Thursday, August 14, 2008

I am not looking at them, they are looking at me

I haven’t been posting or answering emails as promptly as I used to for several reasons. The main reason for my cyber space neglect is SubHub’s vacation. He’s been home for a few weeks and has been hogging computer expressing desire to spend time with his wife. The nerve! And I have so much to write about, I am bursting at the seams (and not because my clothes are too small). I have another week and a half of this to endure, but then we should be back to our original programming.

I wanted to write this entry ever since the beginning of summer, but always put it off. However, after my company had an evacuation drill, I feel that I can no longer keep silent. Have you noticed that if you see a woman in a New York crowd dressed in super skimpy clothes, so skimpy that she stands out among people wearing mostly tank tops and sundresses, nine times out of ten she speaks Russian?

I was thinking exactly that during our evacuation drill. In the crowd of a two hundred people, one could easily spot my some of my former compatriots based solely on the way they dressed. No, those weren’t the raggedy clothes of poor immigrants, for the most part those were expensive duds, but…. One woman was sporting VERY tight pants with three inch heels. How she climbed down twenty something flights of stairs is anybody’s guess. It’s a good thing that Russian women also possess high endurance. She was talking to another woman who was channeling a 12-year-old trapped in a body of someone about three times that age. The second woman looked like she borrowed clothes from the last Children’s Place collections: a tiny polo shirt with a super mini skirt that looked like this (picture taken from Children's Place website):

Something tells me that there was a little girl in Brooklyn, bitterly crying over the loss of her favorite outfit. And just to put it all in context: this is how these women were dressed for work!

But young women with good bodies baring almost all are only half of the problem. Older women refusing to accept realities of their age, weight and the laws of gravity are much worse. Go to any Russian wedding/birthday/big party if you haven’t yet, and you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. When a woman in her 20s shows too much skin, it’s one thing. When her 50 something year old mother does the same, it’s a whole new ballgame. And I am not talking about grossly overweight ladies; most of these older women are rather fit for their age and would look awesome, if only dressed a bit more…I can’t find a word - well if they were just a bit more dressed, I guess. The things that I have seen would only come in some designer’s nightmare. (From now on I will only be talking about women in 50 plus age bracket.) I have seen them wearing skirts or dresses with slits up to here. It could’ve looked attractive, if only the slit didn’t show spider and varicose veins, cellulite and hanging skin. Not pretty. I have seen low cut dresses and blouses without appropriate support – gravity is a law of nature, you can’t opt out simply because you don’t like it. I have witnessed women squeezed into outfits a few sizes too small for them. That looked funny, both funny ha ha AND funny peculiar. And don’t get me started on makeup. I guess the concept that less is more haven’t reached Brighton Beach and Russian media yet. Let’s hope it catches on in this century.

But the winner of them all almost made my eyes bleed. I have seen her, a woman in her fifties, at a wedding, wearing a laced up corset top, few sizes and twenty years too inappropriate for her, like this one,
only without an extra layer of fabric, with her skin literally popping out from between the criss crossed laces. The saddest part was that this woman was rather attractive, and had she worn something less risqué, she would’ve looked pretty rather than desperate for cash, old and fat.

It all would’ve been just in the realm of aesthetics, and we all know that this one is hard to argue logically. However, this propensity to dress inappropriately often time translates into undesirable treatment. I worked once with a girl who preferred wearing tight T-shirts and short shorts. This was a deli type of establishment, and most people at the counter were teenagers making extra cash while in high school or college. Sooner or later this was bound to happen: one of the guys started making comments about the way this girl looked in shorts. His biggest offense was to tell her that she would’ve looked much better if she exercised her legs a bit. The girl went ballistic and started screaming about sexual harassment. While in no way have I condoned the comment the guy made, I still asked the girl as to why she wouldn’t put more clothes on her body. It only makes sense to me that if you are not comfortable at people looking at your body, then maybe you should cover it up. She said that those were clothes she was comfortable in and she was not going to change the way she dressed because of one jerk. I would’ve seen the logic of it had she not complained to me on a regular basis about people making jokes and commenting on her looks. (When another guy – in my presence - paid her a very sexually explicit compliment only a few months later, she didn’t complain. I guess it didn’t constitute sexual harassment if her looks weren’t mocked or criticized.)

Where am I going with this? I am not sure, but I need to conclude. I am not saying that all Russian women dress like this. Actually, most of them dress just fine and not much different from their current compatriots. But the ones who stand out like a sore thumb make all the rest look bad. Russian girls are often stereotyped as easy and promiscuous, and I suspect that the way some Russian women dress has a lot to do with it. (According to my friend who lives in Austria, it’s the same story there. If you see someone in uber mini there, 95% of the time she’s Russian. And it embarrasses the heck out of all the other Russians because many Austrians also developed stereotypes about Russians.) I am not suggesting that everyone should emulate my old lady frumpy style. But how about some common sense: if you don’t want to be treated like a cheap whore, don’t dress like one?

