Live or Memorex?

Originally written in 1993

For those of you who may have read “Just Say No”, I have another first time Moscow experience to share with you that happened while taking a tour of Lenin’s tomb.  Remember kids, this is the kind of stuff that can happen when you don’t pay attention in school!

We had taken a bus to Red Square.  Almost in a single file line, we exited the bus walked quietly from the street through the square and to the building that housed the tomb.  It was snowing those huge snowflakes again that I now associate with Russia.  This and the fact that the square was almost empty seemed to add to the “hush” overtone. No cameras were allowed.  Guards were posted at almost every corner, and the entry guards were patting us down as we walked in.  No one was smiling, and it seemed so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

Not knowing much at the time about the Russian people or their history (to my shame), I didn’t know quite what to expect.  I wasn’t putting two and two together of the significance of who we were paying a visit.  They told us we were going to take a tour of Lenin’s tomb. OK… So?  That didn’t have much meaning until I actually saw him.  It was then that I remembered faintly reading in high school history class about some dead guy’s body they had preserved.  “Oh”, I thought, “this must be that guy”!

Needless to say, now I was intrigued.  The path around the glass coffin was in a u-shape with stairs leading up, around his feet, and then back down.  As I was quietly making my way around, the one thing I thought about most was whether or not this was real.  I mean, think about how old they were claiming this body to be.  What year did this Lenin fellow die, anyway?  It very well could be a wax figure, and no one would ever know as long as they didn’t question it, right?

I began to look very intently at the body, trying to search for some kind of evidence, like nose hairs for example, that might tell me if my suspicion was correct.  I became so involved with this intensive search that by the time I made my way around the corner and came to the first step back down, I never saw the step coming.  Swoosh, crash, BOOM!  Down the steps I flew with a noise so loud I was certain no one there had ever experienced the likes before, and all the guards came running.  I’ll never forget how frightened I was in the moment when I saw them hovering around me, thinking for sure I was doomed and would have to spend the rest of my life in a Russian prison for disturbing Lenin’s rest!

Alas, as it turns out they were only there to help me up and make sure I was alright.  All was well in the end, and the secret of Lenin’s body forever remains a mystery.


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