Christmas Eve. Tel Aviv. Last night, I was on my way home from a friend’s place, standing on the side of the road by a bus stop, waiting for a sherut, listening to music when this very drunk guy approached me from across the street. With my headphones still in, blasting Fiona Apple, I watched as he cross the street, came right up to me, stuck his hand out half-heartedly and mouthed something I couldn’t hear. Reluctantly, I took my headphones off and said “Slicha?” (“Excuse me?”).
dude: Ani Shai. (I’m Shai.)
me: Joan. (as we shook hands)
dude: You’re from England?
dude: Australia? China? Japan? Mexico? South Africa? Russia? The US of A?
me: And you finally got it..
dude: Have you seen the movie “The Dictator?”
me: No. Is it a recent movie?
dude: Yes, it’s about the US.
me: I haven’t seen any movies recently.
dude: Why? Too busy? Too many…clients? (said with a snicker)
This is about the time I started to get really uncomfortable. Clients??? Who the fuck did he think I am??? Keep in mind I was wearing jeans, boots, a sweater, and a jacket. No make-up, no jewelry. It’s not like I looked remotely close to a lady of the night..
me: Clients?? What are you trying to say??
dude: Well, what do you do for work?
me: I’m a teacher, actually.
dude: So students! I meant students.. (more smirking) What do you teach? English?
me: No. (shit. as the word was coming out of my mouth I wished I could take it back…)
dude: So what then?
me: Sigh. (here it comes) I actually teach music.
Now, I’ve learned in the past few months that I get a VERY different reaction from people when I tell them I’m a music teacher versus being an English teacher. For some reason, the idea of a kids’ music teacher is very intriguing to many men/guys/boys here. So, as soon as I said it, as I feared, I saw the light in his eyes twinkle. “Shit. I need an out,” I thought to myself.
dude: (taking out his phone) so, I’ll call you sometime…
me: I don’t think that’s a good idea. My boyfriend won’t like that. (the good old I-have-a-boyfriend-go-away switcheroo)
dude: What will he care? ***
me: Well, he gets a little weird about me dating other men. It’s just this thing he has against it..
Thankfully, at this point the sherut was pulling up and I was getting on. Yalla, bye, Creepy-Shai. The sherut drove away, and I watched through the window as Shai turned and walked back across the street.
In the last few moments of my interaction with him, I had my finger on the button to call Ben back, whom I had just spoken to and was living it up at a gathering with new friends in India. (speaking of Ben, he’s a reader now. Everyone say “hi, Ben!!”) I didn’t want to call him back and bother him, just a few moments after we hung up, but I knew if I did he would answer and give this guy a reason to leave me alone.
That said, however, once I was on the sherut I was a little shaken up. Here I was all relaxed and unwound from hanging out with my friend, and along came this creepy guy who couldn’t seem to take a hint. So, acting on impulse, I did what I used to do in these situations. I texted Ben after the fact. Sometimes I just need to tell someone when something weird happens to me to process and get it out of my system. I told him, I got it out of my head, I came home, and slowly slowly I was able to drift off to sleep.
Merry Christmas, all! May your day be merry and bright! 🙂
***This is something that I’ve found is unique to Israeli men. Usually, everywhere else in the world, if you tell someone that you have a boyfriend, they leave you alone. Israeli men take this as a strange challenge to quickly prove to you that they are more interesting than your boyfriend. But, the thing is that they know as soon as you say “I have a boyfriend,” that their window of opportunity is closing. With that in mind, they make a last-ditch effort to show their man-li-ness by saying something like “So what?” or “Why does that matter?” or “But we can still be friends.” It’s absurd. This, or they have heard this line so many times due to their aggression, that they know it’s bullshit; so they test you.