Ehud came over after he’d finished work on Bograshov Beach. He’d folded and stacked 190 loungers, which sounds like a lot. He is beautiful and tiny, like Prince, we were a whale and a grasshopper, and I feared I would crush him. He’s only 24, which is ridiculous, and stronger than he looks. I can’t imagine what such a handsome young man would see in me.
I don’t have boyfriend, he said, you’re my boyfriend, now. I hope he didn’t notice the alarm in my eyes.
He asked for a pair of socks. I haven’t worn socks since March, maybe February, but found a pair from Cos, turquoise with a geometric pattern. He put them on and said, Smart. Posh. They looked good on his slim feet.
Later, I went to Alberto’s for dinner. His tiny apartment, a room, really, his narrow bed in an alcove, is just off Ben Yehuda, next to Ernesto’s, where he works for his uncle, who often calls at eleven or later needing an extra waiter. Last week Alberto did something to displease a Russian customer, who, as a sort of warning, mimed slitting his throat, meaning that he’d better not be displeased again or Alberto was going to get it. He hates working there.
I arrived at the same time as Rufina, who said she’s been depressed, but, really, it’s not easy to tell the difference these days. We walked up, five or six floors, she more quickly than me, then I stood on the balcony while she made Aperol spritzes. It took her no longer than thirty minutes to take ice from the freezer and pour our drinks. The view was good, though, looking into the smart apartments opposite, and Tel Aviv twinkling. I could see it’s far edges, even though I was only two blocks from the beach.
Nathan arrived and started fussing with napkins. I hadn’t seen him for two weeks. I showed him a picture of Ehud, and he said, twenty or thirty times, how he looked like an alien. He told me he’d been cruising in the old bus station, where, by ten years, he was the youngest. He said he had more teeth than anyone else there. He’d had no luck, or, at least, none he wanted to tell me about.
Alberto took another hour to cook some pasta and Rufina sat at his very expensive Mac. Lord knows how he brought it here in his luggage, but he did. He doesn’t have wifi, so he only uses it to play music. He likes 80s rock, music from before he was born. We heard Queen’s greatest hits, and Aerosmith, I think, maybe Bon Jovi, and Guns’n’Roses. I couldn’t name most of it. Rufina tried to connect it to her phone using Bluetooth so she could play a song she wanted to hear. It distracted her for much of the evening before she conceded that she couldn’t make it work.
As ever, there was no conversation. I can talk to all three of them individually, but when they’re together they just make funny noises for three hours. Nathan repeats his joke ten thousand times, you ask Alberto where he buys his pasta and he refuses to tell you, and Rufina sighs. It is Alberto’s thing that he’s uncooperative, he says no to everything, it amuses him, which, of course, does make him uncooperative. Maybe he takes the pasta from Ernesto’s kitchen.
I’d taken a yeasty chocolate cake from Lechem Vehaverim, and each of them told me how it disappointed them. It wasn’t chocolatey enough for one, too chocolatey for another, too dry, too moist, I don’t know. I fazed them out and smiled.
The night before, to cheer themselves up, Alberto and Rufina had gone to a club where they danced until 4.30. They said lots of gay men there paid Alberto a lot of attention. He’s slim, and twenty-four, and nice looking, so of course. I don’t think he’s gay, and I don’t think he’s sleeping with Rufina. Sometimes there seem to be more gay men in Tel Aviv than felafels.
The three of them are tightly bound together and I’m only a guest member of their club. They all seem bored, and need stimulation that they no longer find in each other and don’t know how to look for elsewhere. I’m the only one of us who has Israeli friends, or even speaks to the locals.
I shared many evenings with this group, but this was the last I spent with all three of them: Alberto returned to Rome soon after, Rufina went to Kazakhstan for six weeks to be with her husband, and Nathan went to Palma for August.
I walked back, just in time for a rosé at the Olive Korner. The young of Tel Aviv were returning from dinner with their families and building up to a banging Friday night. I was ready for bed.
Today’s word: ruh-ev – hungry – רעב