Thursday, April 28, 2005

One Down

It's kind of hard for me to establish the remarkable nature of the following scene, as it's sort of only remarkable if you're me. Perhaps I can describe it this way: say you're a person who is terribly bashful when it comes to meeting people of the opposite sex. You make a big ass of yourself everytime you try to approach, or at least it seems to you that you're a big ass. So you probably have these elaborate fantasies in which bizarre circumstances converge, and cause a cute girl or guy to approach you and engage you in a long meaningful conversation. Car trouble perhaps. Or, something similar. And it's completely unrealistic that the actual scenario could ever happen, but you continue to hope for it in any case.

Anyway, that's how it is with me and Russian. Frightfully self-conscious, I clam up tighter than a youth group-er who just kissed dating goodbye when I'm around native speakers. But I yearn to practice in a non-fabricated situation. So I had this very elaborate scenario in which a Russian would be stranded in the middle of Washington, DC. For some reason, he would be in DC alone despite not speaking a lick of English. And fully severing the tenuous thread by which this scenario connects to reality, said lost Russian soul would approach me and ask me, do I speak Russian? Why yes! I kind of do!

It's right up there with my fantasy in which I discover a tone deaf town whose inhabitants worship by singing voice and I become a lounge performer.

Alright, so there I am, either in an alternate dimension or my local CVS, depending on your interpretation. I'm waiting to pick up a prescription, when this portly fellow standing to the side of me sort of shuffles over and hesitantly says, "Urrr...uh...russkiy?" I stop and stare. Could it really be? I replied in Russian, "You speak Russian? I speak a little bit. Do you need help?"

Boy did he ever.

Next thing I know I'm following my new best friend around the store, carrying his basket for him, as he points at ever shelf and asks "What is this?" "What is this?" And I, using my limited vocabulary and sentence construction, respond, " for...leg!" "Is for....flu!" "Is for...uh...if you are fatness...uh diet!" My proudest moment? When I figured out he needed glucose tablets. I got overconfident and started proposing items: "What about if you hurt stomach?" "Da, da!" Shopping is so fun! He wanted everything. He bought it all. Then he pointed at some condoms. "What is it?" I started laughing my arse off. I figured, cognate? Probably. "Uh...condomiy?" "AH! Nyet, nyet, nyet." (phew)

Alright, so this is all weird enough, the realization of my Russian-in-need fantasy. Then he busts out with, "Have you ever been to Dushanbe?" I just stop and stare. Whare are the bleeding odds? "Uh. Yeah. I was there last month. During the elections." And with that a mighty roar, because of course our fellow is a Tajik, and I am invited to his family's home in Dushanbe when I return, and in the meantime, I am invited to his hotel.

This is precisely when I suspected that my Russian-in-need fantasy was somehow superceded and morphing into his friendly-naive-American-slut fantasy, and thus I cheerfully told him I had to return to work. As I was walking out of the drug store, he was still holding things up and shouting to me. "What is it?" "For teeth!" "What is it?" "For the eyeglasses, if they don't work!"

It was fan-tastic. Now, I've got my eye out for that tone deaf town.


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