Tag Archives: etiquette

Home, Bitter-Sweet Home

Today, I woke up to the sound of construction.  Having had the type of a day that nearly disparaged me with other people’s tests of my boundaries, being brought back to reality didn’t enthrall me much, as you can imagine.  I growled, tossed to the other side of my bed; yanked the alarm plug out of the wall (‘cause I don’t need that shit waking me up later); and on my feet that someone had to have pumped with lead while I was sleeping, I stumbled toward my bedroom window:

“Bloody F!” I shifted the blinds to examine the haps of my ‘hood.

A handful of short, brown men calling out to each other in a foreign language were repairing the roof of the little blue house next to mine.  Right underneath my top-story apartment, I could see them ripping that shit to pieces.  Unlike the men at one of those construction sites with heavy machinery and brutal metallic noises, these guys were tiny; and the sounds they emitted belonged to the old country:  a scraping of the shovel against the stripped wood, an arhythmic knocking of a hand-held hammer and the rainfall of nails hailing into a plastic bucket in the middle.  The shortest of the workers, wearing a safari hat, had been assigned the task of sweeping around with a giant broom with plastic bristles. That thing was thrice as tall!  And their leader — a gray-mustached man with an LAPD cap and a waterproof pouch with architectural drawings sticking out of it — looked out toward my building while smoking a pipe.

That fucking pipe rang a bell:  On my yesterday’s morning jog, while fumbling with the wires of my iPod, I nearly knocked him over.  He didn’t see me coming from behind, didn’t hear my mutters at the wires that would’ve annoyed me less had they belonged to a spider web into which I walked in, face first.

“Ooh…  Sorry…” I said, not really meaning it:  Who the fuck was he anyway and why wasn’t he paying attention?  I began to make my way around him.

“‘S okay, beauty,” the gray-mustached man calmly said after removing his smoking instrument from the thin lips that made him look like my father, “You can bump me anytime.”

Okay, may be NOT like my father, you naughty old player!  I laughed.  I do tend to forget that older folk still haven’t forgotten about sex, and that some of them may still be having it (yikes!).

So, it always tickles me to no end to watch these old guys flirt with me, with the swagger of their old days.  I bet they don’t sext the woman they like; and they know the etiquette of a phone call.  “Liking” a girl’s photograph on Facebook does not pass, for them, as an expression of desire.  And their stubborn commitment to getting doors and pulling out chairs; to taking over a woman’s grocery bags and never letting her whip out her money, no matter her protesting — all that throws me into a state of easy melancholy, readily available to my Russianness.

Yesterday, we left it at a laugh; but as I took off, I continued to smile and shake my head a few more times.  My jogging step suddenly got lighter.  I maneuvered my way around my neighborhood at the foot of a mountain; and considering LA-LA’s latest weather of the Bay-like blues — with its fogginess and unpredictable spurts of sunshine — it suddenly reminded me of my home:  A tiny village on a peninsula at the other end of the Pacific.  The old country.

A fresh cup of coffee would make the perfect finish to my start of the day, I decided, and detoured toward my neighborhood’s market.  Feeling the grogginess of the morning lift, giving room to the lightness of gratitude, I aimlessly walked through the fresh produce aisle.  A mount of magnificent red plums tempted me to pick-up a few and breathe them in.  I rubbed my fingers against a mint leaf and petted the shiny surfaces of eggplants; groped a few avocados.  Letting habit and the vague smell of coffee take me to my destination, I passed the fish counter.

“Hello, how are jew?” the manager said from behind his tempting, never frozen line-up of produce.

“Beauticious,” I answered and gave him my best American smile:  open and down with it.

Surprised by an alert response, the man’s brown face immediately stretched into an enthusiastic smile:  “Beauti-cious?”  I heard remnants of his Spanish accent.

“It’s like, ahem, beautiful and delicious at the same time,” I explained.  “Like those jumbo scallops of yours.”

“Oy!  Oy!” the man was already putting on his gloves.  “Would jew like to take a l’ook?”  (Definitely Spanish!)

