Miss Too Pretty and Her Defiant Responses

Harold Goldstein

My friend Celia's sister has a granddaughter who decided to become a doctor. She is slender and dark-haired, and altogether too pretty to be a doctor, but you know how young people are: there's nothing you can do with them when they get a bee in their bonnet. So Lauren went to medical school.

At the end of her first year in medical school she went to Israel for her vacation, and ended up at a kibbutz in the Negev desert, where Moses and the Jews wandered for 40 years. The kibbutz is on the Jordanian border, near Eilat, in the far south of Israel. It happens to be on one of the main flight paths for birds migrating seasonally between Europe and Africa, and so in addition to growing crops the kibbutz plays host to bird-watchers from all over the world. So Lauren helped with he crops, helped with the bird-watchers, and also found time to meet a young man of the kibbutz in whom she got interested.

One day, as she and two other women were picking fruit in the orchard, they were accosted by a Jordanian soldier who had wandered across the border. He tried to take them into custody, but the other two women ran away, and when Lauren tried to run he shot her. He then dragged her into a shed used to store tools in the orchard, where he stopped to figure out what to do next.

The bullet had gone through Lauren's neck. Being a medical student, as she lay on the dirt floor she ran through in her mind all the vital body parts that go through the neck, and started to check what the damage might be, taking her pulse, moaning in a high and a low pitch to test her vocal cords, and moving her feet to see whether the spinal cord was damaged.

The Jordanian army post had already called the nearest Israeli army post to say that one of their men, who had gone out of his head, had crossed the border into Israel, and please catch him and return him unharmed, if possible. So when the kibbutz's alarm call came it told the Israeli army where to look for the man, and soon a jeepful of soldiers arrived. They approached the shed in the orchard and warned the Jordanian to come out unarmed. When he came out with rifle in hand, they shot him and killed him, and ran in to rescue his victim.

Miss Too Pretty was taken to a hospital in Eilat, and her parents in New Jersey were called. They immediately made reservations on a flight to Israel. The State Department responded to the emergency with quick passport renewal. At the international airport in Israel they caught a flight to Eilat, and, arriving there, they rushed to the hospital. The doctors told them that the bullet had missed all the vital organs in her neck, coming a hair's breadth from the spinal cord, and that she would survive. Approaching their daughter's bed they found her smiling to see them, but there was one jarring note: out from under the bed was sticking a hairy leg. The rest of the owner of the leg crawled out: it was Lauren's young man, who had accompanied her to the hospital to take care of her, and had not been given any other place to sleep.

Lauren's father wrote to the family of the Jordanian soldier, sending condolences on the death of their son.

Some time later, Lauren's parents and grandmother went to Israel to attend a bang-up wedding the kibbutz put on for Miss Too Pretty and Mr. Hairy Leg. Lauren found that she could arrange to take her last three years of medical training in Tel Aviv and get credit for it at her New York medical school. When finished, she began a practice in pediatrics, working out of the kibbutz, and they later moved to a town between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

At this point in history, every Jewish child who is born anywhere in the world is not only a joy to the parents, but in a profound sense he or she is a response--a defiant response, a fist shaken under the nose--of Adolf Hitler, who did his efficient best to exterminate the race. Miss Too Pretty has four Defiant Responses, two girls, two boys, proving that Mr. Hairy Leg doesn't always sleep under the bed.