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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Russian Walnut Painter

A few minutes ago, while at work, a Russian somehow found her way to my desk. Nothing like a random Russian intruder showing up and catching you off guard. She was carrying a large black briefcase. I was hoping that I had won some kind of international contest that I didn't remember entering and that the company had sent her half way across the world to present me with the ten million dollar cash prize.

The Russian looked like her name would be Marinochka Galina Sokolov. But that's just a guess. Marinochka Galina Sokolov appeared to be in her late forties, and she looked like she won a gold medal in gymnastics thirty years ago. She still had the short haircut to prove it. I was bracing myself because at any moment she was likely to bust into a back flip, spring up and land on my desk like it was a balance beam. I was about to say, "Just leave the cash by the door and be on your way!" when she finally spoke.

"Hi."Awkward silence.
"I made something for you."
"Oh really?"
"Yes. For you and your mother."
"Oh." Awkward silence.
"Will you help me go to school?"
"Help you go to school?"
"Yes, I want to learn."
"Oh, that's nice." Awkward silence.
I was staring the briefcase, wondering what Marinochka Galina Sokolov had made for me and my mom. How thoughtful. Or maybe she was trying to sell her Olympic gold medals so that she could pay for her schooling. If that was the case, she was definitely trying to sell a gold medal to the wrong person. Not interested. At all. A gold medal is the last kind of gold necklace I would ever want.
Marinochka Galina Sokolov finally opened up the briefcase and instead of cash or medals, there were little hand-painted walnut shells, adorned with miniature flowers and horses. Her expression was intense and serious. Somehow I managed not to laugh. I would probably pay 25 cents for a walnut, but only if the nut were in the shell. An empty walnut shell with a pony painted on it has no worth to me.
"See, I painted for you and your mom."
"Oh, they're very nice, but no thank you."
"I painted for you!" She suddenly became extremely demanding.
"You painted these just for me?"
"Yes! For you!" She was getting angry and it was making me nervous.
"Thank you, but I don't have any cash."
"So you no help me learn?"
"No, sorry."
"I come back when you have money?"
"No thank you." I said, as she quickly shut the briefcase and stormed out of the office without even saying goodbye.
I've been learning day by day that there are more strange folks in Los Angeles than I could have ever imagined or written up. They are all like characters on a TV show. It's bizarre and highly entertaining at the same time.
And to sweet Marinochka Galina Sokolov, best of luck selling your walnut paintings, my friend. You have a talent, you really do. But just a little bit of advice for you, if you really are hoping to make enough money to cover your college tuition, you should step it up and start selling more mainstream things, like candy bars, girl scout cookies, or drugs.