I absolutely love Russian culture. I love the food. I love the music. I love how they party. Just about everything that encompasses how Russians go about their lives is entirely enthralling to me.
But, there is a limit to everything. And I'm bad with knowing my limits.
Early in my relationship with my wife, she introduced me to a little gem of Northeast Philadelphia: Golden Gates. If there was an empire of Russian restaurants, Golden Gates would be their Tsar. It is Peter the Great amongst a gaggle of peasants. The largest matryoshka to encompass all the others.
um...the...Alla Pugacheva of...ok, i think we've exhausted this.
I've only had my life threatened once. But, I wasn't exactly aware of if at the time.
See, here's my side of the story. My first time at Golden Gates was an experience. Russian Restaurants in Philly are not like American restaurants. There is more food than you can possibly imagine. There is more liquor than you can possibly imagine. And there is a Song and Dance Troupe that performs all the hits from the Motherland from Victory Day to Today. It is not suggested that you get up and dance, you are expected to get up and dance. I was at an age where I was unaware of exactly how much vodka I could effectively handle, and I thought the more the better.
Right around 6 shots of vodka, you are having a great time, and dance like an idiot all night long, but any more, and you're getting into dangerous territory. I was about 8 shots in with no food. Bad idea.
Somewhere between "Ah, Kakaya Zhenshina" and "Rodina Moya: Belorussia" I end up making fun of the way some guys on the dance floor were dancing. Please note: this is highly discouraged in any situation, but especially when uncoordinated but massively built Russians are concerned.
It's not my fault they looked like refrigerators whose doors wouldn't stay shut
After a couple of songs, my wife and I went outside to take a smoke break (back when we both smoked) and two of the guys I was ridiculing came out behind us. By this time, I had forgotten that I was making fun of them. They hadn't. So when they came over to me, I thought they were being friendly.
They said a few angry words in Russian, most of which I didn't understand. There was, however, the word sapogi (boots) and a fairly dirtier version of the word popa (rear end).
Still misunderstanding, I was smiling like a complete idiot, and repeating the three words I knew at the time: "Chto? Pochimu? Vse!" (what? why? that's all!) hoping that some combination or ordering of those three words would sort of make them chill out.
Literally, the next thing I know, I'm in one of my friends cars speeding away as fast as possible. I don't remember what happened, but I'm told that one of them pulled a knife and said something to the effect of, "I'll show you how to speak Russian properly!" at which point we all scattered.
Good job, me. I really know how to show my girl a good time. This is why I refuse to drink when we go out anymore.
The next time we went to Golden Gates, I stayed sober. But so did my wife. There was some sort of cosmic justice, however. My wife was driving at the time, and as she was pulling out, she backed into some tricked out brand new BMW that someone had obviously put a lot of money and time into. She guaranteed that there would be a little more money and time put into the car. She was freaked, and I didn't want us both to die being taught Russian grammar, so we high tailed it out of there like Dick Dastardly and Muttley (*hee hee hee hee hee*)
Needless to say, we haven't gone to any Russian Restaurants since.