Let’s face it: Russians are weird. In Russia, they’ve been known to circle around plastic 2-liter beer bottles, in the squatting position, in desolate public parks at 10:00 AM. In the United States, they flock to Costco to buy tracksuits and puffy Kirkland jackets. And a visit to any Russian-American household will reveal a set of unique tastes. Let’s walk through a list of all of the weird things that Russians like.
Booze in strange-shaped bottles
Many Russians are in fact partial to their alcohol. But, at least for those of us who have graduated from 2L beer tubs, normal-shaped bottles don’t seem to suffice. Instead, bottles of alcohol must be shaped as strangely as possible. Let’s look at a few examples.
Left: Yes, this is a bottle of tequila shaped like a pistol.
Right: Dramatization. Do not attempt.
Left: Miniature eagle inside what looks like a chemistry project gone horribly awry.
Right: Russians are worldly! Note the actual high heel attached to the Italy “boot”.
Left: In fact, in the typical Russian manner, bottles are dressed up in the traditional attire of their native lands.
Right: Artsy. And cultured.
Sure would be fun to get drunk in this house. Of note, though, most of the bottles were gifts, and most have hardly been touched. Any action they get comes pretty much exclusively from the surreptitious activities of my brother and me, and from the occasional wild Russian party. Indeed, to a Russian, simply having can be more important than actually using.
Small jewelry containers shaped like animals
Booze is strange-shaped. So are, as it turns out, jewelry containers. At first I had no idea what this was about. But a quick google search for “Russian jewelry box” turned up the Fabergé egg, which actually occupies a fairly storied position in Russian history. The great jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé made dozens of these eggs for Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II, as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers. Since then, these eggs have come to represent the power, wealth and splendor of the Romanov dynasty, and, apparently, of this household.
Left: power and splendor, indeed.
Right: rightmost egg: Day 36. I have earned their trust. No one suspects that I am actually a pineapple.
These “eggs” seem to have gone on to birth the entirety of Noah’s Ark.
We have everything from turtles to exotic animals (top right) to classic emblems of American greatness–a bald eagle and golden retriever pup (bottom right). Indeed, the American dream is alive and well. It’s allowed us to buy these things.
Tacky picture frames
Family is important to the Russian-American. Back in Russia, when the corrupt government was doing its best to make life miserable, family was about all you had. That’s why pictures of friends and family are commonplace in the Russian household. And these pictures are obligatorily housed in quasi-personalized picture frames containing vague references to love, angels or happiness. In fact, below, we skip the pictures entirely. We just go straight to what are essentially picture-less picture frames. Even better.
It’s hard to put a finger on what unifies these Russian-American oddities. But I think the defining feature is a nostalgic desire to evoke Russia’s grand past, but with the tools and means available only in America, and distinctly not available in Russia’s dim present.
Honorable mention: strange orbs
Honestly at a loss here.