You Never Know What’s Next

Life seems to change all the time. Nothing stays the same. I expect one thing, something else happens.

Last night I thought I would have a quiet night at home to myself. I made some popcorn and sat down to watch Amarcord. It’s a movie by Federico Fellini. I’d been wanting to see it for years. Then the ghost of Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, came by.

It was awkward because my couch is big so there was extra room for someone to sit down. Plus I had made two big bowls of popcorn. I always over make the popcorn. I’m enthusiastic. But I never eat all the popcorn. And the movie was just starting. Not to mention that Stalin is gregarious, and he plopped right down on the couch, grabbed a handful of popcorn and said, “What are we watching?!”

I told him, “Amarcord.” He looked so unhappy and said, “What else have you got?” I said, “Laurel and Hardy?” He got excited and started laughing, so of course I got out and put in the Laurel and Hardy movie. He had so much fun watching the movie that I forgot about my disappointment of not seeing Amarcord or having alone time.

Afterwards we talked. I told him that I’d been feeling depressed by the Chicago winter. He told me that he felt the cruelty he inflicted on many of his countrymen while he was in office was due to his own seasonal affective disorder. He said the relentless snows in St. Petersberg drove him to despair and madness. This culminated in his ordering the assassination of his own doctor, Miron Vovs. He said, “This act of insanity bit me in the ass two months later when I was poisoned and there was no doctor around to save me, and I died…Oh, well, you live and learn.”

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