Petersburg in 1988, moved to New York when I was five, and then moved back into a different crumbling communal building in St.
a photo I received in an email purportedly from ‘Olga’ in Russia.
The email said that she had corresponded with me in the past and now she wanted to re-connect…
But what I mistook for a smile was actually a grimace. But then Anton hugged me, heat and sweat rising from his torso, his arms wrapped around me in a promise of eternal protection, inhaling me in that way men do to show they’re grateful that you’re safe.
And in that strange and romantic moment I thought, “One day I’m going to put this in a story to explain my convoluted relationship with Russian men.”I should preface this story by saying that I am Russian.
But I’m not going to lie: Part of me was turned on.Here was a guy protecting my honor, placing himself into bodily harm on my behalf.Only a few minutes ago, we’d been standing together drinking beer, when the other guy made the dubious and drunken decision to put his arm around me.What happened next was awful, confusing, and I wanted it to stop.
It was what I had dreamt of all those years when I read of dueling pistols and men of great action and few words. ”Suddenly, I wished my women’s studies professor from Sarah Lawrence were there.
After the punching finally stopped, Anton walked up to me shirtless and sweaty, caked with blood and dirt, his arms outstretched in an unmistakable gesture of victory. Pistols at dawn seemed a ludicrous symbol of male egotism, and I longed for men in tailored suits, who solved arguments with Woody Allen jokes and New Yorker references.