Are missiles messing with your love life?

by Brian on November 5, 2023

in In the News,Living Through Terror,War in Gaza

I don’t want to in any way trivialize the horrors of Hamas’s appalling pogrom on Simchat Torah. But as the initial shock recedes and the war proceeds apace, rockets remain a constant, whether from Gaza, Lebanon or further afield.

And, frankly, missiles are messing with my love life. 

True, the human sex drive is strong, but the fear of getting hot and heavy and then hearing the dreaded siren outside your window and having to hustle to get to the safe room – hopefully fully dressed if your shelter is a communal one rather than a private protected room inside your home – well, let’s just say it’s not exactly an aphrodisiac. And how do get in the mood when your mind is filled with thoughts of our soldiers on the front lines, our dead and kidnapped?

This is part of the “hidden” side of war that no one wants to talk about but that’s on everyone’s minds – the way actions that would have seemed mundane on October 6 are now triggers for anxiety. 

Here are ten ordinary activities that are now anything but.

  1. Taking a shower. Anything that involves taking your clothes off is a risk these days. If a siren sounds while you’re under the water, do you rush out as fast as you can and head to the safe room in a towel? Or do you stay in the shower and hope that the statistics are with you. (“It couldn’t possibly hit my specific house.”) Are your showers shorter now than they used to? Who would have imagined we’d have to check the headlines before deciding if this is a safe window for bathing?
  2. Walking the dog. Our pets need us to care of their needs. But a stroll around the block could be interrupted by missiles. A leisurely walk is now punctuated with thoughts of “Where’s the closest shelter?” and “Could I duck into that building’s stairwell?” Our poor puppy has not been getting his usual exercise.
  3. Driving anywhere. Sometimes you have to go beyond your immediate neighborhood. In response, there are numerous “guides” (like this one) offering helpful instructions on what to do if you’re in your car and a siren sounds: Get as far away from your car as you can, crouch low near a building, embankment, or drainage ditch, and cover your head and face with your hands for 10 minutes. I think I’d rather just stay close to home and walk the dog.
  4. Going to sleep. What used to be a respite is now a source of fear. I get into bed and imagine sirens waking me in the middle of the night. Is it prudent to sleep in your clothes? What about socks? Shoes? I’ve had to double my cocktail of sleeping meds to get through this period, which makes me even more anxious: If I’m so drugged out, will I be able to make it to the shelter without stumbling?
  5. Sitting on the toilet. If, in the before-times, my biggest concern was “How long will I need to sit here for something to happen?” Now, it’s “How fast can I get this out?” This is how the mundane becomes ripe with the stench of fear. 
  6. Synagogue and simchas. Prior to October 7, the biggest question about attending synagogue was, “Should I wear a mask or not?” Now it’s, “Can all the people in shul fit into its tiny safe room if a missile is launched?” Similarly, when we were invited to a brit milah in friends’ backyard, the hosts cautioned there’s no shelter, so if any guests don’t feel comfortable, they shouldn’t come. 
  7. Eating. Do you accept a Shabbat invitation if the hosts have no protected space nearby? Is it safe to go out to eat (at the few restaurants that are still open), or should you order take-out? How do you time breakfast so, if there’s a siren, the granola won’t go soggy?
  8. Dental work. I have a dentist appointment in a few weeks. If the war’s not over by then, do I keep it? It’s just for a cleaning, but the photo my dentist posted to social media of a man in the midst of getting a cavity filled ensconced in the building’s shelter, suggests I may want to postpone.
  9. Reading the news. As an admitted news junkie, I read three to four publications regularly. That used to be a joy. No more. Reading the news before bed is a guarantee for nightmares. My wife, Jody, has eschewed reading the news at all; I decided not to look at pictures and video, but even text descriptions set my imagination on fire. Social media is no better – is that a picture of a loved one who was murdered? Is that an announcement of a funeral or shiva? Do I recognize the name?
  10. Locking down. This is not about missiles per se but it’s another casualty of war. We’ve long locked the front door when we turn in for the night. Now we’ve added the windows, the exit to the terrace, anything that faces the outside. Are terrorists going to rappel up our building and break into our apartment? Unlikely. But nothing these days runs according to logic. We used the peep hole on our front door even before the war; now it’s a matter of life or death. 

We all need to poop, eat, sleep, walk the dog, have sex and get our teeth cleaned – now all sources of stress. But we should be grateful for our good fortune: mundane annoyances are far better than the horrific alternative. 

I first lamented the loss of the mundane at The Jerusalem Post.

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

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