Monday, February 22, 2016

from Russia with love...

(image via
Now that I no longer have my nose buried in books, I decided it would be a good idea to draw up at to-do-list for 2016. To keep me motivated and to give me some sense of direction, you understand. The list includes things like 1) find more freelance work 2) stop drinking copious amounts of coffee 3) get into shape (I’m aiming for something less “boxy”) 4) swear less, and, 5) rule the world. I can’t say that it’s been going swimmingly so far as what I’ve only accomplished is perfecting imaginary arguments (it must be a hormonal thing) and talking more than usual to the dogs.

I must confess, there is another guilty pleasure that’s been keeping me from my to-do-list. You see BK and I decided to switch off the DSTV as we felt that the “kids” were spending too much time in front of the box and also that it was a waste of money. So, we switched to Netflix, which was not the smartest move because instead of watching ten minutes of sport or E-TV, we now waste anything from two to ten hours watching old movies, series, or a several documentaries.

Anyway, I was recently “sucked in” (to be fair, the dogs also wanted to watch it) by a documentary titled “Love Me”, which delves into the world of Mail-order-Brides. The guys they featured were so utterly convinced that they would find “everlasting love” with a Ukrainian woman that I thought it would be interesting to investigate buying a bride for myself (hashtag NoMoreCookingForMe).

The website I visited got me interested at the get-go, as it promised “hundreds of friendly, exciting foreign girls”. On reading the word “exciting” I was instantly relieved that I, myself, was not actually applying to be such a bride because I’m not sure that I’m “exciting” enough (note to self: google “how to be more exciting”).

I was even more relieved that I wasn’t a Russian-bride-to-be when I saw that applicants were obliged to state their vital statistics, including weight, and that most of them weigh around 54kgs. I fear it would be at this point that I wouldn’t make the cut. Vital statistics also had to include height as well as hair and eye colour. This, I felt, was a reasonable request because as you know, all long-lasting marriages are based on height and the colour of your hair and eyes.

Another stumbling block for me would be that applicants have to state their drinking and smoking status. I’m afraid that I only found profiles either stating: Drinker: No, or, Drinker: Social. Disappointingly, no profiles stated: Drinker: Like a sailor; or, Drinker: Is this a trick question?

Despite the fact that I felt intimately connected to most of the lovely ladies through their revealing profile pictures (yes, if I can see your underboob I think that makes us pretty close, eh?) I did want to extend my investigations beyond superficial vital statistics. I wanted to know not only about who these women were, but also about what they looked for in a “husband”.

I should start by saying that I noticed a difference in criteria depending on which region the woman came from and for this reason and for ease of reference (after all, this is no cattle show) I will sometimes quote in terms of “Miss Minsk” or “Miss Thailand”. 

I noticed that most of the women had pretty modest criteria when it came to what they were looking for in a man. Words like “serious, kind and sincere” came up a lot, which made me wonder whether buffoonery and insincerity are issues with Russian and Ukrainian men? (I’ve always thought that “Funny Russian” was an oxymoron?)

Some women were more demanding, with one even insisting that her life-partner be “not greedy and not very tall”. Another women (I feel she’s a kindred spirit) felt that “someone who can appreciate a good song” was the deal-maker.

Given that most women listed “health” and “fitness” as hobbies (and at 54kgs who am I to argue) it came as no surprise that many wanted a man who was “active enough” (enough?) or “neat, easy-going, sunny…who loves sports”.

Miss Barranquilla felt that a “well-educated and persistent man” (horror of horrors) would be the ideal match but Miss Moscow put a cap on happiness, insisting that she would “like to meet a kind and sincere man to share my life with, to support each other in joy and sorrow and have warm relations and happy family. Up to 65”. What happens after they turn 65? Murder She Wrote?

One self-confessed “nature lover” was simultaneously optimistic and realistic when she wrote that she “admires animals and nature” and wishes she “could find a life partner here and start a happy family with him the sooner the better”. This, naturally, conjured up images of a scantily clad Russian beauty frolicking through the undergrowth, stumbling upon an “animal”, bringing him home and wedding him. What can I say, hope is a wonderful thing.

Miss Thai was by far the least demanding and simpy asked for a “nice ordinary man who wants me and only me….if that is not too much to ask.

But getting the man of their dreams is no easy task. These ladies have to put their best foot forward and this involves a measure of self-promotion. I found the way that they described themselves most compelling, and it would be no exaggeration to say that now more than ever, I want my own Mail-order-Bride.

After all, who could resist Miss Zaporozhyte who claims that “just to be a woman is her soul calling” and that she “likes to study because knowledge is useful sometimes”? Or Miss Kherson who wants to “feel myself weak and at the same time the most beloved”? Miss Minsk is clearly my kind of gal - hardworking and not looking for a "sugar daddy”, she also promises to “always give back twice more” which to me sounds like a very solid investment. And let’s not forget about Miss China who professes that “docile is her communicating principle”.

It must be said that I’d steer clear of Miss Spain. She sounds a little tricky. Describing herself as “a combination of outer beauty and inner beauty” she also claims to be “humble”. Mmm.

An added bonus is that you can search for your life-partner using a Zodiac sign or Chinese horoscope filter. This to me is the clincher and again, a most reliable way to find a life-partner.

It came as no surprise but with some disappointment to find that Mail-order-Grooms isn’t a thing. I found only one website dedicated to Mail-order-Husbands and on reading the profiles, I realised it had to be a spoof and the profiles had me cluching my stomach in mirth.

Here are my favourite excerpts:

Mr Missouri: I’m looking for a girl named “Julie”.. it’s just easier that way. I got this “Julie” tattoo last year, and would prefer to not deal with it. or if you want to change your name that’s cool.

