Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Philippine heaven

Old house in Neve Tsedek.

Avinoam, the barber, is one of my few connections to the world of amcha yisrael which is a polite way of saying the common people, the hoi polloi. The time before last I had him trim my locks (if only) he was waxing ecstatic about the virtues of Philippine women. He had visited a friend who had recently met and married one (a foreign worker) through a dating agency. Avinoam thought he had died and gone to heaven.

“Such tranquility! Such respect! She waits on him hand and foot and she’s always cooking him meals and worrying about him. And the apartment! Not a speck of dust! That’s what I want! A woman like that. A woman who will respect me and love me and look after me!”

(A, aged 50, is single, on ideological grounds, having allegedly suffered a series of humiliations and rip-offs at the hands of Israeli women).

“And what about her?”


"Her. What about her? What does she get out of it?

“Well, he looks after her too! He keeps on buying her jewelry and he’s happy and she’s happy so what’s wrong with it!

I tried to explain that in this day and age, a marriage is potentially more than a master-slave arrangement. Avinoam, starry-eyed and clearly fantasizing about his future life with the perfect Phillipine servant-wife, was having none of it.

A few days ago I popped in for a trim and A., now on the defensive, decided to attack the subject head on.

“You were right!” he crowed. “I told them that I have a customer who said that it was a mistake but I didn’t listen to him.”

“OK. What happened?”

“ Well, I went to the guy and I paid him a thousand shekels and I met two women but what can I tell you? “


“You see that wall? Can that wall speak? There was nothing there to talk to. And the only time she could meet me was on Saturday night because she works all week! You were so right!”

“What about the money?”

“To hell with the money! Let them keep the money! What’s a thousand shekels. A day’s work? I just lost forty thousand shekels and laughed. Laughed! Do you know anyone who wants to buy a big TV?”

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