Wednesday, October 13, 2004

# Posted 7:14 AM by Patrick Belton  

RUSSOPHILE CORNER: Michele Berdy really likes Russian men. And, from the sounds of it, one suspects vice versa:
I’m not the first to recognize that American men have problems talking about—admitting, recognizing, naming, revealing, discussing or even acknowledging—their feelings, or, God forbid, their needs.... Instead they play sports, which allow them to work through stress, anger, confusion, fear and other taboo emotions on the playing field. Or anyway I think that’s what they’re doing out there, rolling around on muddy football fields on Sunday afternoons.

Oh, what they could learn from their Russian brethren! Russian men do not suffer from bottled-up emotions. In fact, they are one of the least emotionally bottled-up populations on the face of the earth. With the help of the bottle—say, four or five liters of 80 proof vodka—they sit with their friends (three being the magical number of drinking buddies), pour down the liquor, and let it all out: all their fears, all their sins, all their doubts and worries and needs. About 3:00 a.m. one usually asks the others, “Do you respect me?” and the others reply, with the solemnity of a military oath, “Of course, old man, of course.”

I have to admit that I didn’t get the point of this for many years; it seemed like one of those quaint but opaque mysteries of the Russian soul that we foreigners can never quite penetrate. But now I do: it’s the confessional, it’s the shrink’s couch, it’s a way of getting all those taboo emotions off their chests: Absolut absolution.
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