Monday, June 16, 2008

Rules of Karmanovo

These are The Rules of Karmanovo established in 1995 by my Grandmother Valya with whom I lived with during the summers there.

#1. Do not sit on the benches in front of the store. Only Alcoholics, Bums and Men sit on those benches. Nice young ladies do not. If you sit there EVER I will know because I have friends and they all go to the store and they will tell me. OHHHhhhhhh how you will get it then!

-> At first this rule was easy to comply with because I had no money to spend at the store, and also because the benches were terribly dirty. Then. New benches were built. My friends started sitting on them. I started standing near by, oh so casually leaning against the side of the store. Then I got bolder. I started crouching near the benches, anxiously searching the faces of any elderly woman that passed by, looking for a spark of recognition, because all of my grandmothers friends look the same to me. Finally, when I was about 16 I would fearlessly sit at the benches daring anyone to say anything... and if I saw my grandfather or grandmother biking up to the store... I would either jump up and run into the store or hide. It depended on how far away they were.

#2. Be home in time for meals. Otherwise you will not eat.

-> I would have never ever EVER broken this rule if I knew when meals were supposed to be. But see my Grandma was sneaky, she'd SAY 5, but what she really meant was "I want you to be home at 5 because you need to peel a pound of potatoes and weed the entire garden and then tame that wild stallion". Then she would say it was to give me an appetite. Meanwhile I had already gotten an appetite from running around breaking all her rules, so really this was unnecessary. Which I demonstrated by never showing up on time for meals. I always ate. Except now there are so many people at my house that if I don't arrive in time, I actually don't eat and no one feels any pity for me and I am forced to chew on bread while people putter around me mocking/judging/making bets on how much weight I'll gain this summer. I hate them all. GIVE ME BACK MY CONDENSED MILK IMMEDIATELY!

#3. Do not swim in the Canal, it is dirty and far away. If you drown I will not help you.

-> Well, technically jumping off the pier into the Canal isn't swimming. It's more like falling and then getting out. So rea
lly I don't think I broke that rule. Oh. Oh never mind I did, I forgot about that time we went skinny dipping. Also since the getting out of the water required swimming I guess I did break that rule after all. Honestly, my grandmother clearly underestimated the power of peer pressure and the fact that I'm a dumb ass. So once again, not my fault.

#4. Do not climb or go on the Metal Bridge. You will die. If I ever see you on there I will find that whip I SWEAR TO GOD!

-> Oh. Well. Haha. I had to find out why that rule merited the threat of whipping. Well hmm, its a metal bridge, meant for only trains, that's built across a river. Where coincidentally an old wooden bridge used to be so if you fall off into the river, you can actually impale yourself on some old wooden posts. If your name happens to be Vlad, oh well wouldn't that be ironic.

Not only did I break this rule, I positively demolished it. Hide and Seek or "Priatki" was a favorite game on the bridge, with "Salki" or Tag, not far behind. We would literally risk our stupid little oblivious necks running at break neck speeds over the top of the bridge, or sliding down underneath it to hide in the beams. Then when an elektrichka (train) would come we'd scream shrilly and either stay on and hold on or run off the side of the tracks while the bridge shook and the sound of the train whistle and screeching metal filled the air, almost deafening us. Then after it passed we'd get out from our hiding places with shining eyes exchange thrilled/scared/excited glances, while our hearts pounded with adrenaline.

I love the bridge. I love climbing it, I love the views from the top and I absolutely love that while the pier has been fenced in and is no longer jump-able, the benches have once again fallen into disrepair, and I don't get those same kinds of home cooked Russian meals... the bridge has stayed the same. I'm still forbidden to climb it, I still do and my Grandmother still scolds when she sees the photos.

You could have fallen off!

What? I was climbing a ladder and then I was standing on rather wide pieces of metal! How could I have fallen off?

You could have lost your balance!

But I wasn't balancing! The beams aren't narrow! (Though honestly this is a valid point, I often lose my balance just
standing and such)

There could have been a strong wind!

There was no wind!

Here my mother oh so helpfully chipped in:

A bird could have knocked you over!

What? Wait... what?

Are you serious? A bird? Could have... flown into me? What kind of birds do YOU deal with on a daily basis?! What are you talking about!?! Are you seriously suggesting the scenario that I would be standing on top of the bridge, and some deadly kind of swallow my kamikaze into me and knock me over?! First of all I haven't even seen any birds bigger that swallows around, especially not in the day time. Second of all, that deadly bird of yours is required to not only pick up enough speed to actually knock me over, but to specifically AIM for me. Do you really think that that is even a possibility?

My Mother: You never know what fate has in store for you.

That night a bat flew into my coat. Honestly.