Tag Archives: Dating

Foot in Mouth Disease: The Shortest Date

I recently had my shortest ever date (excluding, of course, the lovely Odelia). It lasted a grand total of six minutes. And it was still too long.

I am not quite sure why I agreed to meet Irit. She was a nagger even on the phone. But there was something appealing about her JDate mugshot that led me to grant her an audience.

We met on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon, the last day of July. And as Irit approached the agreed meeting point (the corner of Gordon and Shlomo Hamelech), a waddling breach of the Trade Descriptions Act, the cumulation of recent dating disappointments at once got the better of me.

“I just can’t do this anymore,” I wailed to myself, even as I was squeezing Irit’s chubby hand. “Yet another wasted hour and a half, with my brain switched off and my tongue on autopilot.”

Until that infamous afternoon, I had always been the perfect(ish) gentleman on blind dates, not budging until the ninety minutes were up (this had always seemed to me, for no good reason in particular, the minimum decent amount of time to give someone, however little interest I had in the contents of their cranial cavity and/or underwear).

On this occasion, however, as I slouched back in the moulded plastic café seat, I could not have made it any clearer to Irit, however unconsciously, that I just did not want to be there.

My initial faux pas was asking Irit to remind me where her father – estranged from her mother I seemed to recall, from our single telephone conversation the previous week – lived in the States.

“That must have been another woman,” came the reply, without so much as a smidgeon of amusement.

It had been. And while I managed to come up with some feeble, muttered excuse for that blunder, the daggers were clearly about to turn to tears – I was also, it would seem, the final straw in Irit’s dating disappointments – when, next question up, I mistook her folks’ Jerusalem-area moshav for the other’s mother’s Yavneh kibbutz.

“Look,” I said, with a completely unjustified air of defiance, “you are not the only woman I have spoken to . . .”

“It is just insulting,” Irit cut me off, clearly determined to twist the knife even further in my, now nearly fully flaked, veneer of decency. And she was, of course, entirely justified (why oh why hadn’t I heeded my own advice – see the final subheading in Dating Israeli Women: A Guide by the Perplexed – to keep notes?!)

85 minutes now seemed like a very long time indeed – an Israeli woman in revolt and one I had no interest in placating – and there was only one thing for it . . .

“Look, Irit, you don’t have to stay. I’ll get the drinks.”

And, while far from proud of my performance (even our Cilla would have had difficulty laughing it off), I was feeling more relief than guilt as Irit took me up on my offer, getting up and departing the scene. Indeed, I supped my iced coffee engrossed not in self-loathing but in Yediot’s air conditioner ads, and still with the presence of mind to get Irit’s untouched order removed from the bill!

But had I behaved any better (if less deceitfully) than the dread Odelia, who had blown me out (cf. off) with a babysitter-mayse before we had even taken our seats?

Rather than be driven to this, or nasty porkies à la Odelia, an instantaneous shake of the head and direct, Simon Cowell-style “I don’t think so (You Are Not Mike’s New Talent)” must surely be a better way, for all concerned, of terminating a date with about as much of a future as a certain chinless Syrian.

Dating Israeli Women (Part II): Freeing the Dirty Dog Within

Well, it wasn’t really The End (see Dating Israeli Women: A Guide by the Perplexed). J . . . oh, f*ck it, Jennifer forgave that e-mail, and granted me a stay of execution. A brief one. We saw each other twice more, before that dreaded pregnant pause on the telephone, on the evening before our fifth date . . .

“Mike, you are a great guy, but you feel more like a friend.”

I consider proposing friendship with “extras” – Jennifer is an almost indisputable “9”, and I haven’t had too many of those – but refrain.

So, where am I going wrong?

"Could I score with a zoynoh?"

As I explained to a friend, last week, I think I have lost that predator’s instinct. When I was less serious about settling down – and preoccupied not with the future but, largely (if not merely), on gaining access to the Kodesh Kedoshim (Holey of Holeys) – I had a far lower goal:attempts ratio. Now, however, I am like Fernando Torres (right), a forlorn centre-forward who can no longer rely on his nose for goal, but who has started to think too much . . . rather than just poking, sliding or slamming the ball into the back of the net.

