Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
“Come again?” I blurt out, choking on my wine as it splashes out of my mouth and all over the place. I turn to my date, propped up on the bar stool next to me. “I probably didn’t hear you correctly. Because I thought you said the story starts with you and TWO women.”
It’s only our second date, and here I thought we’re still at the harmless anecdotes stage. Silly me. After two cups of whiskey, my over confident date obviously feels the need to impress me on a whole new level…
“Now I’m afraid to tell you the story,” says my date, nervously handing me some napkins while I try to find an elegant way to wipe the wine off my face. “I mean, the story is about TWO girls…but I don’t want you to get upset or anything.”
“Not at all!” I lie through smiling teeth, trying to calculate the precise route my fist would take to his face.
“Oh, okay,” the idiot breathes a sigh of relief. “I was beginning to think you’re some sort of prude.”
“Me? No way! I’m not shocked or horrified at all!” I ramble. “Why settle for one when you can get two?! In fact, why would you settle for two when you could probably get a whole handful of women…” at this point my date is beaming proudly, and I think even flexing his muscles, convinced I believe him to be nothing short of a Greek God. I quickly raise my glass in the air, “to hell with monogamy!” and gulp down the remainder of my wine.
That’s when the laughing starts. No, I’m not the one laughing, and neither is Mr. Porn Star here. Rather, a very tipsy woman sitting two seats away from him is laughing so hard, tears are beginning to well up in her eyes.
Is she laughing at us? Sure, she’s looking at us, and true, she’s even pointing at us while snickering something in Russian… but—what could she possibly find funny about our conversation?
“You guys are so cute!” she says in a thick, Russian accent, and raises her glass to cling against ours. She winces at the sound, which is clearly too loud for her inebriated state of mind. I’m guessing she’s somewhere in her thirties, although it’s hard to tell with all the make-up she’s wearing. I note the thick layer of mascara weighing down her eyelids, as she squints, attempting to focus her gaze on us. Then she places her available hand on my date’s shoulder to steady herself. “You’re like two angels… in love… bless you!” she hiccups, and awkwardly leans over to kiss his cheek. That I could deal with, but then she reaches out an arm, grabs me by the sleeve and pulls me in for a big wet one. The alcohol fumes mixed with her cheap perfume are more than my nostrils can bare, and I bashfully try to pry her lips away from my cheeks. Plus, I wouldn’t want Hulio here to get any ideas.
“Thanks…. I guess. Bless you too!” I reply, pretending it isn’t weird at all that she’s now holding my hand and caressing it endearingly in her perfectly manicured hands. My date can’t stop grinning.
“Such angels!” she reaches over to pinch both our cheeks and shouts out, “Merry Christmas and a Happy Purim!” and breaks out into a laughing fit once again.
I notice a half empty vodka bottle along with a bunch of shot glasses placed in front of her on the bar.
“How long are you in Israel for?” I ask, figuring she’s a lonely tourist in need of some company.
“11 years,” she burps out, and downs another two shots then proceeds to blow kisses, accompanied by a gust of alcohol fumes, in our direction. I fidget uneasily, unsure which of us were intended to be the recipient of her kisses, and debating which alternative makes me more uncomfortable.
“Oh,” I reply, holding my breath. “I didn’t realize you actually live here. What do you do for a living?”
“I am nice Jewish Girl,” she answers, seeming like she might fall off the stool any moment. Then she winks. “I am prostitute.”
We both laugh. Mainly because we figure that’s some sort of Russian joke we didn’t get due to her broken English. But realizing we aren’t taking her seriously, she immediately sobers up, and stops swaying long enough to say: “No, really. See?” and just like, she rips open her shirt, revealing a very provocative push-up bra underneath. And just to prove how comfortable she is, she chuckles, and reaches for another shot.
Horrified, I look from the half naked woman to my date, who I could swear is actually drooling. He tries to call for the bartender, but his panting tongue is getting in the way of his speech, and he reverts to clumsily snapping his fingers. The bartender races over, whiskey bottle in hand, and stops short at the sight of our topless companion.
“Whoa!” he says delightedly, “I see you guys have really opened up to each other!” and without lifting his gaze from her chest holds out the bottle towards us, nearly hitting my escort in the face with it, and asks, “top you off?” My date nods vigorously and finally I lean over and angrily force his jaw closed.
