The Wild Ride That Is Dating A French Girl

It all started when I finished selling hair straighteners in Pennsylvania. I had just broken up with my Ethiopian girlfriend for what seemed to be the millionth time.

I remember exactly how it happened. Things had been going poorly between us for a while, for various reasons. Chief among those reasons was the fact that she cheated on me while I was out of town.

Any sane person would have dumped her on the spot. And that’s what I did, initially. But infidelity is rarely the last straw in a relationship, and that was the case with me as well. We kept breaking up and getting back together, which was stressful enough.

But it was made worse by the fact that we both worked in an Israeli company where everybody knew exactly what was going on. We lived together and worked together. We were around each other 24 hours a day.

Add to that the fact that I alternated between being an emotional wreck and doing mental gymnastics in order to “get over it,” then you have a very painful situation for yours truly.

In short, it was a bad place for me to be at the time. Sure, I could have gotten over it if I had stayed long enough. Work was going well, after all. My boss had promoted me without me even asking for it, giving me an increase in commission and promising to promote me to partner within a few months.

But I wasn’t having any of it. I just couldn’t deal with seeing my ex-girlfriend there all the time. The temptation was too strong to keep getting back together with her after we would break up. Seeing her was agony.

So one day, I decided that enough was enough. Well, it would be nice if I could actually remember myself putting my foot down and saying in an honorable tone, “I’m leaving!” But in reality it didn’t quite happen like that.

After realizing my predicament, I became depressed. I realized that I was caught in a cycle with this girl, and as long as the two of us were still in the same proximity, we would continue going through the same pattern. Like I said, maybe there was a way out of it if we were both to stay there, because after all, people break up all the time and don’t have to go through this shit. But if there was I had no idea what it was.

Like I said, I worked in sales. After a week of being down and not being able to sell anything, I had had enough. Selling hair straighteners is a tough gig if you’re not into it. You have to stand in the middle of the mall, visible to anyone who walks by. Not like they especially wanted to talk to you anyway, but if you have low energy, people avoid you like the plague.

One day while at work, I was on the phone with my boss. He had started to call me periodically to check up on my mental state while I was at work. In this business its a common practice to check up on your salespeople if they aren’t producing.

My boss had also turned into a friend somewhat, blurring the line between personal and business life. I had told him everything that had happened between me and my ex, and over the past few months he had given me advice from time to time. Most of it sounded like, “Dump that bitch, she’s garbage.”

If only I had taken his advice, I would have saved myself lots of heartache. But I couldn’t bring myself to follow through.

That was the topic of conversation this one day, because my ex and I had recently gotten back together and broken up and my head was in a tizzy. I didn’t so much care that we had broken up, it was more the fact that I realized that I was in a downward spiral and was unable to extract myself from the situation.

When we were on the phone, I said, “I want to leave. I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Now, when you live in apartments that are rented by your company, let alone live in the same house as your manager, that is definitely quite the bomb to drop. Its very hard to leave these Israeli companies unless you escape.

For one thing, they’re not exactly legal. You get paid in cash, so you can’t exactly sue them if they don’t pay you. And they pay you on a delay of a week or two, so its not like they can send you a check in the mail if you want to leave before payday.

Plus, they know you extremely well because they live with you and are constantly gathering information about you from other workers. They observe you all the time. At work, at home, at parties. They know everything about you so they know how to push your buttons to get you to just go back to the mall for one more day. To do one more demonstration.

Because in this job, all it takes is to make one sale when you’re in a slump and boom — suddenly you’re back in the right mindset again for making money. Even if you don’t make a sale, one good demonstration or interaction with a customer is enough to put you back in a good mood to get you to try again.

It doesn’t always work, for instance in this particular situation. My boss tried to talk me out of it but I wasn’t having any of it. He kept trying to tell me, “It will be okay! You’ll get over it!”

But I knew better. I realized I was in a pattern and had to get my ass out of there ASAP.

Finally, exasperated, he said, “Fine! Get your stuff and get out of here!”

It was as if someone has opened a metal collar from around my throat and I was free. I said good bye to Kobe, my working partner for the day and called a cab to get back home. I felt like a million bucks.

When I finally got back to my apartment, I went straight to my room trying to avoid my boss. Like a typical boss, he wanted to get the last word in, so he came to stand in my doorway as I was packing my stuff and started to vent his frustration on me.

“Look at you, too weak to stay and work! You’re like a girl. What a pussy.”

I ignored him and continued packing my stuff. I knew he didn’t mean it, he was just upset that I was leaving. I won’t say that he wasn’t right, because he was.

After a minute or so he left and I started to count the cash I had accumulated over the past six months. In January, I had about a thousand dollars saved up.

By the time I left at the end of April, I had nine thousand in cash. I stuffed it into a plastic bag and opened up my computer. By some stroke of luck, I was able to book a flight to Los Angeles that would leave in the next few hours. Relieved, I brought my stuff downstairs.

As I was about to get into the cab, my manager called to me from the doorway to the house.

“Jack! Wait. Come here,” he said.

He called me over and opened his arms to give me a hug. I think he felt bad about everything, like how when you see an animal that is so pathetic that it just can’t help itself from being pathetic.

We hugged and he said, “Take care of yourself. Keep in touch.”

I nodded, knowing I would never go back there and probably never see him again. He was good to me.

Feeling as though as weight had been lifted from my shoulders, I got in the cab feeling like a million bucks. I had the driver stop at the bank so I could change my cash into a cashier’s check. No need to arouse suspicions at the airport.

When we were at the bank, one of the tellers said, “You look familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “But I work at Park City selling hair straighteners.”

“Ah!” she said. “That’s where I’ve seen you!”

Then the teller next to her said, “Yeah, I thought you looked familiar.”

Such is the life of a hair straightener salesman. It made me almost sad to leave. Almost.

Back In LA

The driver took me to the airport and I flew home, feeling great. I called my parents and told them to pick me up at LAX because surprise! I was coming home.

Well, home for me at that point was a loose definition. Still is, actually. For several years before that, I had moved from place to place, starting with a trip to Israel that turned into me joining the Israeli Defense Forces at 23 years old and applying for Israeli citizenship.

Since then, I had been moving around for what seems like forever. But at this specific period in my life, I was relatively new to the whole hair straightener game. Pennsylvania was my first season of selling, my first six month period of working hard followed by a few months of not working at all.

When I got back to California, I felt great. I went to LA and partied with my friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while.

I also spent some money, something that I wasn’t used to doing. My ex had always complained that I was a poor dresser, and I have to say that she was right. I rarely bought any clothes, and it is definitely possible that I was still wearing some clothes that my mom had bought me several years ago. In fact, I had no idea how I came to acquire most of my wardrobe at that point.

But the fact is I had to get some new threads, ASAP. Working in shopping centers will do that to you. Hey, when you spend all day sizing people up in a split second before you decide if you want to stop and try to them something, its going to make you into a superficial person.

After all, if they have a Michael Kors purse and some fancy jewelry, chances are they are more likely to shell out $200 bucks for some hair products, especially if its a handsome, charming and athletic young man who is paying attention to them.

Well, that’s the idea at least. Fortunately for me, I got by on my good looks and high energy level while working. Dressing nicely was definitely not my strong suit.

That all changed after I broke up with my ex, because I decided that I wanted to drastically improve myself. You know how it is after you break up with someone. If they didn’t treat you well, you imagine that it was because of all the reasons they had to complain about you.

It doesn’t matter whether or not they were legitimate reasons, you still take them to heart. So when I thought back to all the times that she would say that I was a bad dresser, I took it to mean that I needed to buy some new clothes.

Also, the guy she had cheated on me with was a snazzy dresser. He was also good looking and charmed the pants off of several other girls, mostly by being a total jerk. So I decided that I had to do those things as well.

In fact, I guess you could say that what I took from this whole experience was that I needed to become more like Nadav, the guy she cheated on me with.

So I took my mom and we went to the Premium Outlets near their house in La Quinta. I spent $700 on clothes, more than all of the other times I had ever bought clothes for myself combined.

I got some cool stuff, too. Having never actually had any control over my own clothes, I went a little crazy. Let’s just say that I spent about $200 at Ed Hardy alone, and you KNOW that everything I bought from there had rhinestones on it.

Armed with my new set of clothes, I went home and didn’t wear most of them. You know how when you go buy new clothes and don’t wear them? Yeah, that’s what I did.

After a few weeks, however, I realized that I had a tiny little problem: I had nothing to do. While I had grown up in LA and most of my friends were there, my parents had since moved to La Quinta, which was about a two hour drive away.

That means that my choices of where to live were narrowed down slightly. I had family in LA, but relations with them had since soured after a failed attempt to move back to America after living in Israel. Not worth going into now, suffice to say that staying with relatives in LA was not an option.

So my only options were to go back to LA and get my own apartment, stay at my parents’ house, or go back to Israel.

