a sin with me?"

She was getting uncomfortably close as we got closer to the lobby.

"Brittany, how often do you check your Facebook?"
"Then you'd know that I'm in a relationship."
"So am I. Should that stop us?"
"Well, yes, if you have morals."

She put her mouth at my ear and whispered.

"I have no morals."

I backed off quickly, just as the elevator doors opened to the vision of Melinda waited for me.

I ran out quickly and kissed her for a long time.

"Wow, what was that for?"
"I missed you."

Melinda laughed and we kissed again. It was then that we headed to the ballroom where services were taking place.

Services were certainly interesting. Melinda and I sat with Gahl, Rivka, Max, B and Mohawk, while Jake and Tara were sitting on complete opposite sides of the ballroom (as were Tony and Amanda), and Ben had resorted to hiding in the hotel room to avoid any contact with Ariel Woods. The Shabbat Dinner that night was amazing too. However, then came the Israeli dancing...where we didn't have an option of who our partners were.

"Wow, Mac, what a coincidence. We were paired together."
"Yes. If only I had known."

"Well, this should be fun."
"Oh yeah. TONS."

"I'm okay with this."
"Me too. Let's dance."

I remember looking at Melinda with a "Help Me" type of expression as Brittany tried to turn the Turkish Kiss into a French Kiss! Jake and Tara wouldn't even look at each other as they danced. Gahl and Rivka seemed to be the only ones having fun.

I got back to the hotel room that night to find Ben watching Pay Per View.

"It's Shabbat and we're on a USY Weekend. Are we even allowed to have the TV on?"
"Probably not. I needed something to do."
"Well, trust me, I wish I was up here as well."
"Services not fun?"
"Brittany Zieglar was eye-fucking me during Lecha Dodi."
"Well, that could've been awkward."
"It was awkward. And the worst part is that Melinda thinks it's hilarious!"
"It is pretty funny. But at least you're going out and facing it."

Suddenly, Gahl rushed into the room.

"Guys, come quick!"
"What's going on?"
"What isn't going on? You guys are gonna wanna come out and see this."

We got out of the room and looked down the hall to see Darrin...making out with Brittany?"

"You're not quite the Mac-Attack, but you'll do."
"I can live with that."

I looked at my roommates.

"Well, that was...educational?"

The next thing we knew, they were no longer out in the hallway. They were in a hotel room.

"Way to go, Darrin."

It was then that Max finally came upstairs.

"What'd I miss?"
"Darrin's taking Brittany's mind off of Mac."
"Alright, Darrin!"
"To Darrin."

We all raised our water bottles and toasted to my twin brother.

The next day, we all waited for Darrin outside the ballroom. He was alone as he walked up to us, but he had the biggest smile any of us had ever seen.

"Explain what?"
"You know what I'm talking about. You and Brittany."
"Oh. That."
"Come on, spill it."
"Do I have to do it in front of the peanut gallery?"

Gahl, Ben and Max took that as a "This is personal and I'm gonna have to ask you people to leave".

Once they were gone, Darrin gave me the details.

"So, she was all depressed about the fact that you didn't want her. She saw me, commented that I looked similar to you, and asked if I wanted to hook up with her."
"Did you--"
"Fuck her? No, no. We went into the room and made out on the bed for about 15 minutes. Then her roommates walked in, so I kissed her one more time and left."
"Who woulda guessed? My twin brother is a total player!"
"So that's what it's like."
"How do you feel?"
"Incredibly confident."
"Well, alright! I dub thee Darrin the Debonaire."
"Sweet...what do I do now?"
"Keep doing whatever it is that you do. Just remember: the game may change from time to time, but the players will always be playing."

It felt good to pass the torch. My days as a player had ended long ago, but there would be no harm in sharing my knowledge with my brother.

With the Brittany Zieglar situation resolved, there was no eye-fucking during the morning services. However, there was still the awkwardness of Jake and Tara ruining everyone's good time. We needed to figure out a way to get them to reconcile.

