October 25, 2019
A Kosher Love Story: Chapter 1
I decided to pack my bags and visit Nate. I clearly didn’t learn any lesson from the past, but this time, I didn’t think there’s a lesson to learn. I’m not chasing after a guy who doesn’t know what he wants, trying to decrypt text messages or wondering why he never called back. I really felt that this time was different.
Though our first date and weekend getaway were everything you’d see in a chick flick, I wanted to see where he came from. So, I bought a ticket for a weekend trip to Tel Aviv.
I heard the best way to get to know a man is to invade his personal space and intensely observe how he treats his mother. And since I’m a master at both these things, I figured it was better to do it sooner than later. Though my threshold for disappointment was at an all-time high, I was bursting at the seams.
I got on the plane and took an aisle seat. Not many people like the aisle seat, but I have a small bladder and am a firm believer in the freedom to pee. Plus, the idea of plunging to my death while looking out the window in a metal tube unsettles me.
An hour and a half into the flight, a man collapsed from his seat, groaning in pain. Fuck me, he better not die right now, I can’t have this plane turning back. But wait, if we’re halfway there…then we keep going, right? I think they just throw a blanket over him…maybe I should ask one of the flight attendants…where’s that help button.
One of the airplane attendants dramatically yelled out Hebrew to what I only can assume was something like, “is there a doctor onboard?”
Half the plane rose themselves out of their seats, pushing and shoving each other, fighting for their fifteen seconds of fame. Wait, all these old guys are doctors? Are you fucking kidding me? It’s like half the plane. Wait, we can’t have half the plane at the front, this thing is going to fucking tip. I took a couple of deep breaths while anxiously grasping onto the armrest. Yes, this armrest will save me.
Eventually, one of the cardiologists won, and all rest slowly walked back to their seats in shame. I shook my head as they walked by, gently reminding them that they should have specialized; it’s just not worth being a GP.
Minutes later, the flight attendant announced the man was fine. It turned out, he had a severe case of trapped farts.
The plane landed around midnight and I headed through the terminal, towards customs. Blindly, I chose the customs line full of blonde, female Russians. A couple of minutes into the line, I noticed most of them didn’t make it through. Instead, they’re escorted to a small room with a coca-cola vending machine. From my experience, vending machines are never a good sign. My turn came up. I walked up to the customs agent, smiled, and gave her my passport.
“Why did you come here?” she asked expressionlessly.
“Oh, my boyfriend lives here,” I replied chipperly, “I’m here to see him.”
She looked at me, said my name out loud, and pointed to the little room on the side, keeping my passport, “go there.”
Confused, I headed to the small room that’s full of plastic-y Russian women. I casually squatted in the corner, while observing the crowd. Most of them were either trying to look my age or are my age but look like they’re fifty. Either way, there was enough silicone there to build a life-raft.
As I looked around, I jotted down the similarities of these women. They…hmm…all look the same… the fake lips and tits… they have this…vibe…oh no… oh fuck, fuck, fuck, do they think I’m a Russian hooker?
I texted Nate anxiously, “they think I’m a Russian hooker. They took my passport and I’m now in a small room full with a bunch of Russian hookers.”
“What? You don’t even look Russian…how do you know they’re prostitutes? Did someone say something?”
I replied. “Okay, they don’t have an “I’m a hooker” sign on their chest, but you know…they’re giving the vibes.” Fuck, I don’t want him to think I’m closed-minded. “Not that there’s anything wrong with being a hooker,” I typed quickly, “you know, they should be allowed to do their thing, but I prefer not being labeled as something I’m not.”
“I know you’re not against hookers. Are you always such a bullshitter? ;)”
Did he just call out my bullshit? No one has done that before. “Yes, yes I am. There, I admit it! Now please, get me out of here.”
“Hold on, let me see what I can do.”
A couple of minutes later, Nate sent me another text, “I called my cousin who works at the airport. He told me last week, some organization was caught trafficking Russian women here for prostitution. So… there’s not much we can do. We’ll just have to wait it out.”
Hours pass, now four in the morning, and the small room slowly filtered out platinum blonde women in stilettos. Most of them were eagerly running through customs, waving their visas in the air, as they yelled out joyful phrases in Russian.
You’d think I would have learned some Russian while sitting in that room, but I didn’t use my time wisely. Instead, I squatted in the corner and wallowed in self-pity. I want to run with my visa in the air. What the fuck. Why the fuck does she get into the country. I dress nice, yeah, I’m a little sweaty, but fuck her! I’m a Canadian citizen!
But, none of that mattered. In that room, we were all hookers.
“Natasha,” a deep, manly voice called out.
I stood up quickly, grabbed my things and followed the echo.
I walked down a narrow hallway, into another small room. There was a man sitting behind a desk. “Please, sit down,” he said. I looked are his name tag ‘Vladimir.’ He’s fucking Russian. I forced a smile and took a seat.
“Do you know why you’re here?”
“Well, to be honest, and I understand she was doing her job, but I think the customs lady thought I was a Russian hooker.” I giggled nervously, he stared at me in silence. “I, uh, stood in this line full of Russian women, that, in hindsight, were giving off sketchy vibes. And my name is Natasha, and I remember when I went to Istanbul, they said Natasha was actually a code name for a hooker there, so I thought, uh…”
I adjusted my coat and crossed my legs, “ha, well, let’s just say, these past four hours gave me a lot of time to, uh, put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
He blinked a couple of times, grasping his thoughts, “why are you here?”
“Oh,” I smile, “my boyfriend lives here.”
“Where does he live?”
“Uh, B-b-be… I can’t remember the name exactly, but he lives in Jerusalem – close by anyways.”
“Where are you staying?”
“With him. Well, with his family. He, uh, lives with his family.”
“And they’re okay with you staying with them?”
“Uh, I guess so? He told me his family is traditional. I’m not quite sure what that means…I’m not Jewish, but I’m here so they’d probably have to be okay with it, right?”
He looked at me with his eyebrows raised, “let me get this straight,” he leaned back in his chair, “you’re going to stay with your boyfriend in the house of his religious family during your first-time here?”
My forehead started to sweat, “well, uh, when you put it like that, it’s a, uh, it sounds uh, hmm, uh—“
He laughed, “okay Natasha, and how did you meet him?”
For a brief moment, my anxiety drifted and I started to ramble, “okay, well, he was on a road trip around the Balkans, we matched on Tinder, which by the way I was completely over it at the time. But there was something about him, you know what I mean? Anyways, he asked me out for a coffee. And uh, we had this amazing first date and kept talking for a month straight, and then he came over to see me in Belgrade if you can imagine, he even met my family. And then we decided that I would come to him and meet his family and, you know, see how it goes. So, I bought a ticket and now I’m here.”
He looked at me for a moment, took a deep breath, slid my passport out from under his keyboard, flipped through it, stamped it, sighed heavily and mumbled “American,” under his breath.
He nodded his head in disbelief and handed me my passport. “Welcome to Israel.”