Loyal blog readers know how 2008 brought self such waves of sorrow and joy, how self flew to Tel Aviv in the spring to be with Beloved Sister-in-Law Ying, how fraught the visit was. Now, Ying is gone, but self will never forget Tel Aviv: even now she feels a kinship to the city, to its booksellers and cab drivers and ordinary people, to the bus drivers who let her ride free (Self is astonished that such things still do happen in the world), to the young girls who took self by the hand when she was lost and directed her hither and thither. That, at least, was one good thing to come out of 2008.
On self’s last day in the city, wandering down Allenby, self encountered a bookstore owner named Joe H. Here’s a droll story he sent her just a few days ago:
A TEL AVIV STORY
What does a respectable purveyor of antiquarian tomes do with pornographic dvds that find their way into his store? Well, if you are a nice guy who likes helping others, as well as taking stupid risks, you offer them to a devout Muslim acquaintance and watch what happens!
I would have kept the porn for myself, but as it happens they weren’t to my exacting standards in erotica. I also don’t like catering to perverts in my bespoke establishment.
It happened like this, Upon pondering what to do with the dvds, in walks Aziz, a devout Muslim who works downstairs at a textile importing firm. I offered him the dvds as a gift, phrasing it like this, “Would you or perhaps Jamal, want these discs as a gift?”.
He gave me an incredulous look and asked why I was giving them away. I said that I don’t like selling such things in my store….but I began to sense that he was struggling over whether to accept them, so I said flippantly, “give them to Jamal,” (the guy he works with)
Now let me mention here that Jamal and Aziz are related somehow and they live in a village some distance from the city. I assume that the village is quite traditional, with women in headgear and such; but that didn’t deter me from my generous offer. I was on automatic pilot. I was determined that he take them….Anyway, I recalled that they always leer and jeer at the women walking by, (especially Jamal), so I figured what the heck? They’ll enjoy them!
Jamal is less traditional than Aziz. He is also a very big and strong dude, but more outgoing and friendly. (He once put me in a bear hug and lifted my 93 kilos like nothing.)
Anyway, Aziz took the movies and said ”I will give them to Jamal.”
An hour went by, and I practically forgot about the whole thing, when Aziz stormed into the shop with fire in his eyes. “uh-oh” I said to myself.
“Tell me the truth Joe, and don’t lie….did you tell me to give those dirty movies to Jamal, yes or no?”
I stammered something about telling him to “take the dvds, and if not, give them to Jamal…I think”.
-Don’t lie to me Joe, you told me, “Give these to Jamal, yes or no?”
-Ok, Aziz, that is possible, it could be that I said, “give these to Jamal, that is entirely possible, but I’m not sure, my intention was to just get rid of them, and I told myself, the first FRIEND who walks in here, I will offer them to him…walla, then you walked in! But then I remembered that you are a devout Muslim, so it entirely possible that I said on second thought, ”give these to Jamal”, not really intending to give them to either YOU OR Jamal, in that simply…. you were the first person to walk in here….if you know what I mean…no insult intended, of course”
-Ok, but remember what you said Joe, you said, “Give these to Jamal”.
-That is possible Aziz, but my memory is a little foggy , entirely possible though…. no insult intended Aziz, really, and please tell Jamal that”.
He stormed out, and I thought to myself, Sh#*t, I’m f#*ked!
Jamal soon strode in, mad.
-Did I ever ask you to give me pornography? Did I ever “place an order for pornography from you”??
-No Jamal, of course not, like I told Aziz, or better, what I THINK I told Aziz was, “take these dvds and/or give them to Jamal….No insults intended, just friendship…I wasn’t thinking of course”
I went through the whole thing again with Jamal, exasperated at this complete cultural misunderstanding….
when suddenly Jamal smiled and kissed me on both cheeks with a bone-crushing hug, (The kiss of death??? By this time I was sweating bullets and sh#*tting bricks. Jamal had once decked a policeman over a petty misunderstanding… and did time for it…the guy fears no one), and he said,
“I believe you Joe”.
_Jeez, thank you jamal, you had me there for a second!
Two days later I bumped into Jamal. He seemed to be in a good mood, so I ventured to ask what the whole fuss was about over the dvds. He told me that he just got married to Aziz’s sister, and that Aziz was gravely insulted that he was ordering porno movies from me….
Jamal continued to say that they had a fierce argument, and that it wasn’t any of Aziz’s goddamn business even if he DID order the porn from me, because his sister was now his wife, and that a man is the king of his own castle and he would watch a thousand porno flics if he wanted.
He then winked at me and said he thoroughly enjoyed the films, and that if I ever got any more, to call him straight away…but not to tell Aziz.
Self thinks the bookseller ought to start writing books . . .