On the long, long, long escalators that lead down into the cavernous tunnels of the Moscow Metro you are basically invited to baldly stare at the people going up while you’re going down and vice versa. Thank god. I just keep wanting to stare at people. I’m especially fascinated by Moscow-lady standards of pulchritude.
Once a long time ago I was working in a bar that required me to card absolutely everyone, even if they came into the bar with a walker and an oxygen tank, and I carded this Chinese teenager who turned out to be 42.
“Chinese people have only two ages,” he explained when I got all bug-eyed over his license. “We look like this, and like this, and like this, and then one day we wake up and we’re that hunchbacked lady carrying two buckets of soda cans dangling on either end of a broom handle through Chinatown.”
Eastern European women (and hey, ethnically speaking this 50% applies to me, ok? Also, should state upfront that it’s a probably-unfair stereotype based on just a couple of days’ worth of observation!) have more ages, I think: maybe three? The first age is the one we’re all already familiar with because this part of the world is where all of America’s actual Next Top Models come from (sorry, Tyra). The streets here are teeming with these pillow-lipped, heavy-lidded, diamond-cut-cheekboned knockouts. They haven’t yet chainsmoked and pelmenied away their natural gifts, which they accentuate with magpie taste in shoes and handbags and outerwear. A commenter here gave a shoutout to Greenpoint girls and yes, there is some similarity in Moscow ladies’ more-is-more approach. A little eyeliner/perfume/foundation/lipstick is good, so more must make you even prettier! Why fuck around with a two-inch heel when you could just strap on some towering platform stiletto dominatrix boots? That’s a good office look. The other day I saw a museum guard — whose job, you know, pretty much solely entails standing all day — performing that duty in a pair of purple patent leather four-inch spike heels. I have nothing but respect for her commitment to sexiness. Also, if I moved here I think I could do a brisk trade in ‘yoga for back care’ classes.
The second age is exemplified by this woman who was sitting across from me on the Metro this morning. She was still dressed and made up like the sexy museum guard but it was as if someone had inflated her with a bike pump. On her right hand — Russians wear them on their right hand — a gaudy diamond wedding band was cutting into the flesh of her finger.
The third age, well, you know. (Also, if I have to have this song stuck in my head all the time, you do too.) The mystery is: at what point does a lady at age #2 drift into #3? I guess you just wake up one morning and look in the mirror and decide to forgo the magenta lipstick and blue eyeshadow and then you reach for the kerchief.