My fiend and guru Jerami has been trying to introduce me to her friend Ayal. He’s taken, but she says he’s such a quality and connected guy, just the kind of person I really ought to meet.
I haven’t been doing squat socially. I mean I’m a very social guy, but I seem to be getting my fix from the kids in Ulpan and the drunks in AA. With the Ulpan kids, it’s just in the classroom, and with the AA guys, I do manage to go out with them after meetings for coffee. It’s enough.
But, dates? Dancing? Enjoying music and boy-watching in a bar, maybe even meeting someone there? Going out to dinner with friends from Ulpan? Nope, nope, nope and nope. There just isn’t time. With school, full time work, and homework to not fall behind in school, it’s just not realistic for me right now. And that’s OK, it really is. By September, Ulpan will be over, and I’ll be able to go to the beach in the mornings before work, or go out to a club at night and sleep in late the next morning.
But nowadays, between the Big Three (school, work, homework) I have to make choices everyday among which of the Second Tier things I can get done (Bike ride? Yes, but then no blogging. Physical therapy exercises for elbow? Yes, but then no time to run errands. Video Skype my 1-year-old niece? Yes, but then no jogging.)
But Jerami convinced me to elevate the importance of getting a social life. So, I emailed Ayal and asked him out for coffee. He emailed back and said he was meeting friends at a cafe later that same night and invited me to join. I said yes.
I rode my bike over at the right time and met Ayal in the lovely cafe adjoining the brand new LGBT community center in Gan Meir Park. At first it was just he and I. He’s really sweet. Then, we were joined by his friend Eyal. Very nice, also. Then another friend of theirs who lives now in Germany but is back visiting joined us. Then, three more peeps.
Finally we were a group of seven. It was very nice. Very reminiscent of haning out with my Girls back home – Marty and Stu and Alan and Bruce and Scooter and so on, at like, The Dish or Patsy’s or something. Sometimes the conversation was in English for my benefit. But the default was Hebrew, and we they kept going back into it. Sometimes one of the boys would catch me back up real quickly in English (“We’re talking about a famous TV host, who was just arrested today for having been behind assaults at several people at the network that dropped his show last year.”)
But when we they weren’t talking in English, and when someone wasn’t personally checking in with me to make sure I was understanding, I was just left to smile and nod, smile and nod, nod and smile. It can be embarassing; not just because you’re not understanding and just smiling/nodding, but because everyone knows you’re not understanding and just smiling/nodding. Poor her, they must be thinking. Not understanding a word of this, having to fake enjoyment when she feels so left out. Poor guy, I bet it’s awkward.
Maybe that’s just self-centered fear. For sure, I am not so important that everyone at the table is thinking about what’s going on in my head. But some of them are probably thinking thoughts like this some of the time. I remember hanging out with my friends Tony and Allan and Jon Ross and Tony’s wife Maki. Maki is Japanese. I don’t know how much English she really knows, but when we’re all hanging in a group, she doesn’t really speak much. You become aware of it and wonder – Am I being rude? Does she understand what we’re saying? Should I slow down and keep checking in with her, asking if she understood? No, that’s just too much work, and she lives in the U.S. a long time; she probably understands, or at least…it’s not really my problem. Ah, so maybe this is what it was like to be her with us last summer.
So I was happy I did something social, and happy to feel a part of a group of friends, but a little sad that it was so much effort to stay feeling connected, and even then I was being left out a lot.
It’s OK, Scott. Just keep practicing your Hebrew…
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