Phil and Miranda

by Joshua Kline


Northern Israel, Christmas Eve, 1988. Phil Kaiser, a Tulsa expatriate and soldier in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), has just been released from military prison. To celebrate, a friend invites him to a party on a Kibbutz. “He knocked on my door and said ‘come on out, I’ve got two volunteer girls, one for you and one for me,’” Phil remembers.

At the party, he is introduced to Miranda Brown, a beautiful 18 year-old British volunteer who’s found refuge from Thatcher’s tyrannical poll tax in the Promised Land.

“I didn’t realize I was just a hook-up,” Miranda says, all smiles and Anglo charm.

“He had wanted to hook up with the other girl, so he gave me the good-looking one,” Phil deadpans.

“I think I was very uninterested, but he said something about coming back to his apartment,” Miranda continues. “And you started giving me a massage and whispered something so that I couldn’t hear and so I had to turn my neck. And then you promptly put your tongue down my throat.”

Phil smiles. “That’s not how I remember it.”

Miranda continues her version of the story, not missing a beat. “And then you said ‘you wanna come see my rug?’”

“No, that was a different time.”

Their stories may differ, but there’s no self-service in the selective recall. Says Miranda: “He had to go back into the army and everything, and I think he thought when he came back I’d be out of his apartment, but I was pretty much still there. The one-night stand that would never leave.”

Their courtship lasted five years. Phil continued to serve in the military and would be gone for long periods; Miranda enjoyed her youth and traveled to France for six months (“I was missing him dreadfully, but that didn’t stop me from having some fun”).

Ultimately, Miranda found herself working in various factories to earn enough money to find her way back to Phil in Israel. Once back, the two moved in together. By 1993, marriage was a foregone conclusion.

“At that point, I said I didn’t want to get married ‘til I was thirty,” he says.

“But I wore him down,” she says.

“She wore me down,” he agrees.

One day, on their way to work, the couple drove by a diamond store that prompted another conversation about marriage. By the time they arrived at work, Phil and Miranda were engaged.

“I never got down on one knee,” he remembers. “It was more like ‘alright, alright.’”

The wedding provided foreshadowing for the kind of hilariously chaotic social exchanges the couple would eventually preside over as owners of a wildly popular internet bar/café (Jerusalem’s first) and, later, Tulsa’s Cosmo Café.

“It was a stupid, crazy wedding,” Miranda laughs. “My mom’s boobs fell out. She made out with the best man. My best girl slept with the best man, and then they wouldn’t talk to each other at the wedding. It was very awkward.”

“It was a fun wedding,” Phil confesses.