After numerous consecutive weeks of freakish cold and snowy greyness, the likes of which would have made the hardest Viking sob, Iasi is going through a week-long bout of unseasonable warmth. The sun is out, the snow and ice are all but gone and I have the windows open. Though I like to fantasize otherwise, I know this will be short-lived. I’m from Minnesota after all and I’m very familiar with Mother Nature’s tactics. A few winters ago Minnesota had a week in January in the 50s F. People were playing golf and confused plants started budding. Then M.N. brought the hammer down and we suffered like miserable dogs with cold, snow and finally ceaseless rain that persisted through the end of June.
So, while I’m enjoying the current weather patterns, I’m taking nothing for granted.
The effects of the warmth have carried over into another logical realm, wardrobe choices. Specifically women’s wardrobe choices, by which I mean skin.
The prevailing fashion trend here in Romania is that outward sex appeal is the norm, indeed it is expected and those that don’t are regarded as peculiar and even perverse (“alternative lifestyles”, though recently decriminalized, are still very much undercover here). Women here wear less to class and work than women in the US wear to nightclubs in Miami. Pants are tight enough to read the label on the thong. You can’t buy a shirt domestically that completely covers one’s midriff. Skirts that are considered conservative barely reach mid-thigh. Cleavage displays are generous and bras are an occasional accessory, not a requirement.
My favourite clerk at my bank often wear tops inspired by Elvira, Mistress of the Night. Grad students with classes to teach and administrators to meet go braless in thread-bare shirts (though this may be the result of economic hardship and not a fashion elective). The most shameless display, however, is by single women in search of a man. While this practice is arguably present to lesser degrees in all societies, it’s notably over the top and indeed a widespread, acknowledged facet of life in Romania. These women step out for a trip to the market or a stroll through the centre with their girlfriends in clothes that are rarely seen outside of strip clubs in the US.
I present the following as evidence. This candid shot was taken on a summer, Sunday afternoon.
While I admittedly complain at great length about life here in Romania, there are numerous undeniable perks. The place is relatively unspoiled (though rapidly becoming less so), food is cheap, wine is cheaper, but most of all, the women are achingly beautiful and almost unanimously keen to push the limits of fashion decency. I’ve been quite vocal about my need for a change of scenery and my intentions to finally leave Romania once I finish my LP research, but I’m starting to wonder if I’ll have the willpower to follow-through come June, when a walk down a busy street (never mind a visit to your average beach) is rewarded with peep shows that people pay good money to see on the Internet. By the way, guys, in all seriousness, I get regular inquiries from Romanian women about the marital status of my bother and male friends in the US and even requests to forward their pictures to the same. If you want to meet a stunningly attractive, smart, friendly woman, I urge you to consider an extended visit to Romania. The Italians are already doing it.