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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Out on a school night

Wrong turns were inadvertently made… diets were reluctantly broken… but in the end, a very good time was had by all.

Yesterday evening Zahava and I placed our progeny in the capable hands of a babysitter and set out for the big city.

Tel Aviv, that is.

This by itself would have been newsworthy since apart from a brief visit at her father’s hotel, Zahava had never been to Tel Aviv before. However, it was also remarkable because our destination was not just Tel Aviv, but rather a specific restaurant on the Tel Aviv waterfront where a perfectly charming couple waited for us to join them for dinner.

I’ll admit that for most of a week I’d been looking forward to this dinner with a mixture of pleasant anticipation and mild trepidation. Zahava and I had briefly met the fairer half of this couple at the Anglo-Israeli blogmeet back in the fall, but knew her husband only through cryptic references to him on his wife’s blog. Yet, being long-time readers of ‘Not A Fish’, it was hard not to be excited about the prospect of a pleasant dinner with ‘Imshin’ and ‘Bish'.

I’ll assume that Imshin’s directions were flawless… brilliant… even worldclass. But for some reason my printer didn’t feel I would need the last two or three words in each sentence, a detail that had escaped my notice until we were already on the Ayalon freeway. After only a few wrong turns we arrived at our destination…  only 15 minutes late.

Once inside we quickly found Imshin and Bish waiting for us at a cozy corner table. As we walked over to them Imshin and I did ‘the dance’. You know, that awkward, flat-footed thing that religious and secular folks do when they don’t know each other well and aren’t sure what sort of a greeting is appropriate.

I would have happily gone with a chaste kiss on the cheek (chalk it up to my secular upbringing), but Imshin was clearly debating with herself as to whether even a handshake would be appropriate. In the end we just stood grinning at each other until Bish saved the day by extending his hand and introducing himself.

With the introductions out of the way, we took our seats and began chatting easily about the beautiful harbor setting, the attractive décor and the enticing menu. One look at the menu dashed any lingering hopes I might have had about sticking to my diet. I was prepared for the sacrifice though, and bravely ordered about a bazillion grams of carbohydrates in various liquid and solid forms. For the sake of a new friendship, sometimes sacrifices have to me made. :-)

Now, Zahava and I occupy (no pun intended) a very different part of the Israeli political/religious spectrum than Bish and Imshin. This is not to say we are polar opposites by any means, but at first blush there are more differences immediately apparent than similarities. However, throughout the evening, as we swapped parenting stories and spoke of our vacations and jobs, I was reminded again and again of the many values and experiences we share… as parents and as Israelis.

During the meal Bish pleaded my case admirably with Zahava over a certain transportation issue and then warmed my heart again by professing his love for the coffee bean. By the time the desert menu was brought out Imshin and Zahava had teamed up on the phenomenon of male mid-life crisis and the wisdom of granting some, but certainly not all, of the wishes that men make at this complex stage in their lives. All in all we talked a good talk and I never once caught myself being cautious about where the conversation might lead.

I must say it was refreshing to spend an evening out without being religious or secular or right wing or left wing or any sort of hyphenated thing at all… except perhaps a bunch of parents out on a school night… having a nice time.

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Posted by David Bogner on February 1, 2005 | Permalink

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An historic outing in the Israeli blogosphere. David and Imshin double date. Left meets right! Religious meets secular! "Settlers" meet North Tel Avivis! And everybody has a good time! Let's all hold hands and sing "Kumbaya!" I'm so relieved that... [Read More]

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I would like to inform you folks out there that David is just as funny in person, as he is in print. Maybe more. He had us rolling in the ails...er...isles...er...ayles (oh never mind, you know what I mean).

I had the advantage on David because I'd already met (and knew I liked) Zahava, on e-mail and in person.

Posted by: Imshin | Feb 1, 2005 6:44:22 PM

The dance

I love that you brought this up. This is a very awkward thing for folks like me who didn't grow up religious (and I don't need any help being awkward). I grew up hugging my friends (male and female) especially if I hadn't seen them in a while. Now, the standard in our community is clearly that there should be no affectionate touch between men & women except if they're married to each other. (When I first heard our Rabbi say this, I asked "Hostile touching is OK?") I can live with that, but about half the congregation doesn't, so we end up doing the dance even among religious people. And then, if I'm the one who doesn't extend a hand or lean forward for a friendly peck on the cheek, the other person thinks that I'm more religious or more stuffy than she is, when actually I was just trying to figure out what she wanted 'cause I don't really care. It's a rough thing for an introverted geek like me who just wants to follow whatever rule everyone else is.

I've largely solved the problem by greeting all females with a friendly squeeze of the boobs. Gotta go. Police at my door.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 1, 2005 7:32:06 PM

drat! forgot to close an italics tag. sorry.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 1, 2005 7:33:43 PM

Oh, no! It didn't let me close it in the second comment. This is my last attempt. I appologize.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 1, 2005 7:35:42 PM

Can I change my Photo Friday request? I want a photo of "the dance". It can be strangers. It can be people wearing a paper bag to prevent recognition. Or photoshop their faces. Can I change my request? Please?

[say 'thank you', Doc Bean ;) ]

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Feb 1, 2005 8:26:33 PM

Doc Bean, you need to free your hands to be able to close those italics! LOL!

I know the dance. Even worse, I am often having the dance with other women just as secular as myself. To kiss or not to kiss? Once or twice? Sigh...

Posted by: Alisa | Feb 1, 2005 8:42:34 PM

mademoiselle a: Thanks! You're my hero. How'd you do that?

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 1, 2005 8:47:24 PM

Doc...I did it, you talked about it ;) [I closed the tag at the beginning of my post]

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Feb 1, 2005 11:27:11 PM

I don't know what the heck you people are talking about. I will say this, however. As an avid non-hugger, being even nominally Orthodox has been a breath of fresh air. Just stand back, and everyone thinks you're frum. Still got a couple of guys who kiss though. Oh well, at least I don't have to worry about the Rabbi.
P.S. Isn't it nice that I married Dr. Bean. Now, none of the rest of you have to put up with him. Most of the time.......

Posted by: Ball-and-chain | Feb 2, 2005 4:15:47 AM

Um, other women being secular is probably beside the point, now that I think about it...

Posted by: Alisa | Feb 2, 2005 1:17:14 PM

Can we have a special guest Photo Friday of Dr. Bean saying hi to the Rebbetzin at his shul?

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Feb 2, 2005 8:21:27 PM

Imshin... Did you mean funny 'hah ha', or perhaps funny like the way potato salad starts to smell after a couple of weeks in the back of the fridge? :-)

Doctor Bean... Hey now, this is a family blog... we'll have none of that! :-) And were'n't the one who forgot to close their tag last time as well??? I may have to pull your HTML privilges.

Mademoiselle a. ... Like I said, I doubt I'd be lucky enough to be able to capture such a moment. And thanks for cleaning up after Doctor Bean.

Alisa... I was going to say something about the gir-girl thing but you caught yourself. Maybe among lesbians there might be a problem... I'd have to check that. :-)

Andy... If he sends in such a pic, I pledge here and now to post it.

Posted by: David | Feb 2, 2005 11:47:59 PM

Ball and Chain... thanks for 'taking one for the team'.

Posted by: David | Feb 3, 2005 12:43:33 AM

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