Being the sane person that I was, I naturally choice Israel.

Israel is an incredible place, especially if you’re Jewish. Having served in the army as well, I felt that it was “my country” and that I wasn’t just an American living there. That’s not to say that I didn’t run into challenges there as well, but having paid my dues in the military I felt that it was as much my country as it was anyone else who lived there.

Tel Aviv in particular is an incredible place. Before I had gone to sell hair straighteners in Pennsylvania, that’s where I had been living for a year and a half.

I had everything I needed out there. My apartment was a five minute walk from the beach in the center of town. My gym was small and filled with homosexuals, but the energy in the place was amazing and I always had a good workout.

And the women! Girls in Tel Aviv are beautiful, albeit princesses. Many things in Israel are harder than the rest of the world. Its harder to make money, harder to get anything done that has to do with bureaucracy. But one thing that’s easier is to get girls.

For one thing, there’s girls everywhere and almost everyone is single. There’s a huge nightlife scene there as well which is minimally pretentious. Plus, nearly everyone is Jewish as well. There’s something about being in Israel, when you know everyone is Jewish, that somehow opens people’s minds to being together. I don’t know how to explain it.

Its like when you meet someone who is similar to you in some way, you connect with them on a deeper level, almost instantly. Well, imagine a country filled with people like that, especially when you’re used to being in the minority most of the time.

Its a great place. And, being that it was the middle of May when I had absolutely nothing to do with my life, summer was coming. Summer in Tel Aviv is fantastic with lots of rooftop parties, beach time and fun in the sun.

So I said fuck it, I’m going back to Israel!

Meanwhile, Back In Israel

When I was in the army, I learned to think on my feet. You have to adapt to the situation, something that is definitely easier to do in the army than in civilian life.

You’d think it was the opposite, but the fact is that in the military, you can sacrifice everything for the good of the mission. If you have to be in a certain place at a certain time, then that’s all there is to it.

The problem with doing this in civilian life, in my opinion, is that you have too much freedom of choice. You are the one who has to come up with the mission, and a lot of the time we end up choosing things that are easy to do.

After all, it doesn’t make logical sense to choose to do something that has a low likelihood of actually getting done.

Confused yet?

The point I’m slowly arriving at is that when I decided to get back to Israel, I had no plan. I had no idea what I would do, where I would work, or who I would stay with.

But you may know the saying, “Where attention goes, energy flows.”

And that was exactly the case with me. As soon as I booked my flight, things started to come together. I contacted my old roommate from Tel Aviv and told him that I would be coming to town for a few weeks, and could I stay with him?

He was caught off guard but agreed, happy to have me back in town again. When I flew to Israel, I caught a cab out to my old stomping grounds. Nostalgia was thick in the air.

On the way there, I had an interesting conversation with the cab driver. Somehow, we started talking about girls.

After a few minutes of conversation, he said to me, “You sound like someone broke your heart.”

I said, “Yep, you’re right.”

I saw him shake his head from the backseat, “Listen, girls like when you talk to them like an asshole. They like that shit.”

I thought about that for a second. It made sense, based on what I had seen from Nadav.

“You need to make it seem like you could give a fuck about them. Like if you break up, you’ll just replace her with someone else right away.”

That also made sense.

For the rest of the ride back, he illuminated my ideas about girls and relationships. In truth, it was all stuff I had heard before. And while I did have some moderate amount of success with women and had dated a few, I was nowhere near a “master of women” like some people I had seen. So I decided to give this being a jerk thing a try.

When I arrived at my old apartment, my old roommate greeted me hello with a big fat bowl of hash and tobacco. That’s what Israelis smoke out there. Out of a bong, no less. Do you get stoned? Why yes, yes you do.

It was about midnight when I got there, but we chatted a bit and then he went out for some drinks with friends. I was exhausted and decided to stay home and sleep until the morning.

I was still high from the excitement of being back in Tel Aviv, but I really had nothing to do with myself. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of going back to a place where you used to live, but it follows a specific cycle.

First, people are glad to see you. There is a reunion of sorts.

Then, you realize that they have to go back to their normal lives.

And finally, you’re alone and bored and wondering what to do next.

Welcome to my life for the past 8 years!

Anyway, when I got back, I went through the first stage as often as possible. I saw all my old friends, visited all my old stomping grounds and had a great time. Actually, I managed to stretch this part quite a lot.

My roommate, Omer, had a job at a fancy Russian restaurant where he would work the dinner shift and then go have drinks and snort bath salts until the sun came up. What that meant to me was that I had his room to myself for the most part from about 5 PM onward.

I was an early riser myself also, so I would get up around 10 and go to the gym, or the beach, or ride around on a bike that I purchased right away. Or go see my friends.

The truth is that in the beginning of summer, there is plenty to do in Tel Aviv. I also had friends that I had left behind to go sell hair straighteners in Pennsylvania. Add to that the fact that I had been through 2 years of the army and knew tons of internationals who had also been in the army during my time. Let’s just say that finding someone to do something with was not the problem.

I also volunteered at a dog adoption clinic on Friday afternoons. This was a good way to meet girls, do my good deed for the day, and play with some dogs all at the same time.

Israel is also great in that a lot of Jews from around the world go there. When I would live there, I would get messages from people every so often telling me that they were coming to Israel and if I would like to meet up with them for lunch or go party or something.

I had a great time out there. The one downside to the whole equation was that I blew threw almost all of my money. In two months I managed to spend five grand, despite only spending about $130 a month on rent.

If you ask me now where the money went, I would have no idea. I would assume food, drinks and hash. But that seems like a lot for two months.

Either way, I managed to have a great time out there. I got a tan, got back in shape and even hooked up with a few girls.

Enter The French Girl

Let me tell you about a few of the friends I had made while in Tel Aviv. First, there was Limor.

Limor and I met at a rooftop party before I had gone to Pennsylvania. I tried hitting on her at first, but she made it clear she just wanted to be friends. The night we met, we went out with a few other friends of ours and Limor ended up making out with me and another friend of mine in the same night.

That caused a bit of drama, but Limor was a good friend and we stayed in touch. Eventually, she became one of the inner circle.

When I came back from Pennsylvania, Limor introduced me to Orly, a late 20s American girl who had become friends with Limor while I was gone.

Orly and I became fast friends as well, often hanging out together when Limor was otherwise indisposed.

So one day when I was looking for something to do, I called Orly and asked her if she wanted to go to the beach.

“Yeah, I’m actually here now,” she said. “I’m waiting for a friend of mine but you’re welcome to come as well and hang out with us.”

With no job and nothing else to do on a Friday morning, that sounded like as good a plan as any. So I rode my bike over to where she was and joined her on the sand.

We chatted for a bit. She was keeping an eye open for her friend, who was apparently late to the party. Suddenly, her gaze focused on something off in the distance.

“Here she is,” she said.

She? I thought to myself. I figured her friend would be a guy.

I glanced up and realized that it definitely was not a guy. It was a skinny girl with a shoulder length hairstyle.

She introduced herself as Flora. She was skinny with a cute figure, and dirty blonde hair cut short in a bob. Apparently she and Orly had worked together at a Forex company in Israel and had stayed in touch after each of them had moved on.

We all sat there and talked for a bit. Orly and I had tentative plans to go out that night, also with Limor and some of our other friends from back in the day. Another one of my friends, Adam, was visiting Tel Aviv and would also join us.

“Do you want to come?” Orly asked Flora.

“Yeah, sure! I’ll be there. Call me.” She said.

I’ll say something that I’ve never said to anyone. First of all, Flora was cute. Okay, I’ve said that part. I mean, she was skinny, had big boobs and a pretty face. Her personality was nice too. She was just a cool chick.

But one thing that I noticed about her was that her teeth has big brown stains on them. It was almost like you would want to scrape off some brown shit from her teeth. And not all her teeth, mind you. Just a couple on the side.

Flora had to leave about 20 minutes after getting there. When she left, I asked Orly, “How old is she?”

“Flora? She’s 20.”

That blew my mind. I thought to myself, How could a 20 year old have such bad teeth. I remember it clearly, I thought that obviously nobody cared about her because otherwise they wouldn’t let her teeth get so bad. That was when I put on my savior hat and resolved to “help” this girl.

That was my first mistake.

I like doing that. I find it keeps life interesting.

That night, we all went out. We went to go pick up Ellie, another friend from back in the day, at a rooftop party. I hadn’t seen Ellie for a while, so she was happy to see me. There was always some sexual tension between us, and apparently it was on tonight because she was all over me.

We flirted a bit and then I ran into another girl that I used to know there, so I talked to her for a bit. Other than that, the rooftop party was pretty horrible. I think it was an afternoon party or something, because by the time we got there it was pretty much over.

I was conscious of Flora watching me, so I made sure to milk it when she saw me talking to other girls.

