These insurmountable standards of beauty can largely be credited to the fact that there are more women than men.

The disintegration of male hygiene and work ethic that occurs when there is (by some counts) a 3:1 female:male ratio should be noted by anthropologists worldwide.

A great many of them confessed to dreaming of moving to a beach in Bali, roasting barbecue all day, and copulating furiously with island women.

This is why teaching ESL was booming there; for anyone who had any semblance of ambition, the goal was to learn English, the golden ticket to getting out.

All of which is to say, I am dual in every way, and my plethora of multicolored passports is a worthy symbol of the cultural mish-mash of my personality. The first thing that you’ll notice when you get to Russia is that the women are astoundingly beautiful and immaculately presented.

They will sashay past you with their wobbly stilettos (which are worn even over blocks of ice) and designer bags (which carry a full pharmacy complete with a mini shoe polish and handwipes) and, if you tell them you pluck your own eyebrows and only get a facial once a month, will look at you as though you have just clawed your way out of a swamp.

It was “No Means Yes, and Yes Means Anal.” Not surprisingly, the attitude toward rape in Russia is still depressingly medieval. That’s life,” my mother would say with a shrug as she heard about a recent rape victim on the news.

However -- and here’s where we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that the popularity of bodice-ripper romances and all the statistics about rape fantasies are not for nothing -- When I met one of my Russian boyfriends, he had (as is customary) come by the house several times to take me on long walks and brought cake for me and my parents, never once making anything remotely resembling an advance.

Having grown up in New York, I had taken for granted that people were always striving for something, or at least striving to be striving for something.

In Russia, most of the guys I met were engaged in some sort of dubious import/export business in electronics; the rest were involved in “business” (if you ask what kind of business, and there is a marked pause followed by the word “business,” you should refrain from asking any more questions).

I had female friends who had no idea they were apparently someone’s girlfriend.