When I was in Israel, I had a job. Okay, technically it was an internship, but I did a heck of a lot more than just an intern including running the place for a whole month while the boss was doing army reserve duty. Some days I liked it, some days I didn’t, but every Sunday through Friday, I was at that theater, working away. In Israel, Friday and Saturday are their weekends which makes more sense if you ask me, but it also makes Tuesday Hump Day, which is confusing, and sometimes I’d forget and go to work on Friday and be confused when I’d be sitting at my desk for hours without seeing anyone else.
Around December, I got my first visitors from overseas. My parents and sister came over, and just as they were leaving, my friend Dan arrived on a Birthright trip from Boston. We met in Machane Yehuda and it was magic – four of my favorite people standing with me in a busy marketplace. I met Dan’s Birthright friends, and as it was a Friday, Dan and I planned to get together after Shabbat.
The next night, I take a bus over to the hotel where his group was staying (the Jerusalem Gate Hotel, which is at the complete opposite end of the city from where I lived :-/) Since his group was all at the upper echelon of Birthright-age-people (25-26 year olds), they had a “curfew” set by Birthright, but all that really meant was that they had to sign a check-in sheet at the hotel at 10 PM, and then do whatever the hell they wanted since they were legal in both Israel and America. So, Dan and everyone want to go to a club. I’m not a huge club-goer, but there is one club that I do know: Tza’atzua, which is near Ben Yehuda Street. It’s too far to walk, and nobody but me has a bus pass, so we flag down a cab and I tell the driver where we’re going, what neighborhood it’s in, to call and order 4 more cabs, and negotiate a price (all of which I did in Hebrew!). He happily called his friends, who showed up quicker than ambulances in many parts of the world, and we had a little cab caravan down the road, with me, Dan, and another guy in the front.
We get to the club, and get in line to get our IDs checked to get into the club. Somehow, Dan and I end up at the back of the line, which is rapidly expanding behind us. All of Dan’s friends get in, and then it’s me and Dan. Dan’s ID gets checked, and he’s in. My ID gets checked and “sorry, you can’t go in.”
In Israel, you can drink at age 18 (or 19, I can never remember), and most clubs are pretty lax anyway. I mean, people smoke in clubs, even though it’s not only frowned upon but actually illegal there. I tell them that there must be some mistake, I’m definitely of age.
Then they tell me, “Yes, but tonight we are having a 25-and-up night.”
Fuck. I’m screwed. I’m 22. And I just sent fifteen people into a nightclub in a city they’ve never been in that speaks a language that they don’t know. And Dan is standing there, like “I guess this is it for you then.”
So, what do I do?
Well, I really don’t want to go the club anyway…I just don’t want to abandon these people, and it’s late and I’m tired and I kinda want to go home because I have work and stuff to do tomorrow, and I’m sad, and frustrated, and a little bit angry.
I want to vocalize this and appeal to the bouncers.
So I do.
And it comes out of my mouth like this:
“…באסה. תראה, אני יודע שאני רק בן עשרים ושתיים ואני מאמריקה, אבל הם החברים שלי, ואני נשאר רק, כאילו, עשר דקות, כי אני צריך ללכת לעבודה בבוקר”
“Oh fuck. Look, I know I’m only twenty-two and I’m from America, but they’re my friends, and I’m only gonna stay for, like, ten minutes, because I have to go to work in the morning…”
The reason I put the ellipses there?
Once they heard me launch into Hebrew and mention the fact that I’m working in the morning, I get cut off, with…”b’seder (okay), go on in.”
I totally wasn’t expecting that, but hey, it worked. I guess Israel’s got some respect for its hard-working men, or barely-twenty-two-year-old-theatre-intern-type-people. But I don’t leave myself too much time to contemplate as I basically push Dan down the stairs and into the club, afraid that the intimidating guys at the entrance will suddenly change their minds. So we all made it in, an a big cheer came from the group when we entered. We all danced for a while – well, they did, I guess, I left pretty after maybe a half hour at most, making sure that between them they a) knew where they were going back to, and b) had enough cash to cover it.
I leave the club, nod at the bouncers, and guess who’s still there?
The cab guy, who’s just chilling out in the front seat of his cab, waiting for someone to drunkenly stumble out of the club so he can make some money. We notice each other as I pass, he thanks me for getting him some business, and asks me where I’m going. I tell him that I’m walking back to my place in Talpiot, I have to get to work in the morning.
“Get in, I’ll take you home. No charge.”
And that’s how I got a free cab ride home at the middle of the night in Jerusalem.