Taking a Shabbes afternoon stroll through Jaffa last weekend, and feeling the effects of a liquid brunch, I had the sudden urge to relieve myself. And, spotting the wrought iron gates of a shack set back and largely obscured from the road, I took my chance.
“Zeh docheh” (that is revolting), Michal, my walking partner, hissed as I rejoined her a bladderful lighter, a (provocative) smirk of self-satisfaction emblazoned across my face.
Israeli women love a good hiss, though I immediately recognised this one to be symptomatic of the familiar female frustration that their anatomies – lovely though they are – simply do not allow them to do what ours can with ease.
Tel Aviv’s architecture has earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It is not just the Bauhaus buildings themselves, however, but also the gaps between them, that make the “White City” such a wonderful one in which to live. It proved impossible in London’s semi-detached, side-gated suburbia to locate any discreet, impromptu pee stops between the Tube and the Isaacson household, resulting in many a desperate, late night dash – “Please God, help me make it!” – up the home straight. The male, post-ale stagger through Tel Aviv, on the other hand, is a blissfully relaxed one, with alleys conveniently located all the way to Melchett.
Like any chivalrous English gentleman (after regularly witnessing them wee in WC basins, I exclude our football fans from such characterisation), I only spend my penny discriminately (in line with the sign, right, which tickled me during my trip last year to the Caribbean) and out of view. While still urination (and arguably even indecent exposure) in a public place – and strictly speaking, therefore, a likely breach of the penal code – I believe it to be an inalienable expression of my manhood, and a rite which I will fight to preserve.
In our ridiculously PC age – in which it is no longer considered acceptable to give an attractive female stranger a friendly pinch or pat on the bottom, or even to compliment her on her breasts – were this advantage and privilege to be taken away from us, then what, dear reader, would be left?
The indigenous male, however, does not possess the refinement or finesse of the Englishman, nor even of little Stuey for that matter, who will only raise his hind leg by trees, corners of walls or discarded plastic bags (his target of choice).
No, Israeli men possess no such subtlety, indiscriminately discharging the contents of their bladders anywhere and everywhere. The sight of them proudly urinating against shop fronts in busy high streets is a familiar one, as is that of unabashed motorists taking leaks in the full glare of oncoming traffic – and we wonder about our accident rate! – when they could just as easily take a few steps behind their vehicle or down the embankment.
Perched upon the pavement, together with other cheapskates, outside Leonard Cohen’s recent performance in Ramat Gan, we were suddenly treated, during the interval, to the delightful spectacle of long lines of local Neanderthals peeing in our direction down the Stadium embankment.
Like Stuey perhaps, Israeli males are keen to mark their (occupied) territory and to simply be “top dog”. It is part and parcel of the macho Israeli psyche: “I am a gever (male), and I will take it out wherever I like.”
In spite of last week’s flash floods here, it is a continuing source of wonder to me how, with such a paucity of annual rainfall, the country’s agriculture survives such uncomfortably hot summers and almost entirely arid springs and autumns. Perhaps now, however, I have the answer: it is the continual watering of the Land by the uncouth Israeli male – providing showers of a rather different nature – which performs, however unwittingly, the critical role in its irrigation. “Jerusalem the golden”, indeed!
So, Michal, the next time the English oleh (immigrant) needs to pull out his “hose”, praise rather than scold him for performing his Zionist duty . . . and, still, with a sprinkling of class.