Another example of how the culture is different here compared to the states is seen through the various ways men try to pick up women.
I am sure being hit on as an American is completely different than being an Israeli, but it is hilariously entertaining to be hit on here because the Israeli men are shameless and confident in all of their endeavors.
Just the other day I was walking to a friend’s apartment for lunch. I found myself getting a bit lost (weird, I know) so I started to text her for directions while walking.
I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. It was a cute young guy, who was looking at me like he knew me, even though he didn’t.
Before I had the chance to ask him if we had met before, he says to me in Hebrew (with a big smile on his face), “Hey, baby, why are you texting me? I am already right here.”
I told him, “I’m sorry but I speak English and am in a rush to meet my friend.” He said, in broken English, “well I can have your number? We can text for the reals?”
When I kindly declined, he protested that I should call him anyway, just to chat. He wouldn’t leave me alone and began to walk with me to my friend’s house. When I realized he was not going to leave me alone, I decided to take his number instead. After that exchange, he shrugged and gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek, and told me to “enjoy Israel, it was nice meeting you. And if you ever needed anything, let me know.”
All in all, I never really respond when I meet a guy randomly like this, especially at a bar (and even more especially on the street) because they are more persistent there. And it is only on a rare occasion where I will give my actual number out.
From my observations thus far, the men back home are a bit more relaxed and passive, and will back off when you tell them to. But here, and as a generalization, the men rarely accept no for an answer when you decline them your number.
Because of this, I insist on getting their number instead of them taking mine. So, as a result, I have found myself taking more numbers than I know what to do with. And instead of deleting their numbers after they save them into my phonebook, I will write one or two words after their names so I can remember where we met.
Well, my readers, I can assure you that I have an actively increasing contact list of men with very strange names and places. It’s almost like a social experiment for my phonebook.
Here is a list of the guys I have met so far (and will most likely never call) that are currently in my phone book:
Nadav bathroomline …(my ultimate favorite)
Ofir bathroomline2 …(my second favorite)
Despite this list, there is something really special about the guys (and girls here). Right after high school they serve their country in the army for 3 years (girls serve 2 years). And with that army experience, comes such an intense and passionate connection to Israel. This is hard for me to relate to, because I did not serve the army and go through the experiences that come with fighting for your country.
The men here are also very loving people amongst themselves. When you see a group of guys meeting at a coffee shop, they hug each other and kiss each other on the cheeks as if they were long lost brothers (even if they just saw each other yesterday.)
For example, I was on a bus the other day, and a soldier (probably around my age) stepped onto the bus. A guy who was sitting in the back of the bus recognized the soldier (they must have been old friends, or from the same unit in the army,) and yelled his name. When the soldier recognized the guy, they both ran to one another on the crowded bus and hugged. They stood there talking and catching up the whole ride, and when one of them had to get off the bus, they kissed each other on the cheek and the soldier said, “Love you brother, call me to talk soon!” It was so sweet, and, unfortunately, these bold and loving interactions seem to be rare in the states between young men.
So to be fair, although the men are aggressive and persistent, they are also kind and loving, and most likely love their moms a lot, and go to their parents’ houses every Friday night for Shabbat dinner.
And also, this is a huge generalization based on my experiences so far. There are many sensitive, caring, and less aggressive guys out here too. (One of which I gave my actual number to, and is very special to me.) But more on that later!