Macho does not prove mucho” – Zsa Zsa Gabor

If you have had the pleasure of visiting the Middle East you must have met, at least once, the Macho man that is a trademark to this region. Despite it’s Westernized and ‘European’ nature, Israel is not deprived of this delightful character… In my view, more than a person the Macho man is an attitude, he comes and goes depending on the situation…

While he may not always be ‘big’ and ‘strong’ in the physical sense of the term, the Macho man is most definitely defiant. He parades an air of security that can be of relief during stressful times. He claims to be unafraid and disgusted by the ‘enemy’ and his deplorable modus operandi, that he does not run from the sirens… Sometimes he will share with you stories from the battlefield that can only be met with the utmost admiration.

Yet, as a woman he can get annoying, for example there is a quality to him that makes me feel as if I look like a hysterical mess that is incapable of handling ‘scary’ situations, (and for the record I am not hysterical or incapable).  Nevertheless I must admit, I’ve grown quite fond of him. I am grateful for the security he provides in stressful situations, and the giddy giggles he has brought to my girlfriends and I in this summer that has been a hellhole (not just because of the despicable heat).

At the very beginning of the war my husband and I went to the surprise birthday party of one of his commanders from the army. We drove there with one of his friends. It was a hot July evening; sirens had just started ringing in the central region of this fairly small country. An issue communities in the South had been living with for years was becoming a reality for many more of us… The air in the car and at the event was stubbornly cheerful but the underlying apprehension was visible to the naked eye.

The music got louder and for a second it felt as if we had forgotten about the whole thing. When something strange happened, there was a collective rush towards cell phones.

“Sirens are going off, we need to go home, I’m not scared but, my wife you know…” said the friend we had come with, a father of two from the city of Kfar Saba. We said goodbye, thanked the hosts, promised each other we would meet again soon, and headed towards the car.

“I’m going to call my mother, she gets so hysterical about these things!” laughed the friend. “HA!, I know, I’m going to text just to make sure everyone didn’t get freaked” laughed my husband. I sat uncomfortably, wondering what defense mechanism Freud would call this reaction, to a very existentially threatening phenomena.

(While I am friendly to the Palestinian cause arguing with adamant Israel-haters would have me believe those rockets are July 4th fireworks, and the tunnels are for bringing daisies to the children of a kibbutz! They sometimes ignore the indisputable fact that the rockets and the tunnels come from an organization whose written intent is the destruction of Israel and the death to all Jews … and all sides suffer from the current conditions. But back to the defense mechanisms).

Perhaps projection seems most fitting. A way to cope with unconscious threatening impulses, perceptions, thoughts, and desires, projection allows the individual to partially experience forbidden unconscious content but in the form of the other. Therefore, engaging in projection allows the individual to ‘see it’, but not ‘feel it’.

My beloved, frustrating, Macho man had materialized and I was given the space to experience my fear, rationalize it in light of the current contexts, and somewhat calm down. Similarly, I was reassured by his defiance, if he was sooo unafraid, I had no reason to be a nervous wreck.

Oh the irony!… the very same Macho man that can drive me crazy when I’m driving or parking, that makes it out as if he’s totally fine, but highly sensitive to a woman’s possible fear…  this is the one that allows me to calm down??…LOL!!!

Talking with other girlfriends during this infernal summer, I hear the Macho man has made quite the appearance these days…. We laughed, and laughed, and for a moment it didn’t feel like we were at war.