the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Meet My Russian Bride


I felt bad not going home over Thanksgiving, especially since this was my mother’s first Thanksgiving without my father.  So, I’m excited that my mother is coming to LA in two weeks for Hanukkah-Christmas.

Even though Sophia lives in Redondo Beach and I live in Los Angeles (about 35 minutes away), we thought my mother might actually be more comfortable at Sophia’s.  Despite our marital problems, Sophia and my mother get along great.   I’ve learned that being friends with a member of an ex’s family is not uncommon for her.   In fact, one of Sophia’s good friends is the mother of her ex-boyfriend.

However, before they met Sophia, my parents were not very gung-ho about our relationship.  This was mostly because I called them in New York one day and told them that she was “Russian.”  All sort of scary scenarios went through their heads.

Dad:  “Is it possible… just possible… I mean she might be a very nice girl, but… can she be doing this to get a green card?”

Me:  “She’s been a citizen for years.  She doesn’t need a green card.”

Dad:  (whispering to my mother in the background)  “She’s Russian.”

Mom:  “Give me the phone.  Artie, give me the phone!”

Dad:  “I’m on the phone!”

Mom:  “Neil, listen to me.  She’s doing it for the money!”

Me:  “Tell Mom she’s acting crazy, Dad.”

Mom:  (grabbing the phone from my father)  “You can tell me yourself.  But you’re the one who’s crazy.  I read all about this in New York Magazine.  These Russian golddiggers in short skirts marry Americans for their money.”

Me:  “She must be a very stupid golddigger to pick me because I have no money.”

Dad:  “Neil, this is your father.  I’m on the other line.”

Mom:  “I’m talking, Artie.  Get off.”

Dad:  “Neil, some of these Russians, as pretty as they are, used to be prostitutes.  It’s a tragedy, really.  Such pretty girls.  Thank God we’ve been lucky to be in this country and make a decent living.”

Neil:  “Dad, I really doubt Sophia was ever a prostitute.”

Mom:  “How do you know what she was in Russia?’

Neil:  “She’s been out of Russia for years.  She was in Israel.”

Mom:  “There are prostitutes in Israel, too.  It breaks my heart.  Jewish prostitutes.  Who would ever think?

Dad:  “Maybe you can ask her about her past… in a nice way…”

Me:  “Dad, we’ve gone on two dates.  What do you want me to do?  “I had a great time tonight, Sophia.  By the way, were you ever a prostitute?”

Dad:  “Have you met her parents?  Is she Jewish?”

Neil:  “No, I haven’t.  Yes, she is.  Feel better now?”

Mom:  “A lot of these Russian Jews are different.”

Dad:   “That’s right.  A lot of these Russians Jews are involved with the Russian Mob.  Did you see that movie on HBO last night?”

Neil:  “They’re not Russian mobsters…”

Mom:  “Again… how do you know?!”

Neil:  “Well, I don’t really know, but…”

Mom:  “So this is my punishment for sending you to Columbia.  My in-laws are going to be members of the Russian Mafia!”

A few days later, my father sent me an article cut out of the Daily News about a beautiful Russian woman who married an American in the Upper West Side, then murdered him for the insurance money.


Things settled down until a couple of months later when Sophia came down with a mysterious case of hives.  Sophia would get hives all over her body.  At times, she couldn’t walk.  We went to the emergency room three times.  She was hospitalized for a week.  The hives would disappear, then reappear again a day later.  It was painful.  It was awful for her.  Sophia went to several doctors, but none of them was ever able to figure out the cause.

Then one day she went to a “hives expert” in Santa Monica.  After the appointment, she called me up, sounding hopeful for the first time in weeks.

Sophia:  “Great news!”

Neil:  “What did he say?”

Sophia:  “At first the doctor said that chronic hives were unpredictable and usually untreatable.  But he was a doctor in Vietnam, and remembered seeing cases like mine.  He said they were able to treat it.  I am so excited!”

Neil:  “Wow.  That’s great.”

Sophia:  “Isn’t it?  I’ll be so happy if I can get rid of these hives.  Of course, it’s only treatable if… if…”

Neil:  “If what?”

Sophia:  “Well, if it’s a symptom of syphilis.”

Neil:  (gulping and choking) “Syphilis?”

Sophia:   “Oh, he said not to worry.  Syphilis is completely treatable nowadays.   I’m actually hoping to have syphilis!  I’m taking a test tomorrow.  Isn’t it the best news?”

Neil:  “Uh, yeah…well…syphilis, huh?”

