Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 11, 2004 / 21 Nissan, 5764

Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Sister's family loves its piece of the rock | My sister lives on a 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?

You might ask what my sister is doing living on a rock. I asked the same thing during a visit last week. This was once I actually reached my sister's house, which is located near the runway.

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.

Donate to JWR

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.

By the way, while I was there, I asked a tour guide, who was British, how her ancestors claimed the place. She said, and I am paraphrasing here, "They actually sailed over to attack Spain, and they tried to take Barcelona, but they failed. On their way home, they said, 'We shouldn't go back empty-handed.' So they saw Gibraltar and decided, 'Blimey, let's lob a few cannonballs at that thing and see what happens.'"

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.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Mitch Albom's column by clicking here. You may purchase his latest book, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven", by clickingHERE. (Sales help fund JWR.)


03/18/04: North and South meet at Western Michigan
03/15/04: Hockey could stop fighting in a heartbeat
03/08/04: Yeah, right, downsizing food is the answer
03/01/04: Lord of the Geeks
02/17/04: Want to get hitched? Not so fast, pal
02/09/04: Beatlemania still resonates
01/26/04: Fine, you have 110 percent of our respect
01/20/04: The sanctity of wasting our money
12/29/03: Anyone remember a concept called 'childhood'?
12/22/03: The I's have it
12/15/03: Life's brilliant on the other side of the pond
12/08/03: Squeezed by the politics of business
11/24/03: Celebs' misdeeds will make great tales for the grandkids
11/10/03: The butler did it! (But do we care?)
10/27/03: Parsley, sage, rosemary and time
10/13/03: The Kobe case: There are no winners
10/07/03: Tough choices in the not-so-amazing race
11/05/02: Everything is a billboard, even the cops
10/29/02: Nowhere to hide ... even at 40,000 feet
10/22/02: The pen isn't mightier than good sense
10/15/02: We turn our serial killers into celebrities
10/02/02: In Minnesota Vikings star receiver's view, he's king, you're dirt
09/26/01: The feds don't feel their pain
09/18/01: Some cling to life, others give it away
09/12/01: Worshipping a false 'Idol'
11/14/01: Patriotism is no excuse for stupidity
10/30/01: Dr. Dre: champ for First Amendment!
10/23/01: Terror is sugar-free
10/16/01: The army of the in-between
10/11/01: New war begins with delivery of darkness
10/08/01: Give peace a chance?
10/01/01: If this is supposed to make us feel secure, it isn't working
09/28/01: And our flag is still there
09/26/01: On the road to Ohio, life's little joys return
09/25/01: Our challenge: Not to change who we are
09/17/01: We can learn plenty from the horror
08/31/01: Back to school: Revenge of the boomers
08/22/01: The price of connectedness
08/16/01: An anniversary without celebration
07/31/01: Wanna name my kid? Pay me a cool Mil' --- OK, a half-mil'
07/25/01: Hey, there's no television on my ice floe!
07/10/01: When nobody knew what a Heisman was
07/02/01: Business opportunities for the empathy-impaired
06/25/01: Bunker mentality: At least Archie's meanness was satire
06/18/01: Famous fathers, eat your hearts out
06/05/01: 'No comment' on Bush twins is hard to swallow
05/30/01: Veteran scratches out the hatred
05/22/01: O.J.'s genius
05/15/01: No more kidding around
05/01/01: Haunted by the past
04/16/01: Before you file that extension...
04/11/01: Ever want to break an airport agent's neck? This guy did!
04/03/01: The best role models aren't on TV
03/19/01: 'March madness' is aptly named
03/07/01: I'm sorry, I apologize, I beg your forgiveness
03/05/01: Young fans' web sites become a Big Harry deal

© 2003 DFP