We left the rooftop party a bit later and went to Kikar Atarim, which is this big open area right by the beach. This was when I found out that Flora had a boyfriend.

Orly myself and a few other people were waiting there for Flora, and she showed up with some guy. Before I could even ask who he was, Orly let me know.

“Here comes Flora with her douchy boyfriend,” she said with a sneer.

He introduced himself as Meni and seemed like a nice enough guy. Flora said right away, “Okay. I’ll meet you guys in a minute.”

Orly nodded and led the group towards the street, presumably to catch a cab to where we were going. Flora stood there and talked to him for a bit, eventually walking over to us. We had already hailed a cab and were getting inside. Her boyfriend was already walking down the street.

“He’s not coming?” I asked.

Orly answered for me. “No. We don’t like him.”

I shut up and didn’t say anything.

That night at the party, Flora and I got it on. Well, sort of. I actually did try to kiss her that night, despite the fact that I had just met her boyfriend. I could tell she was into me, but I think she just wanted to give it a little time. Or maybe she just wanted to make sure I didn’t want to hit it and quit it.

In Israel, you can go into these shady little stores and buy pills full of bath salts. At least, that’s what I think they are. Over there they call them “hagigat,” which loosely translates to “celebration.” Its kind of like a mixture between coke and speed, but horrible versions of each. It gives you energy, sort of, but also makes you feel horrible. Its a terrible drug and not even really fun, but in Israel its nearly impossible to get anything else.

Crystal meth is non-existent over there and coke is 100 dollars a gram.

Anyway, Flora was a fan of this drug so we did a few lines that night. We ended up going to this club called the Mafteach (the Key), which is a club in an underground basement full of long-haired ravers who party until 5 in the morning and drink lots of bottles of water.

It was an okay party I guess. The music was good and I had Flora to pay attention to. I should also mention that from time to time, when I can be tempted to dance, I am actually a decent dancer. When I actually let go and go crazy, and also when I’m in shape. On that night, the stars aligned and I danced my brains out for hours.

Apparently it impressed Flora, because she didn’t leave my side the entire night. When I went to kiss her, she gave me the dreaded cheek turn. Undeterred, I kept pressing in, going for hugs this time instead of kisses. We had a lot of several really long, intense hugs there on the dance floor.

Orly had since gone home, but the rest of our friends were just watching and like WTF?

My friend Adam, the one who was in from out of town, asked me, “So are you going to hook up with that girl later?”

I said, “I don’t know. She has a boyfriend.”

Adam said, “Yeah man I wouldn’t fuck with her. Orly told Tom (one of his friends) earlier that she thought she might be pregnant.”

At the time, I can’t say that I actually cared. I was dancing my head off and having some intense hugging action on the dance floor with a new girl. While I did have sex and/or hook up with a few girls ever since breaking up with my ex in Pennsylvania, this was the first time I ever “felt something” for another girl. I was willing to be patient.

Anyway, that night we all went our separate ways and nothing happened. No kiss, no sex, nothing.

Bad Things Come To Those Who Wait

I was biding my time though. After all, I was on vacation and at this point still had a decent little chunk of change in my bank account. Plus, we had the same friends, so it was a given that I would see her again.

I started to get subtly mined for information by Orly and Limor, which also clued me in to the fact that she felt the same way. A few days later, I texted her and we made plans to hang out, but she canceled on me at the last minute.

The next day, she texted me and told me that she was free and that she’d be willing to meet. So we went to the beach, and I have to say it was a bit weird hanging out just the two of us. It was good, but we spent some time getting to know each other.

I knew what I was doing though. It was almost like I was interviewing her for the position of being my girlfriend. But more than that, I knew that I would be going back to America to sell more hair straighteners at some point. I didn’t have any concrete plans, but I knew that I probably wasn’t going to go through the hassle of finding my own apartment in Tel Aviv and working at some boring office job.

Selling hair straighteners is an addictive job, but we’ll get to that later. I knew that I would go back, and I knew I would go back soon. What I didn’t know is if she would want to come with me.

Apparently, she was a prime candidate, or so I thought. She had done a few semesters of school in Tel Aviv, but had since dropped out. She was also on a hiatus from work after making enough money in a few months to support herself financially for the foreseeable future. She had made a crazy sale in the Forex company which had paid her the equivalent of a 10,000 USD commission.

Still, she was bored and not really doing anything with her life at that point. I took all of this information and filed it away, waiting for the right moment to pop the question.

I had my opportunity a few days later when we all were to meet up and go out again. I met up with Flora a few hours earlier and we went to a bar to get a drink. Since being rejected at The Mafteach, I hadn’t tried to put another move on her. I think she was starting to wonder what my intentions were.

She didn’t bother to wait that long, because fifteen minutes into our drinks she grabbed my head started making out with me out of nowhere! I was totally caught off guard, and she took that to mean I wasn’t interested.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “You don’t want to?”

I go, “Uhh, no no. Its just..” I couldn’t bring myself to point out the fact that she had a boyfriend.

We kissed a bit more, barely stopping in time before Orly and Limor walked through the door. That night, we all went out and partied again. I knew it was time to tell her what I was going to do.

At the end of the night, we were walking down my street towards my apartment. I said to her, “I’m leaving in a week.”

She goes, “WHAT?! Are you serious?”

I nodded, “Yep.”

She whined like a child who wanted a toy, “But that’s not fair?”

I shrugged and we kept walking.

Then she said, “So what, do you like, want to have a one week relationship with me before you leave?” I think she was confused.

I said, “Nope.”

She made some dissatisfied noises. I could hear the gears turning in her head.

“Why don’t you come with me?” I asked.

That caught her off guard, but as I started to explain to her what I was going to do, I could tell she was starting to warm up to the idea.

“We’ll have a job, an apartment, everything is already taken care of. All we have to do is show up and go to work. You can save money or just go shopping.”

She liked my explanation apparently, because it didn’t take much convincing for her to agree. I think she also really liked me, which influenced her opinion. Because of that, I made sure not to have sex with her before we left. I’m not sure why, but I just felt like sex would screw everything up.

I haven’t thought about it in a long time, but we only knew each other for three weeks before leaving together for America. And we hadn’t even slept together! We would trip out on that from time to time, often changing our story when we told people about how long we had known each other.

The only thing we had to do now was figure out where we were going to work. Its a common thing for Israelis to work abroad, especially because wages are so low compared to the cost of living in Israel. A decent salary in Tel Aviv doesn’t even get to 2,000 USD, while you can easily make twice that and save most of it if you work abroad in one of these companies.

As a result, several placement companies have popped up which help people find a company to work with. You can sell oil paintings door to door, work security on cruise ships or be trained as a locksmith. But by far the most common and popular option is to sell products out of shopping centers.

That’s what I had experience doing with the hair straighteners, so I figured it would be a seamless transition to simply do it somewhere else. So I scheduled a few appointments with placement companies and dragged Flora along with me.

I didn’t necessarily want her to have any say in the decision, but sometimes its good to have another set of eyes and ears in these situations. After all, they are salespeople trying to get you to go to one of the companies they represent so they can take a commission.

We went to a few companies, but ended up settling on one that was located in California. Orange County, to be specific, which was only an hour from LA and three hours from La Quinta where my parents lived. It was a convenient location because of that, plus we were able to meet the owner of the company who was in Israel at the time.

Making Deals

Dealing with Israelis is not a cut and dry affair. There is always some room for negotiation. Usually, its the Israelis who are negotiating better terms with you. I, however, know their tricks and in this situation, it was me who was doing the negotiating. I managed to get us some excellent terms, including higher commission percentages and free rent for a month until we got acclimated to the area.

Plus, they bought our flights outright, asking only that we stay and work for three months in order for our debt to be paid off.

In short, we were excited that we didn’t have to pay any money out of pocket in order to go off on our next adventure. They did, however, want some form of collateral from us just in case we decided not to work there for whatever reason. Flora wrote them a check and I gave them a copy of my credit card.

When we finally flew to America, we were both in good spirits. Despite never having slept together, we were going to be sharing a room together, as well as sharing an entire apartment with a bunch of other young people who would be selling hair straighteners with us.

Things started to fall apart as soon as we got there. For one thing, the sex was horrible. It was my fault. I was nervous, and excited, and you know what that can do to us guys. I didn’t last very long.

In fact, when we were done she said, “Oh my god! That was the worst sex of my life!”

I was pretty embarassed, but at this point I didn’t care. We were both kind of stuck with each other, or so it seemed.

To make matters worse, the mall that the company was located in was one of the worst I had ever seen.

When I was in Pennsylvania, one of the malls we were in was the Galleria in York. I kid you not, the mall was completely empty until noon, with one person walking by maybe every half hour. I would have rather worked there than this mall in Orange County.

For one thing, the mall was packed. It was insanely busy. The downside of this was that it was full of Mexicans who didn’t speak any English. Like, zero English. I don’t understand how people can live in a country for years and not learn the language.