Let’s face it, when it comes to matters sexual, we are animals. And I could certainly learn a thing or two from Stuey and Dexxy in that regard: When they come across a hitherto unknown canine, they don’t agonize for weeks on end about a little excess facial hair or slightly imperfect hind symmetry, but rather head, without hesitation, straight for the “box”, where they have a jolly good sniff, often a bit of a lick, and decide, purely on the basis of that, whether or not to take it on from there. (The object of this attention does, on occasion, not take too kindly to it, though – very unlike their owner – neither Stuey nor Dexxy have ever been accused of going too fast, or of being interested only in one thing.)

Therefore – while incumbent upon humans to add a moral dimension to their behaviour (take note, most recent “dirty dog”) – the great scorers, both footballing and otherwise, will be in maximum sync with their animal sides (hence the sobriquet of my childhood hero, Allan “Sniffer” Clarke).

Human blind dates, however, are – to my shagrin – considerably more fraught than their canine equivalents. And, while it is perhaps inadvisable to follow the example of the romantic JDater (of Persian origin) who, twenty minutes into his first meeting with my friend in Manhattan, announced “I want to be inside you now” (she ran out), we are guilty of complicating the natural and straightforward . . . when we should, instead, be finding and releasing that hidden dog (or, at least, centre-forward) within.

I have come to see dates in terms of the motor vehicle . . .

The blind date car

And – unlike the meeting/clash of eyes across a crowded room, of trolleys in the supermarket aisle (the SuperSol on Tel Aviv’s Ben Yehuda Street is even said to stage a weekly, unofficial p’nuyim/p’nuyot [unattached] evening), or (for the benefit of Daniel Marks) of body parts in a nightclub lavatory, where the wheels of love/lust are at once in motion – the blind date car is entirely stationary . . . and facing an extremely steep hill.

As the driver, I consider what is in front of me and decide, (rightly or wrongly) more or less instinctively, what gear to put my brain in.

On occasions, the battery is completely dead, and all attempts to start the vehicle are futile. You both want to say (though neither of you has the courage): “Listen, there is no point. Let’s just go.”

On others – a recent Saturday morning, for example, when I met a lovely woman for breakfast in Modi’in, but just couldn’t imagine filling up – I go straight into cruise control. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours, before I sent her a text message, that evening, stating that “something, I don’t know what [a white lie], was missing.”

I suffered no such shortage of imagination with Jennifer. But after screeching off in first, and moving swiftly and smoothly into second, I hit trouble in third . . . and never reached fourth. In the old days, I would have been in fifth before I (and certainly she) knew it. My changes, however, have got a little rusty, and women, I think, sense that hesitancy.

Well, the gear box is definitely due some attention. A thorough service and oiling should do it, followed by a few spins around the block (prompting me to wonder whether I should be amending the “languages spoken” field in my JDate searches to Russian).

And, as Fernando Torres must also be reminding himself – it is comforting to know that I am not alone – it only takes a second to score a goal.

Dating Israeli Women: A Guide by the Perplexed

“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.”

The End.

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!

Good luck.

Is it just me?! (The Odelia Poll)

If nothing else, melchett mike has always endeavoured to take an honest, warts and all approach (what, after all, is the purpose of a personal blog?) It is with this in mind that, swallowing a large dose of pride, I document my major dating talking point this month. I do so, too, because I am often left wondering “Is it just me?!” On this occasion, I thought I would let you, the reader, decide . . .

Shopping for floor tiles in a plush Ramat Gan store, a fortnight ago, the sales assistant – on learning that I was single and open to meeting a divorcée with kids – dragged me over to Bathrooms.

“What do you think?” Gila surreptitiously enquired under the ingenious – she had clearly done this before – guise of showing me a mirror, though with her gaze firmly fixed on the female seated directly behind us, in the mirror’s reflection.

“Yes, she looks nice,” I whispered back. Odelia was attractive in a harsh, distinctly sephardic kind of way. “Anyway, it’s only coffee,” I qualified, on our saunter back to Tiles, trotting out the commitmentphobe lawyer’s standard, without prejudice, response to such offers. “What have I got to lose?”

