With nearly every visit home comes the crucial reminder that few things are predictable. It’s a necessary jolt, too. After spending a certain number of years in the same incestuous place, it’s easy to assume you know things A to Z; that you can somehow anticipate the types of conversations you’ll have, and with whom, at the local bar. But you can’t accurately forecast much in life. Like the odds, for instance, of meeting a conscripted Israeli soldier in the dining room of a Connecticut restaurant occupied by fewer than 10 people.
Lucas and I spoke for about 20 minutes Monday night, mostly about his choice to serve a compulsory three-year sentence in the military despite living in America and being technically free to abstain. He couldn’t have been older than 25 or 26, yet he said his primary motivation was patriotism. This notion – that a young person would make any significant life decision based on his country – stunned me. Probably because, for many people my age, patriotism was a dirty word until last November. Still, Lucas said he valued the principle of serving his country, and also offered some advice for my trip.
Curiously, he said the most important investment I could make (besides Imodium) was a fake diamond ring.
“It’s an aggressive culture,” he said. “A woman without a ring – especially an uncovered woman – is basically available.”
Not sure I’ll heed this, but it’s an interesting thought.