Jewish Journal


by Tiferet Peterseil

January 28, 2010 | 12:27 pm

What's behind that smile? (http://bit.ly/9xjuJb)

“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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