Within a day or two – Gila was determined, clearly, not to let me off the hook – I had received a telephone number. And on the phone, Odelia, who is 33, sounded most un-T.A. Woman: she had had enough of aggressive Israeli men, was looking for something serious, and – coming from Kiryat Gat (halfway between Ashkelon and Hebron) – had no time for Tel Aviv and the “scene.”

Odelia and I spoke virtually every evening that week. And so enjoyable and encouraging were our conversations that I even shared my excitement about our impending first date, on the Thursday evening, with my cousin (just a few more lines to go, doomsayers!)

Then the meeting (in Rechovot, where Odelia lives). A kiss on each cheek, continental style, followed by an immediate decision: Dublin, an Irish pub, or the bland-looking café next-door? As we closed in on the latter (her choice), Odelia’s phone rang. A brief, somewhat stilted, conversation ensued, to which I didn’t pay much attention, only noticing Odelia mutter “I will tell you later” at its end. Then, with all the credibility of Andie “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed” MacDowell in Four Weddings (she almost ruined it single-handedly, didn’t she?!), Odelia said “I am so sorry. That was the babysitter. She has to go home. There is always next week.”

Being particularly quick on the uptake, I just knew that something was up. But what does one say? All I could come up with was a line – not bad in the circumstances, when I think back – about never having had that excuse used on me. Then, more kisses – I had never had so many, and so soon, on a first date – followed by the more optimistic thought, on the 35 minute drive home, that “The babysitter really must have had to go home. After all, someone who sounded that nice on the phone . . .”

Sure enough, however, when I sent Odelia the litmus text the following morning,  informing her that I was looking forward to the next opportunity, I received a curt one back stating that, after giving it some thought, she felt it “loh matim” (not suitable).

The incident ate away at me that entire weekend. Not because my ego had been bruised (it is not that fragile), but because I simply could not understand how someone – especially someone who had sounded so great all week – could behave with such insensitivity and rudeness. I am no tzadik (whatever melchett mike regulars may choose to believe!), but how many blind dates had I sat through and behaved civilly during – so as not to hurt the feelings of the person sitting opposite me – even when I had no intention of “nailing” them? And however many times a friend, Hanna, told me just to “forget about it,” that Odelia obviously “wasn’t worth it,” and that I had had a “lucky escape,” it all sounded like empty cliché . . . when all I wanted to do was to vent my spleen.

So, at 9:30 on the dot on the Sunday morning, I called up the store, and – saying that I needed it in relation to an order – obtained Odelia’s e-mail address. Within ten minutes, all of the weekend’s pent-up feelings were out of my system . . .

Attention: Odelia (Personal)

Hi Odelia,

I just wanted to say – I told you that I am very honest and direct – that your behaviour has been disgusting, and befitting of an ignorant, low-class frecha [Israeli equivalent of a British Sharon].

It was immediately obvious to me that the telephone call you received, on Thursday evening, was pre-planned. I was not born yesterday (and you are an extremely poor actress).

I agreed to meet you, in spite of your having 2 kids, not because you are as wonderful as you appear to think, but because Gila said you were a “nice person.”

Of course, we will not be attracted to every person we meet – and I have been out with prettier, and certainly more educated and high-class, women than you – but we should still treat them with a minimum of respect and decency.

And why come out with all that bullshit on the telephone, about Israeli men and Tel Aviv, when you are no better than any of them?!

You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

Mike

PS Keep an eye on my blog – https://melchettmike.wordpress.com/ – I believe you may soon find it very interesting . . .

Now, okay, my response may have been a little OTT. With the benefit of another couple of days’ cooling-off, I may well have omitted certain parts of it. And, while not regretting having sent the e-mail, I do not publish it here out of pride (indeed, I have been advised that doing so will do little for my dating prospects . . . though if I had been the type to turn the other cheek, you, in all probability, would not now be reading melchett mike).

Anyhow, that is what happened. And that is how I reacted.

