So I was handing out flyers advertising free weekly English practice right outside of a metro station in St Petersburg, Russia.
It was mid-April, yet still very cold so I was bundled in layers. I resembled a baked potato, but without the tin foil. And I think I was wearing a black coat, not brown or red like an actual potato. So a black baked potato without the tin foil. (so far this is an AMAZING post..)
I had been in the country for a little over a week. The language was still extremely difficult for me to speak and understand, but I knew that my decision to serve a mission for the LDS church was right. I love and cleave to my faith to this day. ❤
The English lessons were offered as a free service provided by us missionaries. It showed the Russians that we were there to assist and serve them. Passing out flyers helped us get to know more people and hopefully find someone to teach.
My companion was Sister Brittany Riggs from Mesa Arizona. She was a very smart fun and beautiful girl who was really good at Russian and providing me with priceless life lessons.
All I could do at that point in my mission was shove flyers in the faces of the droves hurrying up and down the stairs of the metro and say, “Free English practice! Take this, please!” Most of the time, if they answered back, I would just shoot them a stupid-looking smile as I quickly tried to recall basic grammar lessons that I was supposed to have learned while in the MTC.
Things were going okay so far; the people were plentiful, the Russian sky was a beautiful bright…gray…and Sister Riggs was maybe 30 yards or so away conversing with various interested people.
A man approached me. I smiled and said, “English practice. Free. Take.” He eagerly snatched the paper from my outstretched glove and slurred a loud and incoherent paragraph. (Oh wait, I didn’t know Russian anyways.)
He looked like a short, stout, ugly little displaced Santa Claus; a homeless one who had obviously misplaced his shampoo for the past 3 months.
He didn’t smell at all like alcohol, though, which was pretty surprising.
April Fool’s, it was 55 times worse than you’re imagining right now. Imagine if a bar itself could get drunk- that’s what he smelled like.
That probably should have been the end of our merry little encounter, but then he just was standing in front of me, staring at me with a vacant expression, looking 5 levels beyond disheveled. Somehow he got even dirtier and hairier within the last 10 seconds.
I didn’t know what else to do, and it was getting suuuuuuper awkward, so I said, “Thank you.”
Then he sprang to life again and said a bunch of other things I couldn’t understand, but I did catch “good girl” in there.
What happened next changed my life FOREVER.
He pulled out an enormous diamond ring and asked for my hand. I immediately started happy-crying and said yes. I’m writing this blog post right now on our home (a park bench) as our 9 children dig through the dumpster behind the fancy McDonald’s.
April Fool’s again. Geez, you guys are way gullible.
Here’s what really happened:
In one startlingly abrupt motion, he grabbed my shoulders in an iron grip and pulled me towards his oily Santa face.
His extremely rough-but-somehow-still-slimy lips locked with mine.
Now, I don’t wish to confuse this little story with a snag. I’m not Snagging. Remember what I said I looked like? A puffy black potato whose makeup was off fleek. This horrific experience wasn’t happening because I looked desirable. I was simply the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I feel like someone must have played a prank on him by swapping out his chapstick with vodka-infused glue (probably his frat brothers or something.) Our lips would NOT come apart. Suddenly, he had the strength of 50 shirtless Putins riding on the backs of 50 muscular bears.
I was sure that my face was now perma-infused with cheap Russian alcohol. The stench was impossible.
My mind started reeling as I panicked:
“This is how I die. I’m done. I die in Russia at the lips of Homeless Claus.”
“I might make it, though! Maybe Riggs will save me! Surely she’s seeing the massive tragedy that’s currently taking place.”
“If I do make it, I’m going to have to cut my lips off now. I don’t see any way around it.”
“Riggs will help. Any time now.”
Take courage, Past Sara, you can get through this. (I’m willing my past self through this harrowing ordeal.)
Instead of breaking free, I managed to begin to slide my face to one side. His beery mouth dragged across my cheek and ear leaving behind a snail-like spit trail. With one final push, I gained freedom by shoving him hard backwards. It was probably like one of those times a mom received enough strength to lift a car off of her baby.
I’ll never forget his face. It was like he could not BELIEVE that I didn’t appreciate his little offering to me. He was utterly astonished.
I made a pathetic yelping noise as I started madly scrubbing at my face with my gloves while I scrunched my eyes together in complete horror.
The smell! That awful mouth! What just happened?! The smell again. BUT THE SMELL, THOUGH.
When I opened my eyes he was gone.
Was it a horrible dream?
Had he been a Beer Ghost? (?)
Did homeless reindeer come scoop him up in their homeless sleigh?
I thought for a second that maybe it WAS a dream, until Riggs casually walked over to me smiling like she just won the Russian lottery (I don’t know if that even exists. I mostly made that up. Don’t quote me.)
“Well, that was interesting.” she said calmly.
“WHERE WERE YOU?! YOU SAW THAT?! WHERE WERE YOU?!”
“I wanted to see how you handled it.” she answered.
I frowned as hard as I could at her while lamenting over the fact that I didn’t have a travel-sized mouthwash in my potato pocket. As well as pure Acetone. And fire.
We walked home and I decided to stay and serve in Russia even though I had received my first real kiss from the drunk frumpy vagabond Father of Christmas.
If you’d like more Capa Russian Tales, let me know. In all honesty, I absolutely adore Russia, her people, her culture, and my mission. ❤ Russia will always be an important part of my life.
By the way, ‘Capa’ is ‘Sara’ in Russian letters.
*insert the “The More You Know” shooting star rainbow thing*
You guys are awesome! Sloppy gross kisses to you all!
Share and subscribe, or else Kissy Russki St. Nick might come find YOU…..because honestly, I’m not exactly sure where he disappeared to. He could be reading this post RIGHT OVER YOUR SHOULDER AT THIS EXACT MOMENT AND WHEN YOU LOOK HE’LL TRY TO SMOOCH YOU TOO.
That was messed up and way too scary, I’m sorry. You’re fine.
Sorry, now I’m done.