Quite a number of expats work out at the same gym as me. Completely American with no connection to Israel or the Jewish people, these men stand out like sore thumbs in this city filled with people from every place you can imagine. Even the Southeast Asian workers fit in more than they do.
I have made friends with some of these guys, in the gym. I’m not really sure why – they tend to stick to themselves – some combination of fluent English, my serious approach to working out (unlike most Israelis who seem to approach it as more of a social exercise) and not looking down on them for not being Jewish or interested in Judaism. Maybe.
One is already quite a good friend. Last night, I gained a few more when I went to eat barbeque, drink beer and watch football. It was me and five of them, all of whom I recognized and two of whom I would already consider kind-of-friends. They tracked the stats online as we watched, swore like militarymen, talked shit about a girl who one of them had been involved with and was now trying to extract himself from, and talked shit about each other and the other guys they work with. One spent the first hour quietly reading a playboy cover to cover, then dozed as he watched the game.
It was so much fun. In the beginning I asked if I was allowed to ask questions and was told, “It depends on the question. Ask and we’ll let you know if it’s better to keep your mouth shut.” I kept my mouth shut.
I miss things like this, just hanging out without politics or religion being discussed or even mentioned. When I moved here part of what I loved (and still love) about it is that people know about issues, and they care, and they can and will discuss it whenever, wherever. But there is something to be said for being able to just let it all go, watch the game and talk as much bullshit as you can about everything. Oh and I am proud to report that I even know who won (Green Bay) and that I asked an intelligent question about lateral passing! I don’t remember the answer.