Yesterday I soloed at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations on a dull subject. But the organizers asked me to heat things up. They really insisted. They were so insistent that I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to heat things up. I remembered a story from the 2000s. About sex, of course.
As indicated in the prelude, we’re talking here of youth, a time of lonely residence in the cultural capital оf Russia, St. Petersburg. Both these factors left me with no other option, I was forced to live a dissolute lifestyle. Sometimes I would resort to one-night cinema-sex. You invite a young lady home to watch a documentary film, and then hope for the best. (Off-topic, I remember a woman I know complaining about a new suitor: “He invited me home to watch a film, and then he started watching a film, the bastard.”)
So, another trip to the box office, which is to say an invitation to take a walk, with cinematic “home entertainment” to follow. The most difficult thing for a decent person, when they’re attempting to do something indecent on a first date, is to invite the date round in such a way as to ensure that the decent girl’s conscience remains unblemished, even though she is in fact planning on behaving in much the same way as you are. This requires performances worthy of Stanislavsky that have to be played with total commitment. So, we’re walking in the park and I’m looking for the just the right tone for my key proposal, when all of a sudden the girl proves faster than me on the draw.
“It’s cold, let’s go back to mine and watch a film, I’ve bought some new DVDs.”
I found myself wanting to repeat those words I’d heard so often — “all right, but just a film and then I’ll go home” — but I managed to stop myself. I simply mumbled, lazily, “What are we going to watch?”
“Tom and Jerry.”
We get back to hers. She hasn’t even got a television. I start to vaguely suspect that something’s not quite right. It was at this point that I was overcome by curiosity and a thirst for truth. I can’t quite remember how I put it, but the general idea was: “What’s brought about such a direct interest in my persona.”
“You were recommended.”
At the time, an aggressive commercial was in heavy rotation on television: “Recommended by the best dog breeders.” I felt like I was a poodle.
But that wasn’t the worst thing. Like a good little pioneer cub scout, I started worrying about whether I would justify the expectations that were being put on me. I didn’t know who’d recommended me, but that condition that’s so unpleasant for a man, that “I mustn’t make a fool of myself”, took over from somewhere deep inside, that place where lusty insects had only just been fluttering about. And with each passing minute the butterflies became fewer, and the fear became greater.
Another off-topic. In my childhood, like everyone else here in Russia, from time to time I would stand on a stool and read poems. I wasn’t too bad, until Mom said one time: “We’re going to have guests, you’ll have to really try this time.” The actor immediately forgot his lines, broke down into tears right on the stage, and the tickets had to be returned to the audience. In sorrow and in horror, I climbed under the festive table, where Dad was opening up a bottle of champagne in order to stop it hitting any of the guests. He hit me right in my quietly sobbing bottom. I feel sorry for myself to this day, and it was all because my success had been declared in advance.
Let’s put it this way. I did a better job of reading the poems on that occasion than I did performing as a lover in the above-mentioned circumstances.
The bridge wouldn’t go all the way up, it kept wanting to come back down before it was meant to, and eventually it collapsed entirely. All attempts at a repeat bridge-lifting were something of a flop. In a situation like this, the only thing you can do is make a joke of it, and thankfully that’s something that I can do. I was on fire. The young lady was giggling away. A couple of hours of masterful stand-up somehow managed to save the situation. Eventually I started to get ready to go home, and as I was leaving I apologized:
“I’m sorry I didn’t live up to the recommendation.”
“On the contrary, you lived up to it 100 percent.”
I went as red as a radiologist’s light bulb.
“What do you mean?”
“They said the sex would be average, but a lot of fun, and I’ve been miserable recently.”
I felt like Dad had just fired another champagne cork at my backside.
The only thing I could think about was the multi-layered meaning of the term “average sex.”
At home, I watched films all through the night.
Although, in fact, I made that girl happy. You never know what people really want from you and what do they love you for.