Standing atop the stairs, looking down to the Port of Odessa I see three massive cruise ships, huge dock cranes and Hotel Odessa – the home of a fellow I met two days ago in the immigration line at the Odessa airport on my Polish LOT flight from Warsaw to Odessa. I chatted with this 55+ year-old gentleman named Carl; he seemed to be in fine shape and was reading a copy of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. I’d read this book a few times and it was a good conversation starter. We chatted and he gave me his hotel contact information.
Fast forward 2 days: I’m at the Catherine the Great statue in Odessa looking towards the dock and I can see Carl’s hotel and it reminds me to call him. I try his room but he’s not in. It’s always nice to hook up with other expats when traveling. As I watch a group of Italian cruise ship tourists pass by I notice a guy looking at me, it’s Carl! We make our greetings and agree to take a beer at a local cafe.
Carl is about to begin a 4 week “singles” tour around Ukraine in the hopes of meeting his new Ukrainian bride. I sit with him and we are joined by a few more from his tour. I’m in Odessa attending Russian school but I am also looking for a bride. But, I am using an agency to set up dates based on women’s profiles. Carl and his friends are traveling from city to city meeting hundreds of women each weekend. He tells me about a “social” that is to begin in 90 minutes. I sit riveted listening to the details.
Hmm… this sounds like a nice shortcut.
I ask him for the contact number to his company guide. Later I give “Max” a call and he tells me that to attend the 4 hour “social” I’ll need to pony up $350 US dollars. When I start to hem and haw at the price he asks me how much I’m paying for each date “introdction.” I tell him that it is $50 plus the interpreter ($10 per hour). He asks me to do the math; if I meet 7 women at his “social” I will have already recovered my $350.
His logic is sound so I agree to attend.
I dig out one of my new $90 shirts, throw on some jeans and black leather loafers and head to the convention center. I am sure to wear my new Omega watch and gold Army ring: at my Russian school the ring has caught the eye of every woman at the school and they’ve all asked about it. I’m beginning to think that Ukrainian women are like Parrots and are easily enchanted by shiny things.
As I approach the hall at the convention center I can see the backs of a dozen Ukrainian women in cocktail dresses. Some are young and bucksome while some are best described as babushkas (grandmas). I pay my $350 fee and fill out a “background questionnaire.” A worthless piece of bullshit paper as required by the IMBRA act – a law passed by angry lesbian feminists who were upset about foreign women cutting into their monopoly on American men.
Champagne was free flowing – albeit the cheap kind that looks like piss in the bottle and will likely give you a massive everclear hangover. Ah, F* it, I can worry about the headache tomorrow.
I roam around the packed hall. There are 35 or so Western men and about 250 Ukrainian women. As the “new” catch in the room, I immediately draw the stares of many women. When I try for eye contact, all but the fat, ugly and old look away.
Am I that ugly? I then remember the Professor’s lesson in Buenos Aires two weeks ago: “In a macho society, women are passive, a look away does not mean rejection.” I take heart in my friend’s advice and begin to circle the room. immediately I make eye contact with a slim 22-year-old. Her name tag reads “Inna” and she has a pair of beautiful hazel eyes, tan skin and dirty blonde hair. Her 5′ 6″ frame is barely covered by a mid-drift top and a micro mini-skirt that leaves little to my imagination.
I grab an interpreter by the hand, steal a chair from an adjoining table and sit next to her and her friend Elena. “Where are you from? What kind of work do you do? What are your hobbies?” blah blah – after answering that:
1. I have a pulse.
2. I have a job that pays real $.
3. I am interested in marriage and having children.
And I have PASSED! She wants my phone number and is making plans with me to go away for the weekend. I almost wonder if it is too easy. She and her friend have plans for dinner and make an escape. Perfect, I have 6 more “interviews” before I recoup my $350.
I walk the girls to the door and then walk the room again. I see Carl with a harem of no less than 8 beautiful Ukrainian girls at his table. As I eye scan his table a beautiful young woman with dark hair and blue eyes motions for me to come over. I tap Carl on the shoulder; he is clearly inebriated and sitting next to a bucksome brunette with blue eyes, black hair and big tits. Her stomach is flat as a washboard and her body screams muscles and tone. She appears to be in her early 30’s. Thank goodness that McDonalds hasn’t taken hold in Ukraine!
I scan the room and make eye contact with a girl at Carl’s table, she looks very young, black hair and big blue eyes. She waves me over and I take a seat. An Asian-American man from the east coast sits behind her at an adjoining table. He’s trying to chat her up and I ask if he’s ok with me joining the party. He says that its ok but looks annoyed. He has a shaved head and is wearing a corporate looking long-sleeved white shirt and a bright yellow tie and seems clueless as to the cultural nuances of this country. Rather than speaking slowly so that the girls can understand him he speaks quickly using a lot fo slang and the women at this table all seem very annoyed with him.
