Soon we will give equal time to uncovering secret American tourists in St Petersburg, but now we give a good humored look at 25 obvious characteristics of my Russian brothers and sisters.
Spot your very own Russian spy!
There's a story that an Englishwoman spy in Nazi Germany was betrayed by her absentmindedness and added milk before her tea was poured. Well, there are some telltale indicators that our American patriot readers can use to discover Russian spies. Use this List of 25 carefully and you will be a hero on American television.
Here are some tips from my nine years of life in St Petersburg...
1. refuses to wear shoes inside his home...must put slippers on in the hallway. In St Petersburg we have sandy soil, dirt and grime, and no Russian would every track this mess inside his home!
2. sunbathes standing up and facing the sun... Also sometimes lying down if possible.
3. will not stand or sit near a draft, and is likely to wear a scarf when out... much like a Parisian or Dutchman... Our climate can be severe, and it seems very easy to get sick in Petersburg unless you are cautious.
4. turns on the hot water and burns his hands... After my nine years here I still get mixed up about hot water on the right, cold on the left.
5. pinches his earlobe after touching something hot to reduce the pain. This custom, that seems to work, is only found in parts of Russia.
6. combs his hair with a little pocket comb, even if his hair is just 2 cm long.
7. gives a list of good wishes at the end of a long phone conversation, especially when calling on your birthday... A pleasant gentility or floweriness that you will never hear in America.
8. is eager to join a toast for anybody or any holiday! Clinks glasses, except when toasting the dead.
9. can't fill out a bank check. Russians have never used checks, but pay now with small machines in the markets or by credit card.
10. will not look over his restaurant check, certainly not question it... for he doesn't want to look cheap. Kopecks are left when he takes change at the supermarket.
11. keeps a serious face in public... never smiles for nothing. A Russian would rather frown than smile. To put a good face on bad emotion is dishonest.
12. will not hold the door for anyone, especially strangers. Hold a door for him in the supermarket and he will let the door slam in the next person's face.
13. enjoys big meals at crowded small tables that go on for hours. There was a lot of family resistence when I wanted to add a leaf to our table at the dacha.
14. expects music concerts to last for three hours on television, even longer on New Year's.
15. refuses to dress sloppily, as this is a bad reflection on who he feels he is to the world. He is careful of his accurate dress, shaves daily... some men shaving the top of their heads.
16. if pressed will admit to no appetite at noon. The Russian big meal is between 1 and 3 PM.
17. washes his hands right before eating.
18. holds his bread in his left hand, or leans it against the left side of his plate on the table cloth.
19. invariably says Spaceeba... thank you... at the end of a meal.
20. thinks nothing of bumping into people in public, apologizes rarely. The older women, babuskas, use shopping carts as lethal weapons.
21. doesn't know how to joke with strangers, thinks it's offensive.
22. cannot give a living person an even number of flowers.
23. on the street in 2000 had a bottle of beer in his right hand, and a cigarette in his left. In 2009 that man has a bottle of beer in his right hand, a cell phone in his left, and a cigarette hanging from his mouth. This is progress!? Now public drinking is discouraged.
24. is quick to shake hands, but not over a fence or doorway.
25. first says no... then after two or three invites... says yes, and accept your hospitality.
Well, do you agree with my list? Let me know, and maybe you could help with some clues that suggest someone is American... which we can include next time!
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