Sophia:  “Of course, since we’ve had sex, you have to take a test, too.  I might have given it to you.”

Neil:  “I might have SYPHILIS?!”

Sophia:  “Don’t tell me you would rather I have these painful hives all over my body than have a completely cureable little ailment?”

Neil:  “But syphilis?  Didn’t people go crazy because of that?  Can’t my penis shrivel up and fall off?”

Sophia:  “You are such a baby.  You should be concerned about me and my health, not your precious cock.  No wonder you were a virgin until you were — !”

The next day, my father called.

Dad:  “Hello, Neil.  It’s your father.  How was your day?”

Neil:  “Actually, I had to go to the hospital.”

Dad:  “Oh my god, is something wrong?”

Mom:  (in background)  What’s wrong?  Is something wrong?  Is Neil in the hospital?!”

Neil:  “Tell Mom it’s nothing.  I just had a test.  It’s nothing to worry about.  There’s just a little tiny chance that… remember those hives Sophia had…”

Dad:  “Oh, no, is she very ill?  Do you want us to fly out?”

Neil:  “She’s fine.  She’s fine.  It’s just the hives she has… may be from…”

Dad:  “What?”

Neil:  “May be from… from, uh… syphilis.”

Dad:  “Syphilis?!”

Mom:  (in background)  “Syphilis!  Syphilis!  What are you talking about?!  Gvie me the phone, Artie.  Give me the phone!  Neil, don’t tell me you have syphilis?”

Neil:  “Well, right now, we don’t know…”

Mom:   “I knew it!  I knew it!  My son got an Ivy League education to date a Russian prostitute and now he has syphilis!” 


Sophia ended up NOT having syphilis.   And can you believe she was UPSET at not having it?!  This would have meant that her problem could be cured.

Her hives continued on and off for a couple of years, then disappeared.  We never found out why she got them. 

My parents finally met Sophia when they visited Los Angeles, and fell in love with her.   

Sophia was never a prostitute.   My mother still thinks that some of Sophia’s relatives are part of the Russian Mafia.


Today on Blogebrity:  Blogging for Cupcakes  (Cupcakes Take the Cake, Rachel, Nichelle)


  1. bella

    But if her family is part of the Russian Mafia, then at least you’re “protected” right? Isn’t that how the mafia works?

  2. Dave2

    That’s funny… when I was reading the part about Sophia telling you she might have syphilis, I was thinking “oh boy… Neil gave Sophia syphilis!”

    Doesn’t that make you feel totally cool knowing that somebody out there thinks you are such a stud that they automatically think it’s YOU who are the diseased party in this scenario?

    Okay… maybe not “cool” but still…

    (Ahem. Please don’t tell your mother on me).

  3. Suleyman

    That’s good, cause in Russia they have their very own strain. Soviet Syphilis. In fact, I think each of the Warsaw Pact states has its very own strain of the stuff – specially grown to infect the wangs of American servicemen. It’s a sort of sexual domino theory if you will. Out to corrupt our precious bodily fluids.

    Say it with me, “Purity of Essence = Peace on Earth.”


  4. JordanBaker

    All the best girls have syphillis scares.

  5. Megarita

    I’m so pleased that syphillis is hitting the big time on Neil’s blog! Hilarious story, sobering pictures…

  6. Mathematician

    So, I have a syphillis story to top that – my parents had just gotten married a few months ago. Grandmother was visiting them in Moscow. Mama had to go on a business trip, but her throat had been bothering her, so Grandmother sent her off to the infirmary to get it checked out and make sure she didn’t have strep throat or some other horrd disease like a cold or the flu.
    Mama arrived at the infirmary and was treated to a round of giggling, pointing, whispering and referals to other doctors. Finally, the head of the infirmary said that she was sorry to tell her, but my newlywed mother had syphyllis. A special rare kind of syphyllis of the throat.

    Mama went home and reported to her mother and husband that she had syphyllis of the throat. My grandmother double checked – you don’t have strep? No. You don’t have the flu? No.

    Alright, you can go on your business trip. Completely unconcerned. The next week my mom went to the dentist who diagnosed and treated her for a gum infection.

    We Russians, we’re not so excitable about the syphyllis.

  7. JJ

    You should write for the Hallmark Channel, Neil.

  8. Pearl

    You know, I hate to say this, but this attitude towards Russians spreads…just like syphillis! I know many people in Toronto who suffer greatly from this particular strain of bias, as we have a large Russian community here. Boy, could I tell you stories…

    BTW, however much of your story is fact or fairy tale, reading your parents’ dialogue is like watching George Costanza’s parents on Seinfeld.

