Jewish World Review April 11, 2004 / 21 Nissan, 5764
Sister's family loves its piece of the rock
I am not being cute here. I am not being coy. I am being geographically - and geologically - correct.
My sister lives on a rock.
It is a big rock, sticking out of the ocean - actually two oceans, one on each side - actually, one is an ocean, and one is a sea - and it is also between two continents. Well, actually, one continent is attached. The other is just across the water. One is Europe. The other is Africa. My sister is American.
This explains her slightly confused personality.
The rock, by the way, is called Gibraltar. Perhaps you have heard of it. It was, for much of history, of no interest to anyone. It stood there, in the middle of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, until the year 711, when a former slave claimed it for his own. I would imagine there wasn't much resistance, seeing as former slaves don't usually have much to work with.
Anyhow, the guy's name was Tariq, and he named the place after himself. According to history, eventually, people began pronouncing it "Gibraltar." This, of course, sounds nothing like "Tariq." Then again, it's a rock. What's it gonna do? Sue?
A RUNWAY OR A STREET?
Yes, the runway. As in planes. Planes land on the rock. Two planes a day. They come in from London and land around the same time. Why they just don't put everyone on one plane and wave "Ta ta!" is beyond me.
But this is no more confusing than the runway itself, which, when it is not actually, you know, having planes land on it, is pretty much a street. People go back and forth on it. Kids ride bicycles. Then, when planes come in, a red light flashes and one of those mechanical arms comes down, and the people yawn and watch the plane land in front of them as if watching a cat run across the floor.
Then the arm lifts, and they continue on their way.
My sister lives underneath the planes, at the base of the rock, a stone's throw from Spain and a healthy swim from Africa. Of course, living in Gibraltar, she is neither in Spain nor in Africa. She is in England. That's because 300 years ago, the British captured the rock. Never mind that the closest fish 'n' chips place was 1,000 miles away. Gibraltar is British. Its people speak Spanish. And my sister is American.
You can see why I am concerned for her children.
IT'S BETTER THAN NOTHING
This stuff never makes it into the history books.
Anyhow, the handful of Spaniards then living in Gibraltar probably heard the explosions and figured, "Good Lord. Can't a guy get some peace and quiet on a rock?" Then the building next door blew up and they said, "Whoops. Gotta go!"
And Gibraltar became British.
It has been that way for 300 years now, which doesn't make the Spanish very happy. They want it back. But England says no. I figure the Brits want to own at least one piece of land where the sun actually shines.
Even if it is a rock.
Anyhow, it's a fascinating place, and I haven't even told you about the apes that roam freely and eat your ice cream cones. As for my sister, well, she has a good life, as do her husband and their kids, as long as they remember that important lesson Mom always taught us: Never walk across the runway when the light is red.
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03/18/04: North and South meet at Western Michigan