I met Igor while skiing. He rolled up – that rare case when the word can be used both figuratively and literally – and began to ask if I knew where the ski slope leads. He looked sporty, he didn’t look too much like a maniac, but, most importantly, I was bored. So yes, I knew where the ski run was going. After talking about the vicissitudes of the emergence of ski slopes, I learned that Igor’s name is Igor and that Igor is an artist.
In theory, this statement should have alerted me (I was always suspicious of people in creative professions, since I myself am like that). It should also have alerted me that my new skiing acquaintance mentioned three times during a five-minute conversation that he often happens in Paris. But the endorphins from the ski trip dampened my usual gloomy suspicion.
Igor called the next day and invited me to his studio. “I have just refurbished a studio that I plan to rent out on my trips to Paris,” the artist informed me casually. “Right now, I went to your studio after one meeting, I found a fool,” I didn’t say.
Instead, I offered to drink coffee. Igor reacted unusually violently to coffee, saying that coffee is a “waste of time” (it seemed to me all my life that this is precisely the advantage of coffee), that it is better to go to some exhibition instead. To the exhibition – so to the exhibition.
We met at the gallery where Igor’s friends were opening (or closing) an exhibition. Everything was charming: socialist realism paintings, heated debates and, of course, mulled wine, which was poured without asking and completely free of charge.
And so we left the gallery. Frost playfully pinched his cheeks. Igor approached the lamppost to which the bicycle was tied. Bike! (Let me remind you: the frost playfully pinched my cheeks.) Igor noticed my surprised look and explained: “This is good for health. It’s also cheaper than a car or subway. How much is your metro pass? What? Seriously?! Completely brazen!”
It was so useful and cheap that we got to the metro: I was on foot, Igor was imposingly sitting on a bicycle and slowly pedaling. I thought that now we will go in and drink coffee and he will finally find out what my favorite color is and who I am according to my zodiac sign, but alas. There was no invitation.
In parting, Igor kissed me twice on both cheeks, explaining meaningfully: “Like in Paris.” I took out my prohibitively expensive (for 60 trips!) travel card and drove home.
Our second meeting also took place at the exhibition. To my surprise, no one asked us for tickets at the entrance. “Entrance is free on the opening day of the exhibition!” Igor winked at me. A young man passed by with plastic cups of juice on a tray. “Do you want juice?” Igor asked helpfully. Sensing my hesitation, he conspiratorially added, “It’s free.”
So the guess that accompanied me all my acquaintance with the artist was confirmed: Igor was unconditionally and uncompromisingly stingy. And stingy not because he has little money, no. He just doesn’t want to spend it on anyone but himself. And even more so for a girl with whom it has not yet worked out.
I’ll make a reservation right away: I’m not one of those who are looking for gold mines in men. If I understand that I will not have anything with this particular character, then I pay for my coffee myself. Fortunately, I have been working all my adult life and can buy myself as much coffee as I want. And even cakes for change. But Igor didn’t let me pay for my own coffee! He diligently avoided any places where he could get a wallet. In Moscow, it should be noted, it is almost impossible.
After about an hour in the museum, the artist exclaimed: “They give free packages downstairs! With different patterns! Which one would you like to take?” Coldly saying goodbye to Igor, his bike and free packages, I decided: “Never again.”
But the season turned out to be surprisingly boring, and I agreed to another meeting with the artist, especially since he invited me to the Pushkin Museum, for which I have always had a soft spot. “Maybe this is fate,” my friend said before the meeting. (She recently got married and wanted others to follow suit.)
This time I was skeptical because I knew who I was dealing with. And the artist did not disappoint me: when I got to the museum, Igor, who met me with a ticket in his hand, kindly showed me where I can buy a ticket for myself. I’m sure even a friend would not want such a fate for me.
But I surprised Igor by agreeing to see the studio, about which he spoke so much. I reasoned something like this: I obviously won’t see a miser again, but I wanted to visit the artist’s studio all my life. This is my chance.
For some reason it seemed to me that an artist should live in a windswept attic with large windows and suffer from tuberculosis. George was the complete opposite. He was distinguished by good health, and his studio was in the basement.
Before going down to the basement, I managed to send an SMS to my friend with the address – an unconditioned reflex of a resident of the metropolis, who goes down to the basement with an unfamiliar person. The huge, recently refurbished space was sterilely stylish. In the middle of the room was a table that laconic crowned the Macbook. I didn’t notice a palette or empty absinthe bottles in the corners.
After looking around and satisfying my curiosity, I said, “Thank you! I will go!” But Igor was already getting treats from the refrigerator: black bread and sauerkraut. With an air of triumph, Igor put a bottle of wine on the table. “French?” – I decided to clarify, knowing about the artist’s love for Paris. “Of course not! Russian. Why live in Russia and drink wine from other countries?” Igor asked me in surprise. Really. No wonder Russia is called the winery of the planet.
But I also got a little cheap Russian wine, half a glass at most. After that, the artist resolutely corked the bottle and put it away from me. A little good. But let’s be objective: Igor did not limit me in cabbage. He even volunteered to share a cabbage recipe with me, as “it’s cheaper to cook it at home than buy it in the store.”
At ten in the evening, I realized that the performance was dragging on and it was time, as they say, to pack the easel. While I was struggling with my coat in the hallway, Igor decided to go for broke. At first he invited me to stay overnight. I pulled on my hat.
Then the artist volunteered to see me off.
The weather, meanwhile, picked up a runny nose: on the street everything was melting, dripping and squelching. Nearby, the Moscow Ring Road was noisy.
Shivering, I realized in horror that the artist’s hand settled on my waist. I quickened my pace, but my hand remained there. Igor said something excitedly to me. Looks like he wanted to know my intentions. “I’m going to take the bus,” I muttered. “But what about us?!” – the artist exclaimed with anguish and tried to kiss me. I dodged. “Let me give you a ride!”
I was pleasantly surprised: did I really make such a strong impression on Igor that he decided to overcome his stinginess and catch a car? .. “I’ll just pull out the bike,” Igor explained. “I have a very comfortable frame.”
We never saw the artist again. Alas, in communicating with a stingy man, I see only one plus: you are unlikely to find out about his other shortcomings, since you simply stop answering his calls.
But not everyone shares this opinion. A month later, social networks notified me that Igor was “in a relationship.” Of course, I could not help but look at the girl who had succumbed to the seduction of cabbage. Such a beautiful girl 22 years old. Apparently, not as capricious as me. Hold on to the man, well done.