August 7, 2012
from August 5, 2007
Ah, August! Love is in the air! Or is that the humidity? At any rate, I feel nauseous. Inspired by the impending nuptials of Marc and Emily, my tale of my semi-near-sort of-brush with marriage:
This happened about five or six years ago. My building has always had a certain percentage of apartments rented by Russians who stay a few months and then leave. This seems to be their first stop in America. (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, send them to Bensonhurst,” you know the poem.) I rarely get to know them for a variety of reasons.
A- They don’t stick around long enough.
B- Many speak only a few words of English.
C- I am an antisocial tool. (But you love me when you get to know me!)
But occasionally I get into a conversation with one or another of them. Usually it begins like this: “Excuse me, you are teacher?” I can’t explain it. For some reason it gets around that I am a teacher. I’ve been asked that by four or five immigrant Russian parents over the years, people whom I could not pick out of a police lineup. I’ve been offered tutoring jobs, once even as a math tutor, but never accepted one.
Well, this story is about a proposition of a different kind. I was in my lobby on a Saturday getting the mail when someone whom I knew on sight only, and just barely, asked me if I knew his daughter. I said “No.” He said “wait a minute” and ran up the stairs.
I took my mail and got in the elevator, back up to my apartment.
A couple of days later I was coming home from work and the guy and his daughter were in the hallway. I had seen the daughter around. She was about 20 or 21 at most, very nice looking but not quite attractive. He jogged over and laughed “I missed you the other day!” Or at least that’s why I think he said. He had a very thick accent. It may have been “I pissed you the other day,” but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. I said “sorry” and pressed the elevator button. He said “you know my daughter?” And now I really became curious, but mostly suspicious. I said that I’d seen her around. (I’ll try to get the conversation as close as I can remember.)
GUY- You like her?
ME- I don’t even know her.
GUY- She like you. Why don’t you go out?
The elevator came but I was sticking around for this one.
ME- She’s too young.
GUY- You work hard. Why don’t you two go away for weekend? (And some Russian words to his daughter.)
His daughter was standing about fifteen feet away, somehow managing to look both embarrassed and coquettish at the same time.
ME- I really don’t think so.
Now I was ready to get in the elevator but it had left.
GUY- You go away, go to beach, I pay. Food, room, I give money. (With that he took a huge roll of cash from his pocket and waved it at me, then put it away.)
ME- OK, look, forget it, I’m really not interested.
He put his arm around me. Not only did he not lower his voice as you’d expect, he raised it.
GUY- Don’t worry, she cook, she clean, and how about the sex? (Here I felt so sorry for her.) She’ll do anything! She’s good!(And he looked at her, and she smiled!)
I asked him point blank what the hell he was doing. Very seriously, and now with a lowered voice, he told me that his daughter had to go back to Russia and he wanted to marry her off to an American so she could stay in the country. He’d heard I was a teacher and, because I had a steady city job, thought I could be the one. He told me that he’d pay for everything, rent, food, etc. He again told me that she’d do whatever I wanted when it came to “the sex.” The guy was pimping out his daughter for a green card!
I told him, firmly, that I wasn’t interested. I went upstairs when the elevator mercifully came and eventually they left the building and I never saw them again.
But I’d often wondered what it would be like to have married her. Would I have a dacha in Brighton Beach? Would I come home to fresh meals of borsht and vodka? And what about all the “the sex” the father had promised? I figure that by not marrying her, I saved myself from getting in severe trouble with the Russian mob, with whom this guy was undoubtedly involved. So I may be missing out on vacations on the Volga, but I still have two good strong legs.
Could have been my in-laws…