“Schmoke,” says the Israeli firmly, with that delicious pronunciation of the Yiddish word schmuck, which comes originally from the German for jewel, but, by reducing the man to his ‘jewel’, his procreative parts, renders him ridiculous, a putz, somebody who should know better, much better, not an idiot exactly, because not stupid, but something worse than an idiot, a kind of schvantz. Which is like calling a dog “a tail”.
“Nu, very interesting, schmoke,” says the Israeli, not interested at all. “People do not buy an idea, no matter how ingenious. You have an ingenious idea, that’s wonderful, mazal tov. We are happy for you, your idea is the idea of a genius. There’s no question, genius idea, wonderful, we love it, honestly, we love the idea. But to sell an idea….” he stretches the phrase out, drawing out “sell”, watching you lean forward. He waits, taking his time, to emphasize his point and to emphasize that he’s a successful salesman talking to a schmoke.
“Fucking Israeli,” you say, but it’s worse than saying nothing, really, because you actually said nothing.
“You do not sell the idea. Only a schmoke thinks you can sell an idea. An idea, it’s like a flavor, a gas, a color, you can’t hold it in your hand, you can’t touch it. An idea you can’t sell. You can only sell the implementation of an idea, the system for delivering some version of the idea. If you don’t realize that by now you have been trying to put together the wrong puzzle, I’m sorry to tell you.”
“Fucking Israeli,” you think, but the guy makes an excellent point. Worse, he knows he makes an excellent point.
“People don’t invest in you because you’ve got a brilliant idea, trust me. They don’t really care about the idea at all until they read about how it’s been put into practice, until some other genius explains, in a prestigious journal, how you managed to take this genius concept and actually put it into practice. Took this amazing thing you imagined and made it real in the world so every idiot could point to it and say– hey, look at that amazing thing! I need that! Think of that schmoke Steve Jobs, the fucking genius Jesus of Technology they are making all these movies about. His idea, I put all your two thousand long-playing records on something so sleek you can fit between the cheeks of your ass, the sound is better than your fancy quadrophonic stereo, I’ll put ten thousand albums on it, I’ll put fifteen thousand albums, and movies too, and a hundred of your photo albums. If he can’t deliver it and make you pay whatever he tells you you have to pay — you never heard of Steve Jobs, I guarantee. I hate that schmoke, personally, but you have to recognize what he did. It wasn’t the ideas themselves, though they were smart ideas, things nobody thought of before, but the way he delivered them.”
He leans forward and pours another round from the bottle on the low glass table. Under the table polished tiles glow in the golden light of the small city holy to three major world religions.
“I don’t call you a schmoke to mock you, please understand. I say it with love, or at least with rachmunis. It’s hard to have integrity in a world like this, OK, almost impossible. You want to live as a man with integrity, better be very rich. If you are very rich, you can have as much integrity as you like. If not, well, I’m very sorry to be the one to have to tell you this, and I know it will not go down smooth, like that scotch you brought over here– and I thank you, it was a wonderful thing to do and I hope you will do it every time you come see me– I’m sorry to break this fartlike news to you– you say ‘breaking wind’ right, it’s a fart?– but the working man has only the integrity of doing his work well. Ideas can be terrific, but they are not the same as work. Work is what you have to do to make your idea real. If you can show me the thing that is in your head, or better yet, have somebody else show it to me, a very beautiful girl delivering perfectly the excellent script you wrote for her, then we can do business.”
“Otherwise,” he looks for a second at the caramel colored liquid catching the light in his glass, “please, don’t waste my time.” He tilts back his glass in the Jerusalem sunset and savors his drink. He closes his eyes, smiles, shakes his head as if he can’t believe it. “Oh, Jesus Christ and Jesus of Technology, this is good whisky and you are a very nice guy, even if you are, also, and I mean this in the best possible way, a complete fucking schmoke.”
What did you think you were going to hear, schmoke?