Thursday, April 17, 2008

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Stabbed in the Back

We were drinking and what doesn't happen when you're drunk?

~ Yuri Lyalin
Feisty yet pragmatic electrician

Every time I think one of my friends might have issues with drinking, I think back to my encounters with Russians. There was the Russian bookseller who mixed martinis by the pitcher, drank the contents before they lost their chill, and could still stand after three pitchers. Then there was the pair of former Soviet tank drivers in Kirksville, Missouri; these hard-drinking comrades commandeered the liquor at a party while trying to outdo each other by determining (a) how many Afghans each had killed and (b) how many illegitimate children each had. One claimed seventeen. The other said he lost track at thirty. Deaths or births didn't matter. Numbers did—including the vodka, Bärenjäger, and beer empties they accumulated. As a precaution, I sat on my case of beer, doling it out to friends as needed. I'd rather have it warm than see those goons claim it from the fridge.

I'd almost forgotten the sheer volume Russians can pack away until I read a BBC article today about Yuri Lyalin, a 53-year-old electrician in Vologda who came home from a night of drinking, made breakfast, and went to sleep. After a few hours, his wife noticed the handle of kitchen knife sticking out of his back. Went to the hospital, turned out the knife had missed vital organs, and was sent away with a pragmatic attitude.

Makes my bellyaching about cutting off parts of my hand seem particularly whiny. I suppose it's time to start writing again.

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