Neri
Illustration by Avi Ofer
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A relationship with an ocean in the middle can cause anxiety. Until the next chapter, "elusive" is the best word to describe that fraction of a second, in which a fragment of a sentence or a fleeting glimpse transforms the mutual feeling of pleasantness and delight at hearing the voice/seeing the face of another into the thrill of falling in love - if only for an instant.

I once fell in love with a man because of a wonderful metaphor that emerged from his finely wrought lips, and in a French accent, too, but which later turned out to be the product of less-than-fluent Hebrew. Another man, Israeli-born, educated and of a mature age, filled my heart with that incomprehensible feeling when he asked me which newspaper Nahum Barnea wrote for; at the time, Barnea was my editor at the weekly Koteret Rashit.

A third man, newly divorced after a longtime marriage and numberless extramarital affairs, triggered a hormonal surge in me when he asked, in all innocence, whether I really wanted to tell him that straight men also have a feminine side. (Now, looking at that list of examples, I get the impression that what makes me fall in love with men, who, at least on paper, are highly intelligent, is some sort of latent stupidity that arouses empathy in me. )

I have often fallen in love because of a supreme demonstration of a sense of humor or a magnificently formulated remark. Not long ago I seriously considered falling in love with a man who started to whistle with astonishing accuracy Chopin's Mazurka No. 39 in B major, the notes of which Dorin Frankfurt in her infinite wisdom printed on the front of a T-shirt that I bought from her. But that man also ate with his mouth open. I have to say that I do not fall in love with people who sing the same song that I'm singing, but rather with those who know its proper name.

Because this column is aimed at both genders I cannot refrain from relating that the few men who fell in love with me generally explained this by citing attributes such as my sense of humor, intelligence, warm-heartedness or fiery spirit, or noting that I am an "earth mother" (I swear! ) or "larger than dreams." However, even superficial probing on my part made them admit that ultimately, behind the abundance of such important, primal qualities, lurk more prosaic elements such as a big chest or long legs. (In their defense, I can say that I too tend to pay more attention to character traits when they are wrapped in a handsome package. )

One distinctive case involved a man who took less interest in what was apparent to the eye and to this day says that the moment his soul became romantically intertwined with mine occurred when we were both walking on the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, from the Wise Auditorium toward the Popick Building, when suddenly we were assailed by a terrible odor.

"What a smell!" he said. In reaction, she (meaning I ) nervously sniffed her armpits and said, "I'm awfully sorry. You yourself saw that I showered this morning."

"You ninny," the man from the village whispered in my ear. "Don't you see they have spread manure on the grass here?"

In other words, he actually fell in love with my highly developed inferiority complex.

Here's a transcript of the Skype conversation I had with Greg Johnson on Tuesday afternoon, when it was 7 A.M. his time.

"Hi sweetie, it's really early, can you wait until I wash my face?"

"Okay, two minutes."

"Is it so urgent? Are you coming to visit?"

"Yes, it's urgent, and no, I am not coming to visit."

Three and a half (! ) minutes later:

"Sorry for the delay, I made coffee, too, want some?"

"Ha ha."

"So what happened?"

"I had a really scary dream about you last night. I dreamed that I met you, but that you are a lot shorter than I thought and also totally bald."

"Do you like bald guys? Should I shave my hair off?"

"Absolutely not ..."

"Did I also have a pot belly?"

"I see you don't have the patience to listen."

"Go ahead, talk."

"You didn't have a pot belly. You looked exactly like you, but in a miniaturized, bald version. We met at a cafe in Tel Aviv and I thought it was very natural that you were here and speaking to me in Hebrew and even without an accent.

"You know I can't come over."

"That has nothing to do with it now. So we talked and laughed, and you said you would come to my place in the evening and we would go to a concert and hear Chopin. You came over in the evening and I was very happy to see you - but then you said you were just going to pack your bag and leave. I asked where you were going, and you told me: I met a very special girl. I don't know how to say 'kusit al [mega babe]' in English ..."

"Excuse me, since when do I talk like that?"

"In the dream you talk like that. I am really amazed and say to you: After all we've been through! And you say: We sing the same song and play the same tune - she says I am her soul mate. And I ask you: Who is this woman? And you say: Her name is Dana Spektor.

"Is that someone you know? Was she prom queen in your school?"

"Idiot! There are no proms in Israel? Haven't you heard of Dana Spektor?"

"No, actually I haven't."

"You just made my day! Not to mention the fact that unlike the dumbbell in the dream, you are both tall and have lots of hair on your head. But I want you to know that I woke up with a terrible feeling and had a panic attack - I think that's what it's called - and I said to myself: 'I don't want to die alone. I don't want my children to visit me once every two weeks only because they feel it's their duty.' Now I think that what caused all this was that before I went to sleep, I watched on the Internet the last episode of a reality program that everyone here in Israel is talking about; even on the plane from Zurich, I saw in the paper a teaser for an article that would be appearing in the weekend edition about it. And two days later there wasn't one paper that didn't write about Dana Spektor and the last season of that reality show and about how she left her husband - whom all the girls in Israel fell in love with last season - for someone from the current season, who left his wife because he fell in love with Dana Spektor.

"And this Dana, is she a kuzit?"

"The word is kusit. And I hate men."