Saturday, March 15, 2008

You did WHAT in the Army? Part 2

Say, you’re not going to believe this, but last week I wrote about you in my blog and even posted your picture!

What a coincidence that for the second time in a month, I had the same taxi driver, Army Dancer.

I offered him my blog address but he was mildly interested, if at all. I was certainly more excited about this second encounter than he was. And that’s because of you, my dear blog readers: I figured you might have follow-up questions for this interesting fellow. I had at least five questions, myself, and began to lob them in his direction up there in the driver’s seat.

What is your name, if I may ask?


Yes of course. Please add Nickolai to that earlier list of names typical of Russian males. As I recall, Sergey and Zhenya and Volodya and a few others I listed in earlier but never thought of Nickolai.

You mentioned being in a dance ensemble. . .

I had pictured 5 or 6 Cossack dancers, all men, lined up across the stage doing that squat-and-kick-Russian-dance move, whatever it’s called. Looks like murder on the knees.

. . . So, how many were with you in the ensemble?


Oh my, that's way more than five. Let’s see, that’s 96 Russian soldiers dancing around on a stage in Afghanistan instead of fighting the war there? Obviously I have no understanding of local military philosophy.

All men, right?

No, of course not. There were women too.

Did you do Cossack dances?

Of course. We did all kinds -- modern, classic, Cossack. All kinds.

I didn’t ask about ballet or tap. Or square dancing or Texas line dancing.

Our conversation was a bit lop-sided with me doing most of the yakking. But I was determined to move it right along. After all, I figure that language practice is part of the taxi service. So I asked how the previous day’s holiday, The Eighth of March, had gone at his house. Did he buy flowers for the women-folk in his family?

Sure, flowers of course.

No surprise there.

I sensed a chance to editorialize.

You know, it seems a bit odd to me that 8th of March is so much bigger a holiday than The 23rd of February (a Men’s Day of sorts). It’s like 25 times bigger a deal. I think that 23rd of February needs to be more important.

I was a teensy bit proud of myself with my concern for gender equity and all. Chalk it to having three brothers.

Nickolai’s radio was squawking, his dispatcher calling about a ride waiting over at the Intourist.

That’s right he said, the 8th of March is a much bigger holiday.

That doesn’t offend you?

No of course not. Women need more attention.

I extricated myself from the back of the vehicle, gave him 100 rubles and stood there on the muddy street in front of the church building as he roared off to the Intourist.

That struck me. Women need more attention. He said it so matter-of-factly.

A bit ironic, a man who has answered many a curtain call as a professional dancer, performed for applause in a previous life. Quite different from driving taxi. Attention doesn’t seem particularly important to him these days. He was more interested in hurrying to his next customer than reading about himself in a blog.

Say Nickolai, if you dig around the internet and find this blog, let me make a deal with you. Next time we cross paths, if you offer to do that murder-on-the-knees Russian dance move, I’ll give leave you five US dollars. Surely I can find some somewhere. Goodness, I’ll go way beyond that with a photo and another blog post about you. But you’ve got to bring it up. Deal? Da or nyet?

No comments: