It was Jake who first called Anya the Saturday Night Russian. It started when Anya was twelve. Up until that point her wardrobe had been pretty subdued, pretty ordinary. Jeans or capris, T-shirts, sandals or sneakers. Then, seemingly overnight, a seismic fashion shift. It was like when Sandy, in Grease, went from sweatered primrose to leather-clad badass.
What was the uniform of a Saturday Night Russian? Teased-up hair, large hoop earrings, lots of make-up, a sequined halter-top, tight mini-skirt, open-toed platforms, and glitter-painted fingernails and toenails. Anya went from eleven to eighteen in a blink.
The Saturday Night Russian scared me because she looked and acted different from the Anya I knew, the Anya with whom I had played G.I. Joes and hide and seek and Monopoly and marbles and skelzy. I was also scared because she now drew a different level of attention from the boys and the girls, but especially from the boys. I became aware that the Saturday Night Russian existed as an object of sexual desire. The girls thought she was a pop star. The boys wanted to fuck her in the worst way. Anya must have known that she, as the Saturday Night Russian, held this power and influence. But she never said anything to me about it, nor did she ever show any interest in any of the boys we hung around with. She seemed indifferent, somehow above them. I felt different, or special in that Anya and I had been close since were little kids, but I had no idea if that closeness belonged strictly to who we were, and wouldn’t carry over into or what we were becoming.