Admittedly, too, I did once escape a blind date in Haifa by going to the loo and not coming back (there were, however, extenuating circumstances: the nut had started yelling at me as soon as she got into the car, about why I only wanted to go for coffee and not spend the entire evening with her at the Haifa Film Festival – indeed, so relieved was I to have got away that, on my descent of Mount Carmel, I turned up the volume in a self-conscious, -congratulatory and celebratory re-creation of Pulp Fiction’s Flowers On The Wall scene).

And we have all heard of similar blind date experiences (feel free to add your own below – therapy for both of us!): A friend emerged from her building, only to be told by the charming Israeli male, at the same time gesturing her away with his hand, not to bother emerging any further. And an English friend was once taken to a Primrose Hill pub and given a fiver to get the drinks, while the date said that he was just going to check that he had locked the Porsche. He never returned.

According to Hanna’s pop (to my mind) psychology, in sending Odelia that e-mail I had “lowered myself to her level.” And according to another friend, Tamar, you just “can’t change people.”

But why the hell not?! I just don’t get it . . .

This c*nt (when no other word will do) had wasted an evening of my existence, and even made me schlep to Rechovot for the privilege. To my way of thinking, however backward, you can’t just let people get away with behaving however they like, without saying or doing anything. I had got the pent-up anger out of my system. And even if Odelia had just deleted my e-mail (as Hanna further suggested), it could not have been pleasant to receive it (and at work).

Not revenge exactly, but maybe, just maybe, it will cause her to think twice, next time. Though I leave the verdict to you, the reader (by poll and, if you wish, comment too) . . .

Tails of the Unexpected

It has occurred to me of late that my melchett mike dating stories may have become a little too phallocentric.

This realization follows serious consideration (naturally, whilst out walking the dogs) of the unimaginable, almost cruel, uncertainty continually faced by the female dater, whose life really must be “like a box of chocolates.” And I write the following, you understand, only out of heartfelt concern and sympathy for her.

A good friend of mine in London, Emma, relates the story (true) of her perfect (well, almost) first date: stimulating conversation, laughter, and lots of eye contact, all followed by an invitation to a Shoreditch loft apartment (such a pleasant surprise, coming as it did from a nice Jewish boy whom Emma expected – from too much experience – to be living with his little sister in Belsize Park).

Once inside, Emma found no less than a reconstructed prehistoric whale suspended from the ceiling of the palaeontology enthusiast. She was spellbound.

Free Willy!” were the first words, innocent at first, to leave Emma’s lips . . . and, then, not being your typical North-West London Jewish gal, she followed her own instruction. The enchanting evening, Emma was determined to ensure, would reach its fitting climax.

It was then, however, that tragedy struck: Emma’s peerless handiwork revealing that this was not, after all, the perfect man.

“It was just so tiny, I couldn’t do anything with it!” Emma exclaimed to me, her frustration still palpable months later.

For us males, on the other hand, very little need be left to chance. Every man’s favourite twins, for instance, are usually largely discernible even through their clothing . . . alright, I did have a rather deflating experience with a divorcée in Bushey some years ago, the seeming consequence of a child who had mistaken his mother for Express Dairies (forcing, upon revelation, one of my all-time great improvisations: “I am so sorry . . . I can’t . . . I am just not over her yet,” followed by a brilliantly conceived porky about a recent, totally imagined, ex-girlfriend) . . . okay, and there was also the infamous Bristly Nipples incident, involving an American tourist, one New Year’s Eve in Jerusalem . . . but let’s not go there (I certainly didn’t!)

But such experiences, however unfortunate and potentially scarring, are few and far between . . . true, the toches (i.e., the Jewish one) can present not insubstantial problems of its own: I recently went out with a woman who turned up to each date in a different long top, cunningly disguising – like a freshly-painted property for sale – that which lay beneath (her strategy was only foiled on the third or fourth date, when I ingeniously waited for her to get up from her cinema seat first). But even an outsize derrière is rarely a deal-breaker, even constituting, as one ex-Hasmo friend always likes to put it, “more cushin for the pushin.”

There is, of course, one other (totally) concealed object, the sanctity of which forbids it from being named even by these irreverent keys – I do not wish to go down as one judged to have violated its holiness – and whose workings are well beyond the male understanding. But barring extreme conditions that I have no intention of going into here – this is still a family (if a rather inappropriate and dysfunctional one) blog – the respective anatomies of the male and female leave more critical potential pitfalls for the latter: Let us be truthful, we boys are usually guaranteed a good time, however wide the obstacle.

