Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Men of Russian Tinder

There’s a park in Moscow with a sign that reads: “It is forbidden to talk to strangers.” It refers to the opening chapter of a famous Soviet novel, but “stranger danger” is something of a universal concept. My parents always cautioned me to be wary of strangers, even if they rarely are themselves. For most of my life this was mortifying (like when they talked a pizza deliveryman into dropping them off outside my college dorm rather than splurge on a taxi), but I recently realized I may be cut from the same crazy cloth. This would explain why my initial disdain for Tinder quickly turned into an enthusiastic hunt for the weirdest, and most blog-worthy, Russian men.

I desperately want to post screenshots, but that seems like an invasion of privacy, so we’ll just have to make do with written descriptions. First there was Seryozha, who wore nothing but boxer briefs, sunglasses, and a billowing fur coat. I guess he didn’t feel that was dramatic enough, because he’d parked his car in the middle of a field and was leaning against it as though this were a totally natural pose. Next there was Alexander, who advertised that he was looking for a “serious relationship.” To drive the point home, he was carrying a baseball bat and staring menacingly into the camera. There was also a bare-chested man named Sergei who proclaimed, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away.” I think he meant this literally—he’d wrapped a fish around his neck, which must have been cutting off his air supply.

There were also men in bear suits, a guy buried up to his neck in sand, a dude who said he doesn’t date women who weigh more than 60 kilos, and props ranging from goats to crossbows to falcons. As for the most patriotic man on Tinder, it’s a three-way tie. It either goes to Andrey in the Putin t-shirt; Sergei in the sickle-and-hammer fur hat; or Alexander, who’d posed in front of the Russian White House with his bike raised above his head and a Russian flag at his side. I think it’s safe to say that the men of Moscow are nothing if not wildly creative.

Despite the dizzying array of strangers, the one I decided to meet yesterday did not attract me with a taxidermy collection, neck tattoos, or an inexplicable Native American headdress. Instead, he had me at “hipster, snob, kind of a misanthrope, and never romantic.” So when he suggested we get together for a walk after he got off work, I headed home to throw on some make-up and let a friend know where I was going, just in case Andrey* was the murdery type.

Me: I’m meeting some dude from Tinder at Patriarch Ponds. If he kills me, look for my body there.
Keary: Is he part of the Tinder majority posing with ancient, lethal weapon technology?

Despite his description, Andrey was surprisingly normal (if I can be trusted to gauge “normal”). He works in the oil and gas industry, speaks phenomenal English, and was funny and intelligent. We spent two-and-a-half hours wandering around Moscow, during which time I made sure to mention that a friend knew where I was, lest Andrey get any ideas about killing me. He seemed horrified that the idea would even enter my head—I guess Russians aren’t actually as scared of strangers as Americans are? They should be.

Just a harmless Russian suitor

Seven miles of walking later, I returned to my friend’s apartment unscathed. Andrey seems quite taken with my “American exoticism” (his words, not mine), because he asked me how long I’d be in Moscow, checked to see if I was open to settling down here forever, and followed up with me first thing this morning. I’m going to hold off on eloping for a few more weeks—the gun-toting, tiger-cuddling Russkis aren’t going to date themselves.

*Not the same Andrey as the one with the Putin t-shirt. Russians are less creative with their given names than they are in their photoshoots. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Russian Tinder- you are brave! ;) Glad things went well with your date.