When the Soviet Union collapsed and the borders opened, Russia’s finest horticulturalists left in droves resulting in a distinct lack of green fingers and a consequent lack of green. Ever resourceful in times of need, deprived young Russians circumvent the garden and the green house, getting their chills from synthetic cannabis, a.k.a. Spice. As a conscientious student determined to improve my language skills, I readily took a Russian friend up on the offer of a chat and a chill. This spice stuff resembles skunk, but the organic matter is superfluous- they just spray the active chemical shit onto it. Sitting in Ivan’s grubby little hole, we smoked his spice from a shapely purple pipe and sat back to relax. The smoke was harsh and metallic like salvia or rust. A strange surge ensued and I could say with absolute certainty that I was goddamn high. Ivan began to give me a tour of his facebook profile, proudly showing me photos of the girls who were lucky enough to have had sex with him. The screen was flashing wildly and his greasy hair was blindingly bright.
We watched an educational programme called ‘Kirtsy’s Secret’ which helped him to learn English and helped me to prang out. What was this shit? Young children solving a mystery using a horrifying variety of tenses and useful colloquial constructions. I wished death on English as a foreign language and these nasty little verbal acrobats. It wasn’t right but I couldn’t make it stop. I spent an hour trying to find the right phrase to politely excuse myself but none seemed to suit. The paranoia froze me stiff for all 4 episodes of Kirsty and her secret. It turned out that Kirsty was in fact a popstar and the strange contraptions in the forest were to be used in her new music video. Everything ended well for them, but I felt a creeping sense of terror as the credits faded. Now I would have to engage in conversation and brave the dazzling lights of the corridors. Not to mention the security moustaches in suits. Crippled by paranoia, spiced off my nut, a moustache was the last thing I needed.
Despite my anxiety my smile was somewhat uncontrollable. It kept pulling my mouth up and my lids down a bit. As such, I feared that any excuse for departure would look insincere when I seemed so happy. I rummaged in my pocket for an excuse but instead found a pen. I looked at it for so long that to put it away as if I had never got it out would be weird and probably offensive, so I offered it to Ivan and asked if he wanted to draw a picture. He said he doesn’t draw so I put the pen away. By this point I was brandishing him as a prick in my mind, but I knew that this insult was borne off the back off my own shortcomings and inability to summon the courage to leave. Why couldn’t I work out how to say goodbye?
Eventually we left his room, he set off to see some friends and I tried to explain that I didn’t want to because I was having trouble speaking. He wouldn’t take no for an answer but I couldn’t exactly understand what he was proposing. He walked away and I stood in the corridor for twenty minutes, confused and frightened, a rabbit in the headlights, terrified of other humans, trying desperately not to look at the Plan B look-alikes passing by. Finally I was brave and I scurried back to my room, but I was so intent on being perfectly polite that I slept in all my clothes, shirt, shoes, coat etc. so that if Ivan came calling I could say I had been expecting him, and hadn’t deliberately run away. I expected the knock at any moment but it never came.
In the morning I awoke sweaty and embarrassed. Sometimes my politeness may leave a lot to be desired, but I would rather be found wanting than disorientated and trapped by a warped sense of etiquette. So no more spice for this one.