10 August, 2009

The Russia Diaries: 10 August - That Evening

"His name is Emmanuelle..." he chews on the name like a sour taste. He wets and purses his mouth, scrunches his shoulders,

The family is meeting this Emmanuelle for the first time tonight, and it is endearing to see Vadim squirm, shift and mope about his daughter's Milanese boyfriend who is not-so-secretly living with his 21-ear-old daughter.

"Everyone is keeping it a secret from me," he mopes "but I know they are living together. I know and they know I know and... ugh, I don't know..." He shifts in the driver's seat, face contorted in a kind of scowl. "Also," he says, "his name... ugh. It is the name of a certain film that came to Russia in the 70's... a sort of..." he is uncertain as to how to proceed with me, I am, after all, a completely new female, in the back of his American vehicle. "a sort of," he searches, "soft, erotic film." There. He said it. Emmanuelle, famed French softcore erotic movie. Emmanuelle as in the word metonymic with erotic film. Yes. EMMANUELLE. The name of his daughter's boyfriend. Wonderful.

And in this vain, it is clear that in Vadim's mind, no one has ever had better sex than the sex his 21-year-old-daughter is having with Emmanuelle in his head. In Vadim's imagination, the pair of them are enacting the types of horrific things one only ever sees on the covers of books with titles like A Savage Hunger, or, Lady Jane and the Elusive Tome. Emmanuelle must be a tan, strapping Italian over 6-feet tall, with billowing, greasy hair and an oily chest. His long, elegant, tapered, masculine fingers with the well-trimmed perfectly clean nails continued on their journey down the buttons of his daughter's perfectly-tailored Milanese bodice... ARGH!

He shudders. The car has been very quiet. Feathers ruffled, Vadim's forehead is crumpled into terrible creases. He is a father suitably skeptical.

* * *

Emmanuelle, it turns out, is not in fact the greasy swaggering sex offender he has been feared to be, but was, in fact, a child. A cherubic puppy-eyed, golden curly haired child of about 20 with an eager face keen to please, and an irritatingly high level of innate personal Milanese style that draped on him awkwardly-- knight's armor too large upon the apprentice.

Nastia was clearly in charge, telling him (in what I would quickly learn was the extraordinarily direct Russian manner) where to stand, sit, what to eat, drink, when to speak and at what volume, and managing somehow to avoid any of these directions to come across as truly domineering. In this particular instance, it was evident that her high-handedness was actually considered helpful to what was clearly, (we could see it now!) a rather overwhelmed and frightened Emmanuelle! Yes, upon closer inspection it was actually very sweet. Nastia was being the classic Russian wife. And everyone was fine with that.

Everyone, that is, except Vadim.

Vadim was loathe to see his daughter so grown up and domesticated. His baby,his girl, his teenager who once "drank coca-cola and coca-cola only by the bucket" had now requested a juicer. She drank fresh juice. Everyday. "In Italy they drink juice..." Vadim explains with a glower. Something about the juice was specifically hurtful. Not the fashion school or fluent Italian or native boyfriend; no.

The juice had done Vadim in.

When exactly did she grow up?


  1. Is Vadim real? He seems too amazing to be real.

  2. he is REAL!! He was my host in Moscow. These are photos of the real, living, breathing, Vadim.

  3. Vadim!!!!!!

  4. This made me laugh so much - how delightful!



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