This is a story of fervor and pain,
of two lovers in political chains.
Have you ever found yourself in a terrible situation because of love? Mexico has. With his last breath drawing near, body wracked with pain as he lay dying in a pool of his own blood, he tries to remember the stupid decisions that lead up to this point so he can regret them one last time.
The Soviet Union was a home that didn’t feel like a home. Actually, it felt like hell.
“Throw off the yoke of imperialism!” That was the USSR’s pitch, and it sounded great. But many countries who would eventually become Soviet socialist republics and satellites weren’t there because they wanted to be.
In 1940 Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia learned the hard way that you don’t say no to the Soviet Union. Unwillingly they became part of Russia’s big, effed up family.
That house was falling apart, that much everyone knew. Things were always broken: appliances, electronics, and lights would cut in and out without reason, and there had been one too many accidents involving the staircases. But despite the deterioration, water damage, and mold, they tried to hold on to it. It was all they had.
Ukraine stood beside the grimy bathtub and cranked its rusty knobs as cold nipped at his bare skin. A short sputter of brownish water shot out, startling him. After more fruitless cranking, he sighed and slipped into a robe.
“Hey!” He shouted down the hallway after peeking his head out. “Wasn’t someone supposed to be fixing the pipes today?” No response. “Hello? Anyone? The pipes are—” He heard a sudden groan to his right.
“It was me,” Estonia admitted sheepishly. “I was supposed to be on pipe duty, but things kept coming up.”
North Korea was never good at making friends, but he had a lot of comrades by default. The Golden Rule of Communism stated that every communist be friends with every other communist (which was funny because many communists hated each other). But when it came to people North Korea felt a deep personal connection with, there were really only two. So when those two began to have a horrible falling out, he knew he needed to do something. And that something was to take advantage of their hatred for each other.
The early 1970s
Five minutes into the conference call and already China and Russia were slinging communist buzzwords at each other.
In the back of a book named Tactical Memoir Of Dear Leader’s Most Revolutionary And Anti-imperialist Fashion Ideas was a lone piece of paper that had been torn from its binding. On it was a simple list. The words and names on the list, penned neatly in black ink, all bore sentiment. There was resentment, disappointment, and a little bit of indignation.
You’re using me.
What killed your conscience?
Wake the hell up.
I will never let you forget that mistake.
Does it feel good?
At the bottom of the paper was a name that had been scratched out many times over, but the words to follow, first written by a hesitant hand, were still legible.
When you said it would be this hard, I wish I would have listened.
Their dance was not an elegant waltz. It was an aggressive swing with all of the passion and none of the pleasure. When she jerked him this way, he jerked her that way. There was no lead, only two fervid stars dancing to two different beats. Neither found solace in the intimacy of their situation, only adrenaline infused dread that set their nervous systems on fire.
The complexity of their relationship had them tense under a hot spotlight. She could smell his arrogance and he could sense her ambition. They knew well each other’s hands and hips, but not Achilles’ heel.
The Cuban Missile Crisis left deep, psychological scars on both nuclear superpowers. For weeks after, America wore his flag on everything (tie, boxers, socks, cool baseball cap) to repel communism as much as possible. He also spent most of his nights on the roof with a 6-pack of root beer and a shotgun. But that was as much about the Red Scare as it was about his love for root beer and shotguns. Russia coped by plotting to control every country east of Germany.
In August 1963, a “hotline” between the US and USSR was established in order to keep total nuclear destruction of the planet from ever threatening humanity again. Ground-breaking for its time, this system allowed International communication to happen between the superpowers in a matter of minutes. It was made to prevent World War III. It was used to send ridiculous jokes.
Is your refrigerator running?
That was the first message Russia had received from America personally.
Leave my refrigerator alone.
That was the first message America had received from Russia personally.
Well then you’d better go catch it!
Russia didn’t understand, but continued to humor America throughout the Cold War.