Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

Playing with fire

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Is it just me or do people look at you funny when you eat or drink alone at 4:30pm on a Friday?  After getting a text from my manager at Yoshi’s encouraging me to start my weekend early, I walked down to Polk with no book in hand, no Mac in bag, and no plan, in general.

When I sat down at one of Parilla’s front patio tables, (Parilla is a South American restaurant that serves tapas and a mean happy hour), the server asked me what I wanted to order.

“A glass of red wine sangria, please.”

“You might as well order a pitcher since it’s only a few dollars more.”

He was handsome and had a thick Latin accent, so naturally I said, “Sure, why not?  Is it bad if it’s just me drinking an entire pitcher?”

“You don’t have to finish it….”

“It’d be a waste if I didn’t.”

So, out comes a full pitcher of red wine sangria.  It had been gray and cold all of that morning, but sitting there in the afternoon, the sun had finally come out to greet San Francisco.  What could be better than having a glass of sangria in one hand, a local paper in another, and not having any deadlines or commitments for the rest of the night?

After having made myself comfortable for 20 minutes, a blond man with piercing blue eyes, probably in his early 40s, stopped in front of my table and asked whether I’d mind if he shared the table with me.  He spoke with a thick accent too.  This time, I guessed he was from France.  He wasn’t.  He was from Russia, with love.

After initial small talk that gave me the impression of his nature to be a compulsive liar, he began to ambiguously tell me what he does for work.  The music industry.  Promotional work.  His younger friend, who joined us later, said no more than 5 words throughout the entire two hours we sat at that table.  The conversation was taking a mysterious turn.  The way this man answered my questions led me to believe there was a lot more underneath the surface.

When he found out that I owned a bike, he asked if I would join him for a ride sometime.  Up until this point, I hadn’t mentioned I was in a long distance relationship.  So, I told him we should get a group to go sometime.  We exchanged information, and he and his friend gave me a ride to where I was meeting a friend for dinner.

I got a text a few days ago from this man.  Being curious about his enigmatic past, I Googled him.  It turns out my intuition was right.  There was a SF Bay Guardian article detailing his accused “ties to the Russian mafia” and the immigration battle he was/may still be facing with the U.S. government.  A former front-line soldier in Afghanistan accused of three civilian murders in Russia, a formerly jailed suspect being monitored by the Dept. of Homeland Security.  And I was laughing and chatting with him over sangria on a sunny Friday afternoon.  According to the article, he claims he was simply a victim due to vocalized opposition to his country’s transition to capitalism.

There are always two sides to a story, if not more.  I can’t help but want to know more about his side.


Written by winniewongsf

July 14, 2010 at 10:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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