“Just say what happened,” Sa’ar tells me every time I have asked for his advice on how to write this part of the story.
“Yes but it all sounds wrong,’ I tell him. “What will people think of me? It comes across so bad.”
“But it wasn’t bad,” he says.
“What that I went home with you on the first night I met you? That sounds bad, there’s no two ways about it.”
“Yes but nothing happened,” he reminds me.
“What you think they’ll believe me? Everyone will think I’m a slapper.”
“But it wasn’t like that,” he says.
“Well I know it wasn’t like that, but how do you get it across that I’m sitting with you in a pick up bar and you’re trying to convince me to come back to your place. And I go!! You come out looking like a sleaze ball and I just look naïve and stupid. And I can’t get around it.”
“So you have to try and explain exactly what made you come with me that night. What was it exactly?”
“I don’t know. Something just happened.”
“So just explain what happened and leave it like that and let them think what they want.”
I pulled myself onto a bar seat next to Grizzly while Tanya was spinning around the bar, running into at least 7 people she had gone to school with, 9 people she had served in the army with and 25 people who knew her through her ex-husband who was some kind of elite commando and seemed to be on first name terms with every soldier who had served in the IDF. Grizzly, however, seemed to be well beyond the stage of lucid conversation and seemed quite happy drooped over his beer with his thoughts and so I turned round to speak to the guy who was sitting next to me.
He was a singer, he told me, a fact I immediately dismissed to mean that he sometimes strummed a guitar and belted out a few favorites around the camp fire after a few beers with mates, and when he asked me what I did, so keen was I to underline the fact that I would not be a willing partner in any form of chat up or pick up that I launched into an attack on all things Israeli and male, insisting they were a bunch of liars and connivers, with only one thing on their mind, in a vicious tirade that surprised even myself.
He, he insisted, was not a typical Israeli male.
All typical Israeli males, I insisted, say that.
He wasn’t put off and to prove his point he threw out a few impressions of the Tel Aviv beach-cruising types who stop and squat by all the foreign girls on the sand, affecting a deep interest in the book they are reading and eager to share their memories of that fortnight seven years ago that they spent with their cousin in Holland, or London, or Sweden or wherever the particular girl happens to hail from.
He made me laugh. And he kept on making me laugh. And what can I say; I’m a real sucker for people who make me laugh.
And then I just became more and more absorbed in everything he was saying, and he had these deep brown eyes and something so gentle in his face, his hands; there was no aggression, no edge, nothing ulterior, he looked honest, he looked good. Goodness seemed to pulsate from him; kindness, warmth, a shyness, an integrity. It was magnetic.
But I didn’t plan to go home with him. Even as our talking continued, ignoring the commotion of the night around us, brushing Tanya away when she swung by to yell in his ear “not to bother” with me as I was leaving the country, and barely even noticing when she and Grizzly went home and the bar was starting to empty around us and even the bar staff thought it was a sure thing.
I didn’t plan to go home with him even when we went down to the taxi and he gave the driver our separate addresses, and still didn’t when the barman came running down the stairs of the bar waving the bill in his hand that I had forgotten to pay. But as I was taking the notes out of my purse and Sa’ar was waiting patiently for me in the cab, I swear to God, I felt a little kick in my stomach and something said to me “Go with him.”
And I went. And make of that what you will.