In addition to the language barrier, there were three (!) hair straightener kiosks in the shopping center, all of them ours. There were also two Dead Sea skin care kiosks, a mineral make-up kiosk, and several more. All Israelis, all aggressively trying to stop people and sell them things. It was like walking through a crowded street in Thailand.

The only difference is that the people in Thailand probably made more sales than we did. It was one of the most horrible experiences of my life.

And on top of that, Flora started out with a bang. She sold three hair straighteners on her first day by the early afternoon, while I think I had only sold one.

Nothing is sacred in these companies. Managers will break up a couple if they think it will help the business. They have absolutely no qualms about meddling in people’s personal lives if they believe its going to mean more money in their pocket. Our manager was no exception.

Her name was Yafit. She was a great salesman and very pretty, but she played some serious headgames with me there in the beginning, always coming by and updating me on how Flora was doing. Shit, I was trying to get my own sales up!

As if that wasn’t enough, the people in the company were a bunch of idiots. For one thing, there was another American guy there by the name of Jordan. He and I had some things in common, like joining the army and then moving back to the US to work in malls with Israelis, but that’s where the similarities ended. He was straight as an arrow, very by the book and a total snitch.

Then there was the lesbian, who Flora took a liking to right away. This is when I started to suspect that Flora might be a lesbian also. She had already told me about her American friend whom she had met in Israel, Katherine, who was the biggest lesbian she had ever met and how they were best friends.

While Flora was pretty, she did have a sort of manliness about her as well. She just wasn’t very ladylike. I remember when we were in Israel thinking how bad she smelled. I don’t know if it was the hagigat or just the fact that she was French, but the girl didn’t wear deodorant until I actually had to tell her that she smelled horrible.

I even got her a white T-shirt that read, “Smelly European” in big black letters. She wore it with pride.

By the time we got to America, she thankfully was wearing deodorant, but she still had a lesbian vibe about her. I started to worry when I noticed some chemistry between her and the lesbian, who was also a good friend of Yafit’s. I think they secretly conspired to break us up.

In the middle of all this, her birthday was the day after our plane arrived. It was also on a Saturday, so everyone wanted to go out and party anyway. It being Flora’s birthday was just a bonus.

After that first day, things weren’t going so well between Flora and I. For one thing, the first time we had sex was horrible. Two, she had her ego boosted from Yafit and the lesbian. Three, she had sold more than me on that first day, so she was feeling pretty good about herself.

I believe that all of this contributed to her being a total bitch.

That night, we went to a bar that was walking distance from the apartment. It was one of these sports bars with TVs and an adjacent restaurant that they turned into a club/dance floor on the weekends.

I didn’t want to go, and wouldn’t have if it wasn’t her birthday. I just had a bad feeling about the whole thing.

Everyone else seemed to be having a good time, and a few minutes later The Lesbian and Flora disappeared with another one of the girls whose name I don’t remember. We’ll call her Pretty Girl (she was pretty).

I tried to keep busy but was bored out of my mind. I went to the outside area to smoke a cigarette, and talked to some weird American guy for a few minutes. Pretty Girl came out to smoke a cigarette, and we chatted for a bit. For the life of me I can’t remember what we talked about, all I remember were her big eyes looking at me playfully. She was such a flirt.

Flora peeked her head outside and saw that we were talking. She came over to us and smoked a cigarette with us, then went back in after a minute. I kept talking to Pretty Girl.

A few minutes later we went back inside. The rest of our group was on the dance floor, and I whispered to Flora that I was going to get a drink at the bar. She told me she would be right there.

Like an idiot, I went to the bar and waited for her for a good ten minutes. By myself. Totally awkward.

Finally, I realized that maybe she wouldn’t be coming, so I walked back into the room with the dance floor. When I got there, I saw Flora wrapped up in some other guy’s arms with her hands around his neck. His hands were planted firmly on her ass. The rest of our group was standing off to the side, looking awkward and embarrassed.

I faced a split second decision that many men can relate to: should I knock this guy out or just leave?

I opted for the second option. Actually, I tapped Flora on the shoulder and said, “I’m leaving.”

As soon as I did that, the guy realized what was going on and they broke their embrace. I said goodbye to the rest of the Israelis, even offering a weak excuse that I was “tired” and left.

I walked out of the club and started heading back to our apartment.

“Jack!” Flora called out after me. She was following me down the street.

When she caught up to me, I told her I didn’t want to talk to her. I honestly didn’t want anything to do with her. We went to sleep without speaking to one another.

The next day was her birthday. She was going to work and I had the day off. I wrote a very long, negative story about everything that happened to blow off some steam. After I had done that, I spent the rest of the day making her birthday present. For some reason, I forgave her.

I think it was some combination of laziness and not wanting to have to think of something else to do with myself. After all, we were already there. We were together, and things had been good when we were in Tel Aviv. There was no reason they couldn’t be good again.

I made her a nice card out of some pieces of paper tied together with dental floss, almost like a spiral notebook. On each page, I made a crude drawing of some event of the past month during the time we knew each other, with a little caption below. The whole book was about 15 of these. I left it on our bed.

Before she came home, Yafit called me and said she was going to pick me up to go shopping for Flora’s birthday. That night was “bowling night” for the company, something they did every few weeks to facilitate bonding between the employees. We had a nice conversation as we bought party balloons and shit like that. I almost started to like her after that.

We were the first ones at the bowling alley and blew up balloons together. The rest of the employees slowly trickled in after work. Since they all worked in the same mall, they all got there at the same time. Flora gave me a big hug and was obviously happy to see me.

“I thought you left,” she said. “After I found your book, I expected the last page to say, ‘Goodbye’ or something. When I couldn’t find you in the apartment, I thought you were gone but I saw your stuff was still there.”

“Yafit just picked me up to run some errands,” I said.

The whole situation was absurd. So much had happened in only a few days, and neither of us liked it. After the bowling night, we went home and talked in our room.

“I want to leave. This place sucks.” I said.

Escape From LA

“Yeah,” she agreed.

I called a friend of mine from LA, who had no idea that I was even in America. I hadn’t told anyone that I was going back to sell hair straighteners because of how things had ended for me in Pennsylvania. I didn’t want my ex, or my old manager to try to contact me again. And its a pain in the ass to try to explain to everyone what you’re doing.

My friend was happy to hear from me and agreed to come pick me up that night. He brought his girlfriend along, who was around the same age as Flora and also spoke French. The two of them hit it off right away.

The four of us had a good time while we were there. My friend was nice enough to let us stay on his couch for a few days, even dropped us off at my parents’ house a few days later.

My Lesbian Alert started to go off again when I saw Flora with Sophia, my friend’s girlfriend. There was just something weird about the way they interacted. Sophia kept saying weird things like saying she wanted to take a bath, and kept inviting Flora to sit on her bed in the other room. She was also kind of a street rat, but at least Sophia wore deodorant.

Anyway, after a few days my friend gave us a ride to La Quinta to stay with my parents. It was weird surprising my parents like that. I decided to let Flora ring the doorbell, and when my mom opened the door and saw me she screamed like a little girl.

We stayed at my parents’ house for two weeks. It was a nice little vacation and Flora and I managed to iron out some things in our relationship. For one thing, we started having some good sex. Let me tell you, that bitch was super loud! She either has no control over herself when she’s in bed or she just doesn’t give a shit, because I think she could have woken up the neighbors with her howling.

There was just one problem: we would have to get a job at some point. Going back to stay with your parents is never a long-term solution, especially when you have a new girlfriend who you’ve only known for a month. Flora wanted to work and stop spending money.

Well, maybe there were two problems. When we had sex, we didn’t use a condom. While I did pull out, she mentioned she was worried that she might be pregnant. Adam’s words from the night in The Mafteach run in my ears.

“Orly told Tom she thought she might be pregnant.”

When we were in La Quinta, she made me go to Planned Parenthood to get a pregnancy test done. SH had done store-bought tests, but they all came back negative.

The way it works down there is that they do their check on you and give you a phone number that you need to call to get your results. You can also check online, but basically what you do is enter your password and it gives you the results. For some strange, unexplainable reason, her password didn’t work.

Oh, I should also mention that after we left Orange County, the placement company cashed her check which was for something like $1400 USD. Definitely a big chunk of change to lose on a trip to America. So we had to find a new job.

I called up another placement company that I had spoken with while I was in Israel. I didn’t go to this one with Flora because she wasn’t available, but when I was there they told me about a company in Texas that was very growth-minded. The way they described it, it was easy to go there, work for a bit, save some money and then open your own kiosk with or without a partner.

That sounded like a great idea to me. Flora wasn’t too excited about the idea of leaving California to go to Texas, but she deferred to my experience. After all, a job was a job.

We managed to enjoy our two week vacation in California. I tried to give her the tourist experience, taking her to a water park, a county fair and we even went shopping a few times. We actually had a great time.

