In the Rudest of Health (The Israeli, Part III)

“You’ve got too much to say!”

So North-West London’s most famous French teacher would often chide his loquacious (he preferred “yapping”) pupils.

And not always having to say something – especially if, as my parents would remind me, that “something” is not worth saying – is an English attitude that the Israeli would do well to consider. Indeed, while silence and Jerusalem may both be golden, only one of them is “blue and white” too (for the time being, at least).

As I have documented on these pages (here, here and here), most Israelis are of the view that it is not only their God-given right, but also their duty, to give their opinion – even to complete strangers – on absolutely everything, whether or not that “everything” even concerns them.

Most common is advice . . . in my case, dating, dieting and doggy (dogging is, I am informed, something completely else). Earlier this week, for instance, there was the elderly lady on Rothschild who deemed it incumbent upon her to inform me that I was endangering the lives of Stuey and Dexxy by not observing the Do Not Walk sign (wonderfully altruistic, I thought, considering that Hezbollah is now in possession of scores of missiles capable of reaching, and destroying, her bidet).

The Israeli, however, does not limit him or herself to the purely prescriptive . . .

Two Saturdays ago, I drove Stuey and Dexxy to see Tal, a friend’s 6-year old daughter – housebound and miserable due to an upset tummy – who is particularly fond of my hairy flat mates, and who had summoned them to Hod Hasharon to cheer her spirits.

It might have been wise, before tucking in, to have spared a thought for the cause of Tal’s stomach ache. And, lo and behold, a short while after being amply fed by my Moroccan hostess, Tal’s mum, my bowels started to feel the effects of her schnitzel and couscous (delicious though they were).

While Edna’s apartment is small, and WC smaller still, I have brilliantly refined, over the years, the subtle art of camouflaging my lavatorial activities in other people’s homes. I don’t wish to give too much away – if the Made Simple or For Dummies people are reading this, you know where to find me – but it involves cleverly synchronizing  eruptions, emissions and plopping (to quote my earlier Blog on the Bog) with the ebbs and flows of living room discussion and/or peaks in television volume.

And on this particularly delicate – the smaller the abode, the greater the risk of social disgrace – occasion, I put in a typically sterling performance. Indeed, even the absence of a canister of air freshener in the poorly ventilated shoebox did not worry me unduly, as I had noticed that Edna had only just exited. The true professional, you see, leaves nothing to chance.

Fortune and fate, on the other hand, are vicissitudes for which even the ultimate pro cannot legislate . . .

Whilst washing my hands in the adjacent bathroom, I heard (who I immediately understood to be) Edna’s ex-husband (and Tal’s father) – whom I had never met, and who was totally oblivious to my presence – enter the apartment, and head straight for the toilet.

“Shit!” I exclaimed to myself. “What stinking luck!” One always likes a few minutes grace after visiting one’s host’s WC.

And my worst fears were confirmed at once, with the uncouth bellowing of “Ed-naaa . . . eifo ha’spray (where’s the spray)?!”

“Shut up!” I silently begged. “Pleeease!!”

I had, now, nowhere to hide.

I mean, I hardly expected a momentary awkwardness, followed swiftly by a forced (and redundant) clearing of the throat and an off-the-cuff comment on the day’s weather – the inevitable English response – off a Moroccan! But, meeting the corpulent, hairy native in the narrow corridor, neither did he deem a cheeky grin and a wink to suffice . . .

La’briyut, gever (good health, man)!” bellowed the great oaf – clearly delighting in my lavatorial faux pas – as he shook my hand in traditional, Gever Gever Israeli style (i.e., as if trying to yank my arm off my torso).

I was reminded, by way of contrast, of an incident from my youth – at a friend’s parents’ dinner table in the genteel London suburb of St. John’s Wood – when a contemporary’s risqué crack was instantly met, by our friend’s mother, with a totally straight-faced “More meat, Jonathan?”

But the thought of saying nothing on the subject – or, at least, nothing that would heighten my considerable discomfort – had not even occurred to Edna’s ex. And I wouldn’t mind, but it is not as if your average Israeli male has exemplary toilet habits (see a philistine with a small pee).

