We got off work for ‘Yom Yerushalyim’ so naturally, I left Jerusalem and headed straight for Tel Aviv.
I hate crowds. And zealotry.
But I also hate beaches. What’s a girl to do?
My girlfriend, who instigated the little trek to Tel Aviv, was incredulous. Who doesn’t like the beach?
Me. I hate sun, for starters. And happy, glowing people. And sand. Oh, and water. And wearing a bathing suit. Especially wearing a bathing suit.
"You’re going to learn to love the beach," was all my friend said.
And, in a way, while I did not change my mind, I did enjoy myself. Because we three ladies had had a leisurely lunch on the Namal and then wandered over to the beach. It was already late afternoon, not terribly hot, and pretty empty.
The only problem was I had forgotten to bring a book. Who can sit by the beach without reading? I mean, I don’t swim. And it goes without saying that I wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, so while my friends went in the water, I was forced to stare at all the people passing by.
Which is how I became fixated on the young couple smooching up a storm in front of me. The girl, her hair so blonde it was almost white, had one of the prettiest faces I have ever seen, if you go for that kind of thing: Tiny upturned nose, sparkly blue eyes. She was wearing a bikini, which just showcased her complete lack of body fat, cellulite, too. The lucky lamb.
And next to her, panting like a hungry dog and so proud of his gorgeous, most likely Swedish girlfriend he could barely contain himself, was a dark-skinned, muscular Israeli man in bathing trunks and a bare chest the better to reveal not only a fine pair of pectorals, but also a few well-placed tattoos. (At least he was wearing a proper bathing suit, and not his underwear and lest you think I’m kidding I invite you to visit the beaches of Israel and see for yourself how the men prance around in their undies!)
But I digress. I was talking about the young lovers.
I was obsessed with them at first because they looked so different from each other – he so dark, and she, while her skin was tanned, so light. And far be it from me to judge a book by its cover but I really doubt she was Jewish. In short, they were both delighted in the exotic stranger they each were lucky enough to snag.
"He found himself a foreigner," was how my friend put it.
I wondered what language they were speaking. "Probably English," said my friend, and she was right. I know this because, ever the reporter, I pulled myself off my lounge chair and trotted towards the water to stand right next to them to listen with my own ears, which wasn’t easy because of the roaring waves. Someone should have handed me a Nobel Prize for reportage.
But yes – they were speaking English. An impressive feat since it was neither of their first languages.
Now if you think the point of this is moral superiority and anger against a Jewish Israeli who has to choose the "other" at the expense of all the lovely young daughters of Israel, well, that’s not going to happen. I’m too old and cranky. I don’t give a rat’s rear-end who this guy dates. Plus, he’s young. Whomever he dates now will not necessarily be who he ends up with for life.
Beyond that, I understand the appeal of the "other." Not that I ever go for the other, romance-wise. I happen to like Jewish men and always have. But I understand theoretically why someone exotic, someone so different from you, would be appealing.
But what I realized later was that the real reason I couldn’t stop staring at this couple was because it brought me back to that love bubble feeling: That feeling of total and complete "hearts in your eyes" for someone else.
I know, I know, it’s been a long time, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten. Which is another way of saying: I remember, I remember! And what I remember is that rush, that heady feeling. That feeling of being so alive and so happy. And how everything is just a little bit crisper: colors, sounds, smells. Not that you actually register anything else. That is why I knew it didn’t matter how close I stood to this couple on the beach because, as my friend pointed out, I was practically on top of them. But it didn’t matter since they only had eyes for each other.
The good news is I don’t believe this love bubble is only reserved for the young and body fat-less. I know it is possible for everyone, even cranky-pants beach haters. Which is another way of saying, Please G-d, may it happen speedily and in our day!