I bypass him and began talking with the blue-eyed beauty. In no time she is trying to introduce me to her older (and heavier) friend. When I show no interest in the friend, my blue-eyed dream begins giving me the cold shoulder.
I move on.
I’m beginning to think that $350 was more for a lesson in the ins and outs of eastern-western dating than any chance to meet the woman of my dreams.
The annoying MC has begun screaming into her microphone and is encouraging couples to come up on stage for some “competition.” I refuse a half-dozen offers – the last thing I want is my photo and video to appear on this agencies website. I’ve also ducked the photographer and videographer a dozen times – they all want my photo, after all, their website will do better if they can show men talking to beautiful women. I make sure never to sit next to my dates, only across from them and in this way avoid most of the photographers attention.
I look around the room – buff surfer dude, 8 or 10 65-year-old nerds (white socks and all – good luck to these guys), a couple of fat guys who cower in the corner and the other half of the 35 or so men are 45 to 65-year-old divorced professionals who are looking for a second chance at love. Most have been eaten alive in divorce court and they are all eager to tell me about how their x-wives f’d them out of their $, house and children.
Many don’t realize that complaining about their x-wife is not a big turn on for a hot 22-year-old leggy Ukrainian girl.
I’m motioned to the back of the room by a curly-haired blonde who is wearing a bra-less cocktail dress. Each time she leans over, you can almost see the whole kit and caboodle; her nipples show clearly through the thin white material. The bottom of the skirt barely covers her crotch. Seated next to her is a tall beauty with long black hair. I begin chatting them up only to find that they are strippers – they invited me to come and watch then at the Bunny Rabbit strip bar later that night.
Yeah, $350 lesson…
Catherine (Cat), an Argentine looking beauty tries to pull me to her friend Lana who is neither pretty nor thin. I tell her that I’m interested in her, not her friend. She agrees to go outside with me and we chat and she seems like a perfect catch as a potential wife. She is 29, wants marriage and a family and is disenchanted with Ukrainian men. We exchange phone numbers and agree to meet later in the week. I walk her out to the road to catch a cab home and she is very interested to know if I am returning to the “social.” Only after I assure her that I’m going home, and she drives off, do I actually return to the “social.” At $350, I’m trying to recap some of this evening’s cost.
I walk in to see “surfer dude” with his tongue down the throat of some skanky looking Ukrainian girl, a few “older” looking gentlemen buzz around a gorgeous 22-year-old model look-alike. Her body language clearly reads, “suckers” and they follow her around the room like lap dogs. This place is seeming like such a bad idea and I can’t help but think how few of these guys have any game at all. But I’m different. Right?
Just as I’m about to pull the plug on this place a pretty girl who speaks great English approaches and invites me to meet her friend. Her friend is a tall brown-eyed beauty of 22 years with long light brown/blonde hair. I meet her and immediately I’m invited to “go out” with them. It seems that two of the girls already have dates – one scrappy looking American who appears to have come off of an oil rig the day previous and a distinguished looking gentleman who can’t stop bitching about his x-wife. It looks like the 3 girl – 2 man combo needed another wheel to balance the car.
We head to – where else – the most expensive restaurant in town. The girls order Shirley Temples, Martinis, Daqueries and Margueritas, orders of sushi, salmon steaks and caviar. No one asks, “may I,” or “please,” I begin to feel more like a rolling ATM machine than a date. The waitress takes everyone’s order except for mine. She returns 10 minutes later with drinks and when I try to order she says she will come back but never does.
The girls ask, “Where is your drink?” I tell them that the waitress missed my order. I try to sound pissed off. They shrug and continue talking and drinking.
30 minutes later, the sushi arrives, I still have no drink and have not ordered any food. I stop the waitress who says she will be back in a minute. Now I’m pissed off.
At the 45 minute mark, the salmon steaks arrive and I’m clearly seething. Only now does my date realize there is a problem and through her English-speaking friend says that she doesn’t like my mood. I tell her that I’m quite pissed off that after 45 minutes I have no drink and no food. Only now do they realize that there may be an actual problem and call the waitress over.
They talk to the waitress like a dog. Everyone in Ukraine talks to the wait-staff like dogs; they are servants after all, no? The waitress tells me that it will be an additional 45 minutes for a salmon. The girls urge me to order, I tell them that I will order nothing.
After the waitress departs, I excuse myself and leave.
How will these girls pay for this massive restaurant bill? Not my problem.
I meet an American buddy who lives here, we have drinks and I order some shashlik (shish-ka-bobs) and we have a chat over a beer.
I suppose that if your house doesn’t burn down, insurance is a waste of money. Or is it? At least you were covered in case of calamity. And of the $350 I paid for this evening? I think of it as insurance; I’ll be sure never to drop $3000 to $5000 for one of these organized “social” tours.
And to those of you who are considering attending one… let the buyer beware…
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