Mr China: Smile for you! Please let me know a reasonable target budget your can afford. I think I can be the husband solution to meet your request. Please let me know what price must beat.

Mr Romania: I am looking for someone who can hold my attention, keep up with me, and who knows how to dress a wound. I am attracted to a girl with a job and a car. preferably a Camaro. I like to meet big american girl.

Mr Lebanon: (perhaps a good match for Miss Spain?) It’s actually quite ridiculous that I’m here. I do extremely well for myself – meeting ladies everywhere I go. Since I don’t really need this, you might not hear back from me, but I do appreciate all your notes.

Mr USA: I will be turning 18 in September. Soon I will be legal and we can marry. My parents are kicking me out after December and I’d like to meet a woman with money so we can have fun. I like women between 18-45, but would consider older if we don’t have to touch a lot.

So chaps, if you’re looking for a Mail-order-wife that looks like a supermodel you will find her – but so will all of those other blokes out there. And gals, if you’re looking for an instant husband, well, good luck with that.

Monday, February 8, 2016

mambo number 5...

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Shoowee. It’s already February twenty bloody sixteen. Despite the economic doomsayers, I think it’s going to be a good year. Well, for me at least, because I finally graduated. Yup, that’s right, the long haul is over and a quarter of a century after everyone else my age got their degree, I got mine (not exactly a trailblazer eh?) What can I say about studying. For one, it’s made me a bigger person. No but seriously, I don’t know how other students manage to stay slim (I suspect a diet of Ritalin and vodka mostly). As for me, all that sitting around reading and reading and reading (and vodka) has left me with a physique that very much resembles an onion; wide and bulbous with a tiny cocktail onion for a head. I now officially have a body that’s “made for writing”.

Whilst trying to find the funny, bloggable side to this dilemma (I couldn’t, it’s just not funny), I remembered that I had committed to writing a series of embarrassing moments. Oh the wealth of stories to choose from. I could write about the time I told the actual man who invented luminous zinc that I thought it was “ridiculous” (how was I to know that it was him who invented it?) Or, I could write about the time that I told an old family friend that I thought the title of  “Honourable” was a big fat wank and that the “British gentry should just get over themselves”, only to later find out (when he kindly wrote out his home-made Van der Hum recipe for me on his personalised stationery) that he himself was in fact, a “Honourable”. (Oh to have the super-power of being able to go back in time.)

My story for today, however, involves an injury, a bit of whiskey, and Mambo Number 5.

When I was still a rep for a fabric company, I had the chance to exhibit our fabrics at a  huge home-textile trade fair in Frankfurt. With a one year old toddler at home, most of my evenings pretty much consisted of reading nursery rhymes, sleeping and not sleeping. Needless to say, I was rather excited at the prospect of getting away for a few nights.

When I discovered that the opening night of the trade fair was a fancy dinner for all the exhibitors, I was pretty darn stoked. No cooking for me McGee, AND the chance to mingle with real, live adults. As if dinner “out” wasn’t exciting enough, I could barely contain myself when they introduced “someone special” who would be performing for us.

Enter Lou Bega, whom most of us generally know as the “guy who sings Mambo Number 5”. With a full belly and one to four whiskeys coursing through my veins, there was nothing I could do when Lou busted out with Mambo Number 5, but jump up and dance. I have vague recollections of trying to drag some of the other exhibitors onto the dance floor. They weren’t at all keen but I wasn’t going to let that hold me back. No sireee.

And so it was that I found myself spinning around to Mambo Number 5 in a feverish, rather desperate kind of way (as though the fun might suddenly end and I might be imminently summoned to “put the baby to sleep”, you understand). Safe in my anonymity, I unleashed my most daring dance steps. One of these dance steps – and to be quite specific about this, you will probably NOT see this move on a MTV video – involves doing a spin with one leg slightly bent and raised to the back. The leg position is called “attitude” and it is a very nice lifted-leg-spin move when done just right. When it is done wrong, and in a spinning motion, by a dancer wearing bulky boots, who might be a little unstable on her legs, it can be, well, a little violent.

I’m not sure what made me try this move. Perhaps it was the feeling of being “out on the town”. Perhaps it was whiskey-infused boldness. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was just paces away from the “guy who sings Mambo Number 5”. Anyhow, the poor woman who was dancing in my “radius of spin” wasn’t to know that she should probably stand back. After all, most of the other exhibitors were dancing in a very neat step-together-step-tap kind of way. It must’ve come as quite a surprise – coupled, I suspect, with some sharp pain – when the toe of my boot connected with her crotch.

As the impact broke my spin, the whole world slowed and the music stretched out like a LP record on slow-speed. I will never forget the look on the injured woman’s face; there were a million questions right there, like: Who is this crazy woman? Who let her in? Why is she dancing like that? Why does my groin hurt?

Whereas this incident might have heralded the end of the evening for most folk, I didn’t let it curtail my night. Nope, I carried on dancing like a person trying to wrestle off a straight-jacket (I may even have lost some items of clothing) and fell into bed in mess of  big hair, sweat and worn out caterpillar boots (note to self: investigate choice of footwear).

The next morning, I had vague recollections of the “foot-in-crotch” incident but figured that everyone else probably also had their own embarrassing injury story to tell. At the very least, I pinned my hopes on the fact that it had been pretty dark on the dance floor – dark enough that no-one would recognise me at the trade fair.

It came as a rude surprise then, when I walked past one of the exhibitor’s stands and overheard a man say “Da gegt das M├Ądchen, das wie ein Verr├╝ckter tanzte”. This translates roughly to: “There goes the girl who was dancing like a crazy person.

And for the rest of the trade fair I had to stay away from whiskey, music and Mambo Number 5.