I am forced out of the writer’s block – nothing to do with all the matzo I have been consuming this Passover – afflicting me recently by “Opinionated” Avi (who has already received mention on melchett mike: see The Israeli).
Yesterday morning, Avi, over hafuch (latte) at ‘our’ kiosk on Rothschild Boulevard, proceeded to tell me, my friend Dalia, and in fact everyone at the kiosk – Avi can add hardness of hearing to a long list of shortcomings – that, from a purely aesthetic point of view, I am “no metzia” (Yiddish for “bargain” or “real find”), and that, basically, I should take the first girl that will have me. She would be happy, he bellowed, to take a lawyer – and relative financial security – over good looks. Well, thanks mate!
Now this advice was not sought, you understand. And especially not from Avi, who is in his fifties, single, unemployed (though he claims to trade stocks from home), and wears jeans that would comfortably house a (plumpish) family of four. In fact, Avi’s selling point on dates is that he doesn’t live with his mother.
Two Saturday mornings ago, in Ha’Tachtit – our “Shabbes café” – Avi was “shooting off” to me and another kiosk friend, Yuval, about the reasons for the collapse of the British Pound. In a sequence reminiscent of the wonderful “movie line” scene in Annie Hall – when Woody brings out the Canadian media theorist, Marshal McLuhan, to confront an idiot pontificating about his work – another opinionated native appeared from nowhere, telling Avi that he had no idea what he was talking about. Yuval and I wanted to kiss him!
In a desperate attempt to save face – and knowing full well that the heroic stranger would never collect – Avi offered to bet with him on the performance of the Pound over the next twelve months. But the damage had been done, leaving Yuval and me sniggering like a pair of naughty schoolboys.
But Avi is merely an extreme (and somewhat unfortunate) case. Everyone here loves to give advice. Even Yuval, who is relatively laid back for “the species”, often begins sentences with “Ata yodeya ma ha’ba’aya shelcha . . .” (“You know what your problem is . . .”) But, as I keep reminding him, “I didn’t f*cking ask!”
Israelis like to think of themselves as psychologists, or, at the very least, life coaches. And they don’t let the lack of any formal training get in the way. Five and a half million dysfunctional Jews telling each other how to live!
I have just returned from a “Shabbes café” date with a woman (a cool one, for once) who complained how one particular guy – sitting a few tables away (it is all very incestuous in this ‘village’ of central Tel Aviv) – keeps telling her “At tzricha lizrom” (“You need to [go with the] flow”). As a woman of some substance, she finds it infuriating advice from a loser of not much. (On a first date, I didn’t want to be the one to break it to her that it also sounds suspiciously like doublespeak for “Why won’t you let me get me into your knickers?”)
Yet another kiosk friend, Yossi, a gay Moroccan, would regularly assault me with “Look at yourself – a lawyer . . . and that’s how you dress?! And you’re so out of shape . . . join the gym!” My mother, who has never met Yossi, loves him of course . . . having been telling me those things for years. Anyway, I did join the gym, just to shut Yossi up . . . but now he tells me what to do with my dogs! (“Little” Stuey got his own back last week, pissing on Yossi’s carpet. Now, I don’t know if you have ever seen a homosexual after a dog has urinated on his favourite rug . . .)
Anyway, in my long and patient search for the future “Mrs. Isaacson”, I am back on JDate, a cyber version of S&M . . . for singlemasochistic Jews. And it ain’t pleasant, I can tell you. In the process of arranging to just talk on the phone with a certain “Ronit” – no straightforward task, as she doesn’t give out even her mobile number (not, at least, until she has seen bank details and a salary slip) – I received an email from her, stating that “being with someone who smokes, even only occasionally, is really not an option”.
“38 and single,” I wrote back, “but you won’t give a chance to someone who likes a cigarette with his beer? Well, that really makes sense!”
I’ll let you know Ronit’s reply. Though don’t hold your breath.