By Melchett Mike
August 19, 2010
Just when you think that the chutzpah can’t get any worse, the Israeli will usually surprise you . . .
During a massage, last week, in her holiday home in Herzliya Pituach – the hot destination, these days, for British “Deckchair Zionists” – my friend Donna’s blissful indulgence was intermittently disturbed by a faint clicking sound.
She ignored it.
Opening her eyes, however, towards the end of the one-hour session, Donna caught her masseur, Avi, with one hand on her foot and the other typing a text (SMS) message on his mobile phone.
Now, call me old-fashioned, but I would say that a masseur on 300 shekels (50 British pounds) an hour can reasonably be expected to use both hands!
The incident reminded me of a university flatmate whose girlfriend, in the middle of doing something to him that he could not do to himself – would we males ever leave the house? – looked up to find him channel-hopping with the TV remote. (In his defence, there was footie on the box . . . but she gave him a mouthful anyway. The cheeky chappie, meanwhile, eventually migrated to his natural habitat . . . Israel.)
Such chutzpadik multitasking was also exhibited by an Israeli first date of mine who, on arrival at the pretty garden café handpicked by me – and having evidently resolved that I was not as attractive as I considered her – insisted on sitting inside, so that she would not miss any of the goings-on in the Israeli Big Brother house.
Indeed, the Israeli is a multitasker nonpareil, who can, for instance, smoke, devour garinim (sunflower seeds) and cuff the kids and/or missus . . . all while driving at excess speed, with one foot on the dashboard, cursing down his mobile and gesticulating at other road users.
While now – having lived here for over ten years – conditioned to Israeli chutzpah (and not averse to dishing out some of my own when required), I am also far less likely to put up with it . . .
Overhearing, in my local hummus place on Sheinkin, that I was flying back to London the following morning, an Israeli woman who I know from the area enquired whether I would mind taking something for her son, sojourning in Wood Green (of all places).
“Of course not,” I foolishly replied.
The woman scuttled away, returning a quarter of an hour later not with the latest Amos Oz novel or Arik Einstein disc, but with a plastic bag – from the makolet (supermarket) over the road – weighing several kilos and bursting with family-sized bottles of Osem tomato ketchup.
“He is used to it,” she declared, as if that should have been of interest to me.
Some years earlier, I would have been so taken aback by such chutzpah that my only reaction would have been momentary paralysis, an awkward smile, and a hasty unpacking of my suitcase to accommodate the condimentally-challenged nincompoops. And I may even have thanked her for selecting me for the honour.
But no longer.
“I’m not taking that,” I laughed, almost contemptuously. “I am already overweight.” I wasn’t. “Anyway, what’s wrong with Heinz?!”
What could she say? She had been outchutzpah’d.
You see, it is just that on encountering foreign accents – usually accompanied by indications of (relative) meekness – many of the natives see a flashing “Freier!” (sucker) sign.
And not to be taken advantage of here, one, regrettably, must become like them.
Avi “the Texting Masseur” no doubt calculated that – unlike his Israeli clients – Donna would not mind him sending SMS messages while he was supposed to be giving her a massage . . . and that, even if she did, the English lady would not say a word.
And he was, at least, half right.