Happy Moscow

by Sam Frank

From Russia with love? An epistolary romance, with obstructions, between the USA and the former USSR.

"Happy Moscow" was produced by Triple Canopy as part of its Immaterial Literature project area, supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston.

It was 9:02 in the morning a few Septembers ago that an email was sent to my college alumni account, which in some years I hadn’t used for forwarding. It’s taken me this time, I’m afraid, to arrange what further will follow.

Dear user

You received this message because your profile is registered on the site Russiandating.ru.

Your russiandating.ru User Name: samuel.frank74

You have 1 new message(s) in your mail inbox at russiandating.ru. In case you want to open your mail box and read the messages, please click on this link: http://russiandating.ru/fastlogon/?name=samuel.frank74&key=78f024ecef2fdfc daa8934df85bbaab2&page=/mail/inbox/

The tab that opened when I clicked on the link asked me for my password, which, I’m sure, I had no memory of; and I must then have closed the tab; yet, compelled, clicked on the link once more, whereupon I was logged in automatically, as if by prestidigitation.

From: ketybell
Date: September 27, 2007
Subject: from Kety

Do you want a challenge in your life?...:) Such as - to make a beautiful woman fall in love with you?... You have a good start – you made me interested with your profile, but that's not enough to keep me interested!

Well, I can't say that I'm easy... No, I'm complicated... But you don't seem to be the one who is afraid of difficulties :) Be sure you'll be rewarded with all my love and passion! Although this life is a game, I am not playing a game with you - I'll give you everything - my love, my body, my mind and my entire life, be sure I know how to be faithful! But... you have to give me all the same from your side... it's like diving into the ocean - no half-steps, for all your life, but it is worth it!

So... are you ready to dive?... Don't keep me waiting for too long...


I closed the tab; then, again, clicked on the link. My own profile, I found, save my American residence and my forty-seven…my forty-seven years of age, was blank as these walls around me, blank enough, indeed, for projection. Was this a prank I’d played on myself when younger, I couldn’t recall, and I returned then to work, all this moment a matter of minutes…
Came Saturday night, two days later, and all was as it had been—idle, prosaic—when I espied again the fateful subject line, amplified now, compounded: “You have 6 new message(s) in your mail box at russiandating.ru.” I hastened, then—but the first I opened was keyboarded in Cyrillic, and I fumbled the text into the site’s translator, whose operation was as mysterious as all that had preceded it. “English I know badly but colloquial is,” read the penultimate line of katya044’s machinèd message. “English I know badly but colloquial is. Very much I wish it to develop in practice.”

From: viberezina
Date: September 28, 2007
Subject: good evening!

Hello.My name is Victoria.I'm a student.I study languages:English and French.I'm well-humoured and handsome girl.

From: kirura625
Date: September 28, 2007
Subject: hi

Hello! If you like my profile, write me!

From: natalyspb
Date: September 29, 2007
Subject: how are you???

Hello samuel.frank74,

I`m optimistic, cheerful with good sense of humor, but I`m serious inside. My interests in life: reading on self-perfection, listening to music (classic and the French chanson), walk by foot to admire the architecture. I like active rest, going out of the city. My friends consider me as a sincere and open person.

Seeks Partner: I`m looking for: My dream is to find a decent, reliable, honest and intelligent man, who is not only a husband but also my friend. I`m looking for a person who truly wishes to create a family with cozy home and have children. The home that remains dear at happy and sad times. We are so lonely in our big world.

From: bebi-712856
Date: September 29, 2007
Subject: i would like to communicate!

I search for the friends! But possible that single, who will force my heart to melt! For friends I have no restrictions, the main to was pleasantly communicate!


From: Korolina_2007
Date: September 29, 2007
Subject: from Belarus

Hello samuel.frank74,

My name is Irina. I live in Minsk, Belarus. I am 24, 170cm and 58 kilos. I love life and I like almost all activities.

From: tatyana2007834
Date: October 1, 2007
Subject: long letter to you!

I wish to write a little about myself... I live in one of beautiful cities in Russia... Here very fine nature (that it is possible to go behind mushrooms to collect various wood berries., to fish in lakes... (though I do not like it to do..))) - can be you you will visit here? - I am assured to like you..!!!! But I also very often go by the sea (the south of Russia) where I like to spend time on coast of Black sea... Under palm trees..... And also there the fine nature.. Mountain air... And the sun!!! I work as accounant.... We colleagues... But I wish to become the doctor.. And to professionals in this area... As at me the daddy and mum too doctors... And they work in this speciality more than 30 years... (the daddy even has some operating time in the field of medicine - ideas on treatment of those or other heavy diseases...)... (College) but wanna study in medicine road....

I search sincere, intelligent, it would be healthy if its activity also has been connected with medicine (I think at us there would be a general understanding and harmony...)

I already have a child.. It so... Very nice the little son... Already recently there were 4 months!!!!... I have given birth to it on April, 26th, but it already.. Not bad says some words.


From: Natlove
Date: October 7, 2007
Subject: Hello-)))

Hi samuel.frank74,

Once I looked in a mirror and saw a pretty woman with very sad eyes. From the beginning I even couldn’t understand that it was me! Yes, unfortunately it was me. Pretty, intelligent, active, optimistic and open, woman with a kind heart but what made my eyes sad? I ask myself What I’ve got to do in order to become absolutely happy? I know the answer and if you read this message you know too!:) I have friends, relatives, job but not love. I am no teenager neither a woman Balzac’s age, I am 34 and I perfectly know what I want. I am not a business lady; I am not searching wealthy life. I need a man, intelligent, honest, and decent with open heart for a love. A man who knows how to get what he wants and what to do with it after. I need a family, my own friendly family with a child and husband. Make my eyes to shine with happiness!!!

