The Russian Wife Experience

I once had a neighbor many years ago who “bought” himself a wife. Actually, two — but not at the same time, of course. The first was a mail-order bride from the Philippines, which resulted in a marriage that lasted about fifteen years and produced two beautiful daughters. But, all good things come to an end and after all those years, his now-Americanized wife packed up and moved out.

“I think I’ll get myself a Russian wife this time,” the neighbor casually remarked when I saw him one day after their divorce. He said it in much the same way one might speak when ordering a pizza. A bit like “Yeah, I think I want anchovies on it.”

Maybe he lacked social skills. He was a bit of a geek, and overall, my thought is that for him “ordering a wife” online was simply the quickest, easiest way to complete a desired transaction.

By the way, he did, indeed, get a Russian lady for his second wife. That marriage produced a son and lasted for quite some time, although I believe she, too, eventually packed up and left. This was years ago, and I’ve long since lost track of the fellow.

He was on my mind, however, as I pondered what to do with Michael Sorensen, a young adult sim who is living alone for the first time. Michael, you see, comes from a highly dysfunctional family, and if you’ve followed along on my blog for a while, you probably know that when I create sims or age them up, I choose traits for them at random. So it was that when Michael aged up to young adult status, he had the misfortune to get the new “unflirty” trait. It seemed a good addition to his gloomy personality, and certainly seemed to fit right in with his background.

But, as I saw him sitting alone in his new house, I felt sorry for Michael. Everyone deserves a loving relationship, right? I love seeing my sims find that “someone special”, get married, and start families of their own.

Of course, I knew that Michael could never manage this without a little help. It was time for a bit of “player intervention.”

How could I find a wife for Michael and yet make it part of a somewhat “realistic” storyline? As that question ran through my mind, memories of my old neighbor surfaced. Yes, the perfect solution. Michael could “buy” himself a wife.

I suppose I could have easily chosen an Asian townie to play the role, but instead I opted to go with a Russian bride. I quickly went into CAS and prepared to design the perfect woman for Michael. When I clicked “Add Sim” to Michael’s household, I was very pleasantly surprised to find this young lady.

From the moment I saw her, I loved her. To me, she somehow looked exactly as I’d imagined a good “Russian wife” should.

Because she had a very special role to play in my game, I didn’t use my “random factor” to select her traits. I gave her the following:

  • Neat
  • Cheerful
  • Bookworm

Those seemed like good qualities for a wife. I also gave her a “Family Oriented” aspiration. She’s hoping to have a big, happy family.

Finally came the moment of truth. I clicked on Michael’s household and went in to play. I found Galina sitting at the kitchen table. My imagination kicked in, of course, and I could sense her nervousness as she waited to meet her prospective husband for the first time. (In CAS, I left their status as “roommates” to give them a chance to develop an actual relationship on their own.)

Things went quite well. Michael sat down and they began a very pleasant chat. They discussed their interests, they spent time getting to know one another, and they had a few deep conversations. All the wile the specter of Michael’s “unflirty” personality was hovering over the meeting. Did I dare attempt a flirtation?

Finally, I tried. Of course, the best Michael could manage was an “awkward” flirt. I had hoped Galina would be understanding, but it didn’t happen that way. Next, I tried having her flirt with Michael. That was not good. Within a matter of moments, they were well on their way to hating each other. How could I stop this disaster from happening?

Maybe I should set a more romantic mood, I decided. I quickly grabbed an incense burner and soon the sweet fragrance of romantic sandalwood was wafting through the air. It seemed to help a little, but not enough to turn the tide. Even though they were in a flirty atmosphere, I couldn’t get any romance blossoming between them.

I almost gave up. From this experience, my guess is that it’s impossible for an “unflirty” sim to ever find love and marital happiness. I thought of letting them go right on hating each other — their bars were filled with red — but force them into marriage through CAS. After all, arranged marriages don’t always begin with love and affection, right?

Had I done that, I doubt that Michael and Galina could ever have had children, and that was the whole point of the “Russian wife” experience. This was supposed to be an easy, painless way for socially inept Michael to start a family.

So, in desperation I headed back to CAS. I temporarily changed Michael’s nature from unflirty to romantic. Oh, what a difference! It didn’t take long for these two to get things going hot and heavy. Too hot, in fact. While they were kissing passionately the incense caught fire and burned up half the kitchen. Fortunately, Galina had sense enough to grab a fire extinguisher. Once the fire was out, they picked up where they left off and headed to the bedroom for a little woo-hoo.

I figured it was all right to “marry” the couple since they were getting along. I slipped back into CAS again, changed their relationship status to pronounce them husband and wife, and then…yeah, I changed Michael back to his usual unflirty self.

Before I left, I photographed the happy couple at home. They both love reading, so maybe they will be able to make their marriage work.

Michael and Galina at home sharing their love of books.

Now, what will happen when it’s time for them to begin a family? Will Michael be able to actually have a relationship? Or will I once again have to resort to drastic measures to overcome his inability to handle romantic flirtations? Will incense help? Or will that only lead to burning down their house? Will Galina have patience enough to put up with her gloomy husband?

Only time will tell, but for now, the Russian wife has proved to be quite an interesting experience, both for Michael and for me.


Making Choices

When we’re creating families and living out their lives through our games, it’s sometimes a difficult thing to see them unhappy. I know from reading the discussion boards at EA’s Forum that a lot of players go out of their way to make life easy for their sims.

I’m not one of them.

It’s possible to use cheats to improve a sim’s skills, get job promotions, and add hefty sums of simoleons to the family account. There are also “in-game” tricks — like taking a thoughtful shower for inspiration before a sim sits down to write a novel. Of course, as the all-knowing, all-seeing, everywhere-present creator of our own sim world, we can easily step in at any time to intervene when things aren’t going well. I’ll admit to occasionally slipping over to CAS to create a “potentially perfect” mate for a lonely sim, but beyond that, I try — as much as possible — to take a “hands off” approach. I want my sims to have their own lives, to make their own choices, and to accept the consequences of their own behavior. In keeping with that style of play, I mostly sit back, watch my sims, and follow their whims and aspirations as guides.

The result is that I often have unhappy sims. Some, in fact, are utterly miserable. Am I heartless? There are certainly times when I feel sorry for a sim in my game, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to jump right in and fix things for him or her. Instead, I’ll shake my head a bit and lament the poor choices and bad decisions that have caused so much misery.

One such miserable sim is Dalton Vaile. I briefly shared a bit of his story before when he and his girlfriend, Janis Melanson, went out on the first “dinner date” in my game. Now, for me, the first word that comes to mind when I think of Dalton is degenerate. As an artist, he’s lived a wild, reckless lifestyle, carousing long into the night with his other degenerate artist friends. Think Bohemian lifestyle…to the max.

At one such drunken soiree, he met Eva, a townie whose last name I don’t recall. Somehow I neglected to even note it in my records. I never liked Eva, you see. She had nothing to offer. When she got pregnant and claimed that Dalton was the father, I wasn’t sure what would happen. Dalton was not the marrying kind and neither was Eva. So, I stepped back and let them live their own lives.

At the time the baby was born, Dalton was living with Beatrice Oakes. She was an older woman who’d lost her husband, and she rented a room of her house out to help struggling students. She believed in Dalton and his art, felt sorry for him, and took him in. Of course, when she learned that Dalton had a newborn son, she persuaded him to at least see the child. He did, and with a bit of gentle persuasion from Beatrice, he decided to “do the right thing” and marry Eva. Maybe, in time, they’d come to love one another.

It was a miserable marriage from the start. Eva and little Coleman moved into Beatrice’s home, and for the most part, Eva took full advantage of having a built-in babysitter. Although she was unemployed and did nothing more than sit around, Eva left the care of her son almost entirely up to Beatrice.

More unhappy than ever, Dalton resumed his reckless ways. He flunked out of art school, spent most of the time in a stupor, and fought with Eva every moment they were together. Finally, he divorced her, kept custody of Coleman, and made a desperate attempt to get his life back together. Oh, this man was so miserable.

ColemanHe sunk lower and lower, and finally even the kind-hearted Beatrice could bear no more. She tossed the fellow out on his ear, and little Coleman along with him. Forced now to fend for himself, he rented an inexpensive little house, but couldn’t afford to furnish it beyond the bare necessities.

For several years, he and Coleman struggled. As much as Dalton loved his son, he still couldn’t break free from his old habits, and the little boy spent a lot of time alone, staring at the walls, wondering just where his father might be.

I think the turning point came when Coleman asked for an art table. No way could Dalton afford to buy one, but he sold a few old paintings to scrape together a bit of cash, and even though it meant not paying the rent that month, he bought his son the table he wanted.

Seeing the joy on his son’s face changed Dalton, I think. He started spending more time with Coleman. He started painting again, too. Soon Coleman was making friends and becoming a little more outgoing. Dalton stopped throwing money away on parties, started being a more responsible parent, and even saved enough to fix up the house a bit so that Coleman’s friends could come to visit.

SelfieEventually he met Janis. It was at Magnolia Blossom Park. He was painting there one afternoon when a “Singles Club” came out for a gathering. He and Janis began chatting, exchanged phone numbers, and even took “selfies” together.

Afterward, he nearly missed out, though. He was hesitant to call Janis. Why would she want to go out with a loser like him?

Fortunately, he took the chance and called her.

The relationship has worked out well, and they’re both very happy. Dalton’s ex-wife, Eva, by the way, finally landed in jail for shoplifting, so she’s out of the picture — not that she ever came around that much.

Coleman and Janis get along well, and now, Janis is expecting. Will Dalton propose? I’m hoping he will, but it’s up to him. He’s made many bad choices and wrong decisions over the years, but I think he’s learned a lot about life now. For the first time ever, Dalton Vaile is a happy man. His son is happy, too.

I wish them well.


A Close Call

Edgar EvansFormer astronaut Edgar Evans is proud to say he now has 22 members of his fan club — all the neighborhood kids. They’re so cute. He loves visiting their little club and talking about his time in space.

Of course, he also enjoys having the current group of NSSA Cadets over to his place and fixing dinner for them. He makes a mess, but his wife, Sara, never complains.

The Evans family did have quite a scare recently, though. Edgar’s wife, Sara, has been spending a lot of time taking care of those exotic space plants the space agency has been studying. A woman working at the agency — Yasmin Grayson — nearly died because of those plants. It seems they’re the cause of an ailment the scientists have named boverde flu.

Boverde Flu Sara got violently ill, and Edgar was afraid he was going to lose her. Fortunately the doctors have now developed a cure for the disease.

Edgar is very insistent that his wife steer clear of those exotic space plants in the future.

And what’s going on with Kat and Jonathan? Why aren’t they having babies? Family is far more important than career, at least in Edgar’s opinion, and Sara is inclined to agree with him. But so far, no news about any little ones on the way.








Could It Be His Fault?

Depressed KatJonathan Evans is getting concerned. He and Kat have been married for a while, and although she’s trying to get pregnant, it’s not happening.

She’s moping around, feeling awful, and spending a lot of time in bed. Jonathan hates seeing his wife so depressed. Could it be his fault? It might serve him right, you know, for cheating on Kat.

But he’s not doing that anymore. He’s ready to have a family, or at least, he thinks he is. They’ll keep trying. What else can they do?

thNL9PCMR6He did give Kat a beautiful gift for their anniversary. He bought her a baby grand piano. It took all they had in savings, but it was worth it. He’s been writing music — a few modern jazz pieces for violin — so he’s making a few simoleons. He’ll have their savings built up again soon.

Kat’s been doing well with her music, too, so she’s got that to cheer her up. She’s one of the most requested performers for weddings and funerals, and while that might not seem like much to brag about, it brings in money. They’re doing all right.

But why can’t they have babies? Is something really wrong with one of them? Which one?




A Husband of Her Own

ProposalFiona Patterson was about to give up on Benjamin Brooks. He’s always late! They were supposed to meet for a romantic night in the park, and he didn’t show up. She got tired of waiting and went home, and then he showed up at the park.

He finally came on home, and before she had a chance to yell at him, she found out why he was late. He’d stopped at the jewelers to pick up the engagement ring he’d ordered.

An engagement ring!

Yes, he proposed, and Fiona didn’t want to wait. They hurried off to find a judge and got married right away. After all, they’ve been living together so it wasn’t anything to make a big deal over. Fiona was tired of listening to her mother go on and on about how sinful it was.

Is Fiona happy now? No, not really. Well, yes, she loves Benjamin, but he’s still always late. He’s late to work. He’s late getting home. He’s late getting up. He’s not making much money either, but neither is she. They’re broke. Bills are coming due again soon, and Fiona’s a bit concerned. Things will get better, of course.

And what of Jonathan? She hasn’t seen him since he broke off their relationship. He told her then that he really loved his wife and wanted to make her happy. Well, Fiona told him a thing or two! And now, Jonathan, guess what! She doesn’t need you anymore. She’s got a husband, and by the way, he’s much better at keeping her satisfied that you ever were.

So there, Jonathan!



I Murdered Chester Gieke

I shudder at the thought of law enforcement ever impounding my computer. What a field day they’d have with my search history. Of course, they’d have fun, too, reading posts on the Forum as we simmers casually discuss the most efficient ways of getting rid of our sims or the cruelties to which we’ve subjected our darlings.

In my own defense, I’ve never been one to deliberately kill off any of my sims. I think I’ve only done that once — way back in the original game — and only under very extenuating circumstances. Yes, I felt awful afterward.

The deaths in my game have always been natural or accidental. But then, there’s the story of Chester Gieke and his untimely demise. It was murder.

ChesterLet me tell you the sad story of Chester Gieke.

Chester was a “pre-made” in Sims 2. I didn’t normally play pre-made sims, but at the time I put him into my game, I was needing a “house-sitter.” A kind elder lady, Lucille Menne, had been elected governor and I was preparing to move her into the governor’s mansion. I didn’t want to lose her lovely house and all its furnishings, though, so I grabbed Chester Gieke from the “sim bin” and let him live in the house until Miss Menne’s term as governor ended. I had no intentions of ever playing Chester.

But then one day as I was playing a young university student, Chester came strolling down the street. This girl was definitely looking for love, and when Chester stopped to chat, they quickly realized they were a perfect pair. They had so much in common. Their taste in music, their favorite foods, their aspirations for the future…oh,  yes, Chester and nerdy Clarissa were meant for each other. They fell in love, got engaged, and planned to marry as soon as she graduated.

But then one day she tried to call Chester.

He was gone.

What? Where was he? I spent at least an hour — if not more — desperately searching for Chester. He was no longer living in Miss Menne’s house. She’d lost the most recent election and had returned home. Chester was supposed to be living back in the “sim bin” — the Sims 2 version of “household management.”

The bin was quite confusing, at least for players like me who had several different neighborhoods in the game. It was possible to remove a sim from the bin in one neighborhood, yet find the sim still “in the bin” in other neighborhoods. Soon after Miss Menne returned home, I went on a bin-cleaning binge and somehow in the process, I killed Chester Gieke. I didn’t mean to do it. Really, I didn’t.

I tried searching for another copy of Chester in another neighborhood bin. Alas, he was nowhere to be found. His girlfriend was devastated. They’d been so happy together. They were about to get married and begin their future. How could fate be so unkind?

Of course, it made for a terrific story, and to this day, no one in Bloomington — the neighborhood in which they lived — knows who killed Chester Gieke. His death remains one of those unsolved mysteries that haunts detectives to this day.

So, perhaps the time has come for me to stand up and make my confession. Yes, I murdered Chester Gieke, and I can no longer live with the guilt. I’m sorry, Clarissa. I didn’t mean to do it. Please, forgive me. May the Sim-gods have mercy on my soul.


A New Leaf

Angry FionaJonathan Evans is turning over a new leaf. He’s decided he’s not going to put his marriage at risk for a meaningless little fling with Fiona Patterson. That’s all it ever was, really.

Jonathan cares about Fiona, but he’s vowed to love Kat forever, and he’s going to do the right thing and honor that commitment. He’s going to be the kind of husband Kat deserves.

Fiona wasn’t happy when he told her, but she’ll get over it.

For heaven’s sake, she’s living with Benjamin Brooks, so she’s been cheating, too. Maybe she should stay home and spend a little time with Benjamin.

The way Jonathan sees it now, he’s been asking for trouble. So has Fiona. It’s not worth it. He wants a happy marriage, not one riddled with suspicions and doubt.

Now, his only concern is what Fiona might do. Jonathan hopes he won’t be seeing Fiona around town too often. It could get awkward. It could get nasty.

Don’t Wake the Llama

It’s the end of the year in New Simeria, the perfect time for taking stock of one’s life. Holidays are usually happy occasions for Edgar and Sara Evans, but this one has been a little less happy than usual.

Sara was disappointed that her latest sci-fi novel, Electric Earth, wasn’t even nominated for a Jupiter Award, and Edgar has been a little pre-occupied lately. What she doesn’t know is why her husband has been a bit worried lately.

He’s heard rumors about their son, Jonathan. Apparently the boy is cheating on his lovely wife, Kat. Edgar finally invited him over for an afternoon, and he expressed a few thoughts about fidelity. Quite discreetly, of course. He hopes Jonathan will take it to heart.

Kat’s been a bit depressed, Jonathan said. She was hoping to have a baby, but it hasn’t happened yet. They’ll keep trying, of course.

Sara was also talking about moving to a new place in Newcrest, conveniently close to Jonathan and Kat. Edgar nixed that idea. There’s nothing wrong with their house, and the last thing their son needs is an interfering mother close by.

Wake the LlamaEdgar did remodel Jonathan’s old bedroom and turned it into a game room. Sara likes playing games like that silly Don’t Wake the Llama game. It’s fun, at times. She’s worried though. She knows something is wrong in Jonathan’s marriage, and what about her own marriage? Why is Edgar suddenly being so distant? Whenever she brings it up, he tells her to stop worrying, nothing is wrong.

And if she tries to talk about Jonathan, Edgar says she should mind her own business. “Don’t wake the llama,” he says. In other words, some things are better left alone.

She’s trying, and maybe Edgar is right. Maybe Kat and Jonathan need to work things out on their own.

Meanwhile, Sara has been keeping busy with a new book. A cookbook. She’s calling it “Out of the World Food”, and including lots of her astronaut husband’s favorites, like the Pineapple Rocket Salad she makes. She’s doing a lot of cooking, and fixing a lot of Edgar’s favorites lately. Despite his reassurances, she can’t help but worry.



Looking at Lothario

One of the reasons I don’t usually play pre-made sims is because of their too obvious names. The Caliente sisters — caliente meaning “hot” in Spanish — are intended to be, well, yeah, two hot single girls, and Michael Bachelor is — surprise, surprise — a bachelor. And then, there’s Don Lothario, seducer of women.

A quick bit of history here. Lothario was the main character in The Fair Penitent, a tragedy written by Nicholas Rowe in 1703 — which was in itself an adaptation of an earlier work, The Fatal Dowry, first published in 1632. When writing his stage play, Rowe simplified the plot line somewhat and also changed the names of the characters, thus Novall Junior became Lothario.

His role in the play was that of a notorious seducer. He is charming and handsome, but also haughty and unfeeling. In The Fair Penitent, he seduces Calista, an unfaithful wife.  Following the publication of the play, the character of Lothario became a standard figure in works for the English theatre and literature. The character of Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa (1848) was modeled on him, and as the stereotypical “Lothario” appeared more and more often, his name became synonymous with seduction and with unscrupulous rakes who prey upon innocent young women.

Dirty DonIn Sims 2, we find Don Lothario living in Pleasantview. He is, indeed, a womanizer.  Don is involved with both Nina and Dina Caliente, despite the fact that he’s engaged to Cassandra Goth. He’s also having a bit of fun with pretty maid, Kaylynn Langerak.

I never followed the story of Bella Goth and her disappearance, but rumor has it that she went to Don Lothario’s house to welcome him to Pleasantview and was never seen again.

Despite my dislike of pre-mades, this lothario made his way into my Sims 2 game. For a time, having a “love ’em and leave ’em” character chasing after every woman he met was amusing, but I stopped laughing when he went after innocent young Kristin Allbright.

Don brought Kristin home from work with him that day — no doubt on the pretext of helping her with her job skills — and I was aghast. I’d created Kristin only a few days before, and she was undoubtedly the most naïve young girl in my game. So sweet. So caring. So trusting.

I knew Kristin would be an easy target for a man like Don Lothario, and I sat in front of computer crying out to the poor girl, desperately wanting to warn her about the sort of man Don really was.

“No, go home! Don’t fall for his tricks!”

To my amazement, Kirstin was smarter than I’d ever guessed. Too smart even for the unscrupulous Don Lothario. Although she chatted with him quite pleasantly for a time, as soon as he tried “putting on the moves”, she got up and announced it was time for her to go.

For weeks, Don chased after Kristin, but she wasn’t buying it. He courted her with flowers and other gifts, and while she would go out with him on dates, she’d never go home with him afterward. Maybe a quick kiss now and then, but definitely no woo-hoo!

Kirstin became an obsession for him. He broke off his engagement with Cassandra and gave up his relationships with all other women. He wanted Kirstin, and he was determined to get her no matter what the cost.

In the end, Don Lothario’s story had quite a happy ending in my game. He truly feel “head over heels” in love with sweet young Kirstin, and once they married, he changed his ways completely — thanks to the game reward that allowed aspiration changes. No longer a womanizer, he became a faithful husband and, in time, a devoted father to their children. His story has become one of my favorites, proving that people can change and serving as a reminder, too, that high moral standards do have a place in our world today.

Don has also appeared in Sims 3, and is included with Sims 4, but I quickly deleted him from the current game. I wouldn’t enjoy playing his character now. In my mind, he’s always going to remain the happy husband and father from Pleasantview who met his match in a sweet, innocent young girl.


Maybe…or Maybe Not

Kat is so depressed she just wants to stay in bed all day.
Kat is so depressed she just wants to stay in bed all day.

Kat Phillips is devastated. She’s wanting to have a baby, and it’s just not happening. She thought she might be pregnant, and then she found out she wasn’t. She feels like a complete failure as a wife.

Jonathan didn’t think he wanted a family yet, but now he’s giving it more thought. What if he and Kat can’t ever have children? That would be awful. He’s still not sure he wants to be a father right now, but if Kat really wants a baby, maybe they should try again.

Or, maybe not.

Jonathan is confused. He’s been seeing Fiona Patterson, now he’s feeling guilty, and maybe he needs to re-dedicate himself to his beautiful wife.

Or, maybe not.

He enjoys the time he spends with Fiona. Sometimes he wishes he hadn’t gotten married. Maybe he really loves Fiona. Maybe more than he loves Kat.

Or, maybe not.

No, he does love his wife. That’s why he married her. He’s confused, Kat’s depressed, and at least they have their music to share.


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