Golly willickers, was I floored when I learned that our next door neighbours, the Murphy’s, were Russian spies!
Sure, it took some time to get used to Boris and Natasha and their daughter Ludmeela. I was initially put off by the three of them wearing, “We Hate Sid the Kid” t-shirts, (They had them in a just about every colour imaginable!) but hey, I assumed they were just Capitals’ fans.
Even though Boris wasn’t always the most lucid speaker, (I think he told me he was from Belfast), I could certainly understand him when he’d say, “Oveeechkin, heek is zee bezzzt in zee hockey, no?”
Now that I think about it, there were some subtle clues we may have missed. You don’t see that many bumper stickers here in Peoria, Illinois sporting, “Have you Kissed a KGB Agent Today? “ and few Midwesterners name their dogs “Trostsky.” But, hey, it takes all kinds, right?
Things often make more sense in hindsight, I guess. I remember once, when they invited us over for their weekly Thursday night “Sardines and Smirnoff,” things got a little tense. I didn’t think they would mind if I turned on the TV to watch “24” but that was a mistake. It all started when Jack Baur was interrogating a character whose accent, now that I think about it, reminded me a bit of Boris’. (I assumed the actor was Irish, though he didn’t sound much like Liam Neeson.)
Anyway, when ol’ Jack went “Rumsfeld” and jabbed a rusty knife into the knee of that bad guy, I screamed with delight. I could tell right away, though, that the Murphy’s didn’t share my enthusiasm. Ludmeela started crying and Boris kicked over the Smirnoff bottle before ordering us out,”in the name of Yuri Andropov!” (Was Yuri one of those three Irish tenors? Man, those boys can sing!). Well, that sure put a damper on things.
Natasha tried to explain things later by saying, “Eeek vas haveeenk a vad day at zee work. Please forgeeeve heem.”
Things only got worse during the Olympics. I remember that when I asked Boris if he was cheering for the Americans or the Canadians in the hockey final, he muttered something under his breath that sounded like, “Poutine will feex all of zeez in a four years. “ I thought it strange that he had so much faith in a delicacy made up of French fries, cheese, and gravy, but hey, we’ve all got to believe in something, right?