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I’m learning Hebrew and it’s not funny

Hebrew has masculine and feminine versions of words, which is extra annoying since I have no interest in speaking to any females, ever
Pam Gaslow
Pam Gaslow

Once upon a time I went to Israel and met an insanely hot former IDF sex god. Besides the fact that he was unavailable, lived across the world, and smoked 400 cigarettes a day, he was perfect for me.

My obsession quickly went off the psycho meter and now it’s escalated to my learning to speak Hebrew. Yes, one man inspired me to learn an entire language. I mean, I’m not learning it just for him. I’m sure there are at least two or three (hundred thousand) other hot Israelis who can’t wait to meet me and my impure motives.

I’m 51 and Jewish. Yes, I went to Hebrew School when I was a kid. No, I didn’t pay attention. Yes, I had a Bat Mitzvah  – it was 38 years ago and written in phonetics. So now I’m starting all over again. I read somewhere that to be considered fluent in a language you have to know 10,000 words. If that’s true, then relying on getting the “word of the day” emails from apps like Hebrew101 will have me fluent in 27.5 years. Just in time for my death.

Hebrew is a very tricky language. It has masculine and feminine versions of words, which is extra annoying since I have no interest in speaking to any females, ever, unless they’re giving me the vaccine. Toda raba!

I started with the alphabet, which has a bunch of letters that look alike but sound different, or the same. There are five letters that all sound like “uch,” or “ach,” or like you’re clearing your throat or just annoyed to be speaking. I downloaded a few language apps and watched some YouTube videos. I’m lazy, so I do things half-assed. For example, when I look up a simple phrase like “how are you” and it’s five words and forty syllables long, I just forget it and move on.

Since I’m immature and infatuated, I immediately try out every new word or phrase I learn on the guy I have a crush on, like I’m in fifth grade and have mentionitis. For instance, when I learned how to say “I want coffee” I rapidly switched it to, “I want Eyal” because I don’t drink coffee, and I need to learn phrases that are useful to me and not waste my time.

By my fourth week of learning Hebrew, I was excited and overconfident and I wanted to tell Eyal that I missed him. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. This is how you say I miss you in Hebrew: aní mit-ga-a-ga-at e-lé-cha. Seriously? I could fly there faster than I can say that. I mean, if I could fly. I mean, if there wasn’t a pandemic.

So I texted him that I missed him, and I was proud of myself for spelling it correctly, and guess what  – he didn’t respond. Since I’m not a quitter, I took it a step further. I looked up how to say “I need special attention.” Just kidding  – I sent him a sexy picture. Because a picture says 1000 words, and I only know 100.

And he didn’t respond.

Seriously, are the phones broken in Israel? Did his eyes fall out? Should I forget about Israeli men? Learn a different language? Kill myself?

I signed up for a Hebrew class on Zoom that meets twice a week. The instructor is hot, funny, charming, and married. He doesn’t teach us any dirty words. We are learning things like how to ask for a menu, cappuccino, and cake. That’s great, but I’m trying to hook up, not take orders. Besides an Israeli seductress, I am almost qualified to be a waitress or a barista, as long as no one asks me any trick questions.

By week six, my brain is spinning with so many words, numbers, and phrases that some of them have to go. When the word of the day arrives and it’s something like “cloth” I immediately forget it because I can’t clog up my mind with superfluous nonsense. Cloth is so low on my priority list that if I had to rank its importance on a scale of 1 to 10,000, it would be 10,001. See you never, cloth.

In the meantime, I’m moving along, and am almost ready to go back to Israel and communicate with the masses. I’m currently capable of ordering one large cappuccino, complaining that I’m cold, asking where the bathroom is, and saying my phone number in less than five seconds. I know that I don’t need to speak perfect Hebrew to get my point across. Even if I get off the plane and simply ask the first person I see “Where Eyal?” that’ll be good enough. And if they don’t point me in the exact right direction, there are 5000 other guys with the same name, and I’m sure I’ll eventually find one or two who will make me happy.

About the Author
I'm a New York-born, Miami-based Jewish humor writer and comedian. Published on Medium.com, Huffington Post, and Good Men Project. Performed stand-up in NYC and LA.
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