The regrets of an expat who tried to party like a Russian…

An `unforgettable' night out with the local ladies is one I'd rather forget.

Photo: Iva Pracevic Photo: Iva Pracevic

Sometimes it’s hard to understand what happens to you as you grow older. You feel exactly the same as you did when you were 20-something. You think you look the same, but just a bit more refined in your style and views on life. You start to realize that you're closer to 40 than to 30 only when you try to do things you did at 20 but your body refuses to act as it did then.

Photo: Iva Pracevic Photo: Iva Pracevic

This time, however, was just like last time and unfortunately, with the same result. That actually made me think - what the hell is wrong with me?! My Estonian friend had a birthday, and we decided to organize a surprise night out for her. We booked a place where you can paint and drink wine at the same time. Since she's an artist, it was a perfect place to start the party. There's actually a website where you can find Moscow bars that offer painting, and then you choose the place, date and time. We found a place in the city center.

Photo: Iva Pracevic Photo: Iva Pracevic

The night began on a promising note, but our birthday girl was a bit late. A bit late in Moscow is around one hour. When you are two hours late, then people start to complain. Luckily, she knew her way around painting so she caught up quickly and still finished with a better painting than any of us.

Photo: Iva Pracevic Photo: Iva Pracevic

The artist in charge of the evening guides you step by step through the process of painting the picture. It's actually amazing how in the end you feel like Vincent van Gogh, and two glasses of wine probably will help you see the painting in a much better light then it really is; but the two hours we spent there were really amazing, and a lot of fun.

Photo: Iva Pracevic Photo: Iva Pracevic

We decided to continue our night in Papas bar because we knew they'd let us in. And that’s where my troubles began. My brain is no longer used to going to two places in one night, so it decided to forget that I already had two glasses of wine. Next, when we're deciding what to order, my Russian friend orders a beer, so I do the same. Still feeling like 20 years old. But 30 minutes later, my Estonian friend orders tequila, and I follow. Soon after drinking that, I get up and try to walk in my high heels with my friend. She goes first, and I follow in the high heels that I wear three times a year, and this is already the second time this year. I try to walk confidently but suddenly my left leg starts to slide forcing me into a split. I graciously try to keep up with the split, catching the chairs next to me, knocking down menus and completely terrifying a young couple in love. Oh, I just can imagine what went through their heads. My friend in front of me suddenly turns to tell me something, but instead she sees me doing a half split in the middle of the bar. She nearly peed her pants laughing....

Photo: Iva Pracevic Photo: Iva Pracevic

Well, I still don’t get the signal from my brain and body telling me to drink three liters of water for the rest of the night. No, no, no. I had to have two more tequilas and even downed some more wine. At 1 a.m. my brain somehow pressed the taxi app button without me even realizing. I managed to tell the girls that I'm going home. I nearly fell asleep in the taxi, and as we pulled up to my house the taxi driver asked for 400 rubles. I first gave him a 1,000-ruble bill, but he politely asked if I had smaller bills. Of course, my Russian was also in a bit of a drunken state, so I couldn't really understand him, but I managed to take the 1,000 rubles back and tried to look for a 500-ruble bill. I was so tired that I gave him the first bill that had a five on it, but he wasn't satisfied and continued to try to explain something. My brain decided this was far too much conversation, so it gave up and my face went white. The driver just said, ``Go!'' The next day, I realized I actually paid him 50 rubles. I must have been in such bad shape that he figured best just to be rid of me.

Photo: Iva Pracevic Photo: Iva Pracevic

I think I learned my lesson this time, but only after repeating it for the second time. And so here are some rules that I now follow when drinking in Russia:

1) NEVER EVER try to drink the same amount or variety as your Russian friends

2) Have a wingman to remind you that you're not in your twenties

3) Write your age on a piece of paper and keep it close to your glass; maybe also add how many kids you have.

I'm prepared for next time. Lets see if it will work!

About the author:

Iva Pracevic is a former career woman who moved from Croatia to Moscow with her husband and two children.

In the course of trying to reconcile what she was told about Russians with what she really saw, she decided to start a blog.

Every week she posts exciting and humorous stories about her adventures.

Visit her blog for more insightful and entertaining stories.

Read more: Learning THE OTHER Russian

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