“Maryna, baby, tell
what “OMG” means.”
Maryna, a dark-eyed and sophisticated émigré from
Kiev, a woman who
delights in letting neither your glass nor your stomach go empty, turns to me. “I know what it mean, “OMG”,” she says. “It mean “wow”.”
Mike smiles. We are in for the night, dedicated to an evening of drinking and storytelling in their basement. The winter rages outside, and inside, I pull a blanket around my legs and lift my wine glass to my lips.
“Well,” I say, “it kinda does.”
Mike kisses her on the cheek. “What about “TGIF”?”
She frowns at him. She suspects, rightly, that he’s playing with her. “It mean “weekend”.” She tops off my glass of wine, our third bottle of the evening. “I don’t care what you say,” she says, “I know it mean weekend.”
Language is a difficult thing.
At one time, I had hung around quite a large crowd of Russians; and through many nights and weekends, I had picked up snippets of language.
Or I thought I had.
Maryna smiles at my Russian. “
Pearl,” she says, encouragingly. “Mike, leesen to Pearl.
She speak very good Russian.”
“Di me pepilenska,” I say, holding out my hand.
Maryna laughs with delight. “You ask for ashtray, yes? Ees pepilnitsa. Peh-pil-neet-sah.”
My mouth drops. “Peh-pil-neet-sah? But I’ve been saying peh-pil-enska for years!”
“Yes, yes!” she says, laughing. “And ees very cute. Like baby. Very cute.” She takes a drink. “Say more.”
I pat the couch next to me. “Idi soodah.”
Maryna claps her hands. “Very good. Now what you theenk you say?”
“I said “sit here”.”
She shakes her head. “It mean “come over here”.”
A memory slides into place, past the wine, and a thought occurs to me. “How do you say “man”?”
“Man? Ees muzcheena.”
“Mooz-cheen-ah? Well what is “mah-cheen-ah” then?”
“Macheena? Macheena is machine.”
I take a drink. “I dated a man for a while, a Russian man. I called him my big, handsome macheena.”
She laughs. “You call heem beeg handsome machine! I theenk he love that!”
Maryna stands, heads for the stairs. “I am going to keetchen,” she says. “Maybe we eat a leetle. I breeng down tray.”
“Spasibo,” I say to her.
“No,” she says, smiling. “Thank you.”