Originally written in 1995. Revised February 2015.
Now it is my second time to be in Moscow, during November of 1994. I believe there was close to 150 cast and crew members who had come once again to perform “The Promise” in the Palace of Congress Theater in the Kremlin. the blessings of the Lord were truly wonderful on this trip. One night our audience was standing room only! And the people! They were so receptive. Some said it was like seeing the stained glass windows in their great cathedrals come to life for the first time.
It was Saturday in between performances when around 3pm, my new friend, Susan, and I decided we were going to spend our free time exploring the great city of Moscow. So off we went, just the two of us, for what I will always remember as one of the most pleasurable few hours I have ever spent with a friend. It was one of those “right time, right place” kind of things that make memories such a joy to recall, and something that would often occur between Susan and I on future travels together as well.
The first thing we did was trek our way to the local McDonald’s to have a taste of America in Russia. Don’t ask me why restaurants like McDonald’s and Pizza hut become especially appealing and sought after to us Americans when we’re away from home, they just do. Speaking strictly as a Texan, it’s a shame they don’t have Dr. Pepper, though. Don’t they know how many of us Texans like to travel abroad? Oh, yes, I suppose we are the ones they refer to as “loud and obnoxious”.
Next, we made our way back down to Red square, passing by the temptation of a man with a box of kittens he was trying to give away. Awe, how cute! Once in the square we conversed with a couple of street vendors who sold me a Polar Fox hat for $30 and a kiss… on the cheek, of course, which Susan paid! Otherwise it would have been $35, and who can resist a good bargain?
By this time it was 5:00pm, time for the church bells to ring. How beautiful it was not only to listen but to actually watch as they rang them all, from the largest to the smallest. After that we decided we’d better begin making our way back to the theater, but chose to walk past the National Memorial of the Unknown Soldier as we did so. Interesting thing to mention, we saw a bride and groom both at McDonalds and at the National Memorial. McDonalds I am guessing it was because it was novel to them at the time. The National Memorial, I was told, was because they thought it would bring them luck.
After viewing the National Memorial, we happily set out to look for that restroom Susan had been saying she needed so desperately! Perhaps there’s one around here, you never know! Unbeknownst to us, this put us on a lower path by the Kremlin wall and took us off the street level it was necessary for us to be on.
Just past the memorial there was this place along the Kremlin wall that looked historical as well, but neither Susan or I knew of it’s significance. We tried asking passer-by’s if they spoke English, looking for someone who might tell us. Here we met two British Journalists based in Paris that were in Moscow for one week to cover other events. They said they had just been speaking between themselves of how they would like to do a story on The Promise while they were in town, and were amazed that they just “happened” to run into us. Susan and I looked at each other and smiled as if to confirm we each knew it must be a divine appointment. The four of us exchanged information and we left them behind still not knowing of the significance of the place along the wall.
This is where my story begins to take a more humorous turn. Ever since we left McDonald’s, as I mentioned, Susan had expressed several times that she had to use the bathroom. Each time she did so we spent a moment or two sizing up the situation and deciding she could probably wait a little while longer. Then laughing at her predicament we would go on our merry little way. So here we were walking again, laughing and joking about the afternoon’s events up to that point. Now is when Susan begins bending over with crossed legs and saying “Oh, I just can’t hold it anymore, I’ve got to find a place to go NOW!”
Well, looking around it was obvious there were no restrooms in sight, so I laughed even more and she begged me to stop making it worse. “OK”, I said, “but what do you suppose we should do? Can you make it back to the theater?” “No”, she said, “I can’t. I have to find a place now“. Hmm… Finding a place in this park with skinny trees that run along the Kremlin wall was going to be somewhat of a challenge, that’s for sure! Finding a spot we supposed was secluded, I posted guard and teased about a full moon while Susan breathed a sigh of relief and changed the snow from white to yellow, then pleaded with me to hand her the toilet paper (we always carried with us) before she froze!
You would think the story may end here, but it doesn’t. Not exactly, that is. You see, in our quest to see the memorial and then go in search of a restroom, we didn’t realize that each step took us further away from the only entry into the Kremlin we were allowed to take, which was on street level over the bridge through Troitsky Gate. As a matter of fact, we had only a moment before unknowingly walked underneath it.
Well now that Susan was in full control of herself again we realized that we must hurry in order to make it back to the theater in time. So like anyone else might do, we picked up our pace, still not knowing each step led us further away from our destination.
Eventually we came upon yet another Kremlin gate, one that is driven through instead of walked through. It would only be much later that we found out this was the entrance that none other than President Yeltsin used when he frequented the Kremlin. As luck would have it, guards were posted there! All guards in Russia speak English, right?
Susan and I looked at each other knowing that neither one of us recognized where we were. What did we do? We laughed, of course! What would you do? After our nervous giggle, we decided the best course of action was to approach the guards and ask for directions. However, the very minute we stepped forward to make the approach, one held up his hand and began blowing a whistle at us. Hmm… odd. Not realizing immediately that was meant for the two of us, we kept approaching. Oh, now not only is he holding up his hand and blowing a whistle, he’s running towards us! What do you suppose for? “Oh gosh” was Susan’s response. We stopped. He stopped.
“Well, we have to ask somebody”, I continued. “Who else would we ask”? So we began walking towards him again, and he began running towards us again, blowing his whistle as he did so. I wish I could say I had a good feeling about it.
So now we (Susan, the guard, and myself) stood face to face while he began rapidly giving us orders in Russian, uttering things we knew we’d never understand. “English”, we asked? ” Shaking head no. So much for my theory of English speaking Russian guards! Perhaps if I reach into my pocket to pull out my Kremlin pass… (MAX TENSE MOMENT).
As you guessed, the motion of me reaching into my pocket for anything caused a bit of a ruckus, sending the other guard running towards us now as well, while reaching for his weapon (oh dear God help)! But as my hand came out of my pocket to go slightly into the air (along with my other hand), the first guard could see all I had in it was a piece of paper, which he promptly took.
AH… Comprehension. Thank you God for patient guards who are having to deal with two blonds who just don’t know any better! He graciously pointed us in the right direction while the two of them shook their heads and sighed relief. See, and you thought we were going to jail! I’m wondering by now if I’m starting to have a reputation among the guards less fortunate enough to have to deal with me!
All the way back down the street Susan and I laughed and chatted merrily. Walking over the bridge now as we approached our gate, I just happened to look down into the park where we had been. There, just as plain as day, was a small patch of yellow snow. The place she and I thought had been so secluded perhaps was to everyone but those on the bridge! As it turns out, that’s where the moon was shinning it’s brightest.
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2 thoughts on “When the Moon Hits Your Eye”
How funny, I had forgotten most of that experience! You have an incredible memory!1. Such carefree day’s. What a great break in life we got to experience
Yes we sure did! The only reason I remembered in that much detail is because the first time I wrote this was only a few months after we got back. I just updated it slightly and reposted here is all. So glad you enjoyed reading it!