Arizona Daily Wildcat May 5, 1998
My most recent adventure began while reading one of the few English publications in Moscow. I skimmed the want ads looking for a job. Immediately following the employment column was the so called "MARRIAGE" column with three entries. It looked like so:
IDEAL WIFE 300-66-53
I thought an interview with one of these potential brides would make the foundation for a funny story, if not a great article. Also, the loneliness I experience here had at least gotten me excited about the possibility of talking to a Russian woman - hell, any woman, even if it was for the sake of an article. Spring had finally come, love was in the air and I was overdue for some companionship.
Well, after being turned down for a chance to meet an actual bride, I was pleased to hear I could meet with, Nina, the President of Vesta Marriage Agency and ask her anything I wanted. We settled on a time and I headed off to her office with a notebook and a bouquet of flowers to get things off to a good start.
I walked in and she showed me a pamphlet with some of the strangest personal profiles I've ever seen. Beautiful women, no doubt. But I don't think I'll ever again have the chance to meet a dental technician who likes cooking and submits a picture of herself riding a mechanical bull.
It was interesting to see the honesty that Nina displayed and her willingness to admit things to me. When I asked her "So, these women just want citizenship to another country, don't they?" she said "Yes. Men here can't provide them with the life they want. This is their only chance to have a nice life. They want to leave Russia and they all speak English. We find them good husbands"
I was fortunate enough to sit in on the actual meeting of two people in the office. While they had the typical boy-meets-girl jitters, they also had a look in their eyes that suggested they were thinking about something else as they spoke. It was like watching two lawyers meeting to smoothe out the last details of a contract between two corporations.
Now, I'll concede at first the whole concept seemed strange to me - the ability to quickly "purchase" a bride. But soon I came to realize that there's nothing in this world that you can't buy. Economics is a study in a scarcity of goods. As Nina put it, here in Russia, what seems to be scarce is a chance at financial security and a comfortable life. In other countries, namely America (from which most of Vesta's clients come) there seems to be a scarcity of companionship for many men. What makes America great is the ability to offer what you have in exchange for what you need.
Why should marriage be any different? It's just an exchange of goods. Companionship for citizenship. All you need to do is pay a $50 registration fee. Russia is no longer a Communist country; let capitalism reign. What else needs to be said?
Well, what needs to be said is that marriage is supposed to a lifelong commitment between two people who love each other so much that they want to share the rest of their lives with each other. To see it reduced to a matter of filling out a companion request card and eliminating the period of courting, bridal showers and bachelor parties is just flat-out a bummer.
I feel bad for the men in America who want to find someone to share their lives with. But, most of us go through the exact same thing. The solution to your problems probably won't be found if you submit a letter saying that you'd like to marry #118B. If you're really that lonely, turn that self-pity in to a burst of energy. Go out and talk to a woman on the street who you think is cute. You get her number? Good for you. Now go, dial the first 6 digits and hang up, then take a deep breath and dial again. That's the way I still do it. You think you're too old to get back in the dating game? Look in to an agency that sets up socials for people your age and go to them. There's nothing wrong with that. But, get to really know the people you meet. Don't blindly agree to marriage with someone whose picture you like that you know won't turn you down. Take your time, there's no need to get married immediately.
I feel even worse for the Russian women. Mainly because they're under some false impression that problems they face will disappear as soon as they can claim American citizenship and have a husband who is rich enough to fly her over and pay for her immigrant visa fees. I want to tell them there are plenty of fools in America. If you hurry up and marry some man because he wrote a nice letter and happens to be a springboard to American citizenship, you're probably going to bring more grief than you avoid.
You might even end up agreeing to marry a guy like me. You don't want that.
Colin McCullough is a junior majoring in Russian and economics. He wants all ladies turned on by his mug shot to know that he is single and looking for a nice American woman who's willing to fly to Moscow. In his spare time, he likes to read the Arizona Daily Wildcat.