Stove faux pas & unrequited village-love
Tales from rural Novgorod (Part II)
The below text is a truthful retelling of Edward’s adventures in his village in Novgorod Oblast. Don’t forget to read/re-read Part I: “Why I went to the village”.
When Lev the village lumberjack fell in love with Ekaterina, he approached me for advice. This was his first mistake.
“Women like gifts,” I opined as we steamed together in our birthday suits in the banya.
“Do you think Ekaterina would like a 10-liter glass jar?” Lev asked me.
“Sure, why not?” I replied as I dumped a bucket of cold water on my head. “Jars are nice.”
Lev was ecstatic. He already knew where to find the perfect 10-liter jar. He had spotted one last week while treasure hunting in the vacant dacha across the street.
All that was left to do was to retrieve the glass container under cover of darkness and present it to Ekaterina and then she would be forever his. I agreed to act as lookout as Lev carried out the extraction.
Operation Enduring Jar was scheduled to kick off at 23:00 that evening. Lev and I readied ourselves with beverages at his kitchen table.
After the fourth beverage I was convinced there was no way our mission could fail. The glass jar’s power as an aphrodisiac was undeniable and Lev himself was quite a catch. He was something of a Renaissance man: adept with an axe, gifted in the kitchen, seasoned in all situations requiring power tools, and experienced in amateur dentistry. While serving in the Russian Navy he even mastered oratory. Instead of spacing out his verbal utterances with “umm”, “you know”, “you see”, or “like”, Lev would casually and amicably mutter “f**k your mother”.
(“If you ever get tuberculosis, chew on some dog fat and you’ll make a full recovery. F**k your mother.” That is an actual sentence that lumberjack Lev once said to your correspondent.)
The fateful hour arrived and I soon found myself standing guard on the side of the road in the pitch dark with my trusty sidekick Nika, the semi-feral village dog.
“Wait here,” Lev whispered to me as he disappeared into a forest of uncut weeds. Nika began to roll around on the road while moaning uncontrollably—her signature move.
Lev emerged from the weeds two minutes later, interrupting Nika’s moans.
We walked another 50 meters up the road.
“This is the one. Be back soon,” Lev reassured me as he vanished again into the darkness.
I waited nervously as I scanned my surroundings for any movement. The cold air tickled my nostrils. The light of the moon grazed the road’s thin coat of snow. Nika moaned more.
Minutes passed. Finally, a rustling from the weeds heralded Lev’s return. The glass jar was under his arm.
We returned to Lev’s house and celebrated.
“Light the stove, Roman,” he instructed me. (Viktor Andreevich had informed Lev and the other villagers that my name was Roman, and who was I to contradict him?)
Before carrying out Lev’s command, I relieved myself in his throne room, where I noticed a shelf of cardboard toilet paper cores. Each cardboard roll was stuffed with five or six other toilet paper cores. Intoxicated by our recent triumph, and also just normal-intoxicated, your correspondent scooped up the entire shelf and tossed the cardboard cores into the stove. A roaring fire ensued.
Lev, who had been busy in the kitchen cleaning his gift for Ekaterina, poked his head around the corner to examine my work. His eyeballs almost popped out of their sockets upon seeing the contents of the raging stove.
“MY COBS!” Lev shouted. “Roman, you only need to use half a cob!”
My mouth opened but no words came out.
“I was stockpiling them all summer, f**k your mother,” Lev groaned, his voice cracking. “My cobs…”
Lev poured himself a beverage as the flames engulfed four months of strenuous pooping.
“I’m sorry, Lev,” I said, my head lowered in shame.
“It’s okay, Roman. You’re an American, you don’t know any better, f**k your mother.”
The next day Lev gifted Ekaterina a beautiful and very clean 10-liter glass jar, which she politely accepted and then forgot all about.
Lev then sought the services of an elderly woman from a neighboring village who was in communion with supernatural forces. For 200 rubles she put a love hex on a rolled-up newspaper, which Lev then placed on Ekaterina’s doorstep. That also didn’t work for some reason.