I was at a Halloween party in a Chelsea bar when I met the Russian/Eastern European girl. I could always recognize one even before I’ve heard them speak. She was not dressed up in any particular costume, but her fetching white halter top was enough to attract the attentions of a pants-less Tom Cruise from ‘Risky Business’ and a plaid-shirted cowboy.
A dance circle had formed on the floor. The organizers were a couple of turtles, viz. Raphael and Donatello. I’m not sure if that’s entirely accurate, because Raphael and Donatello were blonde and were grinding their green shells in a manner that the cowabunga dudes would not have. (Yes, they were American). Meanwhile, the white halter top girl had started dancing with her group of friends. She had placed her purse – the one that women use to hold their plans for world domination – on a side table.
What I found charming was the way she kept glancing at her purse every 30 seconds to see if it was still there. I recognized this as something I did quite a bit when I first came here. I’d see backpacks strewn around the corridors at college, the owners absent, and cringe at the thought of them being stolen. But they never were stolen, and that’s one of the nice things about living in a country where poverty is comfortably out of sight. I kept smiling to myself as she actually stopped dancing a couple of times to come check if the purse was still there.
Some people get homesick from sights and smells. For me it was another FOB making sure she wasn’t looted by a drunk girl or a Winona Ryder klepto, because those were the only kind who could’ve stolen a purse in that swanky New York bar that night.