On the other hand, perhaps I am just, still, a little too sensitive to that male. After all, the episode was nowhere near as humiliating as that experienced by a friend, backpacking Down Under, who – from overenthusiastic eating on suddenly being reacquainted with home cooking – chundered over the seder (Passover) table of his Australian friend’s parents, whom he had just met that same evening.

It was also far less excruciating than that suffered by another travelling friend, who chose the family home of an American girlfriend, no less, to discharge matter that stubbornly refused to be sent on its fetid way. Seeing no alternative – and I jest not – he fished the offending object out of the bowl, wrapped it in toilet paper, and smuggled it out of the house.

Nonetheless, hardly just reward for a well-intentioned visit to a poorly child.


7 responses to “In the Rudest of Health (The Israeli, Part III)

  1. Mike, I feel that there’s a common theme running through your blogs, namely, the unsolicited advice of those you meet on the streets.

    This has now been complicated with stories of toiletry habits.

    Maybe Israelis are simply showing a parental concern with reactions akin to a parent’s delighted comment on their child’s first shit in the potty (rather than diaper/nappy).

    That sadly broke down for me however, last Friday at my wife’s family’s house, when (upon entering the bathroom) exclaimed, “we have a floater!”

    Shabbas was somewhat strained for me afterwards (no pun intended) and only got worse when I offered that the reason for their air-conditioner’s non functionality was “because of a blockage in your exit pipe”.

    I was only trying to help, maybe that’s all that anyone’s trying to do here.

  2. Mike, a touch of army service would have done you a world of good in matters pertaining to enjoying a nice, peaceful, guilt-free, devil-may-care, stinking poop.

    I was raised in suburban Newark NJ, where we were admonished never to sit bare-assed on a public toilet seat: “Things live on there”… Needless to say, long road trips necessitated either “holding it in” or padding a toilet seat with wads of paper buffers or by simply hovering.

    Trips to Israel as a teen taught me the beauty of out-doors dumping, which necessitated long hikes away from my tour group so as not, G-d forbid, to be seen dumping or worse, wiping… (never mind wanking).

    All this changed radically on my first night in the army when, low and behold, somebody had left a giant, steaming load in the middle of the 12 man tent we were to inhabit. We complained to our Sgt (a Harvard graduate) and he replied with feigned alarm, “What, they didn’t tell you that the army was shit?” He walked away sniggering as we pondered how to remove the stuff in the 20 seconds he allotted us.

    Within days, all of us western olim in the Nachal were shitting any and every where. I recall that after a big meal in the field of corned beef “Loof”, we were told that in 10 minutes we were to start a 15 km march. A minute didn’t go by before 20 guys were off 20 meters away squatting in a line, “evacuating” before the strenuous march. (Jonny Paul will back me up on all this.)

    In short, whether Israelis are naturally uninhibited or picked it up out of necessity, I will say that you really have no need to cover up any fart sounds, splash sounds, tinkles, or stinks that you may make. Israelis understand.

  3. I feel like I missed the mark a little with this post (happens to the best of ’em!) . . .

    Its primary point was meant to be the Israeli’s necessity to always pass comment, rather than passings of any other nature . . . which is clearly what it ended up being.

    Anyway, I will strive to do better next time. I blame it on the heat!

    At least it provided a clearly much-needed self-Halp forum for Yosef and his tales of defecation in the IDF. Hopefully, his many intellectual customers will now be spared the pleasure . . .

  4. Dammit! I thought it was political allegory.

    …had the Turks and the peace flotilla all figured out, too…

  5. Josh Haruni

    with reference to the young gentleman whose penchant for over-eating led to a whole new chapter of story telling for seder night; i believe that it is important to point out that it was the carpet to which our dear friend added a little colour that particular seder night; to have done such a thing at the table would have been a disgrace!!

  6. well, if your point has already gone amiss, let me take this opportunity to offer a solution of how to eliminate toilet odors!
    If you smell an unpleasant stench in your bathroom, and you need to cover it up fast, simply light a wooden match in the middle of that room. Lighting a match produces sulfur dioxide. This chemical is so strong that it hides most other odors from your noses for a short time.
    Believe me it works!!! Let your Israeli, Moroccan, Gever think of something some other manly comment

  7. hahahhahaaha

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