  9. M.A.

    I’m glad that you and Sophia weren’t the object of Russian mafia anger. But boy would that be an interesting TV movie. JJ is right on.

  10. Hope

    Neil, you need a sitcom. However, I think I would have waited to find out if I actually had syphillis or not before telling me parents about it.

  11. subgirl

    syphillis is SO over, as far as STDs go. your mom is hilarious, btw.

  12. Laura

    How do you say “Don’t make me come over there and break your kneecaps” in Russian?

  13. ms.sizzle

    I’m with Pearl. . . I felt like I was watching a great episode of Seinfeld. I am glad no one had syphilis though.

    😉 sizz

  14. Alice

    why oh why would you mention the possibility of syphilis to your parents until you had confirmed the need to do so?? ie, a raging case of it? the worst part of that (for me) would be that getting syphilis would mean, in my parents’ eyes, i had had sex at least one time. THE HORROR.

  15. Danny

    I’m worried that Hollywood would mangle the Neil-Sophia sitcom (but it would be fun to cast). I say it should be a book. And it’s half-written, all you need to do is pull out all the Sophia-centric posts from this blog and there’s your proposal. I would buy that book so fast your head would spin. Gotta think of a great title though…

    I love that Sophia loves your parents after enduring their very typical anti-Russian bias. The things I hear many Jewish people saying about the Russian Jews living here sound like classic anti-Semitism (“they’re pushy, loud, flaunt authority, stick to themselves, abrasive…”). And of course everyone assumes there are mob connections. The irony is that half of the people who are bad-mouthing these immigrants are one or two generations from the same Russian towns.

  16. Nancy French

    Neil — do not freak out your mom again with this kind of scenario!! (Unless you HAVE IT!)


    But glad you don’t.


  17. anne arkham

    Syphillis is extremely unusual. But it’s a good STD to have, as long as you catch it in its early stages.

  18. La Dauphine

    ROTFL over those Russian bride pics!! See, that kind of thing is not a secret in my family – my mother wanted an American GI and my father was looking for a pretty Filipino woman after being married to a crazy white lady. It’s wasn’t a ‘paid’ exchange mind you, but people get together for all sorts of reasons. Good for your parents for having cautioned you, because you gotta watch out for those ulterior motives!

  19. Neil

    I have no idea why I’m linking to this, but you’re in pretty famous company if you have syphilis:

  20. Heather

    Wow. What an ordeal!

    Parents can be funny about little things like STDs, can’t they?

  21. james manning

    Dude, this should be on TV. This sounds like something Woody Allen could turn into a classic.

  22. Jacynth

    Neil–I’m SO happy you wrote this. My dad HAS A MAIL ORDER RUSSIAN BRIDE! She’s managed to move her entire family into his house. Beauty. I’m so out of the will…..

  23. Celina

    Thanks for the laugh! You’re terrific! Please, please, write a book!! 🙂

  24. Tatyana

    Jasynth: and she teaches Spanish? Sneaky evil b**ch!

  25. Tatyana

    Neil (and Danny): you’re lucky you didn’t hear what Russian Jews think of the Americanized ones.
    On the second thought…may be you did. And are trying to make nice. That’s right, be afraid. Be very afraid.

  26. Melissa

    Why on god’s little green earth would you tell your parents this at all????

  27. ubermilf

    I could actually hear your mother screeching into the phone. Feel it, in fact.

    I hope your family fares well over the holidays; don’t let movies, advertising and the like make you feel bad.

  28. Pearl

    Neil — I think we ought to balance the equation, don’t you?

    We need to know Sophia’s take (and that of her family) on “Meet My $%^#*% American Groom.”

  29. jaimie

    Funny story. Glad you didn’t have syphilis and your parents-they are so funny!

  30. akaky

    You know, I can’t even imagine a set of circumstances where I would bring up the word syphilis in a conversation with my parents.

  31. Megan

    Screw the syphilis (no pun intended); I want to know how old you were when you lost your virginity! Will you at least email me the number?

  32. Neil

    Yes, I guess in retrospect it was stupid to get my parents all frazzled over nothing. But I was so nervous about the whole thing and Sophia was so gung-ho about WANTING to have it. I found it safer to tell my parents than any of my friends.

  33. pia

    Totally hysterical. Once upon a time my grandparents were Russian Jews but my parents forgot that, and we became New York Jews

  34. sarah


    why do your parents sound like my parents?!?!?

    thanks for making me LOL

  35. Karla

    Holy shit, that’s too funny to be true! Your parents are awesome. Can you talk them into starting their own blog?