"Michael, why don't you just tell them about how you and me are gonna stay together while you're on Nativ."
"You know, I hadn't thought of that. Do you guys think it'd work?"
"It's worth a shot."
"I think so too."
"It could work."
"It should work."
"It's our only hope."

We all looked at Max.

"I think I took it too far."

We decided that I would confront Jake during the dance that evening, since it would've been the opportune moment to sweep Tara off her feet.

"Jake! Why aren't you dancing?"
"Why should I be dancing, Mac? It's not like there's anyone to dance with."
"Sure there is...I'm sure Ariel Woods needs a partner."

I thought it would make him laugh, but it didn't.

"She's so stubborn. I mean, she got into UCLA. That's where she wanted to go. But she decided it would be better to spend the year on the other side of the world."
"I know what you mean. I mean, I was so sure that I was gonna go to UF, but then the Nativ opportunity found its way to me, and I had to take it. It proved to be better for mine and Melinda's relationship, though."
"How so?"
"Well, had I decided to go to UF, I would've been on the other side of the country for four years. When her and I got back together, I couldn't stand the prospect of being away from her for that long. So Nativ gave me the opportunity to opt out of going to Florida and for me to come back to Arizona after ten months so I can figure out what I wanna do. Not to mention, my dad is a professor as ASU now, so I'd get free tuition there. And that's where Melinda is gonna be."
"So you and Melinda are staying together?"
"We are...and you and Tara should too."
"I know we should. I've lost her too many times. I can't lose her again, but I fear I already have."
"No, Jake. You haven't. If you haven't noticed, she hasn't danced with anyone tonight either."
"She hasn't?"
"She hasn't."

Jake looked across the room to see Tara sitting alone.

"Go get her."

Without a word, Jake got up and walked right up to Tara. She looked up at him.

"Do ya wanna dance?"

She kissed him.

"I would love to."

The gang looked at me and nodded. I proceeded to join them and ask my own girlfriend to dance with me.

Meanwhile, Tony finally got up the courage to speak to Amanda, who was having a nice conversation with JT and Josh about interior design.

"Amanda, I gotta talk to ya."
"What is it that you Italians say? Talk to da hand?"
"Seriously, we need to talk."

His New York Italian accent was suddenly gone.

"Um, I'm gonna go request some Barbara Streissand. JT, will you come with me?"
"I'll follow you anywhere."

Amanda looked at Tony, as if it wasn't the first time she had heard his voice.

"Do you remember what I told you when we were in the light booth back in February, during that awful Purim play?"
"That your accent is a shield and that you were afraid for the world to see the real you."
"And then you kissed me. Do you remember that?"
"Yes, and I remember you freaking out, going back into that stupid accent, and leaving."
"Well, it took three months for me to realize it, but it wasn't really the world that I was afraid of. It was you. Ever since we kissed during that camping trip back in September, the only thing on my mind has been you. I've bee scared to tell you all this time, but I'm not scared anymore. I love you, Amanda."

She kissed him.

"Finally. I love you too."

They continued to kiss. I saw it in the corner of my eye and proceeded to point Melinda's head in that direction. We also saw Gahl and Rivka dancing, Darrin and Brittany dancing, and even JT and Josh dancing.

"Great night for couples."

She kissed me.

"I love you. More than you will ever know, I love you."
"I'll bet I love you more."

We kissed again and danced for the rest of the evening.

The next afternoon, I said goodbye to all my USY friends.

"Rivka and I will see you in August for Nativ, Mac."
"Hey, don't forget me!"
"I love you guys."

I hugged both of them. I also said goodbye to Mohawk as he headed to his bus. Afterwards, Jake and Tara walked up to me, hand in hand.

"So, I see that everything worked out."
"It did."
"I entrust you to take good care of my girl when you guys are in Israel."
"You can count on me, Jake."

We hugged.

"I'll meet you at the bus, baby."

They kissed, leaving me to say goodbye to Tara.

"Thanks for bringing him back to me."
"He brought himself back to you, Tara. He just needed a little extra help."

