Cons of taking a very short trip to Israel for your cousin’s bar mitzvah:
1. You will learn that the story you have been told about your grandfather and how during his time in prison he carved the image below in sandstone with his fingernails is a total lie—
—because in fact he used a pin.
2. When, two hours after the bar mitzvah and the light lunch following it, you start feeling hunger pangs that escalate before long into agonizing cramps, and eventually your aunt insists that they take you to an emergency room because you might have appendicitis, and your Israeli uncle calls the Israeli version of 911, and the ambulance shows up and all the way to the hospital attractive Israelis keep telling you in English to breathe more slowly and calmly, and you try but that just makes it hurt worse, and you get to the emergency room and they spend twelve hours injecting fluids and taking X-rays and CT scans and putting a nasogastric tube into your stomach through your nose, which makes it very difficult for you not to vomit, and your father maintains a very funny and informative running monologue on the history of the United States presidency so that you don’t have to speak, and finally at two in the morning your stomach isn’t hurting anymore but they say they want to keep you in the hospital for a day or two just to be safe, but you’re not allowed to take the nasogastric tube out in case they need to do more things with it in the morning, and as soon as you’re alone you rip it out anyway because you would rather go through the unpleasantness of having another nasogastric-tube insertion the next day than sleep with the nasogastric tube in, because in fact you would rather peel your skin off to the accompaniment of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing a cover of “It’s Raining Men” than sleep with the nasogastric tube in, and when the nurse sees that you’ve removed the nasogastric tube she looks darkly at you and mutters scary-sounding things in Hebrew—well, when these things happen, the absolutely gorgeous intern who shows up to tell you you have a bowel intussusception and you’ll be absolutely fine will say, “If anybody asks you whether you’ve had a rectal exam, just tell them you have, because it’s two-thirty in the morning and I’m just not up for that right now.”