Sorokin part 3: Boulevard Ring

BulevmapThe Eros of Moscow (continued)
By Vladimir Sorokin

3. Boulevard Ring

Invite your two closest friends, buy three bottles of port wine, hide them in the pockets of your coats and head down the boulevard arm-in-arm.  You should silently walk the entire Boulevard Ring, keeping hold of each other and deliberately, surreptitiously sipping from your bottles.  I recommend you start the journey through this erogenous zone at Yauzsky Boulevard alongside Solyanka, moving counterclockwise – Chistoprudny, Sretensky and so on.  You need to walk silently, intently peering at passerby on the boulevards.  If you meet any acquaintances, preferably keep silent and turn away your eyes.  You should not drink hurriedly, but rather with feeling.  Having finished the promenade on Gogolevsky Boulevard, you should set the bottles in the middle of the boulevard, embrace each other about the shoulders and perform a slow dance around the bottles, singing and whistling.  Next it is essential to quickly, without saying good-bye and not looking at each other, head off in different directions.

All this was done by Igor Vinogradov, Sergei Kutin and me on one warm June day in 1974 after we successfully passed an engineering exam.

In this section, Sorokin starts to really jump off on a John le Carre-trip.  I mean, who wants to get together with their two closest buds and three bottles of port wine (a pretty stiff drink, even for Russia) only to walk silently arm-in-arm for two hours?

When we attempted this part, we followed the spirit rather than the letter of Sorokin’s story, walking arm-in-arm but conversing evermore jovially as the port wine tinted our mood.  Early attempts to stare creepily at passerby were quickly abandoned, since such behavior can get your ass kicked on the Boulevard Ring, which loops through central Moscow like a never-ending outdoor dive-bar and attracts an even worse clientele.

I don’t know if it was the port wine or just the natural chaos of real-life occurrences, but we diverged from Sorokin after a short time.  Music was definitely a theme; I vaguely remember being nauseated by some buskers with a sound system doing a heavily-accented rendition of “Kansas City Blues,” then later running into a group of kids with a guitar and giving them my own port wine-fueled performance of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ greatest hits.

Photographic evidence emerging after the fact would seem to indicate I also climbed on the shoulders of a bronze clown, only to be joined by my friend Yura, who climbed on my shoulders in a highly acrobatic, drunken formation.

First-hand accounts prove, however, that once all was said and done, we did indeed place our collection of bottles, at that point somewhat more numerous than three, in the middle of the boulevard and danced slowly around them signing at the top of our lungs (in Russia, it’s considered rude/weird to whistle).  Success, dear Vladimir …

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One Response to “Sorokin part 3: Boulevard Ring”

  1. Stephen Streed Says:

    You are the Jack Kerouac of American college kids in Russia.

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