Back in 2005 in Russia, there was a girl in my classes -- advanced, test prep level, FCE, CAE, CPE -- who everybody seemed to think was a good match for me.
I'll just call her Natasha.
I was getting old enough, at 35, that people around me were concerned that I didn't have a wife or serious girlfriend. I went out with the girl from Kazkhstan that summer, but we broke up fairly quickly.
Everybody seemed to think that Natasha was perfect for me, however.
She drove me home from work every day and was a frequent fixture at our English teacher parties and gatherings. She didn't drink, or not much, but we'd dance all night somewhere, occasionally. She took me out often to shops or sites in the area.
No sex, though. No making out. I think we held hands, once or twice.
People were constantly telling me we should get together. I suppose they must have been telling her that, also.
Problem was, she had a boyfriend.
She'd been going out with him for years, but was now constantly fighting with him. He wanted her to sit home and be a typical Russian housewife, and she wanted to get a job and work first. She lived in one of the villages on the outskirts of Vodkaberg - more like a suburb, I guess - and he was a typical village boy who spend a lot of time working on his car and drinking vodka with his friends.
She talked to me about breaking up with him. I made vague conciliatory comments.
So then one summer day, she invited a whole group of English teachers -- and students from the place I worked -- to her dacha. Her boyfriend was there for a while -- he spent most of the time washing his car -- but he left early to go to work.(He worked in the security department of an oil company and frequently had to work on weekends and holidays, when people often stole a lot of stuff.)
Uncharacteristically, she had an argument in public with him before he left. He wanted her to end the party early and she said she would never be the kind of girl that sat around and waited for her man, that she wanted to have a life.
The afternoon proceeded as they do at dachas: barbecue, alcohol, singing, dancing, swimming in the pond nearby, picking flowers and helping granny with the vegetables.
|Exercising my right to bare arms|
I responded with some kind of vague comment, I'm sure, though I can't remember exactly what.
There were quite a few village girls there, including this girl, who I'll call Lyudmilla:
|That's a snake there. In her hands, I mean. I know your eye is not immediately drawn there.|
Natasha told me that Lyudmilla was not a girl she liked particularly, but Lyudmilla's parents wanted Natasha to hang around with her because Lyudmilla had a tendency to be a naughty girl, and they thought Natasha's good example might straighten her out a bit.
Lyudmilla was pretty much on me like white on vanilla pudding, from the beginning of the day. She got drunk and hung all over me and finally just invited me into the upstairs bedroom.
|Those are grapes.|
So what did I do?
Well, what do you think I did?
So this insulted not only our hostess, it also made one of my colleagues angry, who had a thing for this Lyudmilla. In fact he later threw a drink in my face as the evening tapered off to its drunken finale.
Needless to say we never got invited back to the dacha.
I tried to follow up with Lyudmilla, but it turned out she had a boyfriend also - and in fact got married about a month later.
Natasha continued to hang around with the English teachers some. I suppose I later even thought I had a chance.
(Unsurprising and fairly common is the attitude of the man who feels he can not only have his cake and eat it too, but enjoy shitting it out on the floor to make everybody emit horrified laughter.)
But she started coming around and leaving after a half-hour, saying she had "something to do" and it turned out she was using the English teachers as an excuse to go to Vodkaberg and get away from her boyfriend so she could meet with a guy she worked with, who of course in short order became her new boyfriend.
She finished her classes and stopped hanging around with the English teachers, as she started working full-time at some office job.
I got an SMS from her in 2007 asking if I'd like to have lunch with her but I made some vague excuse.
I never saw either of them again. Even on Facebook or Vkontakte.
|The Grim Reaper of Love|
Read more Russian adventures in the book VODKABERG: NINE YEARS IN RUSSIA.