Monday, March 14, 2011

Husband # 1

I've been married (legally and formally) 4 times.

Here's the story of the first one.

I was in High school-my last year. I lived in my hometown (Baku) still.

For most of my childhood I actually lived with my maternal grandparents,as both of my parents had very busy successful sports careers that took them out of town quite a lot for extended periods of time.

The kindergarten was,literally,in the courtyard of my grandparent's building and the school was across the road, so it made sense that I stayed with them all the time,even when my parents were in town.
I would visit my parents on weekends and school holidays.

By my last year of school my Mom's career has eclipsed and she became a coach for a teenage volleyball team located at the Navy base in town. She decided she wanted me to move back in her flat so she can "supervise" my studies.

My mother is a neurotic control freak and we never had a good relationship (in fact,it's at its best now, when we are a world apart and speak on the phone only once a fortnight).

Mom was always pressuring me to get nothing but straight "A"s and be the best at everything. It is a bit funny,as she was never any good academically and barely managed to graduate High school. The only reason she had a college diploma is because she went to "Physical Education College" and at the time was a lead player in Soviet National Volleyball team. They just pushed her through without her needing to make any studying effort-back then Russia was all about winning the Gold and proving to "capitalist" world that we are the best.
My Mom certainly delivered as a volleyball player of highest calibre and college just passed her through all the exams,so she can have a diploma.

Anyway, so I was living with Mom. Being watched 24/7. No dates were allowed, no going out or parties,no make-up...

All through my years of school I WAS,in fact, straight "A" student, so all this was totally unnecessary, but Mom was worried that the competition to enter the University would be too fierce (and it was) and she firmly believed that I need to study even more.

Back then in Russia everything was owned by the Government (including all schools,colleges and universities). Education was free. As in absolutely free. In fact, if you maintained high marks, government paid you a monthly stipend to insure that you focus on the studies and don't have to work. It was NOT a loan-it was just like a salary.

Anyone was free to enter any college or university.

Trouble was, some of those were a lot more popular than others. So while "Geology" barely had one applicant for each 2 spots available, University Of Foreign Languages (my school) had 5 applicants for each vacancy.

To enter  any college or university, one had to pass entrance exams. There were four: one would be relevant to the future course of studies (English Language in my case) and the other 3 varied, but usually it would be:
 a)Composition -where you were offered 3 subjects ( related to Russian Literature) and you were given 3 hours to write a 6-page essay on one of those (free-hand,as we had no computers back then:)
b) Russian history
c)Russian grammar.
If you were trying to enter Polytechnic School, exams would include chemistry,physics or math.

Only applicants with highest marks would be admitted. Each year each school had "passing score"-it was determined by a number of applicants for each vacancy. The more applicants, the higher the score.

As the highest mark in Russia was "5" (equals "A" in Western World), the passing score for my school was consistently 19 (out of 4 exams you were allowed to get three "5"s and only one "4"-anything less than that threw you out of competition).

As entrance exams were spread out throughout about a week's time and scores were posted after each one,everyone knew whether or not they stood a chance:if you got "3" for your first, you were clearly out of the running-there was no point in going through the stress of taking the other 3 exams. Still, a lot of people hoped against hope and persevered.

Entrance exams were extremely stressful. Students started preparing for them at the beginning of the last year of High school. A lot of wealthy parents hired tutors for their kids with explicit purpose to get them ready for those.

There was at least one publicised case of 18-year old having died from stress-induced heart attack during entrance exams at a very prestigious University.
The whole ordeal was not for the faint of heart,that's for sure.

There I was, studying hard,getting ready for the exams.

By that time my Dad lived in Moscow. Him and my Mom were still married, but he finally managed to get a government apartment there and that's where Russian Sport's Committee and Russian Olympic Committee were based, so he spent all his time there when he wasn't travelling for practice/competition.

Mom was going to join him later and myself later still when my University situation was sorted out.

In the meantime Mom was coaching girl's team located at the Navy Base. There she met a young guy (he was 24 at the time and Mom was 40) and fell in lust with him.

It was rather painful and embarrassing to watch. As it was a small town and even smaller,tight knit neighbourhood, everyone knew every one's business, so she couldn't really blatantly carry on an affair.
Plus,winter/spring romance was not an acceptable thing back then when a woman was a "winter" (of course, men could  do whatever they wanted and it was all good).

So Mom invited that guy over to our flat and kept telling neighbours that him and I were dating. I tolerated that. Then she told me that she wants me to marry him! Yes, actually marry him!

I was appalled and in a shock. Truth is, back then we were brought up to respect our elders and we pretty much did what we were told. Also,  tricky housing situation and restrictions on one's movements imposed by the government were making it very difficult to just walk away from one's home/parents: you would literally have no place to live and won't be able to get a job because you had no place to live. Catch 22.

I was in a state of quiet panic. I most certainly did not like that guy, was not at all attracted to him in any shape or form and it was apparent to me that him and my Mom are shagging each other. But I was trapped.

As a last ditch attempt to remove myself from the situation, I asked my then "real" boyfriend (whom my Mom hated with passion) to marry me. I explained to him what was going on and told him our marriage needn't be "for real". I just wanted to get out of my Mom's house. Dimitry (boyfriend) clearly didn't care about me enough and flatly refused to help me,saying he had "other plans for himself".

I can't resist a side note here: fast forward 8 months: Dimitry was kicked out of the military academy,as I carried him through the last 2 years of High School academically,letting him copy my tests,writing his essays,etc and he only got into that academy because his father (Navy general) has thrown some weight around. But even his father couldn't do anything about his academic ineptitude.