    They shouldn’t have worried about the syphillis. On the TV commercials, people with STDs are always the happiest, most active people. They’re always kayaking and hangliding. You probably would have become a much more athletic and outgoing person if you’d gotten syphillis.

  36. psychotoddler


    It’s nice that your mom is coming out to see you.

  37. groovebunny

    This entry is hilarious! But I’m glad neither you or Sophia ended up with syphillis.

  38. Elvira Black

    You’ve given syphilis a glam comeback in the media. Syphilis is now the new black of STD’s. Good job!

  39. Neil

    I’ve added “syphilis” to my technorati tags. I’m not too sure if that was a good idea or not…

  40. ana-xhan

    a perfect story!
    and btw: i’d haev to agree with Sophia: I’d rather have syphilis then hives!!

  41. JoeC

    man, that was something, quite an adventure to be on the phone with ya parents. hahahaha! cheers!

  42. Tanisha

    Again Neil as always another hilarious post.. Now let’s talk about how old you were when you lost your virginity.. haha

  43. Rabbit

    My parents are convinced that my boyfriend works for the CIA.

  44. Anne-Marie

    oh god love you! somehow i dont think i could ever mention genital rashes to my olds – luckily it was a false alarm!

  45. Brenda

    For God’s sake, your talent is in writing, honey.
    But……please don’t give your parents a fatal “myocardial infarction” over a “false syphilis scare.”
    the sitcom could be called
    “The Writer’s Apprentice.” so Donald Trump could HIRE you for your REAL sitcom…..
    Neil and Sophia–
    Never creative powers will dream about the title.
    I shall contact you with the title.

    Berri Berri Sincerely,
    Neil, you are indeed a romantic, and one of the best writers I have had the pleasure to read.
    It shall shock you to know that I somehow happened upon your website http://www.citizen of the looking at Blue and Pink Razr Motorola cell phones.

  46. Richard

    That is funny!

  47. Yuliya

    This is a story that describes what all russian girls marrying american guys have to go through. We are thought to be prostitutes, to be in a mafia, to be too pretty to be real.
    Thank you for standing up for your wife, no matter where she came from.

  48. Olga

    LOL. I have never heard such stories before. I love parents, relatives and friends of my loving husband. They are wonderful people.
    As Yuliya has said: Thank you for standing up for your wife, no matter where she came from.

  49. Jayson Sloane

    And I live in Toronto,I want to help my Russian girlfriend to come hear to see me and I need $500.00 dollars wright now and I don’t want to lost her and I love her so much and she live in Russia and also she is my soul mate and I want my life to be very happy and also I want to know how to get money very fast?
    and also What should I do?

  50. Neil

    Well, Jayson. First of all, let’s think about this concept of “soul mate.” At one time, I also believed that…

  51. Sofia

    This story makes me laugh and I can’t stop. Put the shoe in the other foot and listen to what my Oriental parents said about my new American husband:
    His foods probably make him smell bad, Is he as obnoxious as most American turists who visit Japan? Does he wear bright green pants? Does he spend the whole day chewing on rubber (gum) and talking about money? Does he drink like a mountaing goat? If he looks down, can he still see his belt buckle?
    You get the picture! As a matter of fact, he turned out to be a real cutie!

  52. Arnold

    I hate the bullshit artists that are American women, their only comeback is to call these Cyrillic beauties “prostitutes”, its a sign of them hiding their inadequacy as women. I rather have a beautiful thin “Russian Prostitute” than a gigantic fast food eating American hefer any day of the week.

  53. Jack

    Jews are not Russians, Jews are not Russians, Jews are Yevray, Russians are Pravislavni. This story is about two Jews, Jews have genetic neurosis like Seinfeld.

  54. Jim

    after living in Russia as a diplomat my advice is to stay away from very many Russian women, most are prostitutes and scammers.
    ask her how she paid for her education if she got one, ask her why she wants to date outside Russia, ask her a bit about her past and you will be sick.

    • Isaac

      Jim you are a real stupid ashole, stuck in the middle of 1990s.
      I have been living in Russia many years after 2000, and apart from the normal prostitution rate that is less than in USA or like the German one, the things are completely different nowadays. They are hard workers and with high education and skills in Science. The are knowledge based people working in important companies in Denmark, Sweden or The Nederlands. Things are different here in Europe, not like in your parochial USA living in the 1970 s.

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