A few years back I made a promise over a few too many shots of arak that I would someday find the courage to share my writing with the greater public. We even came up with a bunch of names for my future blog (most of them being WILDLY inappropriate) and I swore that I would dedicate my blog AND first book to my partner in crime. So here you have it – The Official Blog Dedication.
Shmuel became my closest friend in an absurdly quick amount of time. While we had always been friendly (being the only young English speakers in the hotel spa we were working at), we’d never ventured to form a friendship outside of work. I’d been teased relentlessly by other coworkers about the (so-called) crush they claimed I had on him for months when in all honesty, I simply loved his morbid humor and under-the-breath sarcastic comments that no one else could understand. He always seemed to get the most…let’s call them “interesting” clients to treat and I’d laugh hysterically at the tales of his misfortune.
The first time we went out for drinks I knew right away that I had found my other half. I arrived to (what quickly became) our bar (lord bless the Clementina), a bar/restaurant right by our work, anxious (as always) as to how the night would progress. When I saw what was waiting for me on the bar (a bottle of REAL CANADIAN MAPLE SYRUP (!!!) and a shot of arak) all my worries went away. What was meant to be “just one beer” became a few more, and before I knew it we had made it a nightly ritual. Just one beer with Shmuel quickly became the highlight of my days. In my post breakup haze I desperately needed a confidant and Shmuel was all too happy to take that place in my life.
Most of the time we talked about nonsense. I would regale him with tales of the ridiculous shenanigans I was getting up to with the various rebound men I had on the go(once upon a time I had a mojo). He would tell me about all the crazy women (who shall not be named) who were desperately trying to (for lack of a better phrase) get in his pants. We would laugh over various attempts from the men in my life to woo me (not naming names, but someone once hand-fed me strawberries during a walk through the park). He had the craziest stories of his past travels and experiences and had the ability to make me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed before. I snorted many a drink up the nose at the Clementina. We’d chat up the bar staff, the owners, the fellow patrons. Occasionally a man would approach and attempt to woo me with free shots and sweet talk, and Shmuel would sit on the side shaking his head as I downed the shot and came right back to him. We were little hot messes, but we (dear god so cheesy) had each other to be hot messes with.
There were serious talks. Shmuel was the first person to actually listen to me. He let me tell my sad tale and when I was done talking about my tragic past and feelings of low self-worth he would look me right in the eyes and tell me all about how incredible I was. And for some reason, I believed him. We discussed our fears for the future; how we were scared that we’d never fulfill our dreams, or find our place in the world. I became incredibly intrigued and somewhat obsessed with his weird-in-all-the-best-ways family and their insanely incredible traditions. We talked each other up – told one another how incredible the other was, how intelligent and attractive and charming. Under Shmuel’s (often drunken, but still forever valuable) guidance I grew and became more confident and started to think that maybe I was actually funny, and maybe I did have an interesting story to tell. Shmuel made me promise to follow through with my dreams and write.
Shmuel was a breath of fresh air. Coming out of a relationship where I was undervalued and unappreciated I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that someone was truly interested in spending time with me without getting anything in return. On my birthday, he made sure we went out for proper drinks, on Valentine’s Day he bought me a pound of bacon, and you’ve NO idea how difficult and expensive it is to find bacon in Israel. On days when I needed to vent, he listened and on the days when I needed a silent drinking partner, he was happy to fill that role too. He also gave the best advice on how to properly rebound from a bad relationship. He was the greatest thing that could’ve happened to me at the point in time.
Now, I know that Shmuel is sitting there reading this, shaking his head to himself embarrassed, muttering “Maysen, Maysen” to himself. And fairly so – neither of us have ever been very good at accepting compliments and for fear of others trying to join our nightly “just one beer” (which did happen a few times and it was horrifically awkward each and every time) we kept our friendship on the down low. Here’s the thing. Sometimes in life, you meet people who deserve public recognition for all they’ve done for you. There are a few of these people in my life and Shmuel is most definitely one of them.
With that, here are my closing words. Find yourself a Shmuel. Someone who will listen to your every worry, complaint and fear if only to reassure you that they are indeed absurd. Someone who will build you up and push compliments on you without making them feel false or cheesy. Someone who will take off their own top just to get the disgustingly good-looking bartender to do the same. Find someone who will drink with you, cry with you, laugh with you and ultimately just listen to you. When you find that person, never let them go. Maintain that friendship and hold on to them tight.
Shmuel, Shmuel – I can’t wait for more drunken adventures in a foreign country.
Tonight I raise my (hypothetical as I’m off alcohol for the next 24 days) glass to you.