I don't know who your favorite male character was in Vodkaberg, but mine was definitely Crazy Bob. Combining high intelligence and a genial disposition with near-complete depravity, he was a much needed shot of energy into the region when a lot of us were suffering from lassitude and lethargy. And unlike Slappy, he didn't usually leave me holding the bag after he fucked something up, and only occasionally borrowed money without paying it back.
The following interview was conducted by e-mail in late 2012.
1) How did you start teaching English?
When I was 25 years old my friend A. called me to say that his really good friend had died of a cocaine overdose and would I please consider taking his place as a camp counselor in Central Europe that summer. Free ticket, free stay, free food. I asked if there was time to break off from the kiddies and go tryst around the Continent. There was. What did I have to do for those two months with 200 yapping teenagers from the CIS? Just talk. ‘You might have to force them to take showers when they don’t want to, but overall, you just have to talk.’
Wasn’t it a bitch to be born middle class in the USA?
By the end of two months in the language camp I had fallen in love with a Russian girl. A remarkable, even startling beauty she was. Proud and coy, she had a face like the wild blue eyed daughter of a ravaging Khan.
The rough, truculent voice of my mind seemed to mellow a bit for this one. I made room for her vision. She was so beautiful, you see. Art flowed in the chilly air of the mountain twilight. The forest echoed with the sounds of the eternal.
I was destined! Someone big was smiling over my shoulder, and really, how not? It was me, after all! I was a fucking one of a kind flying wunderkind with the power to pull pony tails and make the owner purr away her fear. In those warm days there wasn’t any human being in the world I didn’t have the power to make perfect harmony and sense of. It’s so easy to help people who smile, or cum once, and then cease to exist!
When I felt the benevolence of the Lord and saw his orange light fall upon the green hills, every hysterical bone in my body piped up to tell me in a roaring chorus of passion that destiny lay in la Russie; that I should prepare to last out a night in Russia, when nights are coldest there.
I made slapdash arrangements to quit my job and end my relationships.
For me, teaching English abroad was just an afterthought. Even so, it’s true when I say that I became an English teacher because of a sign from God.
In no time at all, (and really, in no time at all you and I will be nothing but rot) I was hand in hand with my otherworldly love, walking gently through the soft snow along the walls of the Kremlin. This was all mine. The forbidden was opening up, and it was impossible not to dream that dreams come true for those truly worthy.
Angelina would chide me that life had no fairy tales in store. She couldn’t believe in fairy tales because she was a real person - a person who could respect others as well as herself.
Dreams come true to unreal people, to people who have no respect and are guided by forces that are not even human. Empty men are filled with magic and the powers of glorious deception. They only believe in heaven because to them come angels.
2) Eventually you left that one, and ended up running wild in the streets in Vodkaberg. What kept you teaching English, when there was family pressure not to continue?
All the family pressure in the world couldn’t disintegrate my grand dream, at least not in the long, long beginning. The power of dreams made me very strong, and I put up with so much. Hours spent in Russian polyclinics, analysis after analysis, would have awakened mere men to the condition of things, but I had to complete my mission. Mother and Father would see Bob again when he was good and ready, trophy in hand, destiny fulfilled!
There was always work to keep from going poor. The beginning of the 21st century is a time to bilk those who need your language in order to support their families. No educated Russian can comfortably raise children when they earn 10,000 rubles as engineers. They need that special promotion, or the job in big Moscow to even imagine having enough money to send a child to university; you need their money to keep posing as a prospective young man. A flat, a Western passport, a clean face and a convincing backstory – it doesn’t take much to keep up your nasty lifestyle.
Like a lot of English teachers, I dared to dream big.
3) You briefly returned to America and tried to go straight. What have been your experiences trying to get a real job?
Bob can’t get a job in an economy that only employs skilled people. Alas, it’s people who’ve learned how to do something productive who have a chance today. With the exception of IT professionals and machine operators who’ve had their jobs exported, other skilled workers with credit problems, lawyers and insurance agents struggling in an oversaturated market, or those simply too old to be worth retraining, the great ranks of America’s unemployed are filled with coddled saps who’ve spent five years earning their BA in drug abuse. For them, there’s nothing to do but teach English to foreigners.
|Crazy Bob's stunning decolletage|
4) What do you think the future holds for you?
Bob, in the course of his wandering ways, has become father to an intelligent and beautiful little girl. He is intensely proud of her, and in his pride he finds the strength to look more honestly at his past and at his general condition.
Despite all the love I have for my precious, innocent daughter, I genuinely fear that my future could be to live as a vagabond on the earth, just as English Teacher X says about himself. Since a father cannot think this way and remain sane, I try to focus on the positive vision of raising my lovely little girl. I seek out work in places where the compensation tends to be greater. I believe so hard in the magnanimity of the creator toward his children.
5) Any words of warning for the kids out there?
Bob will be earnest here and urge you not to go abroad in search of wild, mentally stimulating sex if you suspect you’ll never have the strength of character to give it up. Whether at 30, 40, or some other age, you’ll realize that most middle aged men need more to offer than an enticing twinkle in the eyes and the promise of an exotic encounter to even begin dreaming of bedding soft, supple Tatiana.
|Crazy Bob's dorsal region after being savaged by a Russian girlfriend|
In every city around the world, using public transportation comes with a stigma. It’s just a matter of what circles you find yourself struggling in. Everywhere there’s someone attractive who thinks you’re too poor, and in most Eastern European places, these girls are growing in number. By the way, who do you think is going to be in your class learning English? It’s usually not the homespun chicks from the village with nothing to compare.
Clothes are important. So are private trips to interesting, out of the way places. You’ll need time and imagination for more elaborate dates!
Your handsome face? It’s not what it used to be. Proud of your wholesome, economical abode? Small, cluttered apartments tend to appear even tackier when awash in middle aged male pheromones.
You have to start asking yourself unpleasant questions, like Do you have the material support to maintain your charm as your body ages?
Do you have the means to project wealth, or at least stability? Can you imagine developing in new, lucrative directions? Will you need a new job? After years spent drinking all night with other miserable souls, will you even possess the minimum brain power necessary to trick a hiring manager into bringing you aboard a better paying operation?
Can you convince intelligent men to buy products and services for large sums? Do you know how to implement cost-effective solutions using cutting edge software in ways businesses need right now? Can you operate heavy industrial equipment for the petroleum industry? You can’t?
Unless you’re an heir, or a beautiful woman, plan on a life of gradually increasing financial insecurity. You’ll teach here, and you’ll move and teach there, and then you’ll fly really far away and try to teach somewhere else, and somewhere along the way you’ll begin to regularly kid yourself that this is leading somewhere promising. You’ll talk big to the girls that you’re just using TEFL as an exercise in slumming, with an eye to eventually nailing a job in international business. You’ll think that they believe it. You’ll get older. Eventually, you’ll reach the point when your sense of middle class entitlement evaporates and you come to accept that you’re just like most common people. Life now consists of grey anonymity, frustration, loneliness and regret. You finally made it, you’re ‘real’, dude.
The other possibility is to come to terms with the fact that you probably are the first person destined to stay young and healthy forever. In that case, I urge you to quickly perform a Google search for TEFL related jobs pages. A world of almost never ending irresponsibility and abuse, both of yourself and others, awaits you.