This is the story of the most utterly surreal event to ever happen to me thus far. Will it remain the most surreal? I certainly hope not.
The time was July of 2008. I was fresh out of high school, ready to go out and explore the world, yearning for adventure. I found myself in, of all places, a shoe store. Exciting! Ah, I can tell there is doubt at this last statement. A shoe store, exciting? Why yes. For a naive young American, any location in the holy city of Jerusalem, Israel was most exciting.
I had been in the ancient city for a scant few days, perhaps as little as one, and my feet were hurting, as they were wont to due. In desperate need of relief, my godmother and momentary guardian brought me to a little store on the edges of the Old City. It was here that I did what any right-minded person in need of comfort but content with their shoes would do: I tried on insoles.
That's when it happened. Another customer came in, sat down next to me and, as customers are wont to do, began to try on shoes. So there I was, a naive young American, trying on insoles, sitting next to another customer-- a costumer dressed head-to-toe in black fatigues, sporting pieces of bullet-proof armor, web-gear, etc., etc. But so what? I've gone into stores dressed far more strangely than that (a particular point of interest was the 'robe in the Subway' incident. Ah, good times). I have not, however, entered into a store bearing an assault rifle on my back.
So there I was, a naive young American, trying on insoles, sitting next to a battle-hardened member of the Israeli Defense Force, decked out in full commando gear... and trying on shoes.