Friday, June 07, 2013

Return to Vodkaberg, Part Three: Almond Eyes

"It's been a very unhappy three years," Almond Eyes admitted, lighting one of those awful skinny perfumed cigarettes that Russian girls like so much.

We met for a sushi lunch in the middle of May. It was the one and only time I saw her during my visit to Vodkaberg in 2013.

I first met her in 2006, and for a while I'd thought she would be the one to marry. She spoke English well, had been to America, was fun and enthusiastic and beautiful.

But we just couldn't seem to get it together. We didn't see each other more than a few times a month, according to her because of her strict parents. I was drinking a LOT at that time and hitting the nightclubs often. We couldn't get on the same page, sexually, most of the time, which was odd, and I still don't quite understand why. 

Then there was the daliance with her brilliant-but-evil friend Dark Angel, and the dreaded Tequilla Incident ... what more incentive do you need to read VODKABERG ... 

I think Almond Eyes was definitely one of the most affectionate and sweetest-natured people I've ever met, a great hugger and a cuddler. She often sent out text messages telling me to have a nice day, thanking me for something, telling me I was great, etc. 

But she had some bad qualities, too -- she was often mysterious, elusive and evasive, and lied about things she didn't need to lie about. I never saw her get angry, but she expressed her anger passive-aggressively -- constantly late, not showing up, etc. Money and clothes were a bit too important to her. 

She worked as a lap-dancer in America in 2007 while I had an unsuccessful and surprisingly painful fling with Dark Angel (on the right, in the red top, in that picture.) When she came back, she'd developed a stripper mentality and went on a bit of a wild tear with Slappy's Wife, borrowing money from me that she never paid back and then disappearing. 

(I was on my own wild tear, of course, I didn't think about it that much at the time.) 

We eventually made up and became close again before I left, however. That special kind of closeness that comes when two people know a lot of really awful things about the other but still manage to like each other.

She got married shortly after I left Vodkaberg in 2009, to a guy she freely admitted she didn't like that much. 

Why? Well, parental pressure, for one. Her parents were strict and kept threatening to cut her off. She'd reached age 25, the age at which a provincial Russian girl has only two choices: marry, or move to Moscow. Those kind of social pressures are waning in Moscow, but they're still pretty strong out in the provinces. I think she almost wanted to marry an asshole, just to punish her parents.

She even found out he had a lot of debts, after they married. (But I think they're doing okay now.) 

But anyway, she clearly isn't happy. She's gained a lot of weight, between ten and twenty kilograms more on a frame that was fairly voluptuous back in 2009. She'd always been pretty passive-aggressive, maybe this is another expression of it. 

We kept in touch sporadically over the first few years on Skype, but hadn't talked much for the last two. 

"You know I want to, but I'm so busy. And I don't have anything good to say. I come home from work at nine and fall asleep. On the weekend I mostly argue with my parents and husband. We almost split up last year, but we managed to work something out. Now we're trying to have a baby."

The logic of that escapes me, but I'm sure it's what her parents want.

I suppose more people end up unhappily married than happily, but she deserves better. She could at least have ended up a pampered trophy wife. We talked about getting married a few times, before I left, but I think she really never considered it an option -- her parents wanted her to marry a Russian guy, not some itinerant English teacher. 

So whose fault is it? Mine, hers, her parents, Dark Angel's? Fate, entropy, God, drugs and alcohol? The stars, the moon, the demons?

Who knows. I like to believe in the the many-worlds interpretation, and somewhere -- probably more than one somewhere -- we're a happy couple.

And Dark Angel? 

Almond Eyes mentioned she'd seen her in 2010, when I was in town. "I was going to invite you and your girlfriend to meet with us, and also invite Dark Angel and her husband, without telling either of you, just to see the look on your faces," she said.

"But you decided against it, because you were afraid me and Dark Angel might start talking again?"

"Hah, something like that."

The topic has not come up for the last few years, and I gather she doesn't talk with her anymore either. Last I heard, Dark Angel's still married to a European guy and living in one of the sunnier yet bankrupt European countries. I'm too squeamish to look at her Facebook profile to confirm or deny that. 

Shaving Cream Fight on my birthday, 2007

Photo session, mentioned in Vodkaberg book, where I tied them together with a chain.

She's probably happy, the bitch ...


Anonymous said...

Talk about going from having a smile on your face to down in the dumps! She seems trapped in a loveless marriage, only having sushi as her comfort. She still teaching English? Was she genuinely glad to see you or was it more out of obligation?

To be fair, I think you owe it to us all to peek at Dark Angel’s Facebook or VKontakte to find out if she really is happy. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the only one that turned out ‘all right’ was the girl everyone considered not all right?

English Teacher X said...

Oh I'd say she was genuinely glad to see me. She works in an office job. Looking at somebody's Facebook page doesn't much tell you if they're happy, except for the Americans who post endless updates about their miserable divorces. I don't think a Russian would do that.

Anonymous said...

How could she be a trophy wife if she's 20 kilos overweight?

English Teacher X said...

Oh you know what I meant!

Anonymous said...

Is her self esteem lower now that she's put on weight as you said Russian girls hate being fat?

What keeps you from looking up dark angel, the regrets from not marrying her?

Anonymous said...

you forgot to tell us who’s next on the list. take your pick but we expect updates on all:
Slappy’s ex wife, Landlady’s daughter, Ballroom Dancer, Beauty Queen, Kazakh Girl, Young Marilyn, Brunetka, Willowy, Alonya, Little Valya, busty Anna, Nipples, Skinny, Redhead, Natasha Nevada, Breasty Alyssa, and of course … the current girlfriend or is it ex girlfriend?

English Teacher X said...

Ah, well, remember -- some have vanished into the mists of time, and if I said "and I never saw her again" in the Vodkaberg book, that's the case. But I'll make a list, yes.

Anonymous said...

Hope you can include pics of the girls as well. Its a shame nothing serious happened between you and Little Valya, Skinny, Ballroom Dancer.

From the descriptions in Vodkaberg all seemed the opposite of the usual Russian girls and practically worshiped you.

Did the return to Russia reawaken a desire to go back?

English Teacher X said...

Well, what do you mean by nothing serious? You have to remember that there was a large element of foreigner-worship in these girls, at that time, and I was one of the few foreigners in town.

English Teacher X said...

I should remind everyone about the VODKABERG FIELD GUIDE that I previously posted --

Anonymous said...

Nothing is shittier than a woman you may have loved happy with another man.

Anonymous said...

Just read your whole book in a couple of days. Loved it! You experienced a very unique time in a very unique place. Would make a great movie- why are you going to write the screenplay?

Anonymous said...

Edit- Meant to type "When are you going to write the screenplay?"