During a recent trip to Russia, probably a 10th during our married live, B grasped a new concept that opened to him the new depths of the Russian soul. It happened to him over a pool game with my sister’s fiancé, who also likes to wear shorts and t-shirts on March days in Russia.
By then, for days everyone else was busy trying to figure out how to distract B from Angry Birds and a murder mystery in discussions about world economic policy and advances in Physics, and therefore mostly kept quiet and tiptoed around him. Physics in English is just too intimidating. But the fiancé didn’t have that problem. His language skills increased exponentially with each consequent bottle of beer, and he suggested pool. Hands on and engaging.
“I know now why you do the things you do!” announced B when we came to check up on them at the pool table.
Taken aback, I shot the fiancé a look that would have crispy-crittered a small animal.
“You know how you like whack the pool balls and see if anything goes in? Now I know! It’s called avos!” B said, explaining the Russian concept of blind faith into a positive outcome. It also works for things like showing up at an exam without ever opening the textbook or spitting against the wind and not getting hit.
All this coming from a guy who likes to calculate every pool shot trajectory and would probably like a laser level for a birthday present.
The rest of the relatives jumped on the opportunity to chime in.
“Did you know that in the Soviet Union, people carried around a small sack just in case they came across food in the store?” some said. “It was called ‘avoska’ based on that same idea.”
Those were two words that B learned on that trip – avos and avoska…
When he got back home, this guy with an accounting degree and a shopping list that synchs across three phones, posted the following on the Facebook page for his business, enticing customers to stop by for a free shopping bag:
“The Russians are so serious about the avos philosophy that many carry a cloth bag (called an avoska) with them in case they find something they want. In the spirit of international understanding, we have such a bag that we will give you. It is bright red and can be used a grocery bag when you are not in the avos spirit.”