We took tons of pictures as well. It was a great experience for both of us. After my horrible time with my ex in Pennsylvania, I needed to remind myself that I was capable of having someone who cared about me, even if she did some shady shit sometimes.

I even bought her a Kindle reader, something I knew she wanted. Later on that day she said, “Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been spoiled like this before!”

The guy I talked to in Texas turned out to be a cool guy as well. Definitely business minded. I told him about our situation and once he heard about the mall we worked at in Orange County, he couldn’t believe it.

“Main Place Mall? You’ll never believe this, but I used to have a location there. Its horrible.” He said.

We got along well enough that he offered to pay for our flights to Texas and give us a month of free rent as well. So far so good.

When we got there, they took us to a huge apartment which we would end up sharing with a few other people. Flora and I were ecstatic about the apartment, despite the fact that the carpet was stained and it smelled a bit off. By Tel Aviv standards, the place was huge. There were company cars to use on our days off and plenty of shopping where we were staying.

Houston is a cool place. Our apartment was located on Westheimer street, which is one of the main streets that runs through town. One of the biggest malls, the Galleria, was located a few miles down the road.

I was a bit nervous about going back to work since my experience in Orange County. Idan (the owner I spoke with on the phone) assured me that he would put me with the manager and top salesman, Michael, who would make sure that I would make sales.

Our first day was Sunday. Michael and I worked together. He was completely bald with big green eyes and an exuberant personality. After a few minutes, I could see why he was their top salesman. He showed me tricks that I would never have believed were possible.

But after the first hour, neither of us made any sales for a few hours. With only two hours left to go in the day, we both started to worry that my first day would be “one of those days” that anyone who has been in sales can relate to.

He turned to me and said, “We have two hours left. If I were to ask you how much more we would sell for before the day was out, what would you say?”

Without hesitating, I said, “A thousand.”

Instead of arguing with me on how doing something like that was virtually impossible, he shrugged and said, “Okay.”

Then we got to work. It was almost as if God was listening, because I finished the day on 900 and he finished on 1200. At the end of the day, Abir, another one of the owners, came by and asked Michael how I had done.

“He’s a beast!” He said with his trademark charismatic smile.

“A beast!” Abir said as well, reaching an arm around me for a half-hug.

Don’t Mess With Texas

The guys in Houston definitely knew how to run a business. But more than that, they knew how to talk to people and motivate their workers. For the most part, they stayed away from the typical sales talk that managers like to stuff down their employees throats. All they wanted to do was put you in a good mood and crack jokes, believing that the sales would come if you were happy.

And I have to say, they were right.

Flora, for her part, sold 700 worth of products, which is tremendous for someone who has worked less than five days on the job.

She worked with a guy named Edi, who was a Russian Israeli living in our apartment. I hate to admit it, but I sensed some chemistry between them. Maybe I am immature in my thinking, but if I am with a girl, then she shouldn’t have chemistry with so many people. I suppose that constantly changing our location would expose her to more and more people with whom she could have chemistry, but for it to happen at least in every new location we were in seemed a bit much.

I said something to her about it and she got all defensive. Another bad sign.

Still, I wasn’t about to pick up and leave again, especially after how well it was going for me at work. In my first week, I was averaging about 600 in sales a day, which was pretty good for someone with my experience level in a new area.

Flora, on the other hand, started to flounder a bit. Its pretty common in this type of sales for new workers to start off well when their enthusiasm is high and then to do poorly once they’ve settled into a routine. You start getting used to the idea of selling for a certain amount per day, and a few bad days is enough to challenge your opinion of yourself.

And as I mentioned in the beginning of this story, there is nothing worse than standing in the mall when you don’t want to be there.

All in all, she lasted about a month on the job. She quit the job but they let her stay in the apartment on my behalf. She did nothing except drink wine and sit around the apartment, occasionally going out to explore our neighborhood or sit out by the pool.

We decided to fly back to California for Rosh Hashana, one of the Jewish holidays that usually falls in September/October. She met the rest of my family and we stayed with my friend a few more days.

I remember while we were staying with my friend, we decided to get some cocaine and go to karaoke. I hadn’t done drugs in a while, and it reminded me why I didn’t like doing them. My jaw was all over the place. Besides, anything that makes karaoke more fun should be viewed with suspicion.

When it was time to go back to Houston, Flora fell apart. Plain and simple, she just didn’t want to work there anymore. She had been backpacking in Australia, so to her, traveling was a magical experience where you move around all the time and meet tons of new people. You get drunk a lot and stay in a hostel.

Our experience, on the other hand, was nothing like that. We would wake up every day, go to work, then come home exhausted. On the few occasions where we had a day off together, we would try to make the most of it, often seeing a movie or going to the grocery store. It sounds funny, but those were welcome changes from selling hair straighteners all day.

At one point, I felt horrible that she didn’t like being there anymore. I decided that we would leave, just like we left Orange County. I even lined up a new job for us in Cape Town, South Africa.

When I went to go tell Idan, he flipped out on me at first. I tried to explain to him that I felt responsible for Flora, even though she was just being a baby. Well, I didn’t say it like that, but it was pretty obvious. If in Orange County everyone had preferred her over me, in Houston it was the opposite. Michael, Idan and Abir absolutely loved me, while Flora they could do without.

But they knew that I was the type of person who wasn’t about to dump her and tell her to go on her merry way, so they tolerated her for the time being. At the end of the conversation, Idan and I reached an agreement where he would increase my commission and give me a few more perks. In other words, I sold Flora out for more money.

She was upset, but what could she do? The money she had saved from her big commission was running low and she hadn’t been making too much from working in Houston. To make matters worse, her three month visa was about to expire.

Europeans are allowed to stay in the US for three months on a tourist visa which is non-extendable. Applying for a student visa would take too long and besides, she didn’t have the money to go to school in America. A work visa was too expensive as well. She had no desire in overstaying her visa illegally either.

The only option left for us was to do a visa run, similar to what travelers will do in Southeast Asia if they want to stay longer in a country. You cross the border, stay a few days, then cross back.

After doing some research, we settled on Guatemala. The flights were the cheapest out of any of the Central American countries and the cost of living seemed to be among the lowest as well. We booked a two week trip right at the end of her three month visa.

We left on the fifteenth of October, meaning that we would come back right before Halloween. Despite the fact that she was going stir crazy from being home alone all day, being broke and scared that we would have to break up if she had a problem with her visa, we were in good spirits when we boarded the plane to Guatemala.

She had always wanted to travel to South or Central America, and now she was finally doing it. I think she had planned on staying for more than two weeks, but I suppose it was better than nothing.

Despite the fact that we were cute and cuddly at the airport, it didn’t take long for her to turn into a raging bitch. I haven’t mentioned it before, but Flora was definitely not a morning person.

I suppose I should phrase it differently: she was a complete bitch until about two hours after she had woken up. I have never seen anything like it in my life, but it was an exercise in patience to live with someone like that, especially when your job involves getting up early and being nice to people so they will buy things from you.

It didn’t help that we had a 12 hour layover in the Mexico City airport on the way to Guatemala — in the middle of the night! If you’ve never been to the Mexico City airport, let me paint the picture for you.

First of all, whoever designed the airport there must have been drinking too much tequila that day, because the walls have holes in them by design. I think the walls are actually made out of cinder blocks, based on the shape of the holes and the cement look. Also, its fucking Mexico.

Apparently this is to save money on air conditioning, or heating, or both, because the airport featured none of either. We knew it would be hot in Guatemala, so neither of us brought any warm clothes. And Mexico City evidently is freezing at night in October.

Neither of us were in such a great mood after that. But she was something else. I was actually afraid to say anything around her, not wanting to communicate with her directly for fear of some kind of verbal backlash.

Skip Guatemala

When we got to Guatemala, things didn’t get better. She was in a bad mood the whole time. Despite the fact that she had been known to get an irregular period (once every two or three months!), I lucked out and she got her period a few days into the trip. The first couple of days were the worst.

When we checked into the guest house, there was another couple there. It was two Australians, and Flora took great pleasure in flirting with the guy in front of me. It was so awkward even the guy’s girlfriend was looking uncomfortable. I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

It was almost like we never left the Mexico City airport, that’s how bad she was. She was a total bitch for the first five days. Now, I am a very patient person. I made a living selling freaking hair straighteners for God’s sake. Still, I could only take so much.

One night, while we were at a bar, I said something to her about how she was being a bitch.

She said, “Yeah? Well if you don’t like it then why don’t you just leave?”

That was the last straw for me. “You know what Flora? Fuck you. I’m outta here. I’m going back to Texas.”

I got up and left.

Then, just like that night at the bar in Orange County, she came out after me calling my name. She tried to apologize, but I wasn’t having any of it.

“Fuck you, Flora!” I shouted at her in the middle of the bar as I was walking out. People came to see what was going on, but I kept shouting.

