Amal likes the moving walkways in the airport. Newspaper stands and coffee shops float by. Travelers in a hurry whoosh past us. I feel woozy when I see the people on the other conveyor-belt walkway, so close to ours, moving in the opposite direction. Amal rests her head on my shoulder as we cruise slowly through the terminal, a bit tired and disheveled from the flight. I gaze at the people drifting along in the other direction. The rubber handrails of the two walkways almost touch.
I see a man in a black suit and payis dangling from under his black hat gliding toward us. His dark beard makes him look about forty but he’s probably only thirty. He is staring blankly through his little glasses. He is alone. I see no sheitled woman at his side. No fellow yeshiva bochurs. He has a stuffed black garment bag at his feet. His hand rests on the rubber rail.
Whenever I see another Jew in a secular setting, I mean a Jew who is obviously a Jew, I want to say hello. Let them know I am Jewish too, even though I don’t look it. I am wearing grungy pants. I have short hair. My girlfriend’s head is resting on my shoulder. But still, I feel we have something in common. Me and this yeshiva bochur. I want to show him the silver ring on my finger that has a Hebrew phrase etched into it: Gam zeh ya’avor. This too shall pass. I know what you’re about. I get it.
The walkway brings him closer. I reach out a bit and let my hand graze his as we pass each other. He is jolted out of his haze and I see him, frantic, looking over his shoulders as we continue in opposite directions.
What a rush.
Amal sees the worried bochur and my little grin. What’d you do that for?
Just wanted to fuck with his head.