“I don’t know, ‘Dimitry’ is not a name you can scream out in the sack,” Leslie said looking up from the email I’d forwarded her. “Okay but how do I look in this dress?” I had 15 minutes to get ready for my first (and hopefully last) blind date. If I’d utilized my roommate’s date-reasoning, I probably would’ve avoided my last two nightmarish relationships.
There are three things I am thankful for; 1). my education, 2). control top pantyhose, and 3). the fact India and Russia are not near each other.
Had my parents, or any other Russian parents at that matter, known that you can actually pick who marries your daughter I would have been in my third trimester of my second pregnancy by now. Not familiar with arranged marriages, Russians have to resort to the next best thing: blind dates.
Thanks to whichever schmuck taught Olga and Vladimir what LinkedIn is, I had my very own parent-orchestrated blind date with Dimitry Eugenovich — a big shot in New York’s financial industry.
“Marina, did you know there is a dating website where you can filter people by their jobs?” My father squealed excitedly as he scrolled through the LinkedIn filters. “And we checked his facebook, it’s blocked but he likes Jay-Z like you! I sent you screen shot,” My mother chimed in. For some reason my parents have mastered the ability to email screen shots, but copy and pasting links is beyond their skill level.
Unlike Leslie, Olga and Vladimir’s process for choosing a date is similar to filling out a form at the doctor’s office. They want to know medical history, whether or not he is fully insured, and if the potential suitor is not married they are considered single.
“Marina, I am your mother, okay? And no one is going to love you as much as Papa and I (even more foreshadowing that I would eventually check myself into therapy). That is why you need to marry a nice, rich, jewish boy who is the next best thing. We are just helping you because we know what you need best. Dimitry is a nice boy, from a nice family who loves Jay-Z like you do. Please give him chance, because I know these things.” – Olga Shifrin’s Blind Date Pep Talk
I was given strict instructions to call home immediately after the date. It was decided; I, along with Olga, Vladimir, Maryana (the woman who brought Dimitry to my parents’ attention), Mr. Eugenovich, Mrs. Eugenovich, my Grandmother, his Grandparents, our collective siblings, family friends and Dimitry would go on a date in the financial district on Wednesday at 8 PM — except it would just be me and Dimitry in attendance.
The future happiness of 25% of the Chicago-based Russian community was riding on this date.
Wednesday 8:05 PM — Freaking trains…
Dimitry Eugenovich looked exactly how his name sounded. He had a young face, kind eyes, salt n’ pepper hair and was quick to apologize for the situation. “My younger brother is getting married and I think my parents are starting to go into panic mode,” he joked as we walked into the bar.
Not wanting to be rude, I waited for Dimitry to unzip his jacket before I ordered my first of four vodka martinis. He followed suit — good man.
We talked about the typical first date stuff, crazy Russian families, where to get the best hot dog in Chicago and why Jay-Z would shoot himself in the eye if he knew two pale jews from upper-middle class Russian families were bonding over his street-inspired rap. Then we had a conversation which brought about the fastest end to a date I’ve ever had.
Marina: “…Well you know, as a 22-year-old in New York it’s definitely be—” Dimitry cut me off.
Dimitry: “You’re 22? I was told you were 25.”
Marina: “Oh, uh…maybe our parents didn’t want us to know about the 8 year difference?”
Dimitry: “8 years? How old do you think I am?”
Marina: “Well, 30?”
Dimitry: “I’m 35.”
Marina: “It’s getting late.”
I never saw Dimitry after that, although he did send a text saying he had a lovely time. When I called Olga, she had the single-most perfect response:
“Thirrrty Five!?! Oh Marina….
…we gave you the wrong brother.”
Lesson #18: No matter how much Olga and Papa Shifrin love me, they don’t always know what’s best.
*Name slightly altered for privacy purposes.