“You’ve been a total bitch this entire time! What the fuck is wrong with you? I can’t stand being around you if you’re like this. I’m going back to Texas, you can go fuck yourself.”

I turned around and started walking back to our guest house. She followed me for a while and then stopped, probably to get a drink somewhere. The worst part was that we had made plans to go to Lake Atitlan, a major tourist attraction in Guatemala. We were going to make a day out of it.

When she came back to the guest house, she was treading on eggshells.

“So, what are you going to do?” she asked.

Still angry, I said, “I’m going back to Houston. I’m going to call Idan tomorrow.”

“Oh,” she said. “Well, I’m going to Lake Atitlan tomorrow. I would love it if you came with me.”

I snorted and shook my head. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at her.

She packed her things quietly and we went to sleep. The next morning, she left early to catch the ferry out there. I breathed a sigh of relief that my nightmare was finally over.

As the hours passed, I started to feel bad. Despite our altercations, I missed her. Besides, some of the craziest sex I had ever had up until that point I had with her.

Since neither of us had bought a SIM card for our phones, I stopped at an internet cafe and wrote her a message on Facebook. I told her I was sorry, and could she please come back because I missed her.

In the end I got what I wanted, and she ended up coming back the next day. This was a perfect case of, “be careful what you wish for,” because it took about five minutes for me to reach my limit with her once she actually got back.

She was just such a bitch the whole time, I couldn’t deal with it. I remember we went to a cafe to get a coffee, and she was pissed off because they didn’t know how to make a proper cappuccino. It set me off again and less than an hour later I was packing my things. This time, I told her, I wouldn’t be contacting her. I thought it would be best if we finished the trip separately.

I headed out to Lake Atitlan for some fresh air. To get there, you have to take a ferry across the lake where the tourist areas are. On the way there, I met an Argentinian kid and explained my situation to him. It turns out that he was the manager at one of the hostels on the Lake, and offered me a place to stay and plenty of drugs.

We ended up doing lots of coke, and I bought some ecstasy as well. It was an interesting experience and I made a nice friend.

After cooling off, I sent another message to Flora telling her that I was coming back and that we should try again. I said my goodbyes to my Argentinian friend and went to give it another try with the French girl.

This time, things finally went well. I got back at night and we had an amazing evening. In fact, I would even say that it was one of the most memorable experiences that I’d ever had with one of my girlfriends.

How much of that had to do with the fact that I took some ecstasy, I’m not sure. I brought the drugs back from Lake Atitlan and we split them up. Maybe that was what placated her, I don’t know. But she sure did like that cocaine.

Personally, I hate cocaine unless I have something to knock me out at the end of the night. Sure, you feel good for about fifteen minutes but then your heart starts beating out of your chest.

Ecstasy, on the other hand, is fantastic. I would take it all the time if I could deal with the come down.

This night was no exception. I took the pill at around 10 o’clock and she did a line. We went to a bar to wait for our drugs to kick in.

About an hour later I started rolling really hard. We decided to go to another bar where they were playing some super loud hard trance. I remember walking by and being like OH MY GOD LET’S GO IN THERE!

We must have stayed in that place for a good two hours. Let me tell you, there were so many hot girls coming in and out of there. In fact, that was the only time that I noticed any good looking females in Guatemala. They didn’t look like prostitutes either, I think they were just travelers. High heels, short dresses, the whole shebang.

My jaw was all over the place from grinding my teeth, but Flora did a good job taking care of me. We took some nice pictures before leaving. I have no idea how we stayed there for so long, but once we got outside I was tripping pretty hard. Maybe it was because I also took a Viagra.

We went to a few more clubs before going home. I think the coke made her horny, because when we got back she started getting physical with me. But I was so fucked up from the overstimulation of the ecstasy and the thumping music I had a hard time getting into the sex state of mind.

She goes, “Are you kidding me?”

I was like, “No no, just give me a second. I’m really fucked up.”

After getting my bearings, I had the best sex of my life with her in that guest house. I didn’t even care that her period blood was all over the sheets. It looked like someone had been murdered on our bed. We shamelessly gave the sheet to the housekeeping in the morning.

Still, the amazing sex wasn’t enough to put her in a good mood for very long. We finished the rest of the trip in a tense cease-fire of sorts. Truth be told, I was upset that things weren’t going so well.

At one point, I asked her, “Do you want to break up?”

She goes, “We’ll see when we get back to Houston.”

That kind of pissed me off, especially because I felt like I had stuck my neck out for her on multiple occasions.

To make matters worse, we had another 12 hour layover in the fucking Mexico City airport! But at this point, I can’t say that I cared too much about her mental state. I just wanted to get back home.

As if that wasn’t enough, when we passed through Customs, she was pulled aside and interrogated by some guy in a suit. That kind of scared me. If she told them that she was working, people would be in big trouble. Because she was on a tourist visa, she wasn’t allowed to work. Plus, Israelis who sell things in malls have come under fire recently for employing illegal workers.

Which is kind of stupid when you think about how many Mexicans work in America legally, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Instead of being an intelligent person and just leaving her there, I waited for a good two hours while they waterboarded her, or whatever they did back there.

Okay, so I was relieved when she came out and wasn’t in handcuffs. I was very happy that everything was okay. She didn’t want to appear too happy when she came out, because I think she assumed they would be watching our reaction (and possibly listening to our conversation).

We casually walked down to the baggage claim, got our shit and took a cab back to our apartment. On the way back, she explained to me how they questioned her.

They acted as if they knew everything about what she was doing. They asked if she worked in the Galleria, if she sold Dead Sea skin care, all that stuff. Apparently, anyone with an Israeli passport is a suspect.

To her credit, she played it very cool. I would have expected nothing less from an urchin like her. She told me how she feigned boredom by looking at her watch when she kept her waiting, how she pretended to have absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Compared to another Israeli girl who was there with her head on the desk, she said she handled it beautifully.

That was all well and good, but what did it mean for us? Would we be staying together? Well, not according to the Immigration Department. They had also pulled her aside because it seemed suspicious that she would stay for three months in the US, take a short trip abroad, and then come back. They said that while it was technically legal, they didn’t like it.

Fortunately for her, when we booked our ticket we booked a return flight as well. Her’s was scheduled for November 14th, which was about two weeks out from when we arrived. The officer made a mark in her passport saying that if she wasn’t on that flight, that she should receive a dreaded Black Stamp.

The Black Stamp is what they give to people who overstay their visa. It basically says that they are not allowed to come back for various amounts of time, ranging from seven years to a lifetime. Flora liked America, and at the time would tell me how she wanted to live there some day, so there was no chance of her risking that.

“I’m going back on that flight,” she said. “I don’t want to get a black stamp.”

That made me sad, but now at least the end was in sight. There was nothing left but for us to enjoy the next two weeks together.

Still, it seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. I had told my boss that I needed a few days off to recover from my trip. One day I decided to go to the gym in the morning, and when I came back my laptop was open. Flora’s Gmail account was open, and I saw a few letters between her and her ex-boyfriend, the one I had met in Israel that night when Flora and I went to the Mafteach.

There were a few letters in broken English from him, saying how we was excited to see her and that he would pick her up at the airport. How he was happy that she was coming back and how he was looking forward to picking up where they left off.

When I saw that, I kind of lost it. I was very angry, but didn’t let on until that night. Flora wasn’t exactly much of a cook, so every night when I came home from work I would take her out to dinner. She didn’t eat much anyway. In fact, now that I think about it, I rarely saw her eat. She did drink a lot of white wine and smoke lots of cigarettes, a classic French diet.

When we would go to eat, I would be famished from a day at work and order a bunch of appetizers. She would pick at the food and I would eat my fill, and then we would go home.

This night, however, I decided to flip it on her. I told her that MY ex had written me a letter, saying how she wanted to get back in touch with me, how she was sorry how things turned out but that she wanted to give it another chance.

In effect, I loosely paraphrased her situation with her ex, except I made it seem like it was mine. Maybe I could have been more slick about it, because I remember being really pissed off when I was talking. She figured it out right away.

“Did you seem my email?” she asked.

Now that I think of it, maybe she left her computer there on purpose so I would see it. Fucking French girls.

I grilled her about her contact with her ex. “Have you been in contact with him this whole time?”

“No, I swear! I only talked to him one time before, on my birthday when we were in Orange County. I was so scared because we had just flown to America and we were fighting and I didn’t know what would happen between us.”

“Mmm hmm,” I said. “And?”

“And in Guatemala, I talked to him also. I called him when we were fighting. He offered to buy me a flight back home.”

I rolled my eyes, disgusted with her. After all, I was just trying to help her! That’s what I told myself at least, but now that I think about it, I was just trying to help myself get over my ex.

Anyway, we managed to make up and had some more great sex. Our last two weeks together were enjoyable, despite the fact that I knew she was still in contact with her ex. As a tribute to how naive I was, I actually just thought he was going to pick her up from the airport!