We hugged.

"I'll see you soon."

Ben and Melinda joined me as we got on our bus to the airport. When we were sitting down, Ben showed us tickets to Israel...wait! Tickets?

"Did you really expect me to go to the holy land alone?"
"Well, I certainly didn't expect for you to buy tickets for us."
"I didn't. My parents talked to your parents and they all agreed that the three of us should go together."
"Wow. When did this happen?"
"I've had the tickets since Thursday."
"Wow, the one time my parents keep their mouths shut."

We all smiled.

"So, Israel?"

Both of them put their hands in.


And that's exactly what we did. Late that night, we all got on an airplane and went straight to the holy land to see Ben's beloved Sam.

It was late the next afternoon when we first stepped onto Israeli soil, in Tel Aviv to be exact. It was the first time for all of us. I had never felt more at home than I did at that very moment.

"So, do we know where Sam is?"
"Not yet, but we will. I have her number, you see."
"We might not wanna use our cell phones here, Ben. We'll be charged a fortune. Hey, there's a pay phone!"

Ben walked into the pay phone and dialed Sam's number.

"Guess who."
"Ben! Oh my God! Hi! Where are you calling from?"
"Doesn't matter right now...what is your exact location right now?"
"I'm with my Oulpan instructor at a restaurant called Agadir. It's in the port...why?"

Ben would later describe her voice to us as excited and confused at the same time.

"No questions. Just stay there."

Ben stepped out of the phone booth.

"We need a cab."
"So you know where she is?"
"I most certainly do."

We hailed a taxi and got in.

"Agadir, b'vakasha."
"Good use of our Hebrew School knowledge."

The driver drove for literally 30 seconds, as Agadir was right next to the phone booth.

Melinda and I looked at Ben.

"Um, how much do we owe you?"
"No charge."
"Wow. Thanks!"

We got out of the cab, with the restaurant right in front of us.

"Are you ready?"
"I am. You know, I can do this by myself. Why don't you have the cab driver take you to the hotel?"
"Did I not tell you that my parents put us up in a suite at the Crowne Plaza, right on the beach?"
"You failed to mention that."
"Oh. Well, now you know."
"Will we see you later?"
"If this goes well, you won't. If it doesn't, I'll see you at the hotel."

I hugged my best friend for a long time.

"Then I guess I'll see you in the Fall, when I come back here for Nativ."
"I love you, man. No homo."
"I love you too. No homo."

Ben hugged Melinda next.

"Go. She's waiting for you."
"Thanks, Melinda. Thanks to both of you."

We watched Ben walk into the restaurant before getting into the cab.

He didn't even have to ask the hostess where Sam was sitting, for she was sitting toward the very front of the restaurant. All he had to do was walk right up to where she was sitting with her Oulpan Instructor.

"Would you like to try some of our specials?"

She turned around and was shocked. All that there was left for her to do was scream, jump into his arms, and kiss him in a way that she had never kissed him before.

"I had a feeling you were here, but I was in such disbelief. Is this a dream? I can't believe you're here!"

The continued to kiss. Her Oulpan Instructor, a very tall brown-haired man named Eyal, smiled and winked at Ben.

"I think we'll call it a day, Sam."
"Thank you, Eyal!"

Ben took Eyal's seat and ordered a burger, happy to share a meal with the one he loved.

Meanwhile, Melinda and I arrived at the hotel. As soon as we checked in, we set our stuff down in the room and hit the beach, where we just sat and listened to the waves crash into the sand.

"It's almost paradise, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I feel like we're knocking on heaven's door right now."
"This is the land Abraham was promised by God. The land flowing with milk and honey."
"I think a Pina Collada would be just fine."

We laughed.

"So, we're in agreement about the school year. We'll e-mail everyday and Skype every Sunday night. But what about when you get back?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, all you did was defer your admissions to UF for a year to do another program. All your credits will transfer over to there."
"Melinda, did you know that ASU Faculty can enroll their kids in the school for free?"
"You mean--"
"One school year will be hard enough without you. I couldn't bear it if we had to spend four of them apart."

