It's a fact that, many years ago, Carpetblog established itself as the go-to internet source for devushka fashion, to the point where we became known as the Wikipedia of Slutty Dressing. Those were the salad days of Carpetblog. They represented the height of our influence.
Since then, we left Ukraine and, to the detriment of this blog's SEO, delved into topics such as Turknology and importing booze and pork. Like the Ottoman Empire, Carpetblog went into a long, sloppy decline. Furthermore, on the aging lady scale, we inched away from Devushkastan and slid closer to, some have (uncharitably) argued, Cougartown.
Do you not know what a Cougar is? Do you live under a rock? Have you heard of Google?
Some have speculated that there's a precipitous drop in the physical fortunes of Ukrainian women post-age 35 (more accurately, we less genetically-gifted sisters -- ROWR! -- speculate). Surely there must be an intermediate stage between devushka and babushka! So we set out to answer the question "Where are all the Ukrainian cougars?"
We recently found ourselves in Cherkassy, which is the dead center of Ukraine, about two and a half hours south of Kyiv. It is a provincial, very Ukrainian city -- and we mean that not in the way Ukie nationalists mean it (a model European Ukraine that looks westward) but in the way Ukraine is now. It sits in the black-earth prairies, frozen for the winter, alongside one of the Soviet Union's largest hydroelectric reservoirs. Russian-leaning eastern Ukraine is just over the next snowy hillock and European western Ukraine seems pretty far away from here. Its slushy downtown is a grey post-war Soviet time capsule. Pulling out the Ukraine cliche handbook (shelved next to the Istanbul cliche handbook) it is the borderland where Russia and Ukraine melt, and residents speak a mix of both languages.
Also, there be Cougars!
Not only were we lucky enough to find ourselves in Cherkassy in the middle of winter, it happened to be "Old New Years Eve," or the Orthodox New Years. This meant that the town was decked out as if Christmas was just last week (it was) and everyone was looking forward New Years Eve celebrations instead of a cold Thursday night in the Dnipro Hotel, like we were.
Most restaurants that serve Ukrainian food are decked out like rural cottages, with fake thatched roofs, farm implements on the walls and lots of red and white embroidered schwag draped across flat surfaces. This would be kitschy if it wasn't how every traditional Ukrainian restuarant -- even Ukie fast food places -- is decorated. They also usually have a series of intimate dining rooms and small alcoves for private parties or uh, other activities. We had an early reservation at Taras Bulbas, a model specimen of the type, expecting a quick meal of salo (pure pork fat, pictured), swine shashlyk and a bit of vodka with colleagues.
If you seek Felis Concolor Ukrainis, head to Taras Bulbas in Cherkassy on Old New Years Eve. There were several tables of them, well-lubricated by sweet Ukie shampansky (which they freely shared) and ready to burn the place down. By 7:30pm. Taras Bulbas' house band consists of a young, crewcut, acned Ukrainian accordion player and an African tambourine player (welcome to heaven, here's your tambourine. Welcome to hell, here's your accordion) who whipped the place into a frenzy of anticipation for Dede Moroz (father Christmas, the Orthodox Santa Claus) and his trusty...wait for it...Rabbit of Good Luck.
The Cougars, dressed to kill in too-short skirts and tight shirts, writhed and wriggled to 70's western and eastern Ukrainian pop songs (our colleagues taught us how to tell the difference) and Russian favorites (different still), just like Cougars in Americastan would to Donna Summer. Later, at least one of them was caught in a sex act in one of the private alcoves (memo to self: don't go exploring other dining areas at 9:00 pm in Taras Bulbas on Old New Years Eve. Also, be careful of the cougar sitting behind you.)
Having had three shots of "rye and honey" Ukrainian vodka before the first plate of pickles arrived, the evening was destined to be a short one for us. Since we're no longer in FSU championship fighting form, we stumbled into a taxi to return to the Dnipro hotel, relieved that Ukraine is big enough for both devushkas and cougars after all.