I should have known that they would get back together. Before I met her, they had been together for about two years. Its hard to cut off a relationship like that, especially if you’re eventually planning on living in the same city (Tel Aviv, in this case). I should know!

We had a tearful goodbye before she left.

Welcome Home

When I told Idan what had happened, he shook his head and said, “Everything from the heavens.” Its an Israeli expression that loosely translates to mean that God has a plan. Meaning, in other words, that it wasn’t such a bad thing that Flora wouldn’t be sticking around.

That would put the date at November 14th. I still had another month and a half before my contract was up in Texas. As part of the conditions of me working there, Idan had told me that if I would stay through to the end of December (through the Christmas season), then he would reimburse me for the flight that the Orange County company had paid for.

That meant only 45 more days and I was a free man. They, of course, wanted me to stay longer and open my own stand. They would always tell me that all kinds of new opportunities opened up after Christmas. While he may be right, that last month and a half involves 15 hour days and non-stop work in shopping centers. It may not sound like a lot, but it consumes everything in your life.

Flora and I lost contact, despite me trying to stay in touch with her via Facebook. After almost two weeks of not hearing back from her, I deleted her from my friend’s list.

Evidently, that was all I had to do to get a response from her. She wrote me a long letter telling me how she had a hard time getting herself situated in Tel Aviv. How she had to stay with friends until she found an apartment and had no internet, and blah blah blah. Then one day when she went to go check my profile, she realized that I had deleted her. She wrote that she hated me, didn’t want anything to do with me and never wanted to speak to me again.

Needless to say, that pretty much destroyed me, especially after everything we had been through. Only five months had passed since meeting her on the beach that day with Orly, but we had managed to compress a lot of experiences into that short span of time.

When she wrote me that, my heart sank. I tried calling her but she screened my calls. I wrote her messages begging for forgiveness, but she wouldn’t respond. For the next month and a half, I worked Christmas with a heavy heart.

Still, I managed to save a good chunk of money. Even a horrible salesman will make money during Christmas. By the time the season was over, I had about ten grand in cash just sitting in my apartment.

The work had taken its toll though. I desperately needed a vacation. I told Idan that I was flying back to California to stay with my parents for a while and decompress.

Frequent Flier

When I got back to California, I went straight to LA to get stoned with my friends. I think I stayed there for about a week, smoking myself into retardation. Despite the fact that I had plenty of money in my bank account, I had nothing to do with my life.

This is a situation I’ve found myself in ever since getting out of the army. Oh, did I mention I was in the Israeli Army? Surprise!

Anyway, when you get out of the army, you are suddenly confronted with a terrifying sense of freedom. I think that’s why America is so obsessed with Freedom, because in the military you have absolutely none. You sacrifice yours so that civilians can do what they want.

The only problem is that when you get out, you suddenly have complete control over your life. I’ll spare you the details of what I’ve been doing since then, but selling hair straighteners is a similar experience. The difference is that the money is better in the hair straightener game.

Still, money is no substitute for knowing what your purpose is, something I didn’t know at the time. Maybe I could be a professional weed smoker. Does that exist?

At some point, I was reminded about what Idan said about new opportunities popping up after Christmas. People go on vacation, positions open up and people are promoted. Not just in Houston, but everywhere.

I decided that it would be a good idea to find another company to work for as soon as possible. I thought that I’d also try my hand at being a manager. After all, the extra money would be nice and it would be a good excuse to spend less time at the mall.

So I contact a few more placement companies and ended up striking a deal with a company out in Miami. I had never been to Miami, but it seemed like a cool place and I know its popular.

When I got there, though, I hated it. The apartment was disgusting and the people were not very nice. First of all, there were only about two other people working there and they were depressed as shit. Second, when I actually went to go to work at the mall, it was completely dead. Let’s just say that January is not a good time to start working in this business.

I didn’t even make it through the first day in Miami. I went back to the shitty apartment, packed my shit and left for South Beach.

At that point, I was totally lost. I found myself stuck lugging around my suitcase, looking for a place to stay. Now I had no job and was in a city where I knew absolutely nobody. I was also nervous that the manager who had flown me out to Miami from LA would come looking for me and demand that I pay him back for the flight.

Fortunately, nothing like that ever happened. I ended up in a hostel in South Beach. Dejected, I paid for a room and plopped down on the bed.

I apparently picked the wrong room, because some 40 year old guy was in there blabbing about something. He was one of these guys who talks to everybody and always has something to say. A few minutes after I lied down, he came over to my bed and introduced himself.

“Hey man, my name’s Tony,” he said. He sounded like an Italian from New York or something.

“Hey, Jack. Nice to meet you,” I said, reaching over to shake his hand from the bed.

We started talking and somehow the conversation shifted to smoking weed. It turns out Tony used to live in Miami and had some connections, so about an hour later we set out to meet up with one of his friends. Fifty dollars later, we had enough weed to get us through the next few days.

I told Tony everything. I told him about Flora, about my time in Houston and now Miami. He was actually a really cool guy. It was a totally random situation that we ended up together, but that day I made a friend for life.

Over the next week, we were inseparable. We worked out together, went to the beach and got stoned plenty of times. The one time where he didn’t come with me was when I went to go party at a neighboring hostel. I had met an Australian girl on the beach and she invited me to come to a party at her hostel.

When I got there, of course she ditched me right away. But that was alright, because I met a crew of German people who were fun to hang out with. I ended up getting drunk with them and having sex with one of the German girls in the bushes on the beach.

Anyway, after a day or two I realized that I only had one option: go back to Israel.

The Holy Land Part 2

I’m not sure how I arrived at that decision, although I suppose it had to do with the process of elimination. I knew I didn’t want to go back to Houston just yet. I definitely didn’t want to stay in Miami. And I didn’t think going back to my parents’ house would solve any problems. Israel seemed like the next best option.

I booked a flight for a few days out. I knew that when I got there I would see Flora, I just didn’t know when. I also knew that I would have to find a place to stay in a hurry, so I sent a message to Omer, my old roommate and asked him if I could please please crash at his place temporarily until I found something.

Fortunately, he agreed. I arrived back at the same apartment again. Things had changed though. For one thing, Omer had started partying way too much. He was snorting hagigat every night now regularly, even doing coke a few nights a week. He had moved up in the hierarchy of the Russian restaurant/nightclub, and now he had access to some of the finer things available.

That definitely affected his mind state. Whereas before he would come home and be in a good mood, now he started to have crazy mood swings. He would come home at 6 in the morning and make tons of noise. He would wake me up and tell me he wanted to party, playing music really loud and just being an asshole in general. On the one hand, I wanted to whoop his ass, but I knew he would kick me out of his apartment right away. So I held my tongue.

Even though I never would have admitted it at the time, I had a purpose for being there. I desperately wanted to find out what had gone wrong with Flora. It seemed so strange to me that she would cut off contact so suddenly like that. At the time, I just wasn’t able to put all the pieces together.

When I got there, I did a few things. One, I signed up for a temporary membership at my old gym.

Two, I called Flora within a few days. She seemed surprised that I wanted to see her, but she met me on the street and we caught up for a few minutes. We had a nice hug, just like that one night in The Mafteach on the day we had met.

Still, things were weird between us. She was hard to get a hold of and would sporadically return my texts and calls. Sometimes she would, sometimes she wouldn’t. It was hard for me to get a read on her.

She wasn’t working and said that her dad was had been sending her money from France. She claimed she was working on some projects that would get her into art school, which was her plan at the time. Apparently she needed to create some art that would show how talented she was. I saw some of it and just didn’t get it, especially how it would take so long to create something like that.

But what am I going to say? “That shit sucks, let’s have sex?”

Not exactly.

Our mutual friends noticed that she had been acting weird as well. For one thing, she wouldn’t let anyone come back to her apartment. After we had met up a few times for coffee, I mentioned something about Omer being insane and could we go to her place instead?

“No, I don’t bring anyone back to my apartment. Not even Orly has been there,” she told me.

That sounded a bit strange, but Flora is a strange girl so I took it at face value. When I talked to Orly about it, all she said was that she didn’t speak to Flora much anymore. Orly had her own problems to deal with, as she had started dating one of Limor’s brothers and the relationship had turned sour.

After a few weeks, things got so bad between me and Omer that I had to leave. I escaped one day when he was out, and he would call me incessantly and shout, “WHAT’S WRONG JACK? YOU DON’T LIKE BEING MY ROOMMATE ANYMORE?”

It was an insane situation. I’ve never seen drugs affect someone like that before. Or, maybe he was just sick of me crashing at his apartment unannounced.

Either way, I had to get out of there. Limor let me stay at her place for a night while I looked for apartments. Finding a place to stay in Tel Aviv is, by the way, a complete nightmare. I’ve looked for apartments there on several occasions, and it has never taken me less than two weeks.

