1. "Leave Me Alone, You Crazy Lunatic". This is generally reserved for homeless people and fellow public transportation takers and passers-by on the street, and people you're in line with to the latest Wes Anderson movie. The more space we give each other, the better, and I'm residing well within this mentality 99% of the time. It's where I plan on retiring, deep within Senile Old Man county. Perhaps "Get off my lawn!" township.
|Zombies ESPECIALLY don't like to be touched by weirdo strangers|
2. "Oh My God, Come Here, I Need to Grab You All Over". This mode is the rarer one, and typically the most scary. This really only comes about when you're in the company of a serial killer, at a strip joint, or in the vicinity of a pregnant woman/cute baby.
|Classic example of #2. No, not THAT #2, SITUATION #2. Jeez|
I think you know where I'm going with this.
Anyway, I love this set up - I totally understand the boundaries, and have grown up with these rules all my life. There are a few exceptions, and there are a few people who choose to ignore these rules, but having grown up here, I'm comfortable with my ability to pick out Grabby McTouchy-Pants in a crowd and avoid him as if, well, he will touch you all over.
|Clue #1: Grabby McTouchy-Pants tends to grab himself. A LOT.|
But the Russians have been able to find a way to FURTHER polarize these completely opposite sentiments.
For example, I've spoken about the Grocery store before. It is a lovely place, full of quiet, distanced judgment. If you're alone, you are not expected to say "Excuse Me" unless someone is DIRECTLY in your way. You should not make eye contact with your fellow shoppers, and the only conversation that can ever happen (in only the rarest of situations) is conversation about how slow the woman at the kolbasa/bread counter is moving, or how stupid she is. Also, as a side note, Russian culture allows you to revert to your primal instincts should there be a price discrepancy at the cashier or if there is a wild sale happening.
Stampedes are acceptable.
|$0.02 off Pierogies??? BUY/EAT ALL THE PIEROGIES.|
This is not like American stores, where you're expected to say "excuse me", eye contact is ok, and limited and minor friendly banter about sales or food choices is acceptable.
HOWEVER, should you be carting around an adorable 8 month old baby who is curious and tends to squeal with glee periodically, it is perfectly acceptable for crazy Russian Grandmas to attack you from all sides like you're Colonel Custer at Little Big Horn.
|"Give me Baby. I wanna it now."|
All of the following happened in the past few trips to the grocery store, without exaggeration:
- An old guy winked and clucked at Sammy like a chicken with an eye spasm.
- A young woman tried to play the Russian version of "Patty Cake" with him the second I turned my back to get a bag of potatoes
- Grandmas (yes, more than one) have sprung up from behind me out of no where only to grab his legs and say, loosely translated, "Oh, what nice legs!"
- Standing in line for bread, someone reached out and patted him on the head and said something I didn't understand.
- A rabid team of Cossacks stormed the building atop their horses, headed straight for Sammy, stole him out of my arms, and began tossing him back and forth between themselves while singing Russian Drinking Songs.
It was much, much worse.
But moving on, I want to know what compels people in this germophobic society to reach out and grab someone's child, or come in uninvited to rub a pregnant woman's belly. The older Russians who came from and grew up in the old country have an excuse - they've never really been part of the Purell explosion of the last 10-15 years in America.
But while I've been hard on the Russians here, there have been some CLOSE calls in American stores. I actually had to smack a bitch for coming too close. No, not really, but I gave her my best dirty look. After all, who knows if she just pooped and forgot to wash her hands? And now she's rubbing her hands all over my son!?! No thank you, Poops McGee.