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A Real Pain in the Butt

Published: April 20, 2014 (Issue # 1806)


Геморрой: hemorrhoid, pain in the butt

It is Friday and you have to get seven signatures on 14 documents from three ministries situated at opposite ends of the city — all by the end of the day. It is Saturday night and you are standing on a shaky ladder, pawing through the junk in the антресоль (under-the-ceiling storage space), looking for a pair of boots that you shoved up there six months ago. It is Sunday and you are sitting on the floor with three electronics manuals open, trying to set up your new home theater.

In Russian, all these unpleasant, time-consuming, uncomfortable and annoying tasks can be summed up in one word: геморрой. This is literally a hemorrhoid and figuratively anything that is a pain in the butt.

Being something of a specialist in misery-inducing tasks, I have concluded that геморрой and pain in the butt are not exact equivalents. The English pain in the rear is often a person, and геморрой is almost always a thing or activity. In English, the pain is something or someone difficult and annoying, while the Russian pain generally has the added connotation of being tedious. But still, when you want to verbally explode about some incredibly annoying task, геморрой is a great word to reach for. У нас проще уволить его и избежать геморроя (It is easier for us to fire him — otherwise it is an incredible pain in the butt).

If you are more polite than I am, you might prefer other terms to describe miserable people and problems. For example, загвоздка, which has the now rather obscure literal meaning of a plug and the more common figurative meaning of a hitch or catch. Вот в чём загвоздка! There's the catch! У неё отличный голос и внешность, загвоздка только в том, как пробиться на большую сцену, если живёшь в Урюпинске?(She has got a great voice and she is pretty, but there's one hitch — how can she get on stage in the big city if she lives in Nowheresville?) It can also be an annoying problem: Тут в этом деле серьёзная загвоздка, чисто юридическая (There is a huge stumbling block in this matter — a purely legal problem).

If you don't like that word, you can try заморочка, which comes, dimly, from the word for darkness. Заморочка can be an annoying task or problem: В этом аэропорту ты запутаешься, там всюду заморочки (You will get lost in that airport — the place is a real mess). Заморочки can also be a person's obsessions or mindset. Войти в образ, забыть про себя, про все свои заморочки и бытовые проблемы и прожить новую жизнь хоть на сцене ― есть в этом огромный кайф. (It is an incredible thrill to forget about yourself, your weird ideas and everyday problems as you get into a role and live a new life on stage).

You might also choose a related word, морока, which can refer to an annoying and time-consuming task: Справки надо разные собирать, а это, конечно, морока (I have to collect a bunch of documents, and of course that is a real pain).

Морока should not be confused with морок (something dark or crazy-making) or Марокко (Morocco), even though people will try to throw you off: Какая морока с этим Марокко! Настоящий морок! (What a mess with Morocco! It's a step into the abyss!)

When they try that on you, just say: Не морочь мне голову! (Don't mess with my head!)

Michele A. Berdy, a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, is the author of "The Russian Word's Worth" (Glas), a collection of her columns.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 1


The St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum 2014 kicks off today at Lenexpo, where it will be presenting the latest and greatest ideas until Oct. 3. Focusing on economic development and the decisions and measures necessary to encourage development in Russia’s most important industries, the event is a possibility to discuss the innovations currently available in a variety of fields.


Representatives of the Russian and international media industries arrive in St. Petersburg for the first ever International Media Forum being hosted by the city until Oct. 10. With a variety of events on tap, including workshops, lectures and film screenings, the event plans to reemphasize the city’s reputation as the country’s culture capital and as an emerging market and location for the visual arts.



Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with today’s free exhibition in the city’s Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled “Under the Rustling Wings,” the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontov’s play “The Masquerade,” which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBA’s Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on “Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends.” Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmCham’s Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spa’s Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the city’s cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the city’s KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the club’s website or in person at either the arena’s box office or the club’s merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russia’s energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russia’s largest economic sector.



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