The Joe-Cool Moscow Crew
Andrey and I lived together, more precisely he lived in the room
next to mine in the communal apartment I called home. He is an interesting
guy, a Russian who has lived in France, Spain, and Utah. He has the style
of a Frenchman, the sex appeal of a Spaniard, and the work ethic of a Mormon,
making him a true multinational guy.
Most Russian men wouldn’t know style if the Fashion Police hit them upside
the head with a GQ, but Andrey sure isn’t the usual Russian man. He is
always dressed straight from a fashion show, wowing us with his shiny shirts,
smooth ties, and classic looks. I wonder if I can ‘borrow’ some
of his clothes to improve my wardrobe?
Here is quote from Andrey as he prepares his evening: ‘If you
want, I can reserve two girls for next weekend.’ I politely declined,
but I am in awe. The man is God in the eyes of the Russian women. He
is the Moscow version of Sasha, but
without a girlfriend to anchor his wandering. I just try to stay out of
his way as he enjoys the women of this country.
Andrey fills his day working his way up a Western firm here in Moscow. He
is in route to be a manager, and after he completes his MBA next summer, he will
fetch top dollar. He works all day, then takes classes at night, juggling
the languages and cultures like a pro.
I am a little intimidated by men like him. I know I will have to really
move quickly to stay ahead of the next wave of educated, motivated Russian
managers if want to keep my job here.
I am so sad as I write this web page. I am sad because, as I
speed back to Moscow from a Helsinki Weekend, my housemate, and my best friend, Ann, is preparing to leave Russia. She and I have shared apartments for almost a
year now, with never a dull moment between us.
Ann is the sister I never had, or at least I treat her like
that, much to her dismay. We go back to last September, when I met her the day I
snuck back to Moscow from Ryazan. I was expecting to be kicked out of the Peace
Corps the next day, because I was tired of being treated like a child, so I was
enjoying myself that night. In a bar near where I was staying, I met her as she
met the woman I was staying with, Marcie.
Ann is from Pittsburgh, PA, and she was on a quest to meet
everyone else in Moscow from Pittsburgh, like Marcie. Quite a few people
actually. I always wonder if there is anyone left in there, for all the
Pittsburghians she has met here.
Anyway, she and I met that night, and we hit it off from the
start. Over the next two months, as I waited for the Peace Corps to figure their
way out of a paper bag (which they never did), she and I met a few times for
belini and beer. She was in deep culture shock at the time, not having the
amazing Peace Corps training to help her understand the mystery that is Russian
Once I actually gave up on the Peace Corps, and instantly got a
job with Price Waterhouse, I needed a place to stay. Luckily enough, she was
living in an apartment with an empty room. In I moved, and the fun began! Ann,
Andrei, Zhenya, and I had a great time together, goofing off and living large.
There, Ann and I had many long talks, with Radio Russia playing softly in the
background so Zhenya or Andrey could not hear what we were saying. We spoke
about our dreams, desires, pasts and futures, our days, nights, friends, and
enemies. We really became fast friends, finding hope, and safety in each other.
When my newfound wealth truly hit me, I quickly moved out of
that apartment, into a luxury suite with Arthur and one spare bedroom. I, of
course, invited Ann into my new home, and she quickly jumped at the chance to
leave the Soviet washing machine, with the buckets and hand wringing, for the
German deluxe washer.
she moved in, we had even more fun, living through each other’s romantic
pursuits, successes (mainly hers), and failures (mainly mine). Now I know the
intimate details of a few guys, while she knows a bit more than she wanted to,
about the way men think.
Us having too much fun New Year’s Night.
One of our favorite pastimes was people watching. I remember one
day in Istanbul, I caught her staring so hard at a man, she was drooling. I, on
the other hand, am never so amazing by a woman. I usually just walk into things
when a beauty walks by. We also try to pick out dates for each other, but our
styles are quite different. I’m still not sure what her ideal man is; though she
knows that a woman who will actually talk to me is my ideal woman.
Over the last month or two, Ann has been talking about traveling
again. She made a year in Moscow on the first of September, and she felt that
she had seen and done enough. She was hesitant to leave though, I hope a bit due
to our friendship, but then she fell victim to the collapse of the Russian
economy, and that was the sign she was looking for. Now she is leaving Moscow,
Russia, and me, for the grater unknown. I will miss her so; she is a true
friend. Luckily, she writes often, so check out her worldwide travels.
never going to forget the look on Arthur’s face the first time I took him to The
Duck. It was a look of wonder, surprise, and joy. He was like a kid in a
candy shop, not knowing who to look at first! Straight from Australia, he was in
shock at the pure unadulterated decadence that Moscow had to offer, and he has
never been the same since.
Arthur and Ann
Arthur, like I, works for Price Waterhouse. Unlike I, he was
recruited from PW Australia for his technical, not his Russian skills. He and I
met on his second day here, after he paid $25 for a taxi ride I would pay 20
rubles for (big difference!). We reached an agreement quite quickly. I would
coordinate our lives in Russia, and he would pay the majority of our rent. From
that day one, Arthur never paid $25 for a taxi ride anywhere, he quickly learned
how to wheel and deal in the Moscow we know so well.
We usually wander by each other’s office a few times a week, to
catch up, and to get a feel for the office. Friday nights are usually reserved
for ‘Guy’s Night Out,’ where Arthur and I check out a rotating venue
of parties, bars, clubs, and scenes, in search of a good time. Usually either he
or I wind up having an adventurous evening, with the other waiting for the
Saturday or Sunday, we will wander down the Arbat together,
chatting about work, love, and life, but not always in that order. The rest of
the weekend, he is either working or just chilling in front of the TV. He has an
amazing collection of B movies he found at Fili Park, that makes me wonder about
his intelligence, but I have to admit that I have been know to watch a few with
him if the mood strikes me.
All, in all, Arthur is a good guy, and my only guy friend.