When I walked into my apartment the other day upon returning from Miami, I was really hoping to find a finished apartment with “Tuscany” made-in-Brazil tiles (on sale at Lowe’s!), a clean jacuzzi tub, and no paint splotches on the walls. Well, I was nearly there. Sasha arrived late, as usual, even though he was supposed to be there early to get into my upper plumbing through the upstairs apartment.

“Couple of mouthy broads up there,” he told me. “Why are you so late?” he mocked, simulating a woman’s face. “What I would do to them!”

I harrumphed my agreement so he’d move on. Sasha looked at me with a mischievous grin.

“What?” I asked.

“Why don’t you want to make a fictitious marriage?” he demanded, as if he were my parent, some severity anchoring his playful tone.

“Are you kidding me?”

“You’ll make good money!”

“There are better ways to make money. This is my life we’re talking about!” But this was somehow lost on Sasha. In his world, there was no argument against money. Money was a force that had a will of its own, and nothing stopped in its path. I wanted to suggest that he should marry her himself, then remembered he said something about possibly being married already. I refrained from a facile gibe.

In the car, on the way to a plumbing supply store, he told me he had to go “fix the mileage” tomorrow. Sadly, I knew exactly what he meant. This was no longer just funny and exotic. This was kind of sad. Though more or less honest as much as his line of work permitted, Sasha was impressed by petty crime and cut the most trivial corners to make a buck. This is a hopeless type. This is a guy who doesn’t know economics. I looked at him again, completely absorbed in the next scheme, the next hustle; two, three jobs from now. This was a world totally foreign. And not one I ever really want to occupy.



Ex-Soviet immigrant turned wanna-be scribe. I bite off more than I can chew, but at least I've got good teeth.

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