Arts and Culture

Ten Reasons I Am More Russian Than You

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Russian stuff in living room: Russian doll, random math books, and grandma's Russian fur hat (sorry Soviet Peta)

I have always wandered that strange space between eastern and western culture. Experiencing manic highs of optimism and awful lows of cynicism at a much faster turnover rate than, say, a manic-depressive, my disorder is untreatable: First-Generation Russian American-ism. Indeed, a full blooded Russian will look at my relatively strong ethics, television preferences, and political views and say I have nothing in common with them, but to Americans, I am strangely dark, blunt, and pessimistic.

My whole family is Russian so I am  more Russian than my friend Lee who is 25% Russian, 75% Scarsdale. That mix makes for some aggression, but he channels his energy entirely positively, so apparently 25% Russian is not enough to dilute the high optimism of Americans nor the insanely high levels of self-confidence of the Scarsdale citizenry.  But lets move beyond the numbers. Here are the qualitative reasons I know I am more Russian than your happy ass:

1)   When you smile, you have dimples or a crease. When I smile, my cheekbones block my vision, and you can’t see much else of my face except for my lips spreading across like a massive octopus.

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2)   I have an iron fist, literally. Well not literally, but that’s how I rule.

3)   Daily, I have to remind myself that life is still worthwhile even though, at the moment we finally set up our crap (job, family, retirement, etc.), it happens to actually FREAKING END. Its like getting all the supplies for the biggest campfire event of your life, showing up, and forgetting the matches. Thats how dumb it seems. And you want me to smile for pictures? Ugh.

4)   Which brings me to bitch face. I don’t have a blank stare or pleasant face when I walk around. I only have bitch face. I try to unscrew it, but the bolts are locked in, giving me a puckered lip, jaw clenched, brow furrowed, perma-scowl except when I break into some kind of uproarious laughter. I imagine that at my wedding, my husband will turn to me and say 'œWhy are you staring at me with that bitch face.' I’ll have to tell him I am fine, repeatedly, just like I did my grade school teachers who went after me because I looked like I was planning some revolution in the back of the class.

5)   Speaking of revolutions, I love revolts, even tiny ones, like strikes or, if nothing else is available, the silent treatment demonstrates a messy point quite nicely.

6)   I like to eat caviar, cured meats, beet salads, soups, cabbage, potatoes, and sardines. Good thing, because sardines just got voted the healthiest food on the planet because of all the omega-3s. I suppose I should tell this to insurers, but not to boyfriends.

7)   I am constantly (more) depressed because I have to hear other Russians bitching on the streets in Russian.

8)   When I laugh, I am often close to tears. And vice versa. I have to suppress laughter in horrible situations, tears when someone is making a celebratory toast for me. This is the feature perhaps most emblematic of the tensions inside of me, but the intensity with which I feel anything is most certainly a Russian’s dramatic approach to the theater.

9)   I don’t really understand why fat little girls in American are allowed to pretend to be ballerinas and we all have to clap for them as if their parents hadn’t paid for the mirage. Shouldn’t it be made clear to them at the age of 10 what they are and are not built for? I sure as hell knew I made a better swimmer than ballerina at that age because my (also Russian) ballet teacher kindly pointed it out to me. I guess I don’t share in that egalitarian spirit (delusion).

10)   There is no tenth reason, because I have lost interest in this. Oh wait…that works.

So there you have it, ten reasons I am more Russian than you. I suppose in response you could type up the ten reasons you don’t want to talk to me, but hey, too bad for you, reason #11 happens to be that I won’t read it.

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Rebecca E. - The Centimentalist

Rebecca E. - The Centimentalist

What does Rebecca bring to the table? Fanciful eye twinkles and a plastic tablecloth, that's what. Her parents are Russian, but she was born in Massachusetts and thus maintains her innocence, though she admittedly prefers blintzes and beet salad to hamburgers. When she spent a year in Japan as a kid she experienced the first of many dips on her normalcy development chart. She came back to the States like the little wheelbarrow on the NYC Edition of Monopoly. Next, she moved to Atlanta where she hung with Jermaine Dupree in elevators. She got a B.A. outside Chicago, and after a two-year stint as a consultant, warmed up in Miami, picking up a water-resistant J.D. Now she is back in Manhattan, trying to collect evidence and moneybags all over the board, henceforth as the cannon piece.

4 Comments

  1. lila102
    May 2, 2010 at 9:43 am

    this is hilarious!! i’m russian too-so this defines my life

  2. Ruski-Uki
    May 3, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Re #6: but do you like holodetz aka meat jello? I have a home made batch in the fridge right now. My very understanding and accomodating non-Slav boyfriend gets grossed out and I laugh and just add more beet horseradish and vinegar to the plate!

  3. Drux
    May 9, 2010 at 11:49 am

    That was hilarious!1

  4. Test
    June 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Good stuff.  Nice read.  Funny.