Friday, August 8, 2008

I hope it's not a dream.

I know I am at work and should be working, not posting on my blog. But I just had to share. Suburban Correspondent left 5 (that's FIVE!!!) comments on my little blog. She's one of the funniest people on the Blogosphere and mylatest addiction. I am speechless and hyperventilating. First she emailed me a couple of weeks ago and now REAL LIFE COMMENTS! OMG!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Communication Breakdown

I was doing my shopping today and called SubHub from the store with an inquiry. I remembered that a couple of years ago he greatly enjoyed cold borsch at someone else's house. So I called and asked him whether he wants cold borsch. SubHub said a very enthusiastic, "Yes!!!" Then I called back a few minutes later to ask him how many jars I should get. He didn't understand and said we were having a bad connection. I had to repeat my question probably five times until it hit, "Oh, you are going to buy it..." Ha ha ha! He thought I was going to make it! My poor, naive man was a bit crushed by the news. To quote Suburban Correspondent, "I hate to see a grown man cry like that".

Another communication breakdown happened at work. I at the water cooler when one of my co-workers also came into the kitchen for a refill. He asked me, "What's going on? You are smiling." Apparently I always carry a sour lemon expression on my face. My co-worker claimed it was a misunderstanding. Yeah, right. Tell it to HR, buddy... I am filing a complaint.

The kids are not asleep yet and are being really cute. But I can't smile back at them. I have a reputation to maintain...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A cautinary tale

We took the kids to the Bronx Zoo today. Once again, the Zoo turned them down citing administration's fear for the welfare of the animals. Just kidding. It seemed like a good opportunity to go somewhere since SubHub is on vacation and for August, today's weather was rather mild. We made good time on the way there, about 45 minutes. However, a lot of people felt the same way about today's weather, so finding parking took about another 15 minutes. We should've tried parking on the street, and not at the Zoo. I didn't take any real food on purpose, deciding that it was much preferable for everyone to be a bit hungry than to end up with food poisoning.

So on the way back everyone was tired, myself included. I set up our GPS to "home" and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I saw something that I totally didn't expect: IKEA, Elizabeth and a worried SubHub. He asked me if I was sure that we were going in the right direction. I said I was. To be double sure, I reset GPS to "home" again and wrote off the entire experience to weirdness of the device. Sometimes it tends to give strange directions, like last week-end when we went to check out new IKEA in Brooklyn, when on the way home the device kept on sending us to New Jersey.

When we were asked to take Garden State Parkway, I lost all trust in the device. We were going further and further from home. I looked at the GPS again, and all of a sudden I had a light bulb moment. SubHub had lent our GPS to his friend a few weeks ago. What if - the thought was almost unthinkable to me - his friend changed out "home" setting. Lo and behold, I was right. We were ten minutes away from out new "home" in Mahwah, New Jersey.

SubHub was pretty ticked off. It meant that he was going to be late for the meeting with - ironically - that same friend who took liberties with out homing device. Somehow the whole thing ended up being my fault. Not his friend's, who changed out default settings. Not SubHub's, who all of a sudden took liking to precisely following directions (I guess as long as they don't come from the wife or the manual, but from electric device, why doubt them?). But mine. Because I didn't check. Whatever. Two minutes later everyone calmed down, and turned out that the friend mentioned something about changing destinations to SubHub. Once again, it never occurred to SubHub that the default settings would be changed (but it was supposed to occur to me).

So the several lessons of the story are as follows:

1. Never skimp on snacks, especially if the real food was not served on time. I thought I went a little overboard, spending $25 or so, but we pretty much went through everything.

2. Having plenty of hydration is important!

3. Put on a diaper on your toilet trained toddler. You'll thank yourself later, especially if #2 applied.

4. If you are a wife, be prepared to take the fall for everything, including bad weather and other acts of friends and G-d.

5. THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OF ALL. If you lend someone your GPS (or any other electronic device), make sure that your default settings are still intact. Or you might end up living in Mahwah, NJ for the rest of your life.

Case of mistaken identity

I never claimed to be an artist. I am an accountant. Ask me to calculate a 15% tip, and I can do it in my head. I am a numbers person, down to earth, and I am fine with it. I just didn't know I was THAT bad at drawing.

Last week I was playing with DS, drawing little pictures at his request. We drew balls, birds, trees and even a dog. And he was quite happy with outcomes, by the way. Then he asked me to draw a cat. As I was almost done with the drawing, DD came over and asked, "Mommy, is that a crocodile?"

Change of career? I think not...