A student said he was bullied in high school because of his name and he always hated his name as a result. His name is George.
The director of the funeral home is a walking example of why people of certain professions need constant psychological support. His family has owned the funeral home for three generations, and it’s obvious that he’s a little too used to the discussions of “This was a good year: many fresh, juicy corpses” variety.
He started the memorial service with the following speech:
“When my father owned this funeral home, he buried about 16 people a year. And we buried 600 people here in 2013 and are hoping to do even better next year! And why do we bury so many more people? It’s because we are such caring people! And now let me show you the most important object in my life. I have it right here!”
And he whipped out a money clip with a bunch of banknotes.
“Yes, money!” he exclaimed beaming. “But it isn’t just money! It’s the money clip my grandfather left me. And every time I look at it, I think about this great business he left me. So I hope that in the future, when you have funerary needs, you will come to us!”
Yesterday, N and I went to the memorial service at our funeral home. I knew I was going to bawl, so, as a truly Soviet person, before proceeding into the room where the service was to be held, I went to the bathroom and stole some toilet paper to use as a napkin.
In the memorial service hall, however, I discovered that every seat was provided with its own box of napkins.
And this, my friends, is the most profound difference between Americans and Soviet people. It took me years in North America to unlearn the habit of carrying some toilet paper with me wherever I went.
We know from what happened to Georgia that when Russian leaders say the following, they are preparing to invade:
“We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens,” Medvedev was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
This is a long-standing tradition that goes back to Stalin’s times. Any invasion of any country is justified if Russia perceives that country as a threat. No evidence that the threat is real is ever needed.
At this point, the probability is extremely high that Russia will use the ousting of the corrupt President Yanukovich by the citizens of Ukraine as an excuse to claim feeling threatened and invade. When Putin invaded Georgia in the same way in 2008, nobody in the West made as much as a peep (except John McCain who was running for president and made a very strong and important statement). This is telling Putin that nobody will do anything to defend Ukraine either.
Will the world stand mutely by as Putin invades Ukraine and annexes parts of the country?
Watching TV at the gym has become an important source of knowledge for me. Yesterday, for instance, I saw a commercial for a dating website. A middle-aged couple met at the website and got married in 2012. I don’t know if these were real people or actors, but that doesn’t matter much.
In the commercial, the woman tells how happy she is that they met, that her life was incomplete without him, that he is her second chance for happiness. She cries, her voice breaks. This entire time, the man sits by her side in complete silence with a stony look on his face. The camera is centered on the woman, and the man can only be described as hovering on the margins. I have no doubt that he is just as happy to have found her but there is no suggestion in the commercial that there is any possibility for him to make a sound or express his emotions in any way. It’s up to the woman to process his emotions for him and deliver them to an audience.
If you think about it, this simple commercial is terrifying. The man is locked in this prison of silence and stony self-control. He is a human being, he feels things, but there is no space for him to peer out of this dungeon. The woman, in the meanwhile, acts towards him as a mother does towards a 2-year-old, verbalizing what he feels and handling his emotions for him. This is a road to loneliness and frustration for both of them. And to a significantly earlier death for him.