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The American teachers at my language school had a phrase to describe dating Russian men.It was “No Means Yes, and Yes Means Anal.”Not surprisingly, the attitude toward rape in Russia is still depressingly medieval. That’s life,” my mother would say with a shrug as she heard about a recent rape victim on the news.Only a few minutes ago, we’d been standing together drinking beer, when the other guy made the dubious and drunken decision to put his arm around me.What happened next was awful, confusing, and I wanted it to stop.Having grown up in New York, I had taken for granted that people were always striving for something, or at least striving to be striving for something.In Russia, most of the guys I met were engaged in some sort of dubious import/export business in electronics; the rest were involved in “business” (if you ask what kind of business, and there is a marked pause followed by the word “business,” you should refrain from asking any more questions).A great many of them confessed to dreaming of moving to a beach in Bali, roasting barbecue all day, and copulating furiously with island women.
They will sashay past you with their wobbly stilettos (which are worn even over blocks of ice) and designer bags (which carry a full pharmacy complete with a mini shoe polish and handwipes) and, if you tell them you pluck your own eyebrows and only get a facial once a month, will look at you as though you have just clawed your way out of a swamp.I speak the language, I celebrate the holidays, and when I go back to New York after visiting relatives in the motherland and hand my Russian passport to the Russian customs official at border control, watch him quickly flip through it, and then haughtily sneer at me as he asks “, where’s your visa?” it is with the greatest relish that I slap my American passport onto the desk and yell “That’s my visa! I was born into a crumbling communal building in St.I’ve heard of guys crawling through windows and appearing naked in bedrooms.I had female friends who had no idea they were apparently someone’s girlfriend.