Friday, February 6, 2009

True Stories

Tanya has a gift for story telling and enough stories to make it worthwhile.

Her Aunt Anna, in Soviet times, worked in a textile factory with 5000 other people and took the bus to and from work each day. It cost 5 rubles for the bus and it was absolutely packed. The day before payday, she had only three rubles in her pocket after she got on the bus and was afraid someone would take them from her in the crush.* After she got on the bus, she put her hand in her pocket and firmly clenched her three rubles. She felt a man’s hand slide into her pocket trying to unclench her fist. It was so crowded she couldn’t move but just hung on. As she got off the man kicked her in the rear end but she still had her three rubles firmly clenched in her fist. She went home crying and sobbed the whole story to her husband. Her husband listened quietly then told her to check her coat pocket. There were her three rubles. She had put her hand in the man’s pocket and taken his three rubles. Her husband thought she should do this more often. As a loving husband, he added she likely needed the kick in the rear and should have had a smack upside the head too.

Again in Soviet times, her uncle, married to her Aunt Vera, worked on a construction site. One morning one of the men disappeared into the tall grass for his constitutional, followed unbeknownst to him, by Tanya's uncle with a long handled shovel. The extended shovel caught the deposit, leaving no trace once it was withdrawn. The poor man was absolutely mystified when he stood up. He stripped to the skin and examined each piece of clothing separately and carefully. He spent the rest of the day puzzled and worried. Tanya's uncle let him in on the joke on the way home, where witnesses could prevent him from being killed.

Tanya has a good friend in Dnipropetrovsk whom we call Small Tanya. She is short, plump, an incorrigible flirt, with endless energy and a chest like a sack of barley. Small Tanya is nanny to two grandkids and chief cook and bottle washer for her daughter and son in law, who live in the biggest, most opulent house I have ever been in. Son-in-law owns a furniture factory and daughter manages retail. Small Tanya's 13 year old grandson is her friend and confidant. This is the same grandson who assured an admirer on an Egyptian beach that his grandmother's breasts were "real, no silicone".

Anyhow, one of Small Tanya's girlfriends had writen her an email sobbing her heart out because her lover had left her and she was broken hearted and what would she do, etc. etc. Grandson was worried that his Babushka had not answered.

She has emailed you twice, you must answer.
I know, but I have no time.
Then I will answer for you.
OK, but I want to read it before you send it.

So he hammered out an email in his grandmother's name, full of comfort, telling her friend not to cry, she was young and beautiful and there would be many more men in her life and that her real need was to look after her own health. Small Tanya approved and off it went.

The kid has a future as a columnist.

* I lost my wallet in the morning rush hour crush on the Kyiv Metro last year when LynnieC came to visit, prompting her to exclaim, "Dad, you are just blog fodder". Inspiration!!


  1. That little boy is so sweet. I love him. He can email me any time.

  2. Ya! I want supportive emails from a 13 year old Ukrainian boy!


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