Saturday night at the Olive Korner. It’s October and I still don’t need a sweater, jacket, or long trousers. Indeed, a mankini might have felt like overdressing. Rufina once told me she knew I was British when she saw me wearing shorts and sandals in late February. It was 20°C that day, and I remember wondering why everyone wasn’t dressed for summer, but Israelis will wear puffy jackets and scarves at 24°C. I may be hardier than I realise.
I opened Atraf and saw that a man I’d spoken to online a few days earlier, Yaron, was 0m from me, sitting at the next table. The online conversation had been going nowhere and had drifted off into nothing, but, of course, I looked. He was fortysomething, attractive, but thin in a way that doesn’t excite me, so I sipped my drink and continued with what I was doing. Then, ping! he’d sent a message, so he’d been looking at Atraf, too.
I moved to sit with him, because I like to be friendly, and can make poor decisions. He was almost motionless as he spoke, keeping his hands on his thighs, except when he reached for a cigarette, which was often. He looked straight ahead, through me, which I found disconcerting. The corners of his mouth turned up, but not in a smile. His teeth were beautiful, though, white, and straight, and strong.
He spoke so quietly that I strained to hear what he was saying. He murmured in a flat monotone, without inflection, giving everything the same weight. I had to lean forward to catch anything. He needed a microphone, and a loudspeaker, and subtitles wouldn’t have hurt, either. Even so, over the next thirty minutes I learned some things.
- Despite having travelled to Europe often, he thought that European cities are 70% Muslim. I’ve heard quite a few Israelis say this. When you tell them they’re wrong they raise their eyebrows in disbelief, they know better than you.
- He was giving up smoking the next day. He had been taking pills towards this goal for a week. I said I’d never heard of this treatment, but he gave a minimal shrug and paused while he thought of the next thing to say.
- He used to drink a bottle of vodka a day, but gave it up ten years ago.
- He was a sex addict, went with 200 men in two years, 2 or 3 a night, sometimes, but gave that up when he met a Phillipino man, also ten years ago. It lasted four years, but ended when the man was deported. He didn’t say if abstinence and love were connected, but he still doesn’t drink.
- He thinks he may be bisexual. His most recent relationship had been with a pre-op f-m sex change, but Yaron grew bored and ended it.
- He thinks he may not have any sex drive now.
- He used to make everyone laugh, but not anymore. I can vouch for that.
Despite him being quite a catch, I wanted to move back to my table. I looked for the words to make it happen without being rude, when an enormously fat man sat there. Israelis worry a lot about their weight, and the biggest people you see in Tel Aviv are always tourists. I think this man was German. He paid us no attention, seemed indifferent to us, why would he be otherwise? Still, Yaron got up from his seat and moved to where he could look at him without turning his head. There are more attractive men in this direction, he said.
Today’s word: reh-uh-yon – interview – ראיון