By Daniel Adler
I’m staying in Lisa and Yoni’s apartment in Central Tel Aviv. I sleep on the mirpasset, the sun room, the porch with the fifty year old metal shutters that keep out the elements. In the early morning I hear feral catfights, garbage trucks, and children laughing. I debate unzipping my sleeping bag to go to the bathroom, don’t, and go back to sleep. Near noon, I marvel at how well the children play; a nursery school is next door. I love sleeping on that mirpasset, and I’m sure I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. I’m very grateful to Lisa and Yoni.
Lisa is so sweet. She has curly blond tresses and gentle green eyes. She came to Israel two years ago after traveling around the world. She’s has to fend off the many Israelis who hit on her. It’s tough because Israeli men think American women are easy. There are few Israeli women with American men but there are lots of Israeli men with American women. When these men approach a woman they usually don’t leave until they get her phone number.
I used to be known as the Office Creep. I’d often make eyes at my friends flirtatiously, or goad them with an inappropriate comment. The Israeli men make me look like a teddy bear. Our friend who shall remain unnamed found a woman the other night on Shaker (a Facebook-based sex chat room) and went over to her house for the old one nighter. He may see her again, late one night when he needs her. He’s not too worried.
Lisa takes care of herself, practices positive energy (she loves Tony Robbins), cooks well, is intelligent (she works as a project manager for a pharmaceutical company facilitating drug marketing approvals (if a man she’s not really into approaches her she’ll say she’s a stewardess, just because it’s easier)), and dresses snazzily. She also knows what to expect when the Israelis hear her accented Hebrew.
I can imagine how she feels. Last week we went to Dizzy Frishdon on Sunday night for 40 shekel all-you-can-drink wine. Rocky met Max and me and we drank, talked about sex and ate the mini caprese salads that came with our wine. Rocky was a large woman, middle height, with sallow, leathery skin, and shoulder length hair. She smoked heavily and coughed deeply into her shoulder. Here a couple of our Israeli friends, Ziv and Yaron, who we met the previous night, came over to us and chatted. They returned to their party, at the back of the bar after we shared a few laughs. Since I’m on a strict budget, I intended to get my money’s worth of wine. And so, when Rocky touched my knee with her fingertips I didn’t bristle. Then I went to the bathroom, waded through the crowds, the hundreds of pretty, smart, and lonely Israelis. I chatted up a few, but they were two and I was one; it wasn’t going anywhere. I returned and I could see it in Rocky’s eyes. “We were talking about you,” she said.” “What did you say?” “I want to have birthday sex.” Her mom, she had told us, had cautioned her not to fuck an Israeli, knowing their savagery and the fact that HIV is on the rise among Tel Aviv heterosexuals. So it was Max or me.
Could I have Rocky on my beloved mirpasset, my delicious sun porch–could I wake up and see her in the morning, spilling out of my sleeping bag? I needed the help of my Israeli friends. “Should I do it?” I asked. They laughed, “Yeah man, it’s good experience.” But I could see in their eyes that they pitied me. She came over and asked, “Did you get the key?” “Max has it,” I dawdled. I asked Max for it in a momentary lapse of judgment, between the alcohol, Rocky’s pressure, and general abstinence, and the memory of Idit fresh in my mind…I’m only human. “Fuck no. You think I’m giving you the key to fuck Rocky on my cousin’s mirpasset while she and Yoni are in the next room? Is this a joke?” I woke from my bibulous dream. I pulled Max outta there and we left Rocky smoking with some Israelis, never to be seen again. The next morning on the mirpasset I was alone and happy.
I know how the American women feel when they’re approached by Israelis. As Lisa said last night, “It’s a balance between persistent flattery and playing hard to get.” If more men (and women) kept this in mind, it would be better for Lisa’s sake and for mine. And it might even help me sleep better at night.