“You have to find an English speaker,” opined John over lunch on Hashmona’im Street last week, as I whinged about my latest debacle with Israel’s finest.
And John may well have a point. But it takes a strong-willed man to settle for fish and chips or a Big Mac and fries, when he could, instead, feast on a Me’urav Yerushalmi (Jerusalem mixed grill).
J, Israeli, 40 and divorced (plus none) – whom I had met through JDate (I am, depressingly, back . . . again) – was that perfect Ashkenazi father/Sephardi mother combo: tall, willowy, olive skin, and taltalim (those unmistakably Israeli curls). And clever to boot. A Me’urevet Tel Avivit (Tel Aviv mix), if you like. And we had been on two extremely encouraging dates before the start of the fun and games . . .
Our third meeting – preceded by a discernible tailing-off in our flirtatious, daily text messaging – is cancelled by J, by sms, on the very same evening, with more excuses than a Hasmo boy: “pressure at work . . . not feeling well . . . Will call you.” But no call.
Just to be one hundred percent that my intuition is correct – I know that I will not be able to cope with the teasing thought that that body, skin and hair (and, of course, mind) might, just might . . . – I text J to tell her that I have got the message (that she is “not particularly interested in pursuing this”).
“Wrong again,” she texts back. “Will call the second I leave work.” But, again, nada.
The following morning, I receive an e-mail from J containing the exact same excuses. Petulant and keyboard happy as ever, I cannot resist the knee-jerk response: “Not looking for great dates at this stage. Or excuses. Or promises of phone calls.”
As usual, I search for possible reasons for this latest failure. I ponder, for example, whether having been bolder, more forthright, more Israeli, and having made a move in the second date tapas bar might, just might, have paid dividends. Most Israeli guys would have in the first date pub. (I take with a pinch of salt, these days, the Israeli woman’s oft-heard assertion that she likes English manners. They most like what they are used to.)
There is little, however, to be gained from idle speculation or self-flagellation. But why is it so damn difficult to meet a nice, genuine, uncomplicated woman in this city? Yes, yes (you slaves to your therapists), I know: I must take my share of the responsibility. It must be my fault, too. And sometimes it is. But more often, like this time, it just isn’t.
Finding attractive women in Tel Aviv is, of course, not a problem. Walking its streets and boulevards, or whiling away the hours in its cafés and bars, most male visitors (of a heterosexual bent, at least) come to believe that they have found themselves in some kind of female wonderland. Indeed, so high is the general standard of totty here that many people (or, at least, those who don’t know me that well!) cannot understand why I am still single, or not, at the very least, having a lot more fun than I am (but it’s sex with someone I love!) And I can understand their bemusement: stick your very average Tel Avivit– one whom an Israeli guy would not look at twice – in a London “Jew do,” and the males will think that all their Hanukkahs have come at once.
The empirical evidence, however, can be more than a little misleading. And dating Israeli women, while often enjoyable, even memorable, rarely comes – for the non-native, at least – without substantial challenges, stresses and aggravation. Indeed, the lure of more attractive, hotter blooded females – accompanied, as it usually is, with better, more frequent, and certainly swifter (as in earlier, rather than shorter) rumpy-pumpy – is offset by behaviour that can range from the puzzling to the downright objectionable.
So, for the uninitiated, here are a few tips – of a “do as I say,” rather than “as I do,” nature – gleaned from my experiences dating Israeli women and, especially, Tel Aviviot (who, as with Jews, are “just like everybody else, only more so”) . . .
Don’t even attempt to understand them. It isn’t possible. This is even truer of Israeli women than of the fairer [snort!] sex in general. You will have great dates after which they won’t answer/return your calls, and dire ones following which they will demand to know why you haven’t called.
Don’t be shocked by anything. From inappropriate, even outrageous, remarks and conversation on the date, to last minute (and I mean minute!) cancellations before it (see previous posts: T.A. Woman: Feeling a Lemon in the Big Orange, Suicide is Painless: Dating Etiquette in the Holy Land, and The Tel Avivit’s Subtle Art of Seduction). First date sex is also far from unusual here: if you are a nice Jewish boy from a nice Jewish community – like North-West London, for instance, where “getting to know” a Jewish girl on a first date would be far more newsworthy than anything on the front page of the JC – but that is what you are after, Aliyah may be the best move you ever make!
Take any criticism levelled at you, but (unless you are planning to dump them anyway) avoid the temptation to give any back. Most Israeli women can’t take it. I recently went out with a Rebecca, who, on our second date, and without warning, saw fit to pat the (negligible) protuberance from my t-shirt. “Yesh lecha keress!” (you have a pot belly), she exclaimed, clearly delighted with herself, as if having discovered a new planet. When she brought up the subject again, on the fourth date – evidently, neither my ‘corpulence’ nor Rebecca’s ‘frankness’ were deal breakers (40-something beggars, especially, can’t be choosers) – I was better prepared: I informed her that I like my breasts large (not true, incidentally), and enquired whether she might be willing to go under the knife for me. Her face! What a picture! She looked like she had just swallowed a Beit Hashita hot pepper whole. (Neither did Rebecca care for me asking her not to throw every scrap of food that she wanted to bin to Stuey and Dexxy instead, thus reducing her sorties to the garbage . . . though she had absolutely no problem telling me that it was inappropriate to joke with her 5-year old daughter about locking her in the fridge (was it?))
If you feel that you are being used, that is because you probably are. I also recently dated a Maya, who demanded a detailed date plan (verbal) ahead of each of our meetings. And she vetoed many of my suggestions (especially of dining options), leaving me with the distinct impression that she saw me as a kind of TimeOut Tel Aviv with a MasterCard . . . or, more accurately, she was the TimeOut, I was the MasterCard.
Multiple date. It is almost an unwritten rule that simultaneous/multiple dating is fine until you have been on three or four dates with the same person (and, sometimes, even after you have had sex). Nearly everyone here – or in Tel Aviv, at least – does so, so put your chutz la’aretz (out of Israel) values to one side and get on the same playing field! And as a corollary . . .
Keep notes. I once simultaneously dated a woman with an Afghani mother, and another with an Afghani ex-mother-in-law. I got my wires crossed, and mentioned the wrong one to the wrong woman. This might not seem a particularly big deal when dealing with Afghani matriarchs (and I extricated myself easily), but it would have been a huge one if I had referred to the wrong date about – and this is not an invented scenario – the inspection, by JFK security on ‘her’ departure from the US, of the other’s collection of dildos. I would even recommend keeping a brief, identifying note following each name in your mobile phone: an age thing perhaps, but I find it harder and harder to remember, and to differentiate between, Hebrew names. Not so long ago, I called the wrong woman, informing her that I was on my way to pick her up. “What are you talking about?!” she squealed. Realising my mistake, I panicked and hung up, and, there being no way back from that, deleted her details from my phone.
You may well, by this stage, be asking yourself why you would possibly want to heed the dating advice of a single 44-year old who lives with his two dogs . . . and you’d be quite right!