Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Trying to blend in ...

My mom discovered recently, in looking through family trees on both sides, that my brother and I are actually, percentage-wise, mostly Russian. It's something like 40%, but still the largest piece of our ethnic pie chart. So, I'm wondering why it is that I don't have this natural, can't-get-it-out-of-my-blood urge to wear stilettos every second of every day. I know every time I'm in Russia, which okay has only been twice, I can't seem to stop rambling about these damn shoes, but it is really awe-inspiring. There are almost as many shoe stores in Russia as there are dry cleaners in west hollywood -- now that's scary!

I allowed myself to sleep in this morning, which was the first time in I don't even know how long. Then I decided to have a day on the town, getting lost and mixing in; that is actually my favorite thing to do when I travel. For the most part, people keep assuming I'm local. They speak to me in Russian, and stare me right in the face, the way they do each other. When they stare down at obvious foreigners, which I've also seem them do, it tends to be more of a look that says "get out of here," versus the "who do you think you are?" facial chatter, which I think can be attributed to the fierce body image competition. No wonder west hollywood, which is essentially the apex of LA glitz and glam, used to be, and kinda still is, the Russian burrough.

I had decided to investigate the two pillars of Russian cultural existence today ... shoes and makeup. As I walked down Nevsky Prospekt, the main drag, I had a pseudo Pretty Woman moment when i entered a fancy shoe store. The store attendant, with her hair tightly pulled back in a pony tail, first greeted me with a smile and about two sentences of welcome. From the waist up, I think I am completely passable. I even dried my hair today, ha ha. But she took one look at my flip flops, and IMMEDIATELY stopped talking to me, as her face turned to the "get out of here look," maybe second in popularity only to Zoolander's blue steel. What can I say. I may be forty percent, but I just can't seem to put my midriff on display or decide that it's a good idea to walk around cobblestone streets all day in four inch heels. No wonder I'm an American mutt. There are some things lost through centuries of mixing bloodlines.

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