The waves continued to crash.

"I love you so much."
"I love you too."

We kissed, and to me, it was the best kiss we'd ever shared. It wasn't just the passion. It was the fact that we were on the beach in Tel Aviv, and to me, there was no greater place in the world to share a kiss with the woman I loved.

I was back in Israel three months later, but this time, it was Jerusalem. My roommates, of course, were Gahl and Max. On the weekends, we would all go stay with Ben at the Jerusalem University for American Students. Tara and Rivka would come along with us whenever Sam was gonna be there, and they would talk about girl stuff.

True to our word, we e-mailed everyday and Skyped every Sunday night (as well as special occasions like our anniversary, her birthday, my birthday, and Valentines' Day). It was almost as if we were never apart, and with every e-mail I would recieve from her, I would fall even more in love with her. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I will back up that saying until the day I die.

Before I knew it, it was May. Before I left, I went over to the University to say goodbye to Ben.

"This year went by pretty fast, didn't it?"
"It sure did. When are you gonna come home?"
"Sam gets time off for a couple weeks in July, so I'll go home when she does."
"Now that's commitment."
"I can't believe we're not gonna be living in the same place anymore, Mac. I mean, we've been in the same general location since 6th grade. I don't know what I'll do without you."
"I still have Skype. I'm just a webcam away."

We hugged.

"I'll let you know when I'm back in Phoenix."
"Definitely. Don't lose touch."

I flew to Los Angeles first so I could be on the same flight back to the States as Gahl, Max, and Tara. When I said goodbye to the four of them, I knew that they would be lifetime friends, and that someday we would all be together again.

The next flight was an hour long, and I was alone. I reflected on my year abroad and tried to contain my excitement as I saw the skyline of Downtown Phoenix. I got off the flight, headed down to baggage claim, and saw a flock of people there to greet me. My mom, my dad, my sister, her husband, my neice and nephew, Darrin, JT, and the one person that I was looking forward most to seeing.

Melinda nearly tackled me as I reached the bottom of the escalator. Her lips were better than I had remembered, and after ten months, the feeling of kissing the woman I loved was sweeter than it had ever been.


We kissed again and joined the rest of my family. Everything was perfect, and that's what I loved about the day that I came home.


"Don't you just love Los Angeles in the Fall?"
"I just can't believe you finally moved out here!"
"Well, since this is where most of the action is, I kinda have to be here."
"Alright, Mr. Big Shot Regional USY Director."

Yes, it's true. After college graduation, I took a job with West Coast Region USY in the Marketing Department. I worked from my home office in Phoenix for six years, until I got the call saying that the current director was retiring and wanted me to be the one running things from L.A. My wife was able to secure a job teaching pre-school at one of the bigger synagogues there, so it was easy to justify the move.

"Would you boys put your beer down for one minute and help me move some of these boxes?"
"I'll be right there, honey."

If you haven't guessed it, Melinda is the wife I was talking about.

"I just heard someone knocking on the door. I'll go let them in on my way out."
"Where are you going in such a rush, Gahl?"
"Lamaze class. Rachel is due any day now."
"Alright, send her our love."

Gahl and Rivka had broken up shortly after we all returned from Nativ. She was very keen on going back and spending the rest of her life there, but Gahl wanted to get his education domestically. He did, of course, go back a few times, and he and Rivka remained great friends. She is currently working as an English teacher on a Kibbutz in Jaffo.

The people at the door were Tara and Jake, along with their two year old daughter Sadie.

"Good morning."
"Hey, glad you guys could be here. We have beer."
"We brought you brownies. It's the least we could do for our new next-door neighbors."
"I think I need one of those right about now."
"Isn't Ben supposed to be here?"
"His flight was delayed. He'll be here a little later, and trust me, he isn't happy."

