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Unfiled April 22, 2004
 
There and Back Again
By Jake Rudnitsky Browse author Email
 
 

Nothing makes Moscow look better than spending nine months living in a northern Manhattan tenement with a bunch of Nigerians. Don't get me wrong; the Nigerian crew I hung out with was just about the only thing that kept me from slipping into an Underground Man-like trance. Without them I may easily have spent my days holding imaginary debates with that guy who accidentally jostled me and Greta Van Susteren on the subway. Whatever would've happened, it wouldn't've been pretty.

I integrated well, token white boy or not, but there was one way in which I couldn't assimilate. They were all attractive, tall and charismatic black dudes, while I was, and am, a short Jew with thinning hair. No amount of time spent at the gym or money spent on nice threads could change that. The Nigerians didn't judge me for it, but it meant I could never be a playa in Manhattan.

So here I am.

I'd never realized before how much I care about sex. But abstinence makes the unit grow fonder. Life in New York wasn't without its pleasures, but a life without fucking is not worth living. With the exception of a voluntary two month hiatus in Tynda, where I was so disgusted by people that my monastic life there appealed to me, I hadn't endured such an extended dry spell since high school. Over the last nine months in New York, I can count the number of partners I had on one hand. And I'm not proud of any of 'em. Partners, that is.

The closest thing I had to a success story was a Spanish diplomat, and even she comes with a massive asterisk attached. Really the only reason to count it as a success is that she was a diplomat, albeit an aging cokehead diplomat. But, notch in the bedpost aside, even she was trying to undermine me. As we were taking the cab back to her place, she lamented that she was stuck with me and not one of the Nigerians. "You know, I really don't like Jews usually," she said. "No, it's the mulattos that do it for me. Like your friend, I liked your friend."

Now, if I wasn't so sex-starved, or maybe even if I'd had cab fare for the long ride up to 200th street, I would've stopped the car right there, told the aging slut to suck my circumcised dick and slammed the door. Jews have pride, too, ya know. But as things stood with me, broken and into my third month of involuntary celibacy, I went back to her place and rode her for my people. Jews may be proud, but above all we're practical.

To understand the origins of my failure to adapt to America, I ought to explain my initial re-entry plans. Way back in March, I remember earnestly telling a former ex-pat friend that I'd had enough of Russia; the girls, the rock-n-roll lifestyle and the frequent courses

of Zithromax had all taken their toll. That conversation was not long after I arrived in New York for an extended detox session. Tynda was still fresh in my memory, and my urine, on the rare occasions when I could actually take a piss, contained enough chemicals to kill a mid-sized herd animal. My goals were simple: clean out, get a 9 to 5 job and a girlfriend who bought her own shoes, live where there's a good selection of ethnic food within walking distance. My friend, who had recently given notice at his corporate law office so he could return to Moscow and pursue a poorly articulated vision of Girls Gone Wild Russia, just sneered at me. He'd already bought his return ticket, and wanted to talk Russia. Clearly he had a better idea of what the future held for me than I did.

Some nine months later, I've finally crawled back to Moscow with a large credit card debt and no tangible evidence that this last year even happened except for a few patent applications for casino card games that I translated from Russian for a shady character. Meanwhile, the friend has written a novel and a screen play and lost count of how many girls he's had.


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