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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 | Comments (13) | TrackBack