Dangling over a female’s first date(s), however, is an enormous (often misleadingly so) question mark. And, in the event that there is initial attraction, her suspense must be nigh on unbearable: She knows that she has a winning ticket, but no idea how much she is going to receive . . . and, as with our poor Emma, the ‘prize’ may turn out to be so negligible that she won’t even bother cashing it in.

[If female readers of melchett mike would care to share, by comment below, their thoughts and experiences in this fascinating (if somewhat taboo) regard, they may invent a name and (though it, anyway, can be viewed only by me) e-mail address.]

Back on the Chain Gang

I recently decided, after a somewhat lengthy lull, to start dating again.

The decision to get back “out there” was as much the product of the realization that a next generation of melchetts is unlikely to spring from my domestic bliss with Stuey and Dexxy – who, perhaps unsurprisingly, appear to have no problem whatsoever with my staying single – as it was about the discovery (bitter-sweet) that I still had a month remaining on a frozen, and forgotten, subscription to JDate, the international(ly notorious) Jewish dating site.

“I found a picture of you, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh”

After less than a week “back on the chain gang,” however, life with my canine flatmates is appreciated more than ever . . .

First, on Friday evening, was a blind date in Neve Tzedek with Efrat, whom the wannabe shadchanit (matchmaker), a friend (still), informed me had recently split with her boyfriend. And it was great: good beer – I got inebriated (though convivially so) – and good chemistry . . . all followed, a day or so later, by the inevitable “I’m not ready” line (Efrat claims that she told me on the night, but who can remember?!)

“Now we’re back in the fight, we’re back on the train”

. . . though it already felt like I had never been off!

Next, on Sunday evening, was Anat (JDate this time), an English Lit. doctoral student, who – a couple of hours before our scheduled meeting, and only in response to my text message to fix the Givatayim venue – cancelled without explanation.

“A circumstance beyond our control, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh”

Then, on Tuesday morning, I met Vered – again through a friend (though, on this occasion, less likely to remain one) – on Nachalat Binyamin. The early indications were that Vered was a sensitive soul: seated inside the café, she had put on her shades to conceal her tears as she related her terrible treatment at the hands of her landlady (who had just, after ten years of impeccable tenancy, and without good cause, given her notice). I was touched (well, a little).

On regaining her composure, Vered moved onto her self-proclaimed “ruchaniyut” (spirituality). In fact, Vered is so f*cking spiritual that she felt the need to inform me that dogs are the reincarnations of sinners. “You may laugh,” she said, as she spotted the first twitch of my cheeks. So I did.

Then, perhaps fearing that I did not yet think her sufficiently inane, Vered opined that the demise of my late brother, Jonny, was not really down to drugs – as I had explained – but to something deeper. I was not laughing anymore and, after promptly ordering the bill, let Vered pay her half.

“Got in the house like a pigeon from hell, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh”

Late that afternoon, I also met Shira (JDate again), who – as we were enjoying a perfectly pleasant conversation on a park bench in Gan Me’ir – appeared to start suffering some sort of breakdown (though I suspect it must have commenced sometime earlier).

“Bring me to my knees when I see what they’ve done to you”

The warning signs had probably been there that same morning, when Shira had cancelled our planned lunch date (though, once again, only after I had phoned to finalise the location): “I just can’t do it anymore,” she cried. “I have taken my profile off JDate.”

“the wretched life of a lonely heart”

To preclude the temptation to send Shira a text message – informing her that it might have been a little more considerate if she had called to let me know (you cannot, I am told, teach people . . . or Israelis, at least, manners; though I have never quite understood why) – I deleted her, at once, from my phone. Shira did, however, then call in mid-afternoon to let me know that she had, once again, changed her mind. And, seeing as I had only been on the one date that day, I decided to give her the benefit of the (mounting) doubt.

