The Eros of Moscow (continued)
By Vladimir Sorokin
2. VDNKh (The All-Russian Exhibition Center)
Entering through the main entrance into the territory of the former Exhibit of the Achievements of People’s Farming, go straight until you see the first fountain, “Friendship of Nations” – 15 gilded female figures in the national costumes of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. Climb over the side, step into the water of the fountain and walk around the fountain three times clockwise. Then go further, until you reach the fountain “The Stone Flower.” Here perform the same action – three times, knee deep in the water, clockwise. And immediately proceed further to the very end of the exhibit territory, to the fountain “The Golden Ear.” This is a large, deep fountain. They used to sail around it in boats. Undress and swim around the gilded ear of wheat. Three times clockwise. If all ends well, as it did for me and the artist Andrei Monastyrsky and his wife Sabina in that memorable year of 1986, get dressed and immediately head somewhere nearby to have a drink and eat something. Having opened for ourselves this erogenous zone of our home city, we then headed to the restaurant “The Golden Ear.” The enormous restaurant lay empty in light of Gorbachev’s infamous anti-alcohol campaign –they weren’t even serving beer there. At the same time, the food was generously portioned. After our ablution in the three waters we very much wanted to warm up.
“Address yourselves to the porter,” the waiter kindly whispered. Andrei addressed himself, and within a few minutes a whiskered porter approached and set upon our table a bottle of Bordzhomi mineral water filled with vodka.
“Is this vodka?” asked Sabina in good Russian. The porter silently nodded.
“But why is it in a mineral-water bottle?”
“It’s hard to explain,” the porter answered and strolled off.
It seems to me, he was speaking not just about the camouflaged vodka, but rather in a deeper, more metaphysical sense.