Call of the Kodiak


Some people experience a phenomenon wherein they feel a sudden, inexplicable urge to step off the edge of a cliff, or jump from a bridge they are crossing. This was cleverly named High Place Phenomenon. Or, if you have even an ounce of adventure in you, the Call of the Void, from French “l’appel du vide”. The French term covers more than just the urge that strikes when in high places – it can be any foolish rush into danger, such as an urge to jump onto the tracks as a train approaches. Also, it doesn’t translate as High Place Phenomenon, so there’s that.

I’ve just asked my cousin, Dahvid, if he’s ever experienced the Call of the Void – after explaining to him what it meant, he instantly began nodding and responded with “Aaaaaall the time.”

Personally, I don’t get this urge. Whereby I mean that I do not experience it myself, not that I don’t understand it. I grock it; I just don’t get it. I get other suicidal urges, which I call Stupid Decision Phenomenon – or the much cooler sounding Call of the Kodiak, from French “l’appel du kodiak”. The Call of the Kodiak is the urge to ‘poke the bear’, as exhibited quite stupendously by the main character in the following tale…


I had just finished my three-year long service in the Israeli military, and was out celebrating with my best friend, Gabe. We’d had dinner at a phenomenal tea-shop/restaurant, and the following hours of wandering around Jerusalem had led us to the scene of this story – a badly lit park (read: grassy area with a few trees). We were listening to some music as we talked about the book we were writing together, as well as bouncing around other book ideas. Also, Gabe had a two-liter bottle of coke with him, and a full bottle of rum, and some plastic cups. So, all par for the course thus far.

As a super fantastic cover of Mombasa (from the Inception soundtrack) comes on for the eighth time (having been put on repeat for our brainstorming session), we notice two approaching figures in gray army fatigues. The police.

In short order we are informed by an extremely cranky individual that drinking alcohol in the park is not legal, as they say. We are then asked for identification. Gabe pulls out his choger (army ID), and I pull out mine. Except that, as of that afternoon, I was no longer in the army, and as such my choger had been scissored in half five or six hours prior. I held one half of it as a keepsake – fortunately, it was the half with my photo. After verifying that she couldn’t arrest us and take us to the nearest station (she looked quite put out at this, I must tell you), she tells us we have to put the rum into our bag and vacate the premises, going directly home. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Or, she says, daring us to take her up on it, we could come with her back to the station.

We ask her if we could just leave, and go somewhere else. She repeated that we actually had to go straight home. Her partner was hanging back, but she looked like she was a few short words from pulling out her handcuffs and making a couple arrests. Gabe zips up my backpack, rum secured within, and slings it over his shoulder. He jerks his head in the direction of the street, and mouths “Let’s go.” It looks like we’re going to get out of there with nothing more than an unpleasant interruption to our night.

So, of course, I say (translated from Hebrew), “But how would you know whether or not we actually go home, as opposed to just going to another park or something?”


In no universe was that a smart thing to say. I remember thinking it in my head before speaking, and laughing inwardly as I told myself that would be an incredibly stupid thing to do. And then I said it anyway, because I just had to poke the bear.

It happens every time I get pulled over for TSA baggage check and questioning (you know, because I look like the most suspicious and intimidating individual there is). They’ll be removing things from my luggage, asking me if I packed everything myself, if anybody gave me anything to pack, if I was there when everything was packed, etcetera. And I’ll be about one alternate reality away from blurting out “MY STEP-FATHER GAVE ME A KINDLE TO TAKE TO THE STATES, NOW WHAT?” You don’t actually have to tell them that! That’s very clearly not what they’re looking for!

My mother used to love telling me about how, when I was a kid, I had to push every button I saw – which I assume is normal for kids. She especially liked to emphasize that I also always had to push her buttons. This led to many a fight, and many an escalation of said fights. I still enjoy pushing actual, physical buttons (who doesn’t?), but I’m not a kid anymore.

I’ve graduated to poking bears.

This is something I’ve specifically been working on since that night in the park, and I would like to have it under control before I find myself in real trouble and GET EATEN BY A BEAR.

I don’t think I was going anywhere with this, but if I was, I’ve forgotten where. I’ve always had a terrible sense of direction.