International Women’s Day means many different things to many different people. For flower sellers, it’s sweeps month. For men, it’s time to learn to make pasta. But for women-oh yes, women-it means a whole lot more. We here at the eXile like to think that there’s a little bit of magic in the air. This March 8th, open your eyes and take a good look around you. You just might be surprised at what you see. And you might learn some hard lessons in life: what it’s like to be a woman-and moreover, what it’s like to be that world-famous type of woman, the dyevushka.
This is Katie, a mild-mannered American marketing manager. She’s seated next to a world-famous Scottish-American street mime who asked not to be identified in this photo. So you can imagine what a shock it must have been when, one International Women’s Day, Katie awoke as a dyevushka!
“Mama, I hate eggs! Don’t we have any more tomatoes and cucumbers???”
Getting used to the life of a tormented dyevushka/wife/mother isn’t easy. In some ways, it’s as tough as the time Katie created a marketing campaign that introduced Q-Tips to the Lower Volga region. Katie’s daughter, Masha seems to be acting a bit capricious this morning. Katie’ll have to work on that if she’s going to succeed. But wait… uh-oh, time to go to work!
“Good morning, honey! Can I get you some tea and kolbasa?”
Wow, it’s unbelievable! Katie has actually been transformed into a Russian woman. Which means, instead of being 30, single, and on the fast-track, she’s 25, married to a drunken ne’er-do-well, and has the cutest three-year-old daughter in the world. Hubbie Pasha snores louder than a cement truck, smells worse than a podyezd, and appears to be the most repulsive living creature she’s ever stood next to… but somehow, she can’t help but feel that she loves him to pieces!
“Katya, you’ve got to learn Western business practices if you want to succeed.”
This is Katie’s boss, Mr. Wexler. He says she can call him Brad. He’s always inviting Katie out for dinner in order to discuss her “future with the company.” But Katie’s not sure. There’s something weird about all that Old Spice he splashes himself with during coffee breaks.
“Good, Katya, looks like your business etiquette is really improving. Let’s meet after work at Kakadu, and discuss your future with the company.”
Uh-oh, not again. Katie gives Mr. Wexler, or rather Brad, her usual excuse: her husband Pasha is waiting at home, and he’s a big, jealous flathead. Of course, Pasha’s mother will take care of her helpless son and granddaughter, so Katie’s not worried. Then her friend Tanya calls, and asks Katie to meet her at Moskovsky. “My favorite place!” Katie cries. “Well, I’m off!”
“Hey bay-bee, I’m Jack Austin. I’m in town for the big food conference? Whadaya say we go tear up that dance floor. Look, it’s got our names on it!”
“Uh-oh, not another foreigner,” Katie thinks. “I bet this guy’s French.”
“So Kate, ever tried a real choice American chicken thigh? M’m, m’m! Dang, I’m feelin’ hot tonight! Say, whattaya say we head to this place Marika afterwards. Or is it as dangerous as that bald guy says?”
Gosh, Katie wonders, would he really take me to Marika? She’s heard so much about Moscow’s most eksklusivny hangout, but… it’s a tough choice. All Jack does is talk about his containers of chicken legs. Katie doesn’t understand a word of it. This can’t be a good sign. It’s getting late…
“Take me to the electrichka.”
Katie could have gone to Marika with Jack, but instead, Tanya escorted him. Tanya speaks a little French, so they’ll communicate better anyway. Ah, just an hour to go, and she’ll be back in Zelenograd, where the air is ecologically clean…
“Honey, I’m home!”
Aw, isn’t that cute. Pasha actually got off the couch. He may have his faults, but at least he doesn’t talk about chickens. In fact, he doesn’t talk much at allÑhe usually just grunts and slurs. But he slurs only as Pasha can slur, and Katie loves him to pieces for it. “Hey, this life isn’t nearly as bad as I thought! When I was an American, everything was predictable. Now I have a family to come home to, and a bright future at my company. This Women’s Day, I’ve really got something to celebrate!”
This article was published in Issue #2 of The eXile in March 1997.
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