Sunday, February 15, 2009

Like a Seinfeld Episode: It's About Nothing

Both kids had sleepovers last night. Baboo was invited to a friend's house, so Skittles took that opportunity to invite a classmate to stay with us.

Other peoples' kids are always a mystery. I only saw this child for about 30 seconds at school on Friday with whom I thought was her mother. Mom wasn't being very chatty, so I nodded "Hello" and told Skittles to have her friend's parents call one of us to arrange Saturday night.

Friday night about 10:00, my phone rings. It's the kid. I hand the phone to The Spouse since I am not equipped to discuss Russian street names with a French-speaker. (What is the French version of "anglicizing" something? They transliterate the Cyrillic differently than we do. Sometimes I have a tough time figuring out addresses on birthday party invitations.)

The Spouse has a conversation in French with the child who keeps covering the phone and addressing her mother. Just as he begins to wonder "Why don't you just let me talk to your mom?" he realizes the mom doesn't speak French.

Eureka! He tells the child to give the phone to Mom, and they work out the details. In Russian.

Saturday comes. I deliver Baboo to her host's. Around 6:00, as arranged, Skittles' guest arrives. She and I go down to the street to meet her (it's easier than explaining which door and how to work our temperamental "dom-o-fon").

Impeccably Dressed Guest Child and even more Impeccably Dressed Mom appear. This is not the woman from school, I realize. That was clearly Grandma (who, to be honest, is closer to my age than Mom is). Mom, as we learned on the phone, doesn't speak English or French, but she's got a GIANT cake for us. She's lovely and charming, and we establish that she will collect Guest Child on Sunday at 11:00.

Guest Child is adorable and polite. She's a bit overwhelmed by The Spouse and resists all his attempts to joke with and charm her. He lobs something at her. She just blinks. But alone with Skittles, I hear her laughing and playing.

I go to the grocery store for emergency breakfast bacon. While there, I turn around suddenly and just miss crashing into a very elegant woman with bleached blond hair pulled in a chignon. She's wearing a full-length mink coat. And carrying a nervous, brown Chihuahua that is exactly the same color as her coat.

The Chihuahua's nose is wet.

It takes all my self-control not to touch it.

Mink Lady is oblivious, but Chihuahua and I bond over near the nuts and bottled waters.

My phone rings as I approach yogurt.

It's Impeccably Dressed Mom.

"This is Guest Child's Mom," she says in Russian. I panic. I cannot hand the phone to The Spouse because I am in the grocery store. Alone. "Is everything fine?" she asks me.

Whew. I understand what she's saying. "Yes, yes. Everything good," I reply. She's apparently satisfied with that and the conversation ends.

Chihuahua ends up in the checkout line in front of me. Again, I resist touching his nose. But it is a struggle for me. (And here I must confess that sometimes I surreptitiously touch other peoples' fur coats in the Metro. Yeah. That sounds creepy, I know. But they are so soft . . . and it's right there in front of you on the escalator. And the owner will never know . . .) I do manage to make cooing sounds and earn a nice smile from Mink Lady. But she does not invite me to pet her boy, and Chihuahua looks just nervous enough that I can envision losing a finger. THAT would be good blog material.

In spite of all the snow we received yesterday afternoon the night is relatively warm, and the sidewalks are practically clear.

The little street that leads to the store is quiet, but suddenly two cars come racing towards one another. They reach each other at a point where cars are parked on both sides, forcing them into a Mexican standoff. As I approach the street, neither one gives to let the other through.

I cross the street, watching to see who will back down.

They are still sitting there, nose-to-nose.

I get to the trash dumpsters at the end of our "driveway." They are still sitting there, staring each other down.

This is one of the many reasons I do not drive in Moscow.

Arriving home, I find the girls watching a DVD. When it finishes, I announce it is time for pajamas. They must retire to the bedroom (we've set up the inflatable double bed), but they can chat as long as they want.

Guest Child announces that she would like to take a shower.

Okay. My kids are not enamored of hygiene. But it would not be unheard of for a child to have the habit of bathing daily. Mine do so only under duress. Especially Skittles. But hey: maybe this will be a good influence. Peer pressure and all.

I realize then that Guest Child has brought her own towels.

Is that weird? I think it's weird.

The Spouse suggests later that Guest Child has been going around our place with a bottle of disinfectant in hand, but, when I press him further, he confesses merely that she has brought and is actually wearing her house slippers.

That's not weird. The fact my kids refuse to wear theirs is weird. But her own towels?

As expected, she had never seen American style pancakes before. Or maple syrup. She ate hers this morning, but it was clearly new and different for her. That's okay: this is the point of visiting other people. See how they live.

Baboo, for example, was introduced last night to the concept of raclette. She loved it, but what's not to love? Melted cheese, slices of ham or sausage, boiled potatoes . . . it's a very good thing. And if I had pressed her to try it, it is likely she would have looked at me as if I were nuts.

There is no point or moral to my post today. Just a snapshot of our day. And some real snapshots thrown in for good measure.

Below is a picture that illustrates how close my grocery store is. I am standing at our trash dumpsters, which is perhaps halfway between my front door and the store. The store is the blue spot on the ground floor of the tall apartment building.


Here is a photo of today's snow. It's hard to capture it in a photo, but the fogginess is the snow. This is around noon.


And because he asked nicely, this is for Loyal Beet-nik, A.M. A little Crooky action.

4 comments:

Tina in CT said...

Bringing a towel for an overnight is what I'd call "unusual". I could see if she were going camping with you that she'd bring her own towel but to your home - not. That was very thoughtful of her mom to bring over a cake for the family.

Crooky is so cute.

My daughter told me yesterday that you were having a snowstorm but she was out driving and what would have been a 10 minute drive took an hour. That is not all the unusual for Moscow from what she's told me in the past.

It is warm and sunny here in Southern New England today and my sheets are out on the clothesline drying.

Did both girls have fun with their sleepovers?

The Expatresse said...

Yes, the girls had a good time. It's always gratifying to me, as a parent, when they have friends and enjoy them.

The Spouse reports the sidewalks are a mess this morning. Slush and ice. Impossible to cross the streets as the gutters are filled, ankle-deep, with water and slush. Ugh.

parallaxbrief said...

Crooky! Why do cats love enclosed spaces? Our can would sit happily in shopping bags for hours. I would watch with fascination. I could never quite understand why, but Alfie seemed happy to sit there forever.

I'm surprised the snow has cleared round your way. In Taganskaya it's either ankle deep water or semi-melted ice. And don't even talk to me about Pavlyetskaya.

The trolly bus got stuck in a wheelspin thingy this morning.

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