Ben lived in Israel with Sam all the way through college and then another year after that. She was then offered a job as the Israel Shaliach (liaison) for the Metropolitan Phoenix area. She did that for two years, but decided she wanted to go back to Israel. However, Ben didn't share her sentiment. So he stayed in Phoenix when she left. However, he recently had to go to Israel to pack up all his stuff and have it shipped to the United States. I offered him a job at the Regional USY Office as the events coordinator. He would also be working as the USY Director at a synagogue in L.A. The rabbi of the synagogue was Max, by the way.

I got a phone call shortly after Jake and Tara arrived. It was from Darrin, who had recently started working as an entertainment critic for the Arizona Republic.

"How's move-in day?"
"It's going great. How's everyone?"
"Everyone is great. I'll give them your best."
"Sounds good. I have people over right now. Let me call you later."

A while later, Ben finally got to our house. He was still distraught over the whole situation with Sam.

"I mean, I moved to Israel ten years ago for her."
"I know, Ben. But, hey, this is Los Angeles. And you'll get to work closely with a lot of the pretty USY Advisors when you coordinate regional events. I think you'll be fine."
"You know, I think so too. Thanks for the job, buddy. I knew I could count on you."
"You're gonna be a great addition to our team. I can tell already."

We tapped beer bottles and continued to talk. Eventually, he had to go home to his new apartment, leaving my wife and I alone in the living room.

"I love this house so much, Michael. It's the perfect place to raise a family."
"If only there was a family to raise."

Melinda giggled.

"What's so funny?"
"Well, I saw a doctor yesterday."
"What'd he say?"
"She said that in about eight and a half months, there's going to be a little Maccabbi running around."
"You mean to say that you're pregnant?"
"I'm afraid so."

I smiled and kissed her.

"I love you so much. I'm so glad that we're gonna be a family!"
"I love you too, and I know that this baby is going to be loved more than any baby has ever been loved."

We kissed again, excited about the next chapter of our lives. I thought about how amazing parenthood was going to be, and I couldn't have been happier about it. Melinda and I were going to bring a life into this world, and there was something incredible about that. It was going to be a brand new adventure, one that neither of us had experienced before, but I knew at that moment that there was no one I'd rather be sharing the adventure with than my wonderful wife, the love of my life, Melinda.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Finale in the Life of the Mac-Attack (Part 1)

A man's life is determined by the moments that change it. At least, that's what I always thought. One piece of news can change a man's destiny, even if his fate seems to already be set.

Take my life, for example. Back in January, I was accepted to the University of Florida. Growing up, I always told myself that I was meant to be a Florida Gator. However, sometimes, what one thinks is meant to be really isn't. It was March when I recieved a letter from the International USY Offices with an information packet on Nativ, a program for first-year college students to spend their Freshman Year in Israel. Now, when I recieved this piece of mail, I was single and depressed, getting my only source of happiness from coaching basketball and partaking in late-night phone calls with a Las Vegas beauty queen named Brittany Zieglar. Since I'm the president of my USY Chapter, the Nativ application was free. So, just for the hell of it, I sent it in.

Then came the end of April, when I finally got back together with my girlfriend Melinda. Life was good, life was simple, and college was barely on my mind. Then, on the first of May, I got a postcard from the Nativ people telling me they recieved my application and that I needed to come in for an interview. From what I could tell, the interview went really well.

"Let me just get this straight: your dad is a rabbi and you're the President of your USY Chapter?"
"Yes, sir."
"Well, our decision shouldn't be too hard. We'll let you know."

This brings us now to the Monday of Senior Check-Out. I got home to find out that my father was offered a job at ASU working as a Professor as well as a Rabbi for the Hillel. The Manischewitz was out and we were having a good ole time when I noticed an envelope on the coffee table addressed to me from the International USY Offices.

As my dad, my mom, and my twin brother Darrin continued to celebrate, I was able to open the envelope unnoticed. I read the letter over and over again, until my mom finally noticed that I wasn't part of the celebration anymore.

"What is it, Michael?"
"It's from the Nativ people."
"What does it say?"

