added January 22, 2010
When I left my apartment for Irina's place for the first time I was about as excited as I had ever been. I kept telling myself to “be cool.” It was really difficult to do so. The thought of being alone with her, fixing her computer, and getting paid for it seemed like a dream come true. I kept going over the routine in my head: I can fix whatever is wrong, don't get frustrated no matter what she does, don't go to far with it, but if an opportunity arises where I can ask her out on a date, seize it.
I parked a few blocks away as it was really difficult to get a legal, non-permit spot on Kings Rd. in West Hollywood. My heart was pounding as I got to the elevator and I had to take a few deep breaths to calm myself down. She lets me in and the first thing I notice as I walk in is a large black and white photo of her in the nude, her hands carelessly folded in front of her mound. I was not at all prepared for that and I wound up staring at it much too long. She very casually tells me about it and giggles just a bit. I say very little about it as nothing very intelligent comes to mind. I try not to get bogged down because I was there for business and decide to get to work on her computer. I quickly determine this is a very similar scenario to the one I found at her business partner's place and I begin the long scan on the hard drive.
I was somewhat aware of the state of the art of translation software in the early 1990's; they were not always that effective and there are a lot of different files that need to be installed. One small problem and the programs will not work and since her livelihood depends on this software it is obviously imperative that it gets fixed right way. As we discuss what her options are for replacements, upgrading to better hardware, and steps to avoid this type of problem in the future I notice there are other paintings one of her friends has painted of her. One is of her reclining body depicted from the spot just above her knees to her navel, again with no clothing. I merely nod at that even though my inner fourteen year old girl is thinking “Oh my God! That's...cute. Is that supposed to be YOUR vagina?” As I look at her again it doesn't take much imagination to know what she looks like naked and I am trying not to look at her as if I'm desperate for her even though I am quickly believing that I am.
I had looked her over when I got there; I liked her sleeveless top and jeans, but as we speak my eyes become focused on a spot halfway up her right arm between her shoulder and elbow. There is a horrific looking scar that could have been a bullet wound or some other horrible accident. She sees me looking at it and reflexively rubs it. All sorts of strange versions of what could have caused it run through my mind. I'm sure the look of empathy on my face is fairly strong and it makes her uncomfortable. As much as I want to ask what happened, I can tell she doesn't want to talk about it and I mentally decide to drop it. As she gets me something to drink she tells me when she was born and I realize she is only about two months older than I am. There was a Proto Pipe on her coffee table and I mention that I have one of those, too. She doesn't offer me any because, I suppose, she is more interested in her word-processing program getting recovered as soon as possible.
The hard drive trundles on and we start talking about the kind of work she does and how much she travels back and forth. So much had been happening in that part of the world, and I have never been there myself, so that seemed like the best line of conversation as the operating system continued to repair what went wrong on her machine. She tells me how much she loves St. Petersburg, where she grew up, even though it was known as Leningrad during that time. I tell her that most of my Mother's family came from Minsk before they escaped to Tel Aviv, Haifa, Galilee and those parts of the “Holy Land.” She reminds me Belarus not really Russia, but I knew that. She tells me a bit of what it was like to grow up in a Communist country and she tells me she is aware that her ancestors were Jewish. I offer that if she has any questions about that I am willing to answer without it sounding too much like I am trying to convert her.
Eventually, the process on the computer stops. Soon after I spend a few moments at the keyboard everything is as good as it was before it stopped doing what it was supposed to and I can tell she is excited to get back to work. She pays me in cash and I leave. I am pleased with myself on the exit, I am sure I am more infatuated and intrigued by her than ever but on the personal level it seemed we didn't make that much progress. However, I got some cash for it to help me pay my bills.
Overall, I called it a “win-win.”