While you’ve heard, I suspect, enough about Mary to be able to pick her out of a crowd, you’ve not properly met Maryna.
You remember Maryna, don’t you? She’s the one with the herring/beet/potato salad, offered to you here, at her request, with the words “Tell them “try”. Ees very good.”
She’s also the one who believes that my car is, and I quote, “a piece of sheet”.
To her credit, the woman speaks the truth. In many ways, it is a piece of sheet, and I do not take offense to an honestly spoken opinion.
There are two things you must know about Maryna: 1.) she is Ukrainian and 2.) she knows how to party.
Let us go back, shall we, to the last party I had: Misfit Christmas.
Ahh, Christmas. Remember how excited we were that there would be plenty of snow?
What were we thinking?
But it was all so much fun. There was the Dice Game where we gave away and then stole back gifts. There were platters of food covering every available surface. And there was Dolly Gee Squeakers, who wore the evening like a crown of thorns and sprawled, catnip-fogged, on an armchair.
The party broke up around 2:15. Maryna hadn’t had a drink in two hours and we were sitting in her car, engine running, when the phone call came.
Shoot. I knew I shouldn’t have answered it.
“Mom! Hi! Hey, is the party – hey! Shut up you guys! I’m talkin’ to my mom! – Is the party still going on?”
“Nope. Ya missed it. It’s just me and Maryna sitting here and –“
“Yeah,” he breaks in. “Look, we’re all pretty drunk and I’m bringing a party home from the bar --”
“What?! No, you’re not! Wait – who’s driving?”
“Becky. It’s her turn to be sober. We’ll be there in five minutes.”
Such good kids.
Maryna starts laughing. “Ees good, ees like een Kiev. We parrty all night, my mom geet up and cook for us.” She pauses. “Ees enough for them leek plates in keetchen, yes?”
And then we both laugh. Let the little party-crashers lick the plates.
We are still sitting in her car when they arrive. Boy-men, their young, slender dates waiting in the car, push their faces into the windows, their breath sending up white, billowing beer-scented clouds. “Hey, Pearl! Thanks for letting us – hey! Who’s the hot chick?”
Maryna smiles, black eyes dancing. “Wot? You see hot cheek?!”
“Whoa, dude! Hot Russian chick!”
Maryna turns to me. “Maybe we go een for one more. Ees good for ego.”
And over the course of the next four hours, while we chain-smoke Virginia Slims and Maryna talks a drunk and flirtatious man I’ve known since he was eight out of a bottle of champagne, we sit on my second-floor porch, wearing boots and hats, covered in blankets, the temperature hovering around 15 degrees…
I go to bed at 6:30, as the sun comes up, leaving The Boy and Maryna out on the porch, where they continue to debate government fiscal policy and his theory on face-wrinkling and the role accents play in it.
Maryna is gone when I awake at 10:00, but there is a message on my phone:
“My dear, I loff you so moch. I tell your boy I am hungry and he mek me scrambled egg before I leave. Ees like home. I never forget.”
There is a "kiss-kiss" sound and she hangs up.
That Maryna. She does know how to party.