“Aren’t you cold?” I ask her gently, trying to figure out the best strategic approach to closing her shirt for her, as she ripped off most of the buttons. But the woman is simply sitting there, erect and proud, seeming very pleased with herself. Then she bursts into giggles again and gulps down another shot.
I’m already planning on giving her my jacket, I’m imagining pulling out my sofa bed for her, adopting her to my family and friends, and helping her find a more dignified job, where she can utilize and fulfill her hidden talents. Of the other kind…
But my one-woman rescue mission is abruptly cut-short when a sleazy-looking man she seems to recognize approaches the bar, and tells her it’s time to go. Before I can react, she and her breasts hop off the stool, and waves merrily to me, zigzagging towards the entrance with the man’s arm wrapped around her waist.
“Some gal, huh?” the bartender turns to us, smiling from ear to ear. My date smiles back, and if I didn’t think he was classy enough, tops it off with a whistle.
I’m not sure what’s more disturbing, the scenario I have just witnessed, or the nonchalant reactions from the members of the opposite sex, who clearly feel they have gained dinner AND a show. Either way, I’m so shocked, I can barely blink.
“What’s the matter?” my Apollo asks me, un-phased by the fact that the woman didn’t wander off with me, her future foster home, but rather with her future client.
“She’s going to work now,” I whisper miserably.
“Aw, stop worrying about it. She chose her work. Didn’t she seem happy enough to you?”
Could he be right? I mean, otherwise, why was she laughing? Had she simply had too much to drink? Or maybe she was laughing at my innocence? At my naïve outlook which led me to be shocked by a ménage-a-trois story.
I look at the empty shot glasses on the bar, I sniff at the remainder of her perfume fragrance still looming in the air, and notice a shirt button on the stool where she was sitting. I bite my lip as a daunting realization crosses over me.
“What is it?” my date asks, and when I don’t respond, folds his arms in frustration. “Are you still upset about the story with the two women?”
I shake my head and flash him my most reassuring, yet completely fake, smile. I giggle nervously, trying to swallow back my tears.
I finally understand why the woman seemed so chipper. It wasn’t the alcohol, or because we were funny. She wasn’t happy at all. The only reason she was laughing, was simply so she wouldn’t cry.
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January 5, 2010 | 4:18 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
An actress has many faces, but they’re not just for getting into character. They’re for living life.
Last Thursday, I put on my party face and set out to celebrate the New Year in Tel Aviv’s most happening scene, the Namal (harbor). But I hadn’t prepared myself for the zoo-like atmosphere, and even the incessant pushing of my 8 siblings didn’t prepare me for the likes of the mob trying to squish it’s way through the over-crowded night club doors. I was debating if any New Year’s party is worth losing 3 toes for, when out of the mass of humanity a strong hand offers me support. I grab the lifeline and find a tall, handsome man attached to it, and the crowd becomes background noise.
“You look like you could use another pair of elbows!” Prince Charming yells, and before I can react, he grabs me by the waist. Then he turns to the bouncer and tells him, confidently, “She’s with me. Right, doll?”
“Oh,” I say, discretely returning my pepper spray into my pocket. “Sure.”
2010, here I come! I think to myself as the bouncer parts the sea in front of us, allowing my Gallant Knight and I to enter the club. This is my lucky night! If only I’d known that I wasn’t the only one getting through the barricade. Good ol’ Murphy entered right behind me, determined to follow me into the new decade.
It isn’t long after we all shout “Happy New Year!” that I realize I have little to smile about—My wallet is missing. At first, determined not to give up my cool façade, I continue to dance nonchalantly, as my eyes frantically scan the crowded floor for my wallet. A woman in a state of panic is not a pretty sight. Which might explain why I had no trouble enlisting the help of hundreds of party-goers who went on all-fours, searching for my wallet. A few guys even offered to lift me above the crowd so I could get a better look at the dance floor, but I wasn’t sure about their “helpful hands”.
Okay, no big deal, I think logically. I’ll just make a couple of phone calls to cancel the credit cards. But of course, as I step out of the club to make the call, Murphy’s hot on my heels, and true to his style, my phone battery dies before I can dial. I almost forget to say good-bye to my disappointed date, who apologizes for not bringing along his white horse and chariot to give me a ride in, but quickly stuffs a 200 shekel bill into my pocket for the cab-fare home.