By some stroke of luck, I managed to find something right away this time. It was also down the street from my old place.

I should also mention that while Flora never actually brought me to her apartment, I knew what street it was on. I also knew which general building it was and that she lived on the fourth floor, based on various conversations we had. This will be important later.

Anyway, I went to see the new apartment and met the current roommates there. There was one guy, Shimon, who was a total arse, which is a very Arab-acting Israeli (but Jewish). There’s really no other way to describe it. The other girl who was there was nice, and she was a total stoner so we got along great. They were looking for someone immediately and I needed a place, so it seemed like a perfect fit despite being a bit out of my price range.

Still, I had money in the bank and nothing to do aside from trying to win Flora back, so I took it.

Originally, I thought I would try to get a job in Tel Aviv, but now after two seasons of selling hair straighteners, my brain was officially fried. Its an addictive job, and I knew I would have a hard time adjusting to another type of work. Plus, as fun as Tel Aviv was, I had Flora on my mind. If things didn’t work out with her, I knew I wouldn’t end up staying.

Not Mysterious, Just A Slut

For all my obsessing over this girl, after a month in Tel Aviv we still hadn’t even kissed. She gave the impression she was still single but just locked herself in her room working on her art. I would always invite her to come hang out with me and my friends. I tried to get her alone many times, but she always found a reason not to hang out with me.

We did see each other a few times when we were with other people, but even then she only stayed for a few minutes before leaving. I was thoroughly confused.

Things changed one day when she called me at around 10 at night. I had gone to a party with some friends of mine from the army when she texted me asking if she could meet me for a drink. I told her to come to the bar I was at, which was down on the beach only a few blocks away from where she was staying.

She met me at the bar and as we waited to order a drink, she gave me a kiss on the cheek for no reason. I think it was her little way of showing me it was back on.

We both got a drink and found a private corner of the party and started talking. Less than ten minutes later we were making out. Twenty minutes later we said goodbye to my friends and made a beeline back to my new apartment where we had, yet again, the best sex of my life.

They say that sex isn’t just physical, its emotional. And they’re right. The sex was good between us anyway, but now that I knew that I had won her back, it was tremendous. I felt amazing, knowing that I had gone through heaven and hell but finally managed to work my magic on this girl once again.

After we finished, we cuddled in bed for a while before falling asleep. Then, to my surprise, I was woken up when she told me she was going home.

“What? Are you serious?” I looked at my phone. “Its 3:00 in the morning.”

“I know,” she said. “But I want to go home. I want to sleep in my own bed.”

I was confused. Its not like this was a one night stand, not like I had never slept with this girl before. After all, we lived together in Houston for three months. What’s the big deal if she spent the night?

Still, I wasn’t able to convince her. It seemed strange to me at the time, but I just chalked it up to mysterious female behavior.

Over the next few weeks, we slept together occasionally. Every few days or so it was the same thing: we would get in touch, she would come over and we’d have sex. We would still meet up for coffee in the morning and go take walks, but something just felt off.

Finally, I figured it out. She was just playing hard to get, right? She probably just wanted me to pursue her harder. Of course! How come I didn’t see it sooner?

At this point, I knew what building she lived in. As I mentioned, I knew she lived on the fourth floor. Most apartment buildings in Tel Aviv, at least on this particular street, don’t go above four floors. They usually don’t have more than three or four apartments per floor, so finding out which one was her’s would be as simple as knocking on a few doors.

And I’m a salesman, I’m eat rejection for breakfast.

So one day, I got up the nerve to go inside her building. It was smaller than it looked from the outside, and by the time I got up to the fourth floor, I saw that there were only two doors there. On one of them was a plaque, and I recognized Flora’s name spelled out in Hebrew. I heard reggae music coming from the other side of the door, so I knew there was someone home. I knocked on the door.

Had I waited another second, I would have realized that there was another name on the plaque: Meni.

All of a sudden, the rest of the pieces clicked together. Now I understood why she had been so evasive. She was living with her boyfriend!

Someone lowered the volume on the music and I had the sense that there was a person on the other side of the door peering through the peephole. Thirty seconds went by and nobody had opened the door.

“Come on, open up,” I said. I didn’t really have a plan, but I knew that I couldn’t just run away.

Flora opened the door a crack and squeezed her skinny body through. “Now you know,” she said.

My stomach dropped. I couldn’t say anything, I just stared at her.

“Let’s talk downstairs,” she said.

We walked downstairs and stood outside the building, right by the entrance. I didn’t say anything, just looked at her waiting for an explanation.

She wasted no time. “I’ve been staying here since I came back to Israel. You know how I told you my dad was helping me out? It was Meni.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “How could you do this to me?” I asked.

“I’m sorry,” she said, shaking her head. She looked like she felt terrible. Suddenly, she turned around like she heard a noise behind her. I think she was scared Meni would come outside.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I asked.

“Please, Jack..” she said, reaching out to me with a hand.

“No! Get away from me, I don’t want anything to do with you. We’re done.” I said angrily.

I walked away in shock. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, although looking back I realize that all the signs were right there in front of me the whole time. Her evasiveness, the emails I found back in Houston, not wanting to spend the night at my house. It was all so clear, I just couldn’t see it.

As I walked down the street, my body felt light. It was a strange sensation, probably from the adrenaline. After about thirty seconds, I got the feeling that someone was following me. I turned around and saw this guy wearing a hooded sweatshirt behind me. As soon as I saw him, I recognized the look of pure rage on his face.

He charged me just as I was crossing the street. The two of us fell to the ground and wrestled for position as he cursed me.

“I’ll kill you! I’ll fucking murder you motherfucker! You come to my fucking house?!” He yelled.

I was still in shock from before, but my instincts took over. Those few months that I trained Brazilian jujitsu came in handy, as I got him in the “guard” position with my legs wrapped around him from below. His face was contorted from anger and he looked like he would have eaten me alive if he could have.

“Stop, stop!” I said. “She didn’t tell me about you! She didn’t tell me!” I repeated, trying to diffuse the situation.

In response, he roared and flipped me over. I got to my feet quickly and took him down, the BJJ kicking in again as I mounted him.

From atop his chest I said again, “She didn’t tell me about you. Now leave me alone.”

I got up cautiously to make sure he wasn’t going to renew his assault. He was gasping for air on the ground, either exhausted from the fight or winded from the realization of how Flora had been playing us both the whole time.

All of this took place in the middle of a crosswalk on a busy street in Tel Aviv. Fortunately, it was when the green man was showing and we had the right of way.

I hurried off the street and went back to my apartment. I told Shimon everything and all he said was, “Oh my god, what a slut!”

The next day, I had lunch with Orly. I thought for sure she was in on it too, but I wanted to be sure before I made any accusations.

“Did you know that Flora was living with Meni?” I asked.

We were in the middle of eating hummus, and she stopped immediately and looked up at me. “What? No, are you serious?”

“Yeah,” I said. I told her the whole story.

She had no idea what was going on, either. Apparently Flora was embarassed at having gone back to him because he was an abusive asshole or something. At least, that’s what she claims. But who knows?

Texas Wants You

That day, I went home and called my old bosses from Houston. I told them I wanted to come back and work, but only if they gave me a good offer. Idan ended up offering to include me as a partner on a new venture they were working on, but only if I came back within the next few weeks.

I agreed and booked my ticket straight to Houston. That would give me another two weeks in Israel to do God knows what.

I made the most of the gym membership and worked out like a maniac. Fortunately, there was a cute personal trainer there who I had a good vibe with. We had gone out on a few dates during the month where Flora and I still hadn’t slept together, so I called her for some revenge sex. She had huge boobs. It was great.

A few days later, I got a text from Flora: “I miss u.”

I didn’t respond.

Haha yeah right. For sure I did. “I miss u too,” I wrote.

That night, we were having sex again in my apartment. And just like before, it was incredible. I know, I know, that probably makes me a bad person or something, but what could I do? After all, I only had a few more weeks there, I might as well enjoy myself.

We had a few more altercations during those last weeks, but at least this time I knew what to expect. She was still living with Meni and probably having sex with both of us. We made plans to stay in touch when I went back to Houston and I think I may have promised to fly her out to be with me.

I remember Shimon saying to me, “If I was her boyfriend, do you know what I would do to you? I would get some friends and kidnap you. Then we would drive out to the desert somewhere, tie you to a chair, beat the shit out of you and then just leave you there.”

Let’s just say I’m glad he was on my side!

Anyway, when it finally came time to go back to Houston, I said my goodbyes to everyone. We kept in touch briefly when I flew back, but after a series of nasty text messages, it became clear I wanted nothing to do with her anymore.

We didn’t speak for about a year after that, although when I was in Australia we spoke on the phone a few times. Enough time had passed that I was able to get over some of the betrayal. I haven’t spoken to her in a while. And good riddance!

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