YANA DJIN

LETTERS FROM AMERICA


           
Girls Of Perm, Look Out!

Moscow News
March, 2001

               Several weeks ago I got an annoying e-mail from an old acquaintance of mine about whose existence I had forgotten. The reason, he reappeared, according to him , was that I am the only person he can directly associate with Russia and the ex-Soviet Republics.  Barry, it turns out, has been on a mission since his fiftieth birthday six months ago: to find a mail-order bride from Russia. Apparently, he has been looking through photos and letters of thousands of candidates and is determined to find the most intelligent and the most beautiful young woman in all of Perm. Why  Perm? I asked him. His reply reminded me why I had never chosen to remember him: The agency was having a special deal on the Perm region. Buy one, get one free.  Of course, he added, he would have liked to have his pick of girls from Moscow or St.Petersburg but mail-order-bride agencies charged much more for corresponding with them than with the girls from the provinces.  And besides, he figured, women from smaller cities make more complacent, less demanding wives. Barry asked me if I could spare one evening for him during which I would translate some 50 letters from the prospective brides and together we would pick the most appropriate candidate. 
            The first thing I noticed about Barry after a two-year period of not seeing him was that his belly was protruding even more unappealingly than before and his bald spot was now covering most of his shiny skull. To put it shortly, he did not strike me as a perfect image of a fresh groom about to embark on the journey of love. After a short conversation with him, and after perusing through some of the photographs that he had received from the hopeful girls, who all turned out to be quite the opposite of Barry thirty years his junior and attractive --  I had a desire to write to all the fine women of Perm and warn them to stay the hell away from Barry-the-Groom. Not that his story or his intentions were particularly alarming. Quite the contrary, both his story and his intentions resembled those of other prospective mail-order grooms and thus made them even less palatable. Here is the story in a nutshell.
            Barry is a middle-aged American men who had spent the last thirty years of his life  in a sheltered Mid-Western town, building a successful career in the software industry. Having convinced himself entirely without basis that he is unusually gifted, Barry decided to stuff himself on happy pills (Prozac, Paxil etc) so that his daily existence should acquire more tolerance towards others and more vitality. What it did acquire, however, was a cluster of those wonderful side-effects which accompany Prozac and its derivatives: emotional irritability, physical ticks, and, finally, impotence. Life with his live-in American girlfriend who had children from the previous marriage and with whom he spent the last seven years of his life became unbearable.  She refused to relegate his irrational outbursts against her and her children to his extraordinary, yet non-existent talent. From time to time, he would insist that she should have his child so that his brilliant genetic pool is not disrupted. She kept reminding him of his impotence as well as of the fact that it was she who was the talent-bearer in their relationship since it was she who spent ten years as a solo-violinist in the Vienna Philharmonic. This truth, apparently, was too much to bear for Barry and he renounced all the American women as untraditional and hateful. And here we come to his intentions. 
           At the young age of fifty, Barry was searching for a subservient wife who is expected to honor and obey her husband and to bear his children with love and humility. Why didnt you settle on the Oriental women? I asked, hoping to change his mind and free my former country-women from the risk of ever encountering this banal egomaniac. Well, you see, they are inappropriate to my needs, he blurted. They are flat-chested and less educated than Russian girls. And besides, I dont want to mix races.  Barry was convinced that the world would be a poorer place without his offspring and was meticulously careful about settling on the right candidate. One of his prerequisites for the lucky girl, besides ideal beauty, was that she should be proficient in calculus and ready to go through in-vitro fertilization since he had no plans of going off Prozac and expected his sexual impotence to develop even further. Here, I felt somewhat relieved for the women of Perm who, at least, were not in danger of experiencing tactile pleasures from him. So, what you are basically looking for is a uterus? I asked him through the onslaught of nausea. And what are you willing to offer them in exchange? 
           Women of Perm, before you pack your bags and hurry off with this or other Western charm-boy , beware that what he is  willing to offer you is not much!  He is willing to present you with a prenuptial agreement according to which you will not be entitled to any of his financial assets after spending two, torturously long years which is how long it takes to get a green card in this country. Because I do hope that you plan to confirm the INS fears and dump his sorry behind immediately upon receiving the coveted document.
            I also hope that you stash a considerable supply of birth-control pills in those bags just in case your youth and beauty have a stronger effect than Prozac, which you will definitely need yourself after serving the time as an obedient mail-order wife. Overall, if the conditions that you are living in now are not totally deplorable, I urge you to reconsider and not sell yourself for such a cheap price. To these middle-aged farm-boys you are nothing but cheap commodity and therefore, practical investment. Transporting you to the West and getting all the formalities in order costs less than hiring a prostitute several times. And that is exactly the deal that you are getting with one exception: a prostitute is free to go and be nauseous in the privacy of her own quarters.
 

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