Posts Tagged ‘Russians’

Noël

January 3, 2012

When I was little, I loved Christmas. I loved the tree, the parties, the songs, the when-is-it-going-to-get-here countdown.

I loved the whole story.

And even though I was a godless child — I can’t remember ever believing in Santa Claus, much less little Jesus — I tried to make an exception at Christmastime.

Usually this took the form of a late-night prayer, when I was kept awake by anticipation and terror: “Please God, if there’s a nuclear war, let it be in January.”

I figured it was an especially perilous time of year: If the Russians were aiming for maximum evil, they wouldn’t just launch a bomb; they’d do it Christmas Eve.*

My father told me that an attack was very unlikely. If it ever did happen, we could go to the Metro, which in Washington is deep underground. I wasn’t convinced — how would we get enough warning? also, how would everybody fit?

So after my Christmas prayer, I’d lie there imagining armageddon crowds on the subway escalator, hoping that my family would make it into the tunnel first, leaving the other families, the other ones, to take the brunt of the blast.

.

.

* Target-wise, I knew Washington, DC was a bad place to live. I’d once expressed doubt that missiles would be able to make it all the way across Europe to our shores. But my dad explained that they’d come over the North Pole, which was shorter.

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November 19, 2011

LA had its heyday when America did. You can see it in the Eisenhower-era freeways, the bungalow-style apartments, the uselessly glamorous office buildings.

I love this about LA: Feeling connected to the days when cars were good and Russians were bad. When movies had newsreels, television aired live, and newspapers were actually made out of paper: My neighborhood still has newspaper boxes on most corners.

The first time I moved to LA, years ago, my father told me the LA Times was decent. Not the New York Times. But better than most local papers these days. My dad was a professional news junkie. In the morning, while he was getting ready for work, he’d tune his shortwave radio to the BBC and carry it around the house. He read three newspapers a day, not all of them in English.

So when I see the newspaper boxes, I think of him. I can hear him putting the quarter in the slot. I can almost smell it. He’d take a paper, put it under his arm, come back to my apartment — which would surely be familiar to him: the 50s kitchen, the wooden floors, the picture window.

Surely, he would recognize it.