The encouraging news is that there is still Michal to come: a mother of one, The Great Divorced Hope, if you like . . . but who, with every new telephone conversation, gives a stronger impression that someone is forcing her to remain on JDate at gunpoint. Michal offered me a “quick coffee” yesterday evening – a tactic, facilitating a quick getaway, I can’t complain about, having invented it – but with all the enthusiasm and conviction of an England footballer taking a penalty kick.

My JDate membership really will expire, this time, on 16th February. And the 129 shekels-a-month required to renew it will likely, instead, go on discs, Goldstar, good food, and perhaps even some new toys for the beasts . . . the sane (Stuey has never been formally certified), predictable and lovable ones I already know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK3uf5V0pDA

Giving too much of a f*ck: kiosk counselling

I took Tali to the kiosk on Rothschild for the first time on Sunday morning.    

Bringing a new girlie to the kiosk is no less of an ordeal or a statement than introducing her to your mother (not least because wake-up coffee is the clearest indication that you are no longer sleeping only with your dogs).    

Avi “Borsa” (so-called because of his preoccupation with the stock market), who rarely descends from his stool once parked on it, made an immediate point of coming over to take a good look. Indeed, I was half expecting him, like an inquisitive child in Madame Tussauds, to reach out and touch Tali’s nose.    

Anyway, by the following morning, when I was at the kiosk on my own, the news was clearly out – it was official: (to those not already cognisant of my formidable record with the ladies) I was definitely not now gay, celibate, or just incapable of pulling.    

Dalia, a fifty-something mother of two, was disappointed, even frustrated, to have missed Tali the previous day (having departed her perch slightly earlier than usual). Avi, however, had already updated her.    

“So, who is she?” Dalia enquired, before my bottom had even hit the stool.    

“Just a girl,” I replied nonchalantly.    

“She’s nice,” Avi interjected, and then repeated, providing the affirmation he believed I must have been waiting for.    

“Thank you, Avi,” I replied, playing along as genuinely grateful to have received the green light to continue the relationship.    

“Take her to a nice restaurant,” Dalia instructed. “To Pronto,” she immediately followed up, as if I was not capable, on my own, of identifying a nice restaurant.    

Omitting to mention that Tali’s mother had invited us – and with an unjustified, therefore, air of self-satisfaction – I informed Dalia that we had already been to Idi, a classy fish restaurant in Ashdod. Dalia gave Avi a look as if to say: “You see. I told you. He is not such a clueless twerp after all.”    

Having passed (even if by cheating) that test, Dalia moved onto her next piece of advice. “Take her away somewhere nice for the weekend.” Avi, 49 and single – though, on this showing, clearly not because he knows not the ways to woo a lady – nodded enthusiastically. I ignored them both.    

“How long are you going to wait?” Dalia – on a now inexorable roll, and only just moving into fifth gear – continued, “Ilan and I got married after two and a half months.”    

“We are just getting to know each other, Dalia!”    

She rolled her eyes. My mother would love Dalia for all of this.    

“Anyway,” I said, “I am too young to rush into anything.” Dalia doesn’t get my humour (or attempts thereat).    

But how does an Englishman deal with such unbridled directness and complete lack of boundaries? Dalia and Avi are, after all, kiosk friends and no more. 

The kiosk, however, is not unlike the kibbutz chadar ochel (dining room) – it is as if, by merely sitting there, one waives one’s right to a private life. 

Perhaps, however, I waived that simply by making aliyah. Indeed, the Diaspora Jew’s guiding principle – “Don’t get involved” – could not be more alien to the Israeli. In fact, he likes nothing more: from advice on dating, to my current weight, my taste in clothes, to how I might better train the dogs (see Who the f*ck asked you?!

The flip side, of course, of all of this is echpatiyut, Hebrew for caring. In England, no one gives a f*ck, often even about those close to them (never mind virtual strangers).    

Anyway, perhaps it is it just that Dalia believes that a guy like me is not going to take the plunge without a little (or, in her case, not so little) push . . . and that it is her duty to inform me that, at 42, I must take whatever I can get.    

I saw Dalia again yesterday morning, when even the seemingly imperative question of where I pick up my gas mask could not distract her.    

“You have to take Tali to meet your mother,” she reopened the issue.

After all this, my mum is going to be a walk in the park.    

The kiosk, Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv