As we enter the spring season, I’m entering my own personal season of greater understanding of Israeli culture and my own reaction to it. As you may recall, in my last column I swore up and down that I was done with dating Israelis for the foreseeable future, and was going to move on exclusively to Anglos. In this dating pool, I reasoned I could expect mutual understanding of cultural norms.
Well, good thing I said ‘bli neder’ because about two weeks later, I suddenly found myself dating 4 (!!) Israelis at once. In my defense, a few of them did have an Anglo parent. (And yes, I quadruple booked, but that’s a subject for another column.) In an ironic twist, two of the sabras, who I actually liked the best out of the lot, happened to have the same name. More about Mr. X Aleph and Mr. X Bet a little later. Let’s dispense with dudes 3 and 4, shall we?
#3 taught me a great lesson: Do not date your service professionals. Yes, they are Jewish. Yes, the are often quite good looking and melt your halvah. But at the end of the yom, you can’t really call them on their bad service. Such was the case with my gardener, a hot and steamy soul. He assessed my flowerbed needs, and we ended up with a date for that Thursday eve. (A quick digression: Doesn’t the rhythm of that sentence make it sound almost like a limerick?) Ahem, where was I? Anyhoo, the problem was that he didn’t do a great job with the garden. Normally I would tell him so immediately and ask for some sort of redo/refund. Not in this case. I didn’t want to stamp on the burgeoning shoots of blooming love (har), so I stifled the impulse to scream and reluctantly paid for someone else to fix it. Unfortunately, our date spectacularly imploded. I allowed him to come over to the apartment (my first mistake – he should have taken me out).At my refusal, 10 minutes in, to drink from his economy sized jug of vodka and Red Bull and then engage in questionable acts, he picked his grassy butt up and flounced out to raise hell with his friends, leaving me with an open mouth – and a large bill.
Lesson learned. #4 was a more serious soul, intent on getting married. However, we had a slight issue with time. Admittedly, I did cancel our 1st date on the day of. (What can I say, I was busy. And exhausted – I wanted to give him my full attention. Okay, it wasn’t cool.) Still, when we were into the planning of our 4th date, I couldn’t understand why he called me on Friday afternoon right before Shabbos, and expected me to break my plans with friends coming in from Tel Aviv, in order to go out with him Motzei Shab. In the Anglo world, this demonstrates his lack of seriousness and that he couldn’t find anyone better to go out with. However, as was eventually explained to me by a friend, his expectation was actually quite normal in the Israeli dating world and my refusal to go out with him immediately demonstrated my lack of seriousness. That was quite the wake-up call, let me tell you. In any case, we’re no longer seeing each other (he buggered off after date 4, never to be seen again), so let’s move on to the Mr. X’s – Aleph and Bet.
I met Aleph in the King David Hotel Bar. Things started out promisingly, with great chemistry. We went to dinner! We went to parks! It was an intense week. The problem was that we kept misunderstanding each other and began arguing every five minutes. He finally explained to me that the language appeared to be a problem and it would probably be better if we spoke in Hebrew rather than English, since his expressions (such as “Shut up!” which is apparently humorous in the Hebrew lexicon) sounded too harsh in English. This was doable since I’m basically fluent. However, when we continued bickering like an old married couple, I decided we knew each other for far too short a time to have passed the honeymoon period. So it was shalom to Aleph!
And now: Bet. I was so excited about him, an Israeli that hung with an American crowd. We were friends since I first arrived in Israel. The Heavens parted and he finally asked me out. Everything was going swimmingly until he revealed himself to be what I like to call the ‘Sensitive Poet’ type of Israeli. Somehow we always ended up talking about his ex-girlfriends. He continually complained about his problems. Still, we had fun, he was religious and nice, and I was willing to wait these things out. Suddenly, however, on the eve of date #4, he sent me an Instant Message that he was nervous and stressed about us. What if we were seeing each other too much? What if we didn’t work out? As he went on, he didn’t ask me a word about how I was feeling. It was as if the words ‘BAD MOVE’ were blinking at me from a marquee in Times Square, Piccadilly Circus or similar. Not only was I surprised by what he was saying, but I could not believe the conversation was happening over IM. All of the boo-hooing finally coalesced into a cloud of righteous indignation and I found myself grossed out by him. Rather than being taken care of by a manly man, I was mothering a starving artist type who sobbed often in his Parisian garret. In my head, we were pretty much done.
We didn’t see each other for a few days. Suddenly he asked if he could come over to ‘tawk.’ I reluctantly acquiesced, sitting as far away from him on the couch as possible. He grasped me firmly on the knee and asked what I thought about ‘us.’ What us? I told him that it appeared I wasn’t sensitive enough for him, and he needed someone else who would more happily and sympathetically listen to his frequent complaints. Plus, I informed him, I didn’t really dig the IM action. He said he agreed that we weren’t ‘communicating’ well. Plus, I was too American and not earthy enough for him, I wanted to go out rather than stay in all the time, and not a few minutes before, I had demonstrated my lack of hippie sensibility and ability to go with the flow when a bug wandered into my living room and I wasn’t exactly jazzed about it. Sabbaba. After a tearful scene (har), we parted as ‘friends,’ and he was ushered out of my life.
So that’s the sage of my 4 Israelis. I’m currently back to square one, which is “Next Stop, Angloville”? I hope so. However, both Mr. X Aleph and Bet are sniffing around again, telling me they ‘miss me.’ Am I daring, or rather stupid enough, to go there again? Doubtful. In any case, stay tuned!