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To Russia, With Love

    Can you have an infatuation with an entire country? Not its people really, because I have only a slight acquaintance with someone from this place. I mean the country itself.
    Ever since I was in middle school I've had a love affair with Russia. I know. It's not really popular right now. I was keeping this on the down low.
    In high school I took Mrs. Berryman's Russian history class and that really cemented the relationship. She even brought borscht to school for us, and the sour cream for on top.
    She was a sort of scatterbrained type, Mrs. Berryman. She had my older brother Steve in a different history class and there's a story about how he and his best friend Jack covered the outside of a quarter with heavy pencil and then convinced her to roll it over her face several times as some sort of experiment.
    Anyway, I loved that class. It was full of seniors and I was a junior so that made it even more attractive. And trust me, in the whole realm of my high school experience, I have to grab the good parts where I can.
    I've always been smitten with the Nicholas and Alexandra love story. You know those royals don't always marry for love and it appears that those two did. Now, granted their marriage didn't have the best outcome, but I'm sure there were some great times before the execution. Take one look at those Faberge eggs and tell me that isn't romantic.
    I love Peter and the Wolf. I love Tolstoy, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky. Don't even get me started on The Nutcracker. And the onion domes, for God's sake some of them are covered in gold.
    You have Catherine the Great, whose prowess with men I can't even get into here. Then there's the whole vodka thing. I just feel that with all these strengths, Russia is clearly a cultural powerhouse, at least by historical standards, not to mention my standards.
    The Romanovs really are what binds me to this great love affair, though.
    There's the tragic love story and then all the beautiful kids they had together with those fancy names. Then there's the hemophilia and the Rasputin saga. Then the subsequent intrigue and murder of Rasputin. Then the whole arrest and failure of Nicholas to really pull himself together causing the downfall of an entire nation. It's like he wanted to make sure Alexandra got a decent foot rub before he read the paperwork on the Bolsheviks.
    Then you have the execution of the entire family while the women were weighed down by the jewels sewn into their underwear. This story comes full circle when they discovered the remains of most of the family in the early 1990s, and the remains of the final two missing children were identified 2008. You know the sad part here is that I know all this by heart. Ask me a question about President Grant and I guarantee you I know next to nothing.    
    I plan to bring this whole love affair into play when I have grandchildren. I shall be called Babushka.

It's better to have a rich soul than to be rich.   — Olga Korbut


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