Before I could switch from smiling to speaking (I’m still figuring out the dynamics of that whole American smiling, to tell you the truth), the old guy was already on my side of the counter, lifting its front cover.  (I didn’t even know it was built like that!)  A whiff of the sea hit my nose:  Ah, the old country.  HOME.  

The man began to gingerly pick-up the beauticious scallops and bounce them in his giant hands.

“Oy!  How ‘bout dis one?!”

“Gorgeous,” I said and rested my forearm on his shoulder.  “Beauticious!”

He chuckled:  My tender presence thrilled him. Perhaps, it reminded him of his own home:  Where men drink beer on outside patios and bluntly whistle at the lovely chicas strutting by; where time crawls and dictates the course of the day with its mood; where lunchtime can last until dinner and where every accidental drum beat can start an impromptu fiesta.

“What cha got there?”  The old guy said to me and starting staring at my breast.

I looked down:  A neon-orange sticker that used to belong to the mount of avocados, sat in the vicinity of my nipple and read:

“RIPE READY TO EAT”.

The man sized me up:  Was he about to get in trouble?  But when I thumped my forehead against his chest and lost my composure entirely, wiping away the tears that ready flooded my tired eyes, he too began to holler with his chesty laughter.

“Oy!  Oy!” he was still holding those scallops in this giant, brown hands and throwing his head back.  He would’ve touched me — it felt like he wanted to — but his American training had taught him about boundaries.

Still:  It was suddenly all so easy; so light.  Beauticious and grateful.

“Yep,” I thought:

It’s time to go home.  The old country.

In “Da” Club

Wakin' Up, Russian Style

Good morning, comrades.  Oh, wait.  Is it afternoon?  V’s on Russian time today, after a 10-hour hibernation post a night of heavy partying that would make my gypsy ancestors very proud.  With my feet feeling non-existent because I insisted in ripping-up the dance floor for 5 hours in my 10-inch stilt-like stilettos, and my mouth dehydrated and venomous — my words are slow on the uptake.  With a cup of tepid, black, straight-up, sugarless coffee at my right hand, I’m starting my Sunday morning at half-speed.  But the tongue is heavy, just waiting for the mind to regurgitate an image or two that would unleash the words, V-ness style.

I will say this though:  Last night, I did it all in the name of research.  Oh yes, my comrades!  When I wasn’t balancing on stilts or shaking that compact, yoga-toned booty of mine to my favorite brown girl Riri, I was a student of human behavior.  The joint was dark and packed.  The male specimens were highly intoxicated and blinded by laser lights.  So, the Russian’s undercover research was conducted safely when she either slithered between the unknowing subjects or when she rested her tortured feet in the most corner booth with the messy glassware of the club’s bottle service.

In the midst of mayhem, I didn’t wonder about the motifs of my subjects’ behavior.  Instead, I jotted down their images, as if my words were photographic; and left my judgements for later.  Oh, don’t get me wrong:  I am aware that I’m an opinionated cunt.  But last night was different, for I merely observed the behavior of males.  I soaked it up because I would never be able to think up the following gems on my own:

— ASAP!  Something must to be said about the men who strut in through the front door of a club with toothpicks in their mouths!  How dare they scan a crowd of beautiful women for their prey when there is an actual object sticking out of their teeth?  Or what about the type that after ordering his drink from a gorgeous bartender, pays his tab, picks-up the rocks glass — and sticks his gum underneath the counter?  Classy move, buddy.  No matter how discretely he can conduct this disgusting habit, something tells me:  The man has never flipped through a single issue of GQ or Esquire — in his pathetic lifetime!

(What?  I’m not judging.  I’m just warming up my venom glands.)

