Monday, November 08, 2004

Ukraine Girls Really Knock Me Out

It's true what they say about the Ukrainian girls. They're just gorgeous.

Long-legged, willowy thin, finely cut features set in flawless complexions—if you leave aside the Eurotrash fashion that really isn't their fault, I can understand all the hype.

But me oh my, they might as well be oil reserves the way they're bought and traded as a national resource. Many of us agreed that we considered the whole buying-a-bride gimmick something of an overblown joke. Something like the mafia in Italy or berets in France. But I'm here to tell you, boys and girls, when it comes to the Ukrainian Bride Bazaar, the getting's still good.

I met two Americans (not election observers) who had clearly come to Ukraine to find women; on the street, I would hear a twangy American accent and turn to find a bambi-faced young girl traipsing arm-in-arm with some discarded old yokel from Detroit. In Luhansk, we actually overheard a man interviewing his potential bride through an interpreter ("And what does she like to cook?"). The interpreter for another American observer spent her weekends working for one of these lady-peddling services, and she herself was listed on the website. She told him that the number of girls were dwindling a little, now that things were starting to pick up economically in Ukraine. But even so, after the elections, she still offered him her "card" with a trembling hand.

So the way it works, as I understand it, is that after a few letters are exchange, the bride service arranges a personal meeting of the happy couple. They'll see each other a few times, iron out the details, and if all goes well, he'll apply for a fiancee visa in order to bring her to the United States. After being engaged in the U.S. for 6 months, they may get married. So why don't these girls just sign on, get a green card, and bolt? Well, it appears that they have to make the marriage work for 2 years before applying for citizenship. During this time, I don't believe they can return to Ukraine to see any friends or family. If they don't last two years, or if the groom changes his mind 1 year and 11 months into the process, the bride is whisked back to Ukraine, and [Patrick, correct me if I'm wrong], cannot return to the U.S.

I do not pretend to know the complexities, and I don't know the range of eagerness with which these girls approach these marriage services. But it's as foul and sad as it is familiar, that when corrupt politicians mangle the economy and stagnate productivity, a family may turn to a daughter as the only commodity left to trade.

But for some, this is all just bureaucracy and needless formality. As long as one is not concerned with the thinnest veneer of respectability, all such concerns can be overcome without even the need to leave your hotel room. In our small group alone, two men were awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call. On the other end was a thin voice saying, "Good night. Do you need devushky?" For all you non-Russian speakers out there, just a hint, devushky does not mean "wake up call."

I didn't ask if there were any takers; as they say, what happens in Luhansk stays in Luhansk.


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