You can, of course, say that a person “got wider” or “fattened through” (like a Christmas goose?), but it’s more common to say they “got more correct” (popravilsya) or “began being healthy” (vyzdorovel). It’s a point of pride if, after a guest departs, the hostess can say, “Eh, on popravilsya”– “He gained weight.”

I narrowly avoided being fed cookies for breakfast today–along, of course, with oatmeal, homemade apple preserves, cheese sandwiches (plural?!), yogurt, and tea with fresh apples in it. As I was dancing around the sink, trying to get my plate washed and keep it away from Sveta (who also wanted to wash it), Sveta suggested that I have an egg as well–she was concerned that I might go to class still hungry. I don’t know how that could possibly be the case.

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If I asked you to describe lava, what would you say? Probably you’d answer that it was hot. You would feel comfortable making this statement, even if you have never actually been near lava and don’t really know except through hearsay. You’ve heard so many times that lava is hot that you don’t see any need to check.

Similarly, in Russia, floors are cold. This is not dependent on weather or building construction or sun exposure or central heating or anything else. A Russian Person does not need to feel the floor to know that it’s cold; they just know. Do not try to go barefoot in a Russian Person’s house. It will not work, and they will think you’ve lost your mind. They will offer you tapki (house slippers), and perhaps a place to sit and a cup of tea while you recover from what they will see as an episode of temporary insanity. If you are a lucky American, you will succeed in convincing them that you have warm socks, and that will save you the trouble of wearing tapki. But be prepared to have to fight for the privilege, and be sure that you do have suitably warm ones handy. If your socks are deemed unworthy, there will be no second chances.

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