 Fast forward another 3 months: Dimitry was now in the Army (mandatory 2 years for all males back then in Russia,unless you are already enrolled in military school).

Fast forward another 4 months: Dimitry is back in town for his mother's funeral,dirty,looking like hell,telling me about horrible treatment fresh army recruits get from older soldiers.

Fast forward 4 years: Dimitry's father kicked him out of their flat,as his new wife didn't want a grown son "cramp her style". Dimitry found himself in exactly the same situation I was 4 years ago: no place to leave,can't get a job because he has no place to live and no money,because he can't get a job. The reason I know all that is he wrote me a tearful letter  (I just moved to US), begging me to take him back, help him move to the States and organise visa/tickets/job,etc.

I honestly was in no position to help him-I was in the country on a visitor visa myself, but karma is a bitch,ain't it!

Sorry, I digress: suddenly all these memories come flooding in. Back to my first husband story.
My Mom DID make me marry him. It wasn't any kind of special wedding-she just put  him and myself in a taxi,took us to the City Hall and,just like that,we were married.

That guy,Victor his name was, had an agenda (aren't they all..LOL..). He was originally from a small town in Siberia. He was in our beautiful sunny city for 2 years serving his mandatory Army/Navy requirement.
He happened to be a good water polo player,so his "service" in the Navy meant he played water polo for the local Navy team. But all that was about to come to an end and he would have to go back to Siberia.. Unless he got a stamp in his passport saying he lived in Baku (my home town).
One of the ways to acquire the stamp was through  marriage. So he was enjoying a nice shag with a cougar (my Mom) AND hoping to get all sorts of fringe benefits out of it as well (it didn't escape his attention that my parents were well-off financially).

For a while the three of us lived in this studio flat. I slept on the couch and my Mom and Victor slept on the floor (we'd put mattresses away during the day). They didn't shag in my presence,thank God,not even when I was asleep, but I'm sure they did plenty of that during the day when I was away at school.

Oddly enough, my Mom kept encouraging me to "like" Victor and made a lot of thinly (VERY thinly) veiled suggestions that I should have sex with him. I think it was because she wanted to hang on to him and keep him around and she thought if he was kept "interested" by having sex with both of us, it was more likely to happen. She also prohibited me from dating anyone and going out.

To his credit, Victor never forced himself on me.

 I really didn't like him and deeply resented the situation I was in and often expressed my resentment verbally.

I freely admit: I have a temper and a very sharp tongue. When people treat me with respect,they get the same in return. However,if someone does me wrong, I can be a nasty piece of work.
I have a knack for hitting (verbally)where it hurts the most. Now that I'm older, I control it most of the time. I realise that I can seriously hurt people.
Sometimes,though,when I'm hurt myself, I loose all control. Just a few months ago,for instance, I was hurt and angry with someone whom I actually liked and respected  and who meant a lot to me. What she's done was not good,but, using a gun analogy, I could have taken out a 22 caliber pistol and take a shot-that would have been sufficient.
Instead I pulled out  Glock semi-auto and laid on the trigger until the clip was empty. I very much regret doing it now, but at the moment I was seeing red and there was no stopping me.

One time during a similar verbal session with Victor he grabbed me,threw me on the couch and got on the top of me. He whispered menacingly in my ear:"If you don't shut up right now, I'll stick my big cock in every hole you have until you bleed from all of them". He was  very big and very strong  (water polo players usually are) and I could hardly breathe under his weight. I went quiet until he let go of me.

Meanwhile my father was in Moscow,having a pretty good idea of what was going on back home, but he really didn't want all the extra stress of confronting my Mom.

At some point I talked Victor into getting a divorce (event marked by a stamp in the passport,just like marriage,in Russia).
As my Mom routinely went through my things,bags,wallet,etc,she eventually saw the stamp.
Oh,the hell I had to endure. She actually bribed the passport officer and told him that I've lost my passport and got a replacement one with marriage stamp only! Can you believe it?! It did,however, help me out unexpectedly later on (having 2 passports).

All this went on for almost a year until my Mom had to move to Moscow herself. I stayed in Baku,as I couldn't transfer to Moscow Language University and back to Siberia Victor went.

I found out later that my Mom invited Victor to come visit her in Moscow when my father was away. Dad returned home early and found them together. So he had to confront them,after all. It wasn't pretty. Victor went back to Siberia and I never head a word about him in our household since.

I think (this is a speculation based on certain observations and things my Mom let accidentally slip in conversations) that Victor got my Mom pregnant (hilarious,right??) and she had to go get DNC (also referred to as mini-abortion or "vacuum cleaning").

There WERE two good things that came out of that marriage. One was that Victor bought my Mom and me a puppy at one stage (my Mom wouldn't let me have a dog before,but it was OK when her boy-toy brought it home).
It was the cutest black-and-tan daschund. I named him Julian. He was my constant companion. Mom prohibited me from taking the dog to bed, but Julian would crawl (yes,crawl -very quietly and slowly) to the couch when everyone was asleep and I would pick him up and hide him under the blanket.

The other one was that I could get a visa from US embassy to go to America by producing a passport with "married" stamp.
Americans were not very keen on granting visitor visas to young single people for fear of "overstays", but as it looked like I was leaving a husband behind and,certainly,would come back home to reunite with him (assumptions,assumptions..hehehehe), I got my visa.

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