Todd By: Todd

Me Talk Pretty One Day

#8 I can speak Russian, just not so good.


If you've asked me if I can speak Russian, I’ve probably told you this story.


Fall 2000, and I’m still living in Russia. I tried patching things up with my ex, but this ended when she sent me a letter saying, “You know how you always say I should try new things? I had gefilte fish at my boyfriend’s family’s house!”


Yeah, I should’ve seen that coming.


The teachers at the school where I worked at had a simple answer for my heartache: date a Russian woman. I waved them off, thinking that it would be too complicated, with the language barrier, the culture barrier, and the fact that I planned to leave the Far East as soon as summer snuck back into Siberia.


Days later and I’m on the bus to go to town and a woman tapped me on my shoulder. A beautiful woman. A stunning woman. If you saw her in a magazine as is, you would’ve sworn she was airbrushed, photoshopped, and whatever else they do in marketing. I’m of the opinion that Russian women are some of the most beautiful women in the world, and she was a breed apart from the best. I thought she was going to ask me for the time or if the driver was sober today. If she did, I would piece together my slow-fifth-grader-level of Russian and hopefully answer her questions.


No question, just a statement. She was from a nearby village, she was my surprise blind date, and the teachers at my school had set us up as a surprise.


She spoke no English, and like I said, my Russian was never good. She was also amazingly beautiful, so I took a chance. What’s the worst that could happen? We dove into the first date small talk that everyone in the world has to do. She asked me what I did in America. In America, I was a teacher, so I tried to say, “В Америка, я был учителем.” This is an easy sentence, one that the Peace Corps had taught me from Day 1, and one I had used countless times in those 18 months. All I tried to say was, "In America, I was a teacher."


Yeah, I screwed it up.


“В Америка, я был преступником.”,


In English that reads, "In America, I was a criminal."


Not realizing my mistake, I kept going with it.


Family? I have two sisters, and they’re both преступники.


I think that преступники are very important to children.


Russia has some of the best преступники that I have ever seen.


One day, I hope to be a great преступник.


Her eyes got big, she made a play at checking her watch, and had the bus driver pull over immediately.


I never saw her again.

  • SeenyaRita PRO 7y

    translation please!

    you can't leave me hanging like this.
  • Todd 7y

    Working on this. It's hard to find a good translation site.
  • Sohailsk™ 7y



    Sadly funny story Todd. I would have tried pantomiming :)
  • Sohailsk™ 7y

    Если мы всегда сидели на адвокатском сословии, и вы спросили мне, то если я могу поговорить русского, то я вероятно говорил вам этот рассказ.

    The above translated from your first paragraph: "If we’ve ever sat at a bar, and you asked me if I can speak Russian, I’ve probably told you this story."

    Translated back: If we always sat on the bar, and you asked to me, then if I can have a talk Russian, then I probably told you this story.

    Okay so its not perfect but it's the best free site I know.
  • Todd 7y

    I was going to use Babelfish to link the translations to, but the URL they provide is a generic one that leads you back to a basic site. From there, it allows you to plug in the words you want translated, but won't allow me to link the translation for you.
  • André Carlos de Mendonça 7y

    Glad to see you are no longer a criminal. (you aren't still a criminal, are you?)
  • ~42n81~ PRO 7y


    Mr. Graves so small

  • thehouyhnhnm 7y

    You have to be very careful when using translation tools such as Babelfish; to give just one example of what can go wrong, Sohailsk's "адвокатское сословие" does mean "bar", but only in the sense of a group or social class of lawyers. The more appropriate word for the context is "бар". Tools like Babelfish and the like do not even begin to take context adequately into account when replacing lexical items in the language to be translated with lexical items in the target language.

    Language is not a nomenclature, so approaching translation as if there were a simple one-to-one correspondence between lexical items in the language to be translated and lexical items in the larget language NEVER works.
  • Sohailsk™ 7y

    и я думал что язык был путем к романским женщинам

  • Todd 7y

    Sohailsk™: Несчастливо, я соглашаюсь.
  • Chito Francisco 7y

    забавные истории

    i know that shadow
  • macwagen PRO 7y

    I thought dames liked bad boys. Whassup wit dat?
  • Julie PRO 7y

    Awesome shot! I love that shadow. It's kind of faded or something near the head, and it looks like smoke coming from a cig the shadow is smoking.
  • Kari Wolfe 5y

    Fantastic picture :)
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Taken on August 17, 2008
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