— How about the defensive boy in a crocheted beige beanie hat, who otherwise would be pretty if it weren’t for the permanent sarcastic smile or too low of a cut of his V-neck?  He threw a lil’ tiff with the giant bouncer who’s asked him — quietly, yet forcefully — to keep the pathway clear.  The man of service was doing his job, while this boy-child (who better grow out of his hippie fashion sense if he’s at all interested in joining America’s workforce) held up the traffic and pouted at the fact that he wasn’t being courted properly.

(V — movin’ on!)

—  The fat boy, loud and utterly unattractive in his insecurity, who so obviously compensated for his shortcomings with a repertoire of behaviors that would look much cooler on him if he weren’t 1.  white and 2.  so chubby.  I mean:  Why the gangsta handshakes and the bad-ass chest pumps with your buddies if you can’t even keep your face straight or your drink unspilled? ‘S okay, we all know who you are:  You’re the Seth Green type.  So:  be that! Be the nerdy, chubby nice guy who is smarter than his non-Jewish friends — and better educated — and in about a decade will be making twice, or thrice the dough.  I promise:  There are girls who dig that!  Oi vey.

(Mkay.  So, I am judging.  I can’t help it — I’m a cunt!)

—  Hello, Mr. Short Guy!  Why are you hiding inside that oversized, buttoned-up up to your Adam’s Apple shirt and your vintage hat pulled down to your earlobes?  If you must be funky — embrace it.  Find some comfort in your physical traits — select better complimentary clothing for your body type — and chill. I can see the potential:  you are quite magnificent, past the bullshit.

(Well, I’m on a roll now!)

—  The white boy who doesn’t know how to dance; neither has any sense of rhythm nor swagger:  Why do you demand my attention during the uncensored version of Enrique’s Tonight I’m Fucking YOU!?  I was just standing here, boo, perfectly content in my lack of male escort this evening.  You tap me on the shoulder — twice! — in some poorly practiced, self-invented shtick; gesture that I should keep my eyes on you during the lull post Ludacris’ bit; and when the music crescendoes, you start jiggling your white body as in a fit of epilepsy.  Truly though:  I don’t give a flying fuck if you don’t have the skill to move your body with coordination.  But please, don’t request my company or my watch!

(Watch out!  The venom’s dripping into the coffee now — straight up!)

—  You just seem sickly, sir, leaning your clammy forehead against the cold mirror.  So, I ask if you’re alright.

“Oh yeah,” you respond automatically; but when you realize you like what you see, you give me one of those How YOU Doin’? grins.  “I’m the heat of a text,” you say, demonstrating the cellular device you’ve been groping underneath the mirror.

“Well, I hope she’s cute,” I nod and turn on my stilts to start walking away.

“Not as cute as you!” you throw at me, like an ice cube against my naked back.  Oh, c’mon, honey!  Why gotta do that?  You’ve obviously got a girl — you just said so yourself.  So why do you go offending me with an assumption that I’d settle for leftovers? And the cheesy line!  Really?!  So, you’re embarrassed now, pushing yourself through a line of defensive males waiting for their turn to use the bathroom.  Why do all that?

(Where is the next victim?  I now scan my last night’s notes for a memory…)

But oh!  What’s this?  A man in a suit?! Shit.  I shut up and study.  He’s in his late 20s, standing at the diagonally opposite angle of the bar.  A headful of jet-black Indian hair.  A crisp shirt with erect collar-stays.  Not even slightly tipsy, he’s buying a beautiful girl a drink.  His gaze is sharp, and despite the absentee tie — the boo’s on point.  I swear, comrades:  It’s as if a search light came down on the playa, and I think I heard the angels sing.  An Esquire man — is always noticeable. But besides that, I bet a good suit is sold with a pair of extra balls; because no matter the man’s genetic inheritance, when well-dressed — he acts like fuckin’ George Clooney.

On that sight, I wrap up my night, my darling boys ‘n’ girls.  There is hope for the male kind yet.  If only, they’d stop seeking solutions at the bottom of a rocks glass or at the tip of a joint.  If only they had the balls to live in their own skin — to tell their authentic stories — and to dress up the rest.

Good night, my darlings.  Or is it:  Good morning?