Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Unwanted Russian Mother

Olga has gone from eccentric to downright disturbing. While she’s never had a problem with my occasional visitors and dinner guests, a Wednesday evening dinner party with three friends sent her off on a Russian rant of epic proportions. I would’ve invited her to join if she ate anything other than Quattro Formaggio pizza and wasn’t an off-putting introvert, but alas, she does and she is. So when my guests arrived around 8pm, Olga was just waking up from one of her many mid-day naps. She came out to see what had set off Markus’ barking, then returned to her darkened room.

Our dinner was delicious, the conversation hilarious, and the evening a success—until my friends left. When I closed the door behind my guests at 11pm, Olga emerged from her cave to tear me a proverbial new one. Completely contrary to her previous encouragements to invite my friends over more often, she went off on a delusional diatribe about my frequent visitors, accused me of giving her dog beer, and told me that the neighbors were going to think even worse of her than of the Tajiks across the hall. “They’ll think this is a brothel and I’m an alcoholic!” I was so surprised I understood all of that that I didn’t dwell on her mistaken belief I would give Markus anything, her ever present racism, or the fact that she had just equated my friends to prostitutes and johns.

I should have just let her finish her insane tirade, but I am not a particularly passive person, even when I can barely speak the language I am arguing in. I haltingly shot down all of her assertions, but at least had the good sense not to mention that she’d be lucky if people thought she was an alcoholic or madam. It would certainly be an improvement on “spinsterly recluse.” Then, in response to her claims that she’d told Molly to tell me to move my gathering into my room, I told her that playing Telephone with foreigners was a poor way of communicating since the message had obviously not been understood.

I was fuming by the time I finished doing the dishes, and was still disgruntled the next morning when we crossed paths in the kitchen. Olga had softened though, and told me she realized we’d had a cultural misunderstanding and she wasn’t mad at me. Unfortunately, I missed whatever she said next, and before I knew it, she was telling me that she worries about me when I go out late and that she stays up until all hours of the night making sure I come home. I told her that as a grown woman, I certainly don’t need her worrying about me, and that there was no reason to sacrifice her sleep on my account.

“But I do worry! I worry about you like a mother worries about a daughter!”

The girl barely makes it out of the house once a week and subsists on a diet of pizza and porridge. If she were responsible for my well being, I’m quite certain I’d have died of malnutrition months ago. Sorry, Olga, but the only similarity between you and my mother is your shared ability to yell at me in a language I don’t understand.  And that does not a mother make.