Dear Mean Russian Lady

I stole this title from Faith’s friend Coley. I ran into her blog as I usually do – by clicking her link from someone else’s blog. So I read the post about “mean Russian lady” asking her about her skin (implying it wasn’t perfect) and before that asking her if she was pregnant when she actually wasn’t.

Just amazing that she’s live in the US for at least 40 years, yet hasn’t managed to pick up on normal social graces, like don’t tell people how bad their skin is, and don’t ask if someone is pregnant.

I smiled and forgot about it. Nowadays, “normal social graces” are all but written in stone in various corporate “codes of business conduct” and drilled into our heads during multiple sensitivity seminars. Coley’s post came to mind few hours later when I was at the gym (to maintain my Fabio-like physique), where some old putz on the machine next to mine entertained himself by discussing some home repair project on his cell phone, using his loudest radio-announcer voice. This was distracting because I was trying to concentrate on pregnant women giving birth on TLC. Slowly, I was boiling inside. At times old creep would stop working out but never considered walking away or shutting up. This was a clear case when my overabundance of “normal social graces” prevented me from shoving his phone down his reverberating throat. Since I could not concentrate on the contractions on TV I was thinking how in this country being “cultured” suppresses a person’s natural desire to speak up, but it doesn’t prevent a person from thinking about it. Would it be better if I could tell the guy to hang up instead if wishing a violent heart attack on him? Would it be more sensitive to tell a loud breather in my spinning class to quiet it down, instead of me quietly hoping for him to have an asthma attack and a trip to the hospital? The truth is that sometimes saying things out loud is not that horrible. That’s why I am happy to have a reputation of a “mean Russian guy” at work and I use it to say pretty much anything I want. And it feels great!

I think we all know that not talking about a pimple, or being fat, or anything else does not really cure the pimple, makes a person skinny or helps with any other problem. If done in humorous light-hearted way there shouldn’t be a problem with just stating the fact. I can take pretty much any joke about me being fat, ugly, my accent, being Russian, being Jewish because these are all true. They are just facts of my life and if nobody ever says a word about it, I will still be fat, ugly Russian Jew with an accent. And yes I inquired about a girl being pregnant before when she wasn’t, when she eventually became pregnant I claimed the credit (not paternity) for giving her the idea. Telling people what you think would have resolved a lot of conflicts, cut down on gossip, backstabbing and other workplace and family evils. But it’s not socially acceptable. However, farting in public is. Make your own conclusions.

P.S. People in Russia don’t really walk up to each other and point at pimples or other defects. So “meanness” of the lady in question, or mine for that matter, doesn’t have anything to do with being Russian. But it’s nice that it works as an excuse here. At the end of the day, both cultured Americans and mean Russian still say what they want even if it’s on their anonymous blog or behind someone’s back.