Monday, October 17, 2005

Staprius Club

Tonight I spoke with two people who may become central figures in my book: the owner-operators of a new marriage agency in Kharkov, Staprius Club. ("Staprius" doesn't translate well, though its meaning can be approximated with the phrase "stability, profit and success.") The Club got its business license on the thirteenth, if only because this is the owner's lucky number (and mine, since my first acceptance letter, for a piece of poetry if you'd believe it, came from Thirteen Magazine, which no, you haven't ever heard of. It's so unknown, it might actually be a cover through which the works of international espionage are passed). In a couple of days, I should be able to post the link to Staprius Club's website, and by the end of the month I expect to be writing about the first customers through the doors.

It looks like I'll have the coveted All Access Pass: steady interviews with the owners (one of whom is a lawyer), the men and the women, and even the staff psychologist they'll have to help Ukrainians and Americans work their way through any naturally arising cultural conflicts or confusion.

How'd I fluke into this, you say? Like a big dumb idiot. Just showed up. My first week here, while I was still gimping around town with my Mystery Illness, now on the mend, I believe, an employee from the university approached me in the hall looking like he'd just emerged from Gogol's overcoat. I heard you are American, he said, and I would like to ask if you would perhaps be of help. There is a lady in town who is starting a marriage agency, a lawyer, he said, and she would like some help with her website, and perhaps a letter seeking the advice of American-owned agencies? Would you be willing to speak to her?

Uh, I said. Do you know why I'm here?

No. I do not.

So I told him, and now we're wishing each other success, and I've perhaps got what a literary agent I contacted said was missing from my book proposal: a thrilling story at the center of it all. I don't know how thrilling a marriage agency's first year will be, but it certainly offers more glue to This Thing than a series of semi-related profiles. So -- something to look for.