From: Varvara18
Date: October 8, 2007
Subject: KiSS

Hi samuel.frank74,

I the cheerful student of medical academy. I love the sea, travel, an active way of life. I adore a rain.... Years, warm, with peals of a thunder and flashes of lightnings. To me it is pleasant when it streams runs to me for a collar as I involve a head in shoulders from peals of a thunder....... Also it would be desirable, that a number was big, kind and strong which would press me to itself and sheptal *N-ye be afraid, the kid, I with you!

A week later, with a kind of emptiness in my heart, I sent my credit-card number, twenty-nine dollars, and ninety-nine cents to Columbus, Ohio, for a month’s membership; and a week after that sent one and the same reply, neutrally, I would have had myself believe, to the twenty-seven profiles that had messaged me.

From: samuel.frank74
Date: October 22, 2007
Subject: What are you looking for?

What are you looking for?


From: marception481
Date: October 22, 2007
Subject: no subject

I the red knave with almost angelic character and appearance, I study at university on spetzmal-nosti "computer science, protection of the information and information processes"

I work at school the third year as the teacher of computer science to work with children - very much interesting! I want to have children but while there is no time...

I like to have fun in the company of friends to be going and leave on a nature, for city, to go in bowling, a pool and discos. I go for a drive on snowboardye in the winter, but it is bad, still I study) I hope further better)

For all time of study at school has finished many various rates: art school, medical rates, kroyki and sewing, economy. Now I am engaged basically only in study and work)))

On a site simply I want to communicate, and there already how to turn out, simply I do not believe, that two persons who talk in different languages can live together and hardly understand each other... Write, I shall be glad))

From: angelina136305
Date: October 22, 2007
Subject: no subject

Thanks for your letter. On this site I would like to find the man which would understand and appreciated me. I would like to find the man near to which there would be the woman, instead of a parlourmaid-robot. The man for which the family is a life.

From: aristova_alena212
Date: October 22, 2007
Subject: hi

The person of relatives on the soul.

From: SvetikK
Date: October 22, 2007
Subject: Hi

I am looking for the interesting interlocutors

From: Qertiana562
Date: October 23, 2007
Subject: no subject

For the beginning dialogue, in parallel studying of language and there will be visible.

From: lyudmila2007
Date: October 24, 2007
Subject: ):

I am looking for a seriose, cool, attractive, energy,cheerful, honest,kind,sweety man for the seriose interrelations, te love and future. and you?


From: Grasella622
Date: October 24, 2007
Subject: no subject

I`m looking for a husbend loving me

From: unysex262
Date: November 2, 2007
Subject: no subject

my self........I looking.....there myself

From: HelenTheBeautiful452
Date: November 5, 2007
Subject: no subject

real relations with a real man, I am like others--I need love--I am human being

“Real relations with a real man…I am human being.” Finally, I thought, I sent 214 replies.

From: samuel.frank74
Date: November 6, 2007
Subject: What are you looking for?

Have you read Andrey Platonov’s Happy Moscow? The heroine, Moscow Chestnova, writes a story as a child:


We are being taught to have minds, but minds are in heads, there is nothing on the outside. We must labor to live truthfully, I want to live the future life, I want there to be biscuits and jam and sweets and always to be able to walk by the trees in the field. Otherwise I won’t live, I won’t feel like it. I want to live normally with happiness. There’s nothing to say in addition.

Later, Moscow talks with one of her lovers, the engineer Sartorius:

“My skin always feels cold afterward,” said Moscow. “Love cannot be communism. I’ve thought and thought and realized that it just can’t. One probably should love—and I will love. But it’s like eating food—it’s just a necessity, it’s not what matters in life.”

What are you looking for?

Subject: What do you search?

You have read through Happy Moscow of Andrey Platonova? The Heroine, Moscow Chestnova, writes history as the child:


To us teach to have minds, but minds are in heads, on the external party there is nothing. We should a labour to live truthfully, I wish to live the future life, I wish to be there biscuits and a fuse and sweets and be able to always go trees in the field of. Otherwise I shall not live, I shall not feel similarly to it. I wish to live usually with happiness. There is nothing to tell except for that.

Later, Moscow speaks with one of its beloveds, engineer Sartorius:

"My leather always feels cold later," Moscow has told. "The love cannot be communism. I thought and thought and understood, that it only cannot. Everyone possibly should love - and I shall love. But it resembles food food is - only need, it not what has put in a life."

That you search?

From: alyona741140
Date: November 14, 2007
Subject: ...

Dear Samuel. Thank you for your mysterious letter. I was happy to road it and feel what you feel when you wrought it. What am I looking for? I looking for some thing what every body dreams. I am looking for some body who will be happy with me. Life is so strange thing. Every day I see the calendar and dream about next day, next week, next month.. Every day I am waiting for the moment when I'll meet my tally, or if I will not, I dream that my life will finish in some moment and every thing will be easyest. I really tired. I tired live in Moscow, I tired life like every body. So.. So what are you looking for? :)

Sartorius was upset that his love, which he had saved up all his life, should meekly perish the very first time. But he understood Moscow’s painful thought: that the very best of feelings lies in understanding another human being, sharing the burdens and happiness of a second, unknown life, and that the love which comes with embraces brings only a child-like, blissful joy, and does nothing to solve the problem of drawing people into the mystery of a shared existence.

—Andrey Platonov, Happy Moscow, circa 1936; first published in Novy Mir No. 9, 1991; revised edition in Strana Filosofov III, September 1999; translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Nadya Bourova, Angela Livingston, and Eric Naiman, 2001