I took a deep breath before answering my father's question.

"I got in!"
"That's great, Michael!"
"I'm so proud of you, son! This calls for more Manischewitz!"

It was then that my younger brother JT and his boyfriend Josh walked through the front door.

"Oh, Manischewitz! What are we celebrating?"
"Well, my homosexual friends, we are celebrating two things. Number 1: Dad got the job at ASU, which means he is no longer unemployed. Number 2: Michael was accepted to the USY Nativ program, which is apparently what he wants to do with his first year of college. Now, do either of you gay people have any questions?"
"I have a comment."
"By all means, Josh. What is your comment?"
"My comment is that we should start blasting the Lady Gaga and have a PAR-TAY!"

We all stared at Josh.

"Yeah, Josh, I'm gonna have to say no on that one. But thanks anyway."

Josh looked disappointed. JT took him upstairs to console him.


The next day, I went to Melinda's house to tell her the good news.

"Yes, ma'am. Two semesters in the homeland of our people! Isn't it great?"
"It's a little farther than Gainseville."
"Yes it is. BUT, it's only for one school year."
"And then after?"

I got real close to her.

"We'll figure it out. All I know is that I love you and that this is something that I have to do. I thought that UF was a big deal, but this is the opportunity of a lifetime."
"I understand, and I love you too."

We kissed.

"You know that a school year is ten months."
"Which means you'll have to go ten months without sex. Can you handle that?"
"I'd go ten years without sex if it meant you were waiting for me on the other side."

We kissed again and then did exactly what we weren't gonna be able to do for ten months.

Two days later, it was Thursday, the day of my high school graduation. I was always told that my high school graduation would be a day that I would remember for the rest of my life, and I was sure that this was true. The first thing I remember about the day of my high school graduation is that my grandma flew in from Malibu. Her graduation gift to me: $100...and a box of condoms.

"Now, if this is anything like my graduation, you'll be feeling very emotional. This is so you and Melinda have a nice, safe way to let those emotions out."
"Uh, thanks."
"I remember the night that me and your grandfather graduated high school. He had to get brand new seats in the back of his car when we were done with it."

I didn't really know what to say to that, except:

"Good talk."

I proceeded to go upstairs and get my cap and gown on. The set was dark blue, and I looked damn good when I put it on. I stared at myself in the mirror for a long while before Darrin came into the room, wearing his own cap and gown.

"What time is it, Darrin?"
"About 5. We gotta get going pretty soon."
"Alright, give me a minute."

I looked at myself in the mirror again.

"Let's go graduate."
"After you."

I led the way downstairs.

We got to Deer Valley High School shortly after. Waiting outside the gymnasium was my best friend Ben.

"Hey, man!"

We hugged.

"Are you ready for this?"
"Ask me later, when it's over."

We both laughed.

"So, Nativ."
"Yes, sir. One year in Israel."
"Another year of Mac and Ben."
"And my weekends are free, Ben, so I can chill with you all the time!"
"Sounds like a great plan, dude."
"So have you talked to Sam?"
"I talked to her last night. I couldn't sleep."
"Did you tell her about your decision to join her out there yet?"
"I'm scared to, Mac."
"Because I've paid for my meal plan, signed up for housing, everything. And then she might say no about us."
"Is she giving you the hint that there's someone else?"
"No, and she always tells me she still loves me. Still, I just don't know."
"Obviously she wants you there, Ben. When do you start classes?"
"Monday. I'm leaving for Israel right after Convention."
"Wow, that's soon."
"Not soon enough, Mac. I wanna be with my girlfriend!"
"Speaking of girlfriends."

Melinda approached us wearing a white cap and gown set (at our school, men wear blue and women wear white).

"My boys, how did we get here?"
"I'll tell you how we got here. Ever since the sixth grade, the three of us have always stuck together. We've all been through a lot together, and no matter what, we've remained close. I couldn't have gotten through these years without the two of you. I love you guys."

We shared a group hug before our principal Mr. Roberts motioned us to go inside the gym. Once we were all seated, he began to speak.

