Deidre Dare Passes Judgement on Russian Men
Text by Ian Mitchell
Photos by Alina Ganenko
Any woman who changes her name to Deidre Dare is likely to be a self-publicist, especially if she writes Sex and the City-type novels, and announces at public meetings that she has taken 15 grams of valium that day.
However, until recently, Deidre was an unobtrusive lawyer, working in Moscow for a large, London-based firm that represents some of the major banks. Then she was unceremoniously sacked when it was discovered that she had published a novel on the internet combining oil and sex in an allegedly inappropriate way. Now she has to sing for her supper, and she came to one of Stephen Lapeyrouse’s English Language Evenings in Moscow, on 27 November, to publicise her views on Russian men, who are the focus of much of her writing.
Deidre grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was Jewish, and her mother Irish. She has been married to two Americans and a Frenchman, and currently has an “attachment” in Singapore and a “muse” in Australia. Despite that she came to Russia intending to date.
Deidre’s talk centred round the story of her affair with one particular Russian man, a painter whom she met at a party and got wildly drunk with on Russian champagne. She envisaged a one-night stand but instead got a lesson on the passions and fears of a man who, on two years’ experience in Moscow (and without speaking any Russian), she concluded was typical of all Russian men. Nonetheless, the large number of Russian women in the audience seemed to agree with most of what she said about their menfolk.
The first indication that Deidre’s expectations with the painter were going to be upset came on the morning after the party when he announced he was in love, despite the fact that he was ten years younger than her, had never known her sober and was himself already married.
“I was hung over, I had things to do, and I said that is not going to happen, but I had a nice night, great to meet you. Bye, bye!”
It was not to be.
“He stormed out of the flat, in a fury, slamming doors, and I never expected to see him again. Then he began this intense romantic pursuit. He would do crazy things like send flowers and the note on the flowers would say, ‘I am down stairs, let’s go and karaoke.’ I ignored everything.”
Then the painter did the Russian version of climbing up the drainpipe. One evening he shinned up the scaffolding outside Deidre’s flat with “a hamburger and a bottle of Moët.” That decided the matter. Deidre was hooked.
It became a real relationship, she said, which was the end of her hopes of polyandrous dating in Moscow. He was did everything from sending her flowers to carrying her across “any scary street things that were going on” (presumably a lawyer’s term for holes in the road). It was “incredibly romantic” to be taken out to his dacha in the middle of the night with “McDonald’s and champagne in the car”.
The first quality which Deidre inferred from all this was that Russian men are very romantic, much more so than any she had previously experienced, especially in America. But against this, her painter was upset about public opinion. He was even nervous of other diners in restaurants when he sensed their disapproval of a Russian man dating a foreigner.
His insecurities affected her too. “From the beginning, he was excessively jealous, even though he was still sleeping with his wife. Even if I had a conversation with another guy, he’d be jealous. And I think he was jealous of my boss.”
The relationship ended when Deidre flew to Paris for a month, as she has done every June for many years. They were dining in a restaurant the night before she left when, at one point, he went out to make a phone call. He came back in and, without any explanation either then or later, stopped speaking to her. They finished their meal in silence. He drove her home in silence. He took her to the airport the next day in silence, and he did not answer any calls or messages of any sort for the month she was in Paris.
When she got home she discovered that in her absence he had filled her flat with “every single painting he had ever done, and they are big, and made out of wood, and there are hundreds of them.”
From that time to this she has neither seen nor heard of him. Despite all this, when pressed, Deidre confessed that she still loved him.
Most Westerners would infer from that story that this Russian man at least, forgetting the 70 million others, was a petulant, egocentric child who has trouble selling his paintings. Deidre was more general. She concluded that infantilism is general in Russian men, and that most of them are “Mummy’s boys”.
She illustrated her point by describing an evening at her flat when another Russian guy’s mother rang up. Apparently she was at home and had run out of cigarettes. It was cold and she did not wish to go out. Despite being an ablebodied woman, she expected her son to travel half-way across Moscow and run an errand for her. Off he went.
“That,” Deidre commented, “does not happen outside Russia.”
Most Russian woman I have told this story to subsequently have laughed and said that all it illustrates is how gullible American women can be. Obviously the Russian guy was slipping out to see either his wife or his second girl-friend.
Deidre ended by giving a list of qualities which she thought were common (she was careful not to say universal) in Russian men. They are conformist, lazy, too fond of drink and are not good in bed, a point which raised an approving shout of laughter from the Russian women in the audience. By this, Deidre meant that they do not like cunnilingus, which she considers “pretty well standard operating procedure.” The painter had once said to her that he would do it for her only if she “guaranteed results”.
Beyond this Deidre said Russian men are poor communicators. They cannot explain what they like or dislike, so you are left with physical reactions, occasionally violent, as the only way of divining their thoughts and emotions. This makes it hard to trust them, especially for a woman.
“Russian men complain a lot about feeling emasculated,” Deidre ended by saying. “I agree with them, they are emasculated, though sometimes I think it is partly their own fault.”