"European Russia 2006" story # 3

Staryy Oskol, Russia           June 5, 2006

(For those unfamiliar with the phrase, "You bum, you ... like my grandma!" is one of the American sports heckler's favorite taunts, up there with, "Hey, batter! Swing, batter!" It is undesirable to be said to do anything like someone's grandma, especially for a professional athlete. The taunt has made its way past the sports arena, even. Some unexperienced hecklers have been heard to mistakenly taunt, "You quilt like my grandma!" or "You call this a pie!? You bake like my grandma!" The natural response to such shoddy taunts, of course, is, "You heckle like my grandma!")

So, in Russia, sometimes I kiss Elina. Her laughing-in-the-grass chocolate eyes, her small mouth that opens like a hole in space, her weak powdered-skin biceps, her ninth-century aristocratic narrow clavicles, her long inky-dark hair that crawls and swirls and flies around as shiny and soft as a new stuffed animal ...
     Other times I kiss Nadezda. If you wanted to write a poem about her, her name rhymes with "zvezda" (star). She has strong but meat-y posture, a clever mind and big light-blue eyes that both fear and intimidate, and a mouth and bottomless dimple dots that may not always be happy but are visibly so when she's talking with someone whose intelligence she respects.
     Lately, we've been going to the forest near my suburban home to hang out. The mosquitoes there are big and bothersome. Haunting birds hoot and cheer-bringing birds ... well, bring cheer, I guess.
     We drank Russian vodka the first day we went there. It tasted like vodka in the States: acck, horrible!
     Today, I was holding petite but trusting Elina. She told me that I use my tongue "slishkom chasto" (too often) when I kiss. I was surprised to hear a complaint so early. A complaint? Why on earth, how?
     I'm a pretty self-sure guy. I'd thought until then I was one of the world's greatest kissers - qualified, even, to give paid lessons. And the tongue usage had been a big trick of the trade - a major part of the repertoire, along with when I cover the girl's nostrils and blow, a.k.a. The Resusci-Justin-ation Effect. Seriously, I hadn't been using my tongue too much, not like one girl who I would've called "The Lizard."
     In other news, cinnamon-ponytailed Nadezda told me she's going to show me the "Russian Kiss." I still don't have an idea what that is. It kind of scares me; obviously, I've still got a lot of learning to do.
     The Lizard am I.

Some sort of a centipede-like dragon appears on an old communist poster which appears in a 1990 scientific journal article entitled, "Teoria Imperializma: Retrospektivnyy Vzglyad v Konce Stoletiya," (Imperialism Theory: a Retrospective Glance at the End of a Hundred Years) which appears oddly amongst the kids' books I'm reading to improve Russian.
     The evil dragon has its tail wrapped around a city, and workers are ready to fight it with bayonnets. The caption reads, "Smert Mirovomu Imperializmu" (Death to World Imperialism).
     Other old posters portray the communists' drive to thwart Western imperialism. One shows a tall, hard-fisted worker coming to stomp on a bunch of Uncle Sam's and Sherlocke Holmes's. Another shows a moustachioed worker erupting from an anvil, proudly saluting at a port, saying, "Welcome, Comrades!" in many languages - portraying the Soviets' optimism that Western Europe would follow their political movement's lead.

Finally, on a lighter note, Yuri Nikolin the actor is teaching me Russian through his movies. He was the actor who scratched his stomach instead of rescuing the boy going down the river in his sleeping bag, in "Kaukafskaya Plennitsa."
     He was in his forties when acting. He looked like a fat Gilligan, or a Jerry Lewis with a wide forehead instead of a wide mouth.
     In one movie, wit-less Yuri accidentally gets involved with international smugglers, and a police detective helps him. The detective gives him a huge stack of money. Yuri's pockets aren't big enough for the money, so he lifts up his hat and tucks the stack of money underneath. The detective looks back at him and asks what's in the hat. "Denge," says Yuri. (The money.) The detective chastises him, and Yuri fixes the problem.
     Then, the detective gives him a pistol. Yuri puts it sticking out of some bananas, in the fruit bag he carries which is clearly see-through. He looks at the detective, realizes his mistake, and gives a "Sorry, hee hee, I wasn't thinking; I'm silly" look.

good times & peace
- the Resusci-Justin-ator

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