It's not me; it's a Jerusalem thing

I get hit on a lot. And as a 41-year-old woman, let me tell you: It's very gratifying.

The thing is, though, it actually has very little to do with me.

It's a Jerusalem thing.

How have I determined this? If it had to do with me personally, I would get hit on everywhere I went. But this phenomenon appears to be pretty much relegated to Jerusalem.

I will concede to one contributing factor for which I actually am responsible: I dress like a woman, and not an Israeli woman. And Jerusalem men love foreign women.* (I seem to recall a warning in the Bible concerning that...)

Most of the interactions are pleasant and flattering; endearing, even. Then there are the odd, surreal, funny or nerve-wracking incidents. Here are some of the more memorable ones:

The good

The religious American guy in the street who approached me very sweetly, saying, "I've heard women complain that men don't know how to approach them. So I thought I'd just try speaking to you." 
Isn't that nice? Kudos to him for the courage it took.
When I pointed out that he was religious and I was not - and that, in fact, I was on my way to my Messianic congregation, he asked if he could join me. He accompanied me into the building. When he realized he would need to climb the 12 floors to the meeting hall (no Shabbat elevator), I could see the wheels in his head turning as he calculated whether or not this would be worth the effort. He decided against it.

The bad

The taxi driver with the most rudimentary of English language skills who - of course - insisted on speaking English with me
After spending the first few minutes of the ride denigrating the neighborhood where I live in the most disparaging terms, he asked whether I was single. (I don't lie; not even when I see what's coming next.)
His line, in heavily accented Hebrew:
"You are seen-gle; I am seen-gle. Why not?"
Why not, indeed.

The absurd

The clerk from the corner shop where I buy milk, in his early 20s, who saw me in the street and insisted on getting my number because he wanted to talk to me about something
I tried... I tried!!!... to avoid giving it to him... I sensed trouble... but I'm Canadian and didn't want to hurt or offend him, so I gave in. That evening, around 10 PM, a Very Long WhatsApp conversation ensued, the gist of which was something like this:
"Can I come over for coffee?"
I politely worded my negative response.
"Actually, there's someone I wanted to set you up with. He's... [list of positive attributes]."
I explained about my faith, and why it couldn't work out with this person.
"What about one night stands? Are they out of the question?" (I will confess, that one shocked me.)
Yes, one night stands are REALLY, REALLY, REALLY out of the question.
After expressing agonizingly long-winded concern that I was denying myself happiness because of my boundaries with men to whom I am not married, he concluded with:
"So... can I come over for coffee right now?"
I am NOT making this up.

The man in a big black Mercedes SUV (*sigh*... beautiful car) who stopped to ask me for directions as I was walking to work. 
His destination was straight ahead, but he couldn't drive that way because of irrational Jerusalem traffic restrictions. I apologetically gave him long, convoluted, detailed directions (the very same way I would take). He looked at me askance and said, "There must be a simpler way." I assured him very earnestly that no, there really wasn't. He repeated that there must be, and waited, as if to give me another chance... then thanked me and took off, completely ignoring my directions.
I watched him go in the opposite direction, and my brain started cogitating. Actually... going his way meant that he could turn right! and then turn right again! and then left! and he would reach his destination in half the time!
Argh. I felt so stupid... and yet simultaneously joyful at having discovered this new and wonderful shortcut.
I drove this new course a few times a month (until they changed the roads), grateful for the shorter trajectory, though the recollection of how it came to me filled me with momentary mortification every. single. time.

Honorable mention

The shuk vendor at the tea and spice shop (at least a decade and a half younger) who proposes passionately every time I walk by
Thank you, I'm flattered. But you can stop now, it's making me uncomfortable.

In conclusion:
Women, if you want to feel desirable, here's my advice. Put on a skirt and come to Jerusalem. Walk around the shuk area, the Old City, or go into a hardware store, and I promise you all the attention you could possibly want, and much, MUCH more.

* Jerusalem men love foreign women so much so that we warn our female volunteers that they should expect to get hit on a lot and that it's a cultural thing they shouldn't take too seriously.


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