...Tonight I pretended I was Russian. I spoke Russian with my cousin Abbie and we trailed around the “art walk” where “individuals” and “artsy-farsty” people gather once a month to enjoy interaction between each other and a fresh opportunity to display what they had spent the previous month working on.
She and I had walked around, looked at numerous photographs, paintings and listened to bands play. Even watched people swing fireballs around their bodies. (I am not even slightly joking)
She had the urge to leave and so we were walking towards the car, passing the occasional drunk art kid or perhaps a homeless man selling his work on the streets, when a man walked past us.
“Hey,” He spoke, obviously a bit tipsy.
I nodded, in attempt to acknowledge his greeting but say nothing in response.
A minute later he rushed towards us, beginning with a slight British accent.
“Hello, I just thought you girls were cute and that if you want to you can come with me to the Bikini Club down the street.”
I looked at Abbie and she glanced at me, preparing herself for what would come next.
“Shto?” I asked in Russian. “I am sorry my English is very bad…what did you want to do? Go where?”
“To the Bikini Club, you know…to have a couple of drinks and shake your booties.”
I started to laugh as Abbie rambled things in Russian to me, basically asking me what he had said.
“Bootie. I don’t know this word.” I starred at him obliviously.
“You know, it means to shake your bootie…your bum, your butt.” For some strange reason he never pointed to himself. “I am sure we can ask anyone on the street and they will tell you what bootie means.”
“Bootie. I’m sorry but that is a crazy word.”
“Where are you from?” He asked.
At the same time we both said,
I told him my name was Irena and I was from Moscow and Abbie was Dasha and she was from Nischni. They became intrigued, asked us questions and tried to ignore their slight buzz from the alcohol that clung to their breath. They followed these two characters from Russia into conversations of absolutely nothing. We listened, laughed and said things in Russian and looked back at each them.
“Why did you want to come to Phoenix?”
“Its warm!” My cousin who was playing the Russian-with-little-to-no-English character stated.
“No, its cold.” The man responded complete with covering his hands over his arms to illustrate “being cold”
“This is not cold to us, really not cold.” I added in.
Then he said,
“Is it hard for you to pick up the slang from Americans?”
“Yes, America has much slang.” She responded unsurely.
“Phoenix doesn’t have much slang. It’s mostly the eastern and western parts of America.” He continued.
She starred into space, acting as if she didn’t understand a word he said. She had lived here her entire life and everyone knows how much slang Americans have—that’s one of the reasons why English is the hardest language to learn.
“So what do you say? Do you want to go to the Bikini Bar?”
“What? Net…I don’t think so.” I smiled slightly, trying to be polite.
“Are you sure? Its just down the street…we could give you a ride in our cars even if you wanted us to.”
“Net, thank you…speciba. Da, it was very nice to see you.”
And they shook our hands and left.
We waited for about twenty feet before erupting into laughter and begin to ramble things in good American English full of slang words and obnoxious laughter. It was like being a kid all over again…except these guys weren’t really playing along…unless playing the part of the silly drunk white American boy is anything….