During the next twenty minutes I learn there’s no such thing as a vacant taxi on Sylvester, so I prepare for the mile and a half walk home – in heels.
“Listen,” I say out loud, turning to my invisible partner (for life?), “As much as I love companionship, don’t you ever take the night off?!”
HIS answer comes fast and furious.
The first morning of 2010 begins with a practical joke. My alarm clock decides to ring every half hour starting 4 AM. By 7, I rush out of bed, realizing that I’d better run to the bank so I have some cash until the new credit cards arrive. My philosophy is anything can be fixed with a good cup of coffee and cake, but of course the ants have gotten to the cake, and I forgot to buy milk yesterday. Never mind, I try to convince myself, It’s just a chance to start off the new Year with a new habit. I’ll go all out and make French toast. Too bad that only after attempting to crack the egg into the batter for the third time, do I remember the brilliant idea I had last week – to hard-boil all my eggs. It works out for the best, since a minute later my alarm clock rings again, causing me to jump up in surprise and spill the batter all over the place. I’ll just go buy a falafel!
“I’m afraid to go to the pool,” I confess to my sister over the phone, walking back from the bank whose brand-new policy is to be closed Fridays – starting today. “With the luck I’m having, I’d probably drown in the Dead Sea, never mind the swimming pool.” I’m frantically licking Tahini off my fingers, as the bottom of my pita rips open and the falafel balls race down the street. “And don’t get me started on all the things that can go wrong in the shower. Ever see Psycho?”
“Tiferet, you let one little event drag along an unnecessary chain reaction,” my sister points out in her usual logical fashion. “If fate was out to get you, a tree would fall on you in the middle of the street. What you have to do is think positive and the universe will reward you with good things. Who knows? Your wallet may even turn up.”
“Easy for you to say,” I retort. “Now that you’ve put the notion of a tree falling on me, how do I know the universe hasn’t heard you and is working on it as we speak?”
“Look at the up-side. With the money your shining knight gave you you’ll get through the weekend until the bank opens. And you’ll have your new credit card before you know it. So slap on a happy face and—“
“That’s just it,” I reply. “It’s bad enough dealing with the money loss, but all my membership cards were in my wallet. I dread to think what someone may be doing with my face!”
I’m normally a pretty optimistic person, I always try to roll with the punches, constantly adapting myself and switching my “masks” to fit the scene. But at this point, preparing for the worst seemed like the right tactic.
Only it wasn’t. I made an instant switch from my glum mask to my happy one when I received the call that my wallet had been found. Happiness leads to happiness and my White Knight called, asking me out on a date.
I grin, and turn to my imaginary side-kick. “Wearing you down, am I?”
After picking up my wallet, I’m so caught up in the euphoria of how everything has turned out for the best, how my sister may be right, and thinking positive makes the energy of the universe work in your favor, that I forget to worry about what can go wrong. As soon as I skip gleefully out of the building and onto the pavement, my right foot makes solid contact with a pile of not-so-solid dog-shit.
Crap! If I weren’t so busy “thinking positive”, I would’ve remembered to look a step ahead and prepare myself for the universe’s sense of humor.
Undaunted, I try to cheer myself up by going to a grocery store to buy a nice cool drink. I reach into my wallet to find I only have a few coins left.
“How much?” I ask the cashier, holding my breath and the bottle, hopefully.
“8 shekel,” she replies.
I spill the coins onto the counter and quickly add them up. To my utter disbelief, I have exactly the right amount. It seems the laws of universe and the laws of Murphy are fighting over me. Whether I’m in for the “worst of times” or the “best of times” I realize I should prepare to be surprised in 2010.
The teller, noticing I have exactly 8 shekels in small change, gasps excitedly and says: “Wow! This must be your lucky day!” She leans over and smiles knowingly: “You’d better go fill out a lottery form this instant!”
“I would,” I answer. “Except that I just gave you my last shekels.”
I grab my drink as Murphy and I make our way back home to scrub some shit out of my shoes. We’ve got a date to prepare for, with a guy who makes me want to throw away my pepper spray.
Not that I will. I don’t trust Murphy. Or the universe.
As far as I’m concerned, I wear my poker face from here on in!