Russia, January 12, 1999
The Joe-Cool Moscow CrewSo far, In Russia, I am on an 'A' list for housemates, Andrey, Ann, and Arthur, with the last two my current Partners in Crime.
Andrey and I lived together, more precisely he lived in the room next to mine in the communal apartment I called home. He is an interesting guy, a Russian who has lived in France, Spain, and Utah. He has the style of a Frenchman, the sex appeal of a Spaniard, and the work ethic of a Mormon, making him a true multinational guy.
Most Russian men wouldn't know style if the Fashion Police hit them upside the head with a GQ, but Andrey sure isn't the usual Russian man. He is always dressed straight from a fashion show, wowing us with his shiny shirts, smooth ties, and classic looks. I wonder if I can 'borrow' some of his clothes to improve my wardrobe?
Here is quote from Andrey as he prepares his evening: 'If you want, I can reserve two girls for next weekend.' I politely declined, but I am in awe. The man is God in the eyes of the Russian women. He is the Moscow version of Sasha, but without a girlfriend to anchor his wandering. I just try to stay out of his way as he enjoys the women of this country.
Andrey fills his day working his way up a Western firm here in Moscow. He is in route to be a manager, and after he completes his MBA next summer, he will fetch top dollar. He works all day, then takes classes at night, juggling the languages and cultures like a pro.
I am a little intimidated by men like him. I know I will have to really move quickly to stay ahead of the next wave of educated, motivated Russian managers if want to keep my job here.
I am so sad as I write this web page. I am sad because, as I speed back to Moscow from a Helsinki Weekend, my housemate, and my best friend, Ann, is preparing to leave Russia. She and I have shared apartments for almost a year now, with never a dull moment between us.
Ann is the sister I never had, or at least I treat her like that, much to her dismay. We go back to last September, when I met her the day I snuck back to Moscow from Ryazan. I was expecting to be kicked out of the Peace Corps the next day, because I was tired of being treated like a child, so I was enjoying myself that night. In a bar near where I was staying, I met her as she met the woman I was staying with, Marcie.
Ann is from Pittsburgh, PA, and she was on a quest to meet everyone else in Moscow from Pittsburgh, like Marcie. Quite a few people actually. I always wonder if there is anyone left in there, for all the Pittsburghians she has met here.
Anyway, she and I met that night, and we hit it off from the start. Over the next two months, as I waited for the Peace Corps to figure their way out of a paper bag (which they never did), she and I met a few times for belini and beer. She was in deep culture shock at the time, not having the amazing Peace Corps training to help her understand the mystery that is Russian culture.
Once I actually gave up on the Peace Corps, and instantly got a job with Price Waterhouse, I needed a place to stay. Luckily enough, she was living in an apartment with an empty room. In I moved, and the fun began! Ann, Andrei, Zhenya, and I had a great time together, goofing off and living large. There, Ann and I had many long talks, with Radio Russia playing softly in the background so Zhenya or Andrey could not hear what we were saying. We spoke about our dreams, desires, pasts and futures, our days, nights, friends, and enemies. We really became fast friends, finding hope, and safety in each other.
When my newfound wealth truly hit me, I quickly moved out of that apartment, into a luxury suite with Arthur and one spare bedroom. I, of course, invited Ann into my new home, and she quickly jumped at the chance to leave the Soviet washing machine, with the buckets and hand wringing, for the German deluxe washer.
After she moved in, we had even more fun, living through each other's romantic pursuits, successes (mainly hers), and failures (mainly mine). Now I know the intimate details of a few guys, while she knows a bit more than she wanted to, about the way men think.
Us having too much fun New Year's Night.
One of our favorite pastimes was people watching. I remember one day in Istanbul, I caught her staring so hard at a man, she was drooling. I, on the other hand, am never so amazing by a woman. I usually just walk into things when a beauty walks by. We also try to pick out dates for each other, but our styles are quite different. I'm still not sure what her ideal man is; though she knows that a woman who will actually talk to me is my ideal woman.
Over the last month or two, Ann has been talking about traveling again. She made a year in Moscow on the first of September, and she felt that she had seen and done enough. She was hesitant to leave though, I hope a bit due to our friendship, but then she fell victim to the collapse of the Russian economy, and that was the sign she was looking for. Now she is leaving Moscow, Russia, and me, for the grater unknown. I will miss her so; she is a true friend. Luckily, she writes often, so check out her worldwide travels.
I'm never going to forget the look on Arthur's face the first time I took him to The Duck. It was a look of wonder, surprise, and joy. He was like a kid in a candy shop, not knowing who to look at first! Straight from Australia, he was in shock at the pure unadulterated decadence that Moscow had to offer, and he has never been the same since.
Arthur and Ann
Arthur, like I, works for Price Waterhouse. Unlike I, he was recruited from PW Australia for his technical, not his Russian skills. He and I met on his second day here, after he paid $25 for a taxi ride I would pay 20 rubles for (big difference!). We reached an agreement quite quickly. I would coordinate our lives in Russia, and he would pay the majority of our rent. From that day one, Arthur never paid $25 for a taxi ride anywhere, he quickly learned how to wheel and deal in the Moscow we know so well.
We usually wander by each other's office a few times a week, to catch up, and to get a feel for the office. Friday nights are usually reserved for 'Guy's Night Out,' where Arthur and I check out a rotating venue of parties, bars, clubs, and scenes, in search of a good time. Usually either he or I wind up having an adventurous evening, with the other waiting for the morning details.
Saturday or Sunday, we will wander down the Arbat together, chatting about work, love, and life, but not always in that order. The rest of the weekend, he is either working or just chilling in front of the TV. He has an amazing collection of B movies he found at Fili Park, that makes me wonder about his intelligence, but I have to admit that I have been know to watch a few with him if the mood strikes me.
All, in all, Arthur is a good guy, and my only guy friend.