Welcome to our series of articles on the singles scene in Tel Aviv. Life, love, and lust, all wrapped up in a Middle Eastern glow and penned by the wonderful Pixi…if you’re easily offended, look away now!
The walk of shame – Tel Aviv style
There are many walks one can take when living in the Holy Land. There is the gospel trail around the Sea of Galilee, following in the footsteps of Jesus, the walk through the old city of Jerusalem to the sacred Western Wall and the tourist walk along the Tayelet to the Jaffa port. But no walk is as famous (or infamous) as the notorious Tel Aviv walk of shame.
We’ve all done it. It’s simply a rite of passage if you live in this city. But what makes the Tel Aviv walk of shame so different? My experience last week taught me everything about the special privilege of taking those dreaded steps home along the city streets in the aftermath of an alcohol fueled night of sexual debauchery.
There are many aspects of that Saturday morning that will are easily forgettable, like the fact that I woke up in the bed of a stranger who was snoring on my shoulder, as if we had been married for over 30 years, or the fact that he offered me a bowl of ice cream and a half smoked cigarette for breakfast.
But for me, the most memorable part of my walk of shame that day was the fact that it took place on Shabbat – the holiest day of the Jewish week where the more observant Jews take a different kind of walk….to synagogue. It was on the way to their place of worship where they encountered me, a dazed and confused blonde girl, struggling down the sidewalk in her heels, trying her best to remember how to walk in a straight line.
As I felt the young family of four approach me, fresh and clean in their crisp white Shabbat clothes, I lowered my smudged mascara eyes, with the hope that if I didn’t make eye contact, they would simply pass me by. That they did, but not without muttering the words that made this walk of shame stand out from the rest……”Shabbat Shalom” uttered the young daughter as she passed me, grabbing her mother’s hand.
It took me a few seconds to realize that she was talking to me, and then a few more seconds to process what she had said. They had already passed me when I raised my head to finally answer her. “Shabbat Shalom!” I cried out awkwardly. I was horrified. Here I was, in the holy land of the Jewish people, a Jew myself, who was stumbling down the street in my clothes from the night before, no class and absolutely no shame when I came across a voice of pure innocence who without knowing any of the dirty deeds I had indulged in the previous night, simply viewed me as another girl enjoying a morning Shabbat stroll.
You may be asking yourself what the point is of this story. It’s quite simple – that nowhere else in the world can the walk of shame take place so easily within such a diverse local community. On Saturday morning you see all types wandering the streets in Tel Aviv, some with their kippot, some with an empty whiskey bottle. But Shabbat is still Shabbat and it is customary, whether you are pious or promiscuous, to wish Shabbat Shalom to everyone who comes your way.
I continued that morning to my own place of worship – my bed – and slept off yet another crazy Tel Aviv Friday night, but I will never forget the unassuming kindness of the little girl that passed me and wished me “Shabbat Shalom”. She was sweet and innocent and I have not a doubt in my mind that she too will participate in her own walk of shame one day…….hopefully by then she will not be meeting me on the street in the same state that I was in last week.
Next up: Real Men = Kibbutznikim
Read more great stuff from Pixi here.