I ran across this the other day. It’s something I wrote when I was living in Moscow. It made me laugh, mostly because I can still somehow remember exactly what this woman looked like and just how creepy it felt to be in her presence. So even though it’s old, I thought I’d post it.
I had a run-in with a really weird Russian woman at the Pushkin museum a couple of weeks ago. I was there with a friend of mine and we both noticed her staring at us on the way in. We didn’t pay much attention, but as we walked into this sculpture gallery, she suddenly appeared before us. We had not previously noted the details of her strange appearance, but as our line of sight was now filled with nothing but this woman in all her glory, I can say we got a pretty good look.
First of all, there was the lipstick. She must have interpreted it as mouthstick, or facestick, because in addition to a thick slathering of the stuff on her lips, she had continued, elliptically, round and round her mouth until the circumference of this unhappy trail reached just above her chin and just below her nose. Perhaps she had just gotten carried away. Have you ever drawn a circle and it’s not quite right, so you draw over it and over it and when you’re done it looks circular but it’s like an inch thick? That thought came to mind.
Besides this there were the mascara and eye-shadow, which I won’t even begin to describe except to say that Robert Smith would have called this gal over-the-top. The hair-do was more of a hair-don’t (to use a cliché I picked up from an Us magazine lying around the teacher’s room the other day), and it looked like instead of just waking up with it like that, she had actually crawled across her bed on hands and knees, dragging her head on the sheets and making a slow, swirling motion. I can’t prove that that’s what she did, but let’s just say I also can’t prove that she didn’t.
The portrait that this woman painted was just plain bewildering. Of course at first I thought, “Maybe it’s Maybelline,” but then I decided, “Nah, she’s born with it.” She was the kind of person you expect to see virtually anywhere other than a museum, but perhaps she had been on display somewhere, wandered off, and was at that moment making her way back home.
So she starts asking us about which sculptures we liked and if we wanted to see the gallery together. I kind of felt sorry for her, but I also had that creepy feeling that you get sometimes that you’re about to end up a permanent fixture in someone’s private collection of ‘pretties’, and I remembered years of warning my favourite movie characters, “You idiot! What are you doing?! Don’t open that door!/go down that alley!/walk around the museum with that person! (insert your own warnings to favourite movie characters here)!”
Anyway, I quickly extricated myself from the situation by feeding my friend to her and running off while she was still looking for good pieces of meat…okay, we just walked away.