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From the Peanut Gallery – Part 1

In a less than modest moment, I wrote an e-mail to a few people who serve as a cross-section of my closer relationships over the past several years. I said:


From: "Bryce E. Rich"
To: undisclosed participant list
Subject: a small favor
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2001 22:10:50 -0500

Could you please answer this question for me:

If you could describe me in only five single words or short phrases (3-5 words), what would you say?

There’s a reason, but I’ll tell you later.
Bryce

The answers that came back are interesting to compare. Presented in the order in which they answered:

Iskra I’ve known Iskra since 1997, when we met in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.  She, her husband, Tim, and I lived together through 2001 in a three-story house in Arlington. Bryce:

thinks quick
pays attention
eats chemical burritos at 10 o’clock and wings at any hour
knows too much Russian
you can make him dance

There was no prompting on the quick word.

Konst Konst (Andrei Konstantinov) is one of my best friends in the world.  Born on the same day as me in the same year, yet on the other side of the earth, you might say we’re sort of bonded.  Then again, you might say that’s a load of crap.

Konst is the proof necessary to show that two people born on the same day can be wildly different.

How about that – off the top of my head – nice, smart, competent, melancholic, bitchy?  Again, this is almost free association, for what it’s worth.  Are you in analysis?  Tell me more.

Love,
Konst

My Mom My Mom has arguably known me longer than anyone else.   People comment that my facial expressions all come directly from her. When compared to my mother and father, people say I’m more like her.

Moms are often biased in what they have to say about their children.  But I thought I’d ask her anyway…

Brilliant, perfectionist, Handsome, God lover, Scholar

I hope this helps.  You have piqued my interest, what is this about?

Love,
Mom

Note that being a perfectionist is not considered a compliment in our tradition.

Oh, and yes, she knows I’m gay…

Randal Randal is my best friend from a previous job in Washington, DC.  He’s a Pagan (with a big P), which means that he espouses Neo-paganism as an individual practitioner.  This makes for lots of interesting conversations, since he and I approach the Divine in very different ways… Christian
Gay
Blonde
Mercurial
Mystical

How’s that?

Randal

I draw your attention to the fact that of all the Christians who were asked to respond to this page, it’s the Pagan that points out that I am mystical.  I think there’s something ironic about that…

Sam Sam is a great friend of mine that I met through my church.  He’s about 25 years older than I am and full of wisdom from the school of hard knocks.  By watching some of the answers he’s found for himself in life, I have been able to avoid years and years of lessons taught the hard way.  I love him dearly and I’m sure there’s a big-picture reason why he was placed in my life. Well……….off the top of my head………

1. gentle and generous
2. a gifted teacher
3. man of integrity
4. Spirit-led
5. countenancing no nonsense

Okay…..so what is this for?  And do I get 5 words or phrases about me in return??

Peace and love to you — SAM

If I was going to choose a set of endorsements for a personal ad, this would be it.  I can’t find a single thing wrong with it 🙂

Erika Erika and I have been friends since 1994.  She is a wise woman.  Well-read and erudite, she knows Japanese and writes poetry.  I love her worldview, which is often quite dissimilar to my own. Here are Erika’s words for you:

charming, touchy, bitchy, perfectionist, smart, sentimental.

Post script: I was describing your gay persona without referring to your spiritual dimension, which is obviously much more important now, but we haven’t seen each other for so long.

That "touchy" is the Russian word обидчивый, and it means someone who is easily offended.

Kate Kate and I go back several years to when I hired her to be a field coordinator for me in Russia.  She was my protégée of sorts, as she took over my job when I moved stateside.

Since then Kate has completed a Masters at Columbia and returned to Central Asia where she continues to shake up gender roles for various Georgians, Armenians, Kazakhs and the like…  You go, Kate!  🙂

This is a difficult assignment, but here goes:

1. understanding
2. extreme when making changes
3. linguistically adept
4. procrastination
5. blond

Kate says that being extreme when making changes is good, because it shows I’ve actually thought out what I’m doing and I’m convinced it’s right.

The procrastination drives her up the wall, as she loves schedules.

Linda Linda and I have been friends since I was in college.  Back then, she was the staff assistant of the Department of Russian and Eastern Studies at the University of Kentucky, my alma mater.

When I was a sophomore, she asked me point blank one evening if I was gay.  I swallowed hard and said, "yes."  But before I could get anything else out she said, "me too."  That was the beginning of a new chapter in our friendship.

Well now this is interesting.  Describe you in five single words or short phrases…let me see.  The first words that come to my mind when I think of you are:

1) compassionate, caring & empathetic,
2) maybe too smart and complicated for the average person,
3) spiritual,
4) someone I love talking to because you make me think, and
5) sometimes too involved for your own good i.e., very conscientious.

Not sure what I can add to that one

Linda typed this in a script you probably don’t have, but I preserved the color so you’d get the point…

Postscript – Linda passed away in January 2008 unexpectedly.  Linda, may you find peace in your rest.

Yarik Yarik (short for Yaroslav) is a good friend of mine from my days in Novosibirsk.  He completes the trio of Russians I hold close from there (Konst and Erika being the other two).

When we were younger, I had a crush on Yarik. But, alas, he was straight.  He taught me the Russian word обаятельный (charming) when he used it to describe me 🙂

Let’s see, you need 5 epithets or 5 phrases?

5 words would be: very knowledgeable, reliable, efficient, kind, …

the 5th – choose from the list below:
– quite demanding
– religious
– at times bitchy
– generous

Another one who thinks I’m bitchy…  Well, they have known me through a rather bitchy period in my life.  It ain’t easy being an American in Siberia, or Russia in general.

Jon Jon was my first boyfriend. I was 16 and he was 21 when we met.  Aside from a law about statutory rape, Kentucky still had a sodomy law back then.  But you may all breathe easily.  He was a gentleman and nothing like that ever happened…  You may now pick up your minds from the gutter. omniscient, caring, stubborn, funny, hypochondriac, …there how’s that

jon-

Jon explained that omniscient means I know the answer to any question he asks me or any problem that he has.

Sean Sean and I have been friends since we lived in Moscow.  I value him because he sees the world in a different light.  It’s fun to talk with him and listen to the ways that he can scramble the English language to mean new things.

He’s also a good partner in crime for trips to McDonald’s.

Well, without thinking about this too much, I’d say:

trustworthy
level-headed
intelligent
composed
passionate

After waiting for a year, Sean sent a picture! Here he is…

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