Monday, July 26, 2004

Herzl Street at Night

2 AM in a town of 30,000 souls – doesn’t sound all that exciting, right? Well, in my hometown the "central artery" – like the main street in every Israeli town called either Weizmann or Herzl Street – is bustling with life any summer night.

People sit outside, around tables sponsored by the never ending row of junk food shops along both sides of the street, with ample supply of pistachio, sun flower seeds and other bird’s food (after ten years in Israel I still don’t manage to open a sun flower seed with my front teeth only in a split second and take the seed out with the tip of my tongue, but at least I do succeed to spit the peel silently onto the pavement), watch other people walking by, or stare with empty glares at the TV inside the nearest shop. The girls bitch about the competition, which the guys admire, if they are not preoccupied with the next Honda-Civic-turned-Starship-Enterprise, roaring down Weizmann (or Herzl, depends) Street.

The average age at these hours is around 19 for the men, and not more than 16 for the girls. Without checking the ID you can’t tell here if a girl is 14 or 22, there are no limits with regard to the minimum covered body surface, make-up and hair-do. Anything goes, the hotter, the better, remember: Taste is subjective.

The most interesting place is the central junction. Here is where the mating rituals take place. Four to six boys crammed into anything from a disintegrating wreck to the latest 4x4, try to get the attention of the apparently totally bored girls, which happen to be at this junction purely by accident. The challenge is to overcome the brutal volume of the car stereo (yes, true, I love Sarid Hadad, I have confessed to this one already) with shouts relaying deep wisdom and a deep tone. Can be difficult when you are 16, so better turn the volume up a little more. What happens when the mating calls are unexpectedly met by an inviting response?  Nothing, of course. How could you pack six girls into a 1986 Fiat Punto, which already is collapsing under six hopeful heavy weights? So here is my tip for the boys on Weizmann (or Herzl) Street: Walk!

As a father of two boys and one girl I have made the following resolutions after witnessing the local scene:

  • No driver license allowed under the age of 25.
  • Summer curfew is 8 PM for now, 10 PM for ages 16 and up. This is in our garden, outside take 2 hours off.
  • Pop’s and Mom’s cars are out of order after 8 PM.
  • No muscles shirts, no mini skirts and no barely visible blouses in my vicinity. (No platform shoes either, but this one is for another time, too.) .

I guess you are asking yourself now: Since neither his age (for sure) nor his dress code (presumably), actually not even his driving style (hopefully) is appropriate for that kind of nightlife, what is he doing outside at those hours?

Well, I’ll get back to this topic in one of the next stories, when I will tell you something about the not-so-nice sides of small town night-life in crazy Israel.

No comments: