It was what I had dreamt of all those years when I read of dueling pistols and men of great action and few words. ”Suddenly, I wished my women’s studies professor from Sarah Lawrence were there.After the punching finally stopped, Anton walked up to me shirtless and sweaty, caked with blood and dirt, his arms outstretched in an unmistakable gesture of victory. Pistols at dawn seemed a ludicrous symbol of male egotism, and I longed for men in tailored suits, who solved arguments with Woody Allen jokes and New Yorker references.

And when I say “provide,” I don’t even necessarily mean in a monetary sense as much as in a paternal one.

This sense that they are obligated to look out for you, not because you’re weaker or feeble-minded, but because you — as the fountain from which life springs forth — are precious and valuable.

You do not meet a Russian man, you are chosen by one.

You could be sitting in a banya, or at a café, and a man walks by, puts a fruit salad on your table, and gruffly says, “Enjoy.” If you eat the salad, it is a sign that you would like him to come talk to you.

The second thing you’ll notice is that Russian men are patriarchal alpha males, and, whatever your feminist textbook might have told you, this is initially a huge turn-on.

Evolutionary theorists and Freudians alike would argue that women are subconsciously attracted to men who give off signs that they will provide for them.

All of which is to say, I am dual in every way, and my plethora of multicolored passports is a worthy symbol of the cultural mish-mash of my personality. The first thing that you’ll notice when you get to Russia is that the women are astoundingly beautiful and immaculately presented.

They will sashay past you with their wobbly stilettos (which are worn even over blocks of ice) and designer bags (which carry a full pharmacy complete with a mini shoe polish and handwipes) and, if you tell them you pluck your own eyebrows and only get a facial once a month, will look at you as though you have just clawed your way out of a swamp.

I was standing on a dirt path in a Russian country village, holding my boyfriend Anton’s torn, bloodstained T-shirt.

All that could be heard in the darkness was my friends and I shouting his name, and the thuds and grunts of Anton wrestling with another guy.

Only a few minutes ago, we’d been standing together drinking beer, when the other guy made the dubious and drunken decision to put his arm around me.