Eileen Dahill/Minnesota

I lost my cell phone this weekend but the Russian found it.

I am the founder of a non-competitive Irish Dance school (The St. Paul Irish Dancers) but the regional Oireachtas competition was in town representing 14 states as Irish dancers vie for a spot at the world championships. The pageantry is ginormous. The dancers huddle backstage glittering like Christmas ornaments waiting for their set dance ( a hard shoe dance to a specific piece of music) in the massive ballrooms. The crowd is as quiet as bystanders at a golf tournament – knowing the fierce concentration each dancer most have through out the weekend.

The Russian calls

It was a great craic to be part of an Irish Dancing day and not be in charge of anything. I barely have my coat off and the Russian called. His name was Ilya. I feel like I am talking to someone from the Russian Consulate. His English is precise and neat. He has my phone. I didn’t know I didn’t have my phone. There is a long silence on the line as I convince myself that I have lost my phone. I pat my Belfast mom down and then I frisk her and she becomes irritated. She likes my phone but doesn’t have and neither do I. The Russian has it.

Russian Rendez-vous

NO ONE comes to our frigid state unless they marry a Minnesotan, their work transplants them here (Like Irish Thermo-King), or they have refugee status and are sponsored by an organization in Minnesota. I am cautious. Plenty of people, especially college students get caught in flim-flam stories or get rolled for something else. I bring along a 23 year old banjo player for muscle.

I call Ilya back and we rendez-vous a couple of miles away. He comes out of his apartment complex just like I imagined him – Ilya Kuryakin from the old’s 60 tv series “The Man from Uncle”. He looks at our little entourage, sighs, and asks, “Who is E-o-leen? I raise my hand an I get my cell phone back and I give him a thank-you card with a $20 enclosed. He turns and does not look back. By the time he gets into the apartment foyer he has opened the card, discarded it, and pocketed the money. My Russian rendez-vous over Oireachtas weekend.