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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Most Expensive Soda I Have Ever Had

The two women with whom I needed to talk over a certain business proposal suggested that we meet one evening near the Hotel Rossiya. When I arrived, they suggested that we go up to the second-floor restaurant above the concert hall and discuss our business over drinks. I winced slightly at the thought of my nearly empty wallet, but agreed.

After we had sat down at a small table right next to the door, the women announced generously that they wouldn’t have anything to eat but they would be very happy if I bought them a cup of tea. Then we got down to business.

As it turned out, earlier that afternoon I had attended an office birthday party for an old friend. There was champagne and a huge bottle of soda. Now, as I sat with these two well-dressed ladies, I began to fidget nervously, regretting that I had drank so much soda. As we wrapped up our discussion, I quickly told them that I had another meeting to run off to and, turning down their repeated invitations to sit and chat, put on my coat and left.

As I emerged into the lobby downstairs, a crowd was filing into the concert hall. I walked up to a pair of well-built security guards and politely asked them where I could find the restroom. "The restaurant has its own restroom. Go there." I argued that I had already left, but they were unmoved. Then I mentioned (man to man) that the women I was with were still sitting there. "What would I tell them?" They were still unimpressed. "Buy a ticket and then you can go in to our restroom."

By this time, I was in pretty dire straits. I could imagine the huge, well-illuminated square in front of the concert hall and the empty street beyond. There was no choice.

Luckily, there was no line at the ticket window. Unluckily, the only tickets left cost 400 rubles. With a slightly trembling hand, I handed over the remaining contents of my wallet and took the magic pass. Slightly running, I waved the blue ticket at the security guards as I hurried into the hall.

Heading out, I noticed that the concert had already begun. I suddenly felt embarrassed by the thought of walking past the guards again, so I slipped into an empty seat in the rear of the half-empty hall. At intermission, I headed for the exit. Then, as ill-luck would have it, I ran smack into my two potential partners coming down the stairs from the restaurant. "Oh! So this is where you had to run off to instead of talking to us," one of them said.

The other, taking a look at the concert poster in the lobby, commented, "What terrible taste you have!" Although they had agreed to call me the next day, I never heard from them again.