I guess they’re waiting, aren’t they? Waiting for some vehicle, some magic ship or bus or plane to come and take them away. The great diaspora of the 21st century. Maybe not. Maybe they know better. “Who would want us?” they wonder.
It’s hard to get a good read on the Russians. Always has been. Sipping their vodka-flavored Chinese tea in the second-rate, 1980s-style carryover cafes. Nothing says boredom like the out of work Russian mill worker, the industrial byproduct of a bygone era.
I’m not sure if I’m more worried about their government’s latest military venture into Syria or about the powderkeg of nonplussed citizenry waiting for the return of Red October to transport them back to the proud days of waiting in line for toilet paper.
I’m reminded of the voices varied and absolute:
“Russia…they’ve wiped their feet with it. Anyone who wants to can smack her in the face. They’ve turned it into a Western junkyard full of worn-out rags and expired medicine. Garbage [Obscenities.] A trough full of raw materials, a natural gas tap. The Soviet regime? It wasn’t ideal, but it was better than what we have today.” Interview in Red Square, December 1991. Secondhand Time, Svetlana Alexievich
“My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Ronald Reagan
“They’re professionals at this in Russia, so no matter how many Jell-O shots or Jager shooters you might have downed at college mixers, no matter how good a drinker you might think you are, don’t forget that the Russians – any Russian – can drink you under the table.”
― Anthony Bourdain,
“As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”
―Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Letters
“The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.”
― Otto von Bismarck