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Monday, August 23, 2010

ДѮЛ Зяч шщ

I took the Colombian to Coney Island this past weekend. She'd never been, and I wanted to check out the supposedly revived area. The last time I'd been there was when a film I wrote ("The Apartment"*) was in the Coney Island Film Festival a few years ago, but it was nighttime then and I could barely see past the homeless guy who was peeing near the entrance to the theater. Last Saturday, when I saw Coney Island in daylight for the first time in maybe twenty years I could only surmise that tales of its revival have been greatly exaggerated. The place is as skeevie as ever. We both agreed that we could wait at least another twenty years to go back, and that neither of us wanted to suffer the consequences of eating a Nathan's hot dog. So we headed elsewhere for dinner.

I suggested Lundy's, a famous seafood place not far from where I grew up in Sheepshead Bay. But at some point after I moved, Russia apparently annexed that part of Brooklyn. The Lundy's building is now home to a Russian gourmet food market with an outdoor cafe at which we decided to eat since unbeknownst to me and my non-internet having phone, Lundy's has been out of business since 2007.

The waitress greeted us with "Privet," and seemed a bit surprised that we weren't Russian - not shocking since the Colombian and I were probably the only non-Russians within a five block radius. The hostess was Russian, the cashiers were Russian, the customers were Russian, the Mexican busboys were Russian, the packaged food had backwards "R"s on its labels, and I'm pretty sure that the two guys in their sixties sitting in a Lexus just outside the cafe, wearing gold chains and chain smoking were KGB.

I was starting to feel like maybe the whole thing was a ruse. Maybe the Colombian was part of a group of deep cover Russian agents that started relationships with unsuspecting horny American men and got them to hand over state secrets. Her English is kind of Russian-y sounding, but I just assumed that was her South American accent. Maybe she got me to take her to that restaurant so she could tell me on her home turf about her true identity, and turn me against my country. My suspicions heightened when a man and a woman in their fifties sat next to us. He was a successful looking man in a sports jacket, and seemed way too polite to be from Brooklyn. I pictured him driving down from Connecticut in his BMW to meet his date - a sassy, street smart Russian broad who was probably pretty tasty twenty years and forty pounds ago. She had only a hint of a Russian accent, but it was impossible for me to know if she could hide it completely when deep inside enemy territory. Within mere moments I could tell this was a first date. The polite awkwardness and the exchange of basic information probably already shared on the first phone call, but shared again just to have something to jump start a conversation, made it obvious. If this woman was a spy, she was good. Real good. I turned to the Colombian and motioned for her to look at the Russian and the guy from Connecticut.

"First date," I whispered. "Probably"

She looked over, smiled and nodded.

"Hopefully it won't get too awkward. Otherwise, we're gonna have to move. It's too painful."

"My ex is very good looking. Six foot one, a hundred and ninety pounds," the Russian said.

The Colombian gave me a "She didn't just say that!" look, and the guy from Connecticut nodded and smiled. He was being totally cool and relaxed about it, while she not only spoke about her ex, but gave measurements. That was too rookie a mistake for her to be KGB. I instantly felt more at ease. But just to be sure:

"Are you Russian?" I asked the Colombian.

"What?" she asked, confused.

"Never mind."

Then we listened in again on our neighbors. "I went on a date once with this guy from Queens," the Russian said. "We got a flat tire and he started calling Triple-A. I grabbed the phone out of his hand and said, I'LL fix it. He insisted on not letting me fix it, but I told him 'either I fix it, or you call me a cab.'"

Wow, I thought. This broad won't be able to infiltrate her way into a second date, let alone the Pentagon. Why was I worried? Again, the Colombian made a face.

"You don't say that on a date, right? It's not just me," I said to the Colombian, covering the sides of my mouth just in case the Russian WAS a spy and could read lips using only her peripheral vision.

"No. Of course not. That's senseless," the Colombian responded in that Russian-y sounding English that made me paranoid again.

We stopped listening to the Russian and the guy from Connecticut because we just wanted to finish up and leave before we choked on the cigarette smoke blowing at us from the four young Russians sitting in front of us, but we left the restaurant, wondering what happened on the date. The Colombian thinks the guy from Connecticut drove his date home and just never called again. I think he'll hang in there long enough to drive over a nail so she can change his tire and oil up his lug nuts.

(*If you'd like to see "The Apartment," it'll be playing next month at "The Williamsburg International Film Festival" in Brooklyn. Email me for the exact time and place.)


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