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Russia January 24, 2008
Russian Facial Expressions

The Russian male may have the most consistent series of facial expressions of all human tribes. Not only does the range of emotion vary remarkably little as one travels from west to east across the species' range, but the physical manifestaton of each emotion remains unchanged. This phenomenon, while often seen in individual human clans, is unique to the Russian tribe.

More interesting still is that the knowledge appears to be genetically inherited. Take, for example, Alexander Surin, who was separated from his tribe as an infant and by the age of 14 had developed the full facial vocabulary of an adult Russian male, in spite of being reared in Fort Collins, CO.

Concepts such as "sameness" -- when one man's expression for a given emotion matches another -- are thus thought to result from the peculiarities of the Russian environment, which has driven males into such intimate contact for so long that the traits have actually etched themselves into Russian genes. The remarkable consistency with which Russian males across this broad country and beyond display this "sameness" belies any other explanation.

Below is a catalogue of the most common expressions used by Russian males. While this guide was first conceived of as a pedagogical tool for newcomers, the authors hope that it will serve as a handy reference point for both novice and veteran Russia Watchers alike. The organization of the guide is simple: each emotion is represented by a photo and is followed by a brief physical description in parenthesis. The guide then lists some of the most likely causes of the said emotion, as well as the behavior that can be expected from a specimen in this emotional state.


(slightly upturned smile; nostril flare; cheeks raised; slightly pinched brow) Probable causes: Unopened bottle of vodka in freezer; found obscure banya two hours drive from home that charges R40/hr less than banya previously thought to be cheapest; more than 9 and less than 15 drinks; staying in sanatorium in podmoskoviya. Behavior: Rapid speech and movements; repeated sentimental odes to the incorruptible qualities of true "friendship;" desire for one-on-one conversations.

Intellectually Engaged

(slightly downturned smile; no nostril flare; cheeks relaxed; slightly pinched brow) Probable causes: American sits in his gypsy cab; more than 2 and less than 5 drinks. Behavior: Discussion of geo-political realities centered around the false assumption that Russia is on equal footing with the West; quoting Pushkin incompletely and inaccurately; attempting to find way to bypass traffic by driving down maze of one-way streets.

Metaphysical Enlightenment

(slightly upturned smile; no nostril flare; cheeks relaxed; brow dropped) Probable causes: In a banya; more than 4 and less than 9 drinks. Behavior: Slightly inarticulate insistence that Russian language is "richer" than any other; repeated unsolicited physical contact with males; introduction of various New Age ideas vaguely reminiscent of the Force.


(slightly downturned smile; no nostril flare; cheeks relaxed; brow dropped) Probable causes: Vodka finished during either Joy or Metaphysical Enlightenment; Accidentally ran over pedestrian during Desire; mother/wife not available to cook. Behavior: Endless talk about the "enigmatic Russian soul;" reminiscing about childhood; swearing off drinking.


(slightly upturned smile; nostril flare; cheeks raised; brow dropped) Probable causes: More than 14 drinks within the presence of another being; anything free. Behavior: Spitting while saying something incomprehensible; murder; exerts extreme pressure to do some ill-advised activity (drive, call whores, get naked); sudden loss of consciousness.


(slightly downturned smile; no nostril flare; cheeks relaxed; brow dropped) Probable causes: First drink of the day after Metaphysical Enlightenment; no blood on clothing or visible scars after last night's Desire; enough money to avoid Boredom; Friday afternoon. Behavior: Frequent SMSing; deep breathing; repeated stretching.


(slightly downturned smile; nostril flare; cheeks relaxed; brow dropped) Probable causes: More than 50 miles outside of Moscow; no prospects of drinking today; with wife/mother; at work. Behavior: Passive; chain-smoking.

Physical Suffering

(slightly upturned smile; nostril flare; cheeks raised; slightly pinched brow) Probable causes: Morning after Desire; leg just blown off by landmine; mother/wife is watching Mexican soaps. Behavior: Silence; between 3 and 30 drinks; drinking kefir.

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