"Well, Class of 2010, can you believe it? Four years, come and gone. This is the night that you have been anticipating since your very first day at Deer Valley High School, am I right?"

We all cheered.

"Now, if you look at the clock, you'll see that it is 6:40. This means that we have twenty minutes before we walk out onto that football field and begin the ceremony. Twenty minutes, and then the rest of your lives. This is your night, ladies and gentlemen. Take it all in, for this is the only time you will ever be graduating high school. With that said, please get into your lines. We will start walking out at 7:00."

We got into our lines, and as promised, we began walking out at 7:00. As long as I live, I'll never forget what it felt like to step onto that football field with the 500 other graduates, feeling more overwhelmed with every step I would take. Soon, we were in our rows and sitting down in our seats. Mr. Roberts made a speech about how awesome he thought we were (the same old shit that any principal would say at a graduation). Then our Student Body President Jack Upchuck and out Senior Class President Kim Gross made speeches about what it meant for them to be so involved in Deer Valley student life. And then came our valedictorian, Elizabeth "Frizzy Lizzy" Wales. I remember her speech the most.

"I remember my first day at Deer Valley High, back in Freshman Year. No one would be friends with me because, well, let's face it, I'm not the most attractive girl out there. But I found a home in the marching band, eventually becoming the drum major for two years. While I'm still not the most attractive girl out there, I have more confidence in myself than I ever did before just by having had such an important leadership opportunity. It made me realize that what people think of you now will mean nothing in ten years. You are who you are, and as the years go on, others will accept you as long as you accept yourself. I found my home while I was here at Deer Valley, and I'm about to find a new home within the band at Notre Dame University. I hope that all of you find homes as well as you go off into the world. Congratulations, Class of 2010!"

I had to give her props for giving such a great speech. I truly admired her for it.

Next it was time for us to have our names called at take our diplomas. The readers went through the list rather quickly, which was good because the Arizona heat was almost unbearable in the dark blue gowns. Before I knew it, my row was called up and I waited patiently for my name to be called.

"Michael Isaac Maccabbi."

I shook the hand of the assistant superintendant who was handing out the diplomas. After, I shook the hand of Mr. Roberts, and I exited the stage.

"Melinda Jolene Moskowitz."

I cheered loudly for my girl as she took the stage and grabbed her diploma. She smiled and winked at me as she shook Mr. Roberts' hand.

A little while later, I saw Ben's row get up and begin walking toward the stage.

"Benjamin Rudolph Sheiner."

I stood up and cheered.


He tried his best not to laugh as he shook hands with Mr. Roberts. Before long, the readers wer saying the final names.

"Carolyn Faye Wilcox."

I really wanted to boo when I heard the name of my ex-girlfriend-turned-sworn enemy.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Deer Valley High School Class of 2010!"

Fireworks went off and we tossed our hats as David Cook's "Time of my Life" played on the loudspeaker. There were hordes of people on the field, running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I was looking around, calling the name of the one person I wanted to see the most.

"Melinda! Melinda!"

I turned around to see that she was on the other side of the field. We ran to each other. Once we got close enough, I lifted her up off the ground and kissed her lips more passionately than I'd ever kissed them before.

"I love you so much!"
"I love you too! Congratulations, baby!"

We continued to kiss. Suddenly, we saw Ben. I hugged him as soon as I saw him and didn't wanna let go of my best friend. After he and I were done hugging, he hugged Melinda. I looked around at all my classmates and then saw one in particular from across the field.

Dara Karpen smiled and nodded, and I did the same. She was the first girl that had ever truly gained my heart, and our quick exhange of glances would be the last time I would ever lay my eyes on her.

When I looked away, she was gone, and I was back in the arms of the woman I loved, the one who I would always love. We kissed once more and then began walking toward the stands so our families could get pictures of us and Ben. We were the three muskateers, and we always would be. All for one and one for all.

After graduation would be Convention, and then after Convention would be the rest of our lives.