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Beautiful faces

November 9, 2010

As happens all too often, a stranger approached me on the bus today and confused me with something unexpected. יש לך פנים יפות (yesh lach panim yafot), he said to me. I stared at him, perplexed, thinking he had just insulted me in a new and interesting way. פנים (panim) is the Hebrew word for face, only like many nouns in Hebrew, it’s always plural even when you’re talking about one particular face. Water and sky are two other nouns that fall into this category in Hebrew but not in English (conversely, clothes is not always plural in Hebrew the way it is in English, so it goes both ways). This means any adjective panim takes — in this case יפות (yafot, beautiful) — is also plural. So the phrases “beautiful face” and “beautiful faces” are exactly the same.*

Thus when a stranger on a bus came up to me and said “You have (a) beautiful face(s),” my over-analytical self thought he was giving a backhanded compliment sneakily implying I was a two-faced person, albeit both faces being beautiful. Reading so much into a simple sentence is completely unnecessary in this place filled with blunt strangers who would unabashedly and nonchalantly say something like “You have a beautiful face” to a stranger in the first place.

I should have said thank you, but I scowled at him instead. Sorry, stranger.

Yesterday a man wearing rollerblades complete with a full spandex bodysuit and a helmet with flashing lights, also a complete stranger and also in the process of waiting for a bus, lectured me on the importance of fitting in in Israel.

The day riding the bus is no longer an adventure is the day I give in and buy a car.

* In trying to discover why panim is plural in Hebrew, I found this article, which is worth reading if you’re interested.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kimberly permalink
    November 12, 2010 7:26 pm

    Am I the only one who finds humor in the spandex roller-man lecturing YOU on how to fit in!!?? hahahaha

  2. November 24, 2010 11:28 am

    funny post, do you have a picture of spandex man?

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