About a month after Matt asked me to marry him and a month before I left St. Petersburg, I met Vova.
OK, OK, let me get it out of the way right here. Matt was never in any danger of being ousted by Vova, not least because, well, seriously now, "Vova"? It's a short form of Vladimir, a name that is sorely lacking for euphonious nicknames anyway, and the best they can come up with is Vova. And yes, I know what it sounds like. My daughter says it almost every day! We're all about the proper anatomical terms around here.
I met Vova one day on the way home from work. I was standing at the side of the road holding my hand out at an angle, sort of pointing to the ground, which is how one indicates one would like a ride. It is hitchhiking, with the understanding that if someone pulls over you discuss how much you would pay to get to the place you want to go. (The only rule is never get into a car that has two people in it, a rule I once broke, but that's another blog for another day.)
A car pulled over, a price for the ride was negotiated, and I got in. Vova was tall, as blonde and scruffy-haired as John, and had beautiful blue eyes. We got to talking -- not much, because he was the silent type -- and I found out he was a hockey player for the city team's farm team. SWOON! Heh.
Vova was taking back roads to get to where I was going, which began to annoy me. "You can turn there," I said, pointing.
"I know," he replied. "I know where I'm going."
"Wait, you can turn back there," I'd say.
"I know where I'm going."
And he did. He was very confident. We ended up going out a few times for long walks and dinners out. I can't remember much what we talked about, except I do remember going off on a long exposition about Russian grammar and how much I loved it, which just goes to show that I actually was trying to put him off. Because I was, you know, engaged.
Vova could be a jerk. One day, as we were walking, we ran into two of my expat friends, a Canadian and an American. We chatted for a bit, then walked on.
"Your friends are rude," Vova said.
"What?" I said.
"Rude. The tall one, he said 'privet' (hi) and 'poka' (see you). I would never do that to someone I'd just met. That's just so...nekulturny."
Nekulturny is kind of a fighting word, implying more than what its cognate, "uncultured," might be. There is a real sense of debasement to it. It annoyed me, and then he kept on it, so we ended up wrangling until I spoke for some time on the precarious beauty of the genetive plural.
Anyway. Time passed, leaves fell from the trees, I left St. Petersburg. I'd given Vova my e-mail address (y'know, I never thought I was a tease...), and I did get one e-mail from him after I came back. I never responded.
I got an e-mail today from Sergey Vnukov. I never knew a Sergey Vnukov, although I did know a Sergei, worthy of another blog for another day, and a Vnukov. (Incidentally, "vnuk" means "grandson." I'm done showing off now.) I opened it up, and the first line was,
Hello, do you remember me? I have taken new email address.
And here's my mental response -- one of those that overrides every single common-sense synapse one might have in one's brain:
"OH MY GOD, how the hell did Vova get my e-mail address? This isn't the same address I gave him almost 10 years ago! My name isn't connected to this e-mail address! In fact, I don't even have the same name anymore! What is going on? Delete, delete!"
And yeah, I know it was from Sergey Vnukov. My brain figured Vova must be using a friend's account, OK? Shut up.
Remember we spoke about a problem of short penis?
No, I don't remember that at all. It as all about perfective vs. imperfective verbs, and the quiet logic behind the dative case. Whew.