Saturday, January 9, 2010


Straight white male, 43, gainfully employed, seeks woman for marriage. Suitable candidates love their mate at least as much as God, carry no more debt than can be paid off in one lifetime, and agree to practice monogamy.

Attention ladies of Estonia: My brother Villu is available.

Villu is smart, well-read, has an interesting career as a journalist in the American South, but seems to have little to do other than work, buy stuff, and hang out in restaurants with his friends. He’s 43 years old. The family is starting to worry.

It’s not that he doesn’t want a wife—or so he claims—but he’s either completely unlucky in that department or has been marked by God to receive His wrath, carried solely by female messengers. And carry it they do.

Bernice was three girlfriends ago. Villu was probably in love with her, though the relationship never reached that stage where he was forced to say it. According to American mating rituals, a commitment to not sleep around generally precedes use of the L-word. But Bernice wasn’t able to make that commitment. She had more or less moved in with him, spending several nights a week at Villu’s house. But when it came to the question of sleeping around, she, in my brother’s words, thought monogamy was an expensive material used to make cabinets. Bernice wanted to fly out to California several times a year to continue sleeping with a man in Los Angeles. Villu is a live-and-let-live Libertarian, but when it comes to women he’s an old fashioned guy. Bernice had to go.

Tabitha he dated close to a year—and they both had used the L-word—until she put the hard question to him: “Can you give me five thousand dollars?” Tabitha had taken a bank loan for 300,000 dollars to buy a McMansion, one of the American tract homes built of particleboard to resemble mini-castles. If you blow on one, it falls over, but they hold real appeal for a majority of the upwardly mobile American middle class. With an eye toward remodeling and flipping the house, Tabitha borrowed an additional 200,000 dollars, ran through that, and then put an additional 60,000 on her credit card. When Villu came into the picture, she owed well over a half-million dollars to a variety of creditors. According to Villu, there was no way her house was worth even half her debt, especially with nicer, newer homes down the block listed for as little as two-hundred grand. Tabitha, living in a state of denial that personal bankruptcy was still avoidable, asked Villu for a gift of five-thousand dollars. In an attempt to take the bullet with honor, Villu wrote her a check for five-hundred and told her it was a loan. The very next week she surprised him by buying him a plane ticket and taking him to Florida for the weekend. Tabitha not only couldn’t count money, she lacked all common sense. There was nothing to do but let her go.

Phyllis is the most recent disaster. Somehow convinced (possibly by a perfect body) that Phyllis was terribly interesting but holding back, Villu dated her for nearly a year. Over that time, she never expressed an opinion about anything and, according to Villu, constantly annoyed him by never paying for anything—not a single lunch, dinner, taxi fare, or movie rental. Finally, Phyllis’ never paying for anything overpowered Villu’s curiosity to know exactly how long she could continue without uttering an opinion, and Villu took her to lunch to break up with her. “Villu,” she breathed a visible sigh of relief, “God has told me you’re not the one.” While many Southern American women claim prayer as an important part of their lives, Phyllis, it turned out, claimed a direct channel to the Almighty. God spoke to her, she said, in an audible voice over morning coffee. As Villu was digesting this bit of information, Phyllis stunned him further by reaching for the check. “I’m allowed to get this now,” she declared. “But the Bible says that when in a relationship the man must pay.”

Southern girls are a long way from the sort Villu and I grew up with. In high school and university in Canada, Villu dated Protestants, often Lutherans with an occasional Anglican. None of the girls took God as seriously as the clothes they wore to church. These were independent, liberated girls, far closer to those you’ll find in Estonia. But in the South, girls grow up very close to Daddy, which means they can always turn to him for money. And he’s always “Daddy.” And even when he’s finally gone, they’re still Daddy’s Little Girl. These women strut and chew gum much like a sponsored blonde on the arm of a Russian oligarch, except in the South the custom is to marry them and make them your “trophy wife.” Villu has never adjusted well to this culture. He never will.

Which is why Liina and I have encouraged him to consider Estonian women. Tallinn is a literal wasteland of single women with few prospects for marriage. First, statistically speaking, there are too few men to go around. Second, Estonian men seem less patient with their women than types like Villu. And third, Estonian women, in one key respect, are identical to women the world over: at a certain age they convince themselves that all the good men are either already married or gay.

I’ve thought of running a personal ad on and then correspond with the women on Villu’s behalf until I’ve vetted twenty suitable candidates. Then I’d invite him over for a couple of weeks and bring the girls in to meet him one after another, just like planes stacked for take-off and landing at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

If money weren’t an issue, I’d select one-hundred top candidates and charter a flight. I’d bring them to Villu directly, and then we’d get a very good picture of who might survive a dinner party in the American South, where Yankees are expected to participate (and sometimes lead) that awkward prayer which takes place before the meal and where there’s a Daddy’s Little Girl issuing strafing fire from both right and left flanks. Not all Estonian girls would tolerate that. Villu himself has hardly managed.

The only hitch in my plan is that it’s based on the assumption that Estonian girls might be interested in Villu. His Estonian is far worse than mine and he’s really only comfortable in English. He’s lived in the US so long I think he’s actually become American. He even eats like one and will, for surprisingly long periods of time, hold down his end of a discussion about the virtues of a particular barbecue sauce. And what if the Estonian girls have no interest at all in foreigners?

I’m told by experts in these matters—the expatriates who hang out at Nimeta pub—that Estonian women are no longer dazzled by foreign men. Nimeta’s esteemed barstool philosophers inform me that, according to their most recent studies, Estonian women actually believe that foreign men want nothing more than to get down their pants.

But ladies, I implore you: Villu isn’t like that! Yes, I cannot deny that at some point he will indeed want down your pants. But he isn’t so shallow. His needs run deep. He’s been abused at the hands of plotting, scheming American princesses of the South. With Villu, ladies of Estonia, a little understanding will go a long way. Deep inside him, as with all we foreign men, he just wants to be held.


Read it in Postimees. Spend the money Santa brought you here.