Over the last year or so I’ve noted certain apparent similarities between Tatyana Antropova and Vladimir Putin, and I mean that as a compliment. A brilliant organizer-manager (at which she excelled during her peak professional years in Russia), Tatyana is nothing if not bright and shrewd and skilled at divining the ins and outs of the fluctuating American zeitgeist. Commercially, culturally or spiritually, she’s constantly separating the wheat from the chaff — sniffing, exploring, comparing, assessing.
Tatyana is on Twitter, of course, and a fervent Instagram and Facebook player, of course, and while driving around she’s a total WAZE hound (and can’t speak poorly enough of Google Maps). If she was a professional gambler she’d be the Russian Amarillo Slim. Plus she hates the noisy guy upstairs as much as I do, and has excellent taste in clothing and interior design, and over the last couple of years has blended into Los Angeles culture as well as can be expected, and probably better than most other Russian expats.
Tatyana’s command of English is 90% to 95% “there”, and to her credit she’s always asking about this or that noun or verb or slang expression. (She’s obviously way ahead of me in terms of being bilingual and understanding the gist of many European tongues.) But one thing she hasn’t mastered, English-wise, is modifying her strong Russian accent. Which I, selfish to the last, find delightful.
Tatyana is a go-getter, as noted, but her first stabs at pronouncing this and that are sometimes fascinating and always, for me, heartwarming. I love her mispronunciations, and how it sometimes takes two or three minutes of question-and-answer discussions to get to the bottom of things. If I was a better partner I’d be a tougher taskmaster, but I can’t help but be charmed.
The other day it was about “Hahnray BOHNduhl.” I eventually discerned that she was talking about Henri Bendel, the financially struggling women’s accessory chain. The correct pronunciation is “AhnREE BenDELL.” I guarantee that most under-40 American female customers mispronounce it also — 90% of them probably say “Henry BENdul.” The difference between Tatyana and American women is that she’s always correcting herself, always sharpening her game. Most younger American women? Maybe not so much. Because they have nothing to prove.