March 27, 2008
An Unprotected Look at Western-Russian Relations
By Robert Bridge
According to flimsy folk wisdom, "opposites attract," but is this really true of Russians and Westerners who decide to tie the transnational knot?
Question: Westerners and Russians who have made the decision to set up house and live happily ever after can expect which of the following: A. the best that Russians and Westerners can hope to achieve from any romantic relationship is a new and improved version of the Cold War; B. Russians and Westerners make great, adorable couples; C. Nationality has absolutely no bearing on the success or failure of a relationship; after all, Russians are considered part of Western civilization too; D. As a Russian citizen, I refuse to participate in a stupid American standardized test.
See, we're already fighting.
Personally, I think the chances of a Russian-Western Big Love achieving success are about the same as any other "normal" relationship - about 50 percent. It seems the differences become really pronounced, however, when (if) the love boat smashes up against the rocks of fate with children, real estate and small furry pets on board. In other words, although the passion thermometer may reach 451-degrees Fahrenheit between cultural opposites, breakups between "foreigners" can be truly ugly affairs.
True Story! Once upon a time, "Peter" and "Veronica" gazed into each other's eyes from across the crowded floor of a business conference in Moscow. In very little time the lovebirds had exchanged, in dizzying succession, mobile phone numbers, saliva, bodily fluids and wedding vows. Sorry, that was gross. All of these things were not exchanged in the same torrid evening, of course. But things did move ahead rapidly.
Peter and Veronica had essentially succumbed to what the fairy tale writers and psychologists refer to as the "love at first sight" syndrome. But alas, as with most fairy tales, and perhaps more mental institutions, tragedy was one poisonous apple away from ruining this made-for-television drama.
Although there are myriad "he-said, she-said" versions of what really happened, depending on what side you listen to, the basic plot goes something like this: Paranoid Peter, who could not understand why his dear Veronica was spending so much time chatting with strangers over the Internet when she should have been cooking dinner, installed Spyware 5.0 on the family's personal computer in order to calm his curiosity. Poor Hubby!
Possessive Peter's private-eye work revealed that his seemingly angelic and rather impressionable Russian bride was plotting to depart the Motherland in order to settle down in India with one "Surahi," an IT specialist and learned disciple of Kama Sutra. Furthermore, to add insanity to injury, Veronica was going to leave for New Delhi with the couple's three-year-old daughter (!).
Thus, for two maddening weeks, Peter simmered and stewed in the knowledge that his only true love on earth was planning to betray him - and steal his daughter to boot! So, just 24 hours before Veronica's planned rendezvous, Peter bordered a plane for New York City with the couple's daughter in tow. Two weeks later he flew back to Moscow and informed his wife that he was aware of her treacherous tryst and that he was keeping their daughter "safe" until she, Veronica, came to her senses. Well, of course, she never did - nor did he, for that matter.
In an incredible twist of events, Peter and his daughter eventually moved to Kiev. During one of Veronica's prearranged visits, she and her mother - surprise, surprise - skipped town on a night train with the daughter while Peter was out with his friends (Note: Border guards require that a person traveling with their child have a notarized letter from the other parent that provides their consent to the trip.
Neither Veronica or Peter made their mad daughterly dashes with this document).
The last news I heard about Peter's plight, he was wrestled to the ground by a group of bystanders after he made a failed attempted to take his daughter "for a ride" after spotting her walking with family members in the suburbs of Moscow.
Unfortunately, the real victim in this tragic story is the little girl - who holds both a Russian and American passport - who is certainly traumatized by the escalating events.
I know another American guy who ordered a Russian MOB (mail-order-bride) to his home in Springfield, Missouri and six weeks later... he received a call from Citibank Visa about "unusual activity" on his credit card.
I guess that story requires little explanation.
Anyways, the moral of this story is: When shopping for a bride or groom - Russian, Western, or otherwise - be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.