Conversations from this weekend:
Russian waiter #1: Lately, the popular way to stay in America has been through same-sex marriage.
Me: Oh, that’s brilliant! Since Russia has a very anti-gay reputation right now, of course it makes sense that people would try stay here, and the legitimacy of the marriage is less likely to be questioned.
Russian waiter #1: But it’s just viscerally disgusting to me, you know. I mean, here, I’m almost used to it, but to see it back home, it’s perverted and unnatural.
Russian waiter #2: No, no, in large cities like Moscow, Russia doesn’t really have problems with race anymore. There’s foreign students at the universities. I know several and they do fine.
Me: Oh, really? Because I know physical altercation is unlikely, especially in tourist areas, but in the more residential areas and if you meet someone drunk…
Russian waiter #2: Well, if you come across a drunk late at night, maybe. But nowadays, even among the drunk idiots there’ll be someone more enlightened who’ll say, “hey, leave the monkey be.”
Me: Yeah, see… if you’re used to not being called a monkey, that alone is pretty unpleasant…
Russian waiter #2: What, I’ve said “monkey” before. And it’s not like I have any problem with blacks, it’s just if you say anything else, people will say, “what’s with you, why are you defending the animal” and you have to choose the words that will be best received in the situation.
Me: Well, yes… but that’s not exactly making the best case.