Oh to be young again… Actually, not that young.
Although I do sometimes feel nostalgic about my lost youth, the golden age flashing through my mind postdates pubescence, by quite a few years. That’s why I’m grateful to my friend Vlad Putin for bringing back memories long since lost.
Responding to Biden’s accusation of being a killer, Vlad used the Russian equivalent of “takes one to know one” (кто так обзывается, тот сам так называется, for the benefit of my Russophone readers). Since no Russian says that past the age of sexual maturation, I felt coochy-coo warmth all over and an urgent desire to dust off my family album (see the photo).
Vlad is clearly trying to get in touch with the child within him, and I do hope he arrests that reversion before the onset of double incontinence. Anyway, since his little bon mot has been widely reported in Western papers, I’m breaking no new ground here.
Yet Vlad speaks not only through his own mouth, but also through those of his house-trained propagandists, many of whom proudly wear the sobriquet of Russian Goebbelses. Their comments are more interesting and, shall we say, grown-up. So I thought I’d translate a few for your benefit.
Andrei Turachak, First Vice Speaker of the Federation Council: “Biden’s statement is simply a triumph of America’s political feeblemindedness and her leader’s senile dementia.”
Military expert Igor Korotchenko: Russia “must increase the number of intelligence stations in the US.” Asked to explain his rationale, the scholar obliged: “To grab’em by the tit.”
Also, he added, “Russia must coordinate her nuclear strategy against the US with China”, eliciting the show host’s counter-suggestion that it would be preferable just to take Alaska back.
Addressing all Americans, Duma Deputy (MP) Zhuravlev diagnosed the nation’s problem: “If you have a moron in power, that means you are all morons.” Asked about an appropriate response, he suggested putting missiles back on Cuba.
Duma Vice Speaker, Pyotr Tolstoy, rivalled the historical erudition of his illustrious ancestor: “They shoved such things down our throats twice before, and we finished our reply in Paris the first time and in Berlin, the second.”
One of the most influential TV ‘Goebbelses’, Vladimir Solovyov, screamed: “This means war! A response is called for, and it must be tough!”
“They are painting a target on our country’s back,” added Solovyov, and he didn’t mean that metaphorically.
Svetlana Zhukova, another MP, must be a lawyer by trade. She submitted that Biden’s accusation of Putin lacked prima facie evidence, adding that this could be “grounds for a criminal prosecution”, presumably for perjury.
Following Biden’s remark, the ruble took a plunge in the currency markets. Waggish Muscovites are wondering whether the dollar would suffer the same fate if Putin levelled a similar accusation at Biden. Verily I say unto you, a sense of humour is the best relief valve – and the only one available to sane Russians.
Meanwhile, in addition to the idiom in the title, I can offer Vlad a few similar retorts he may find handy should Biden speak out of turn again, such as: “Oh yeah?” “Says who?” “Pull the other one”, “Go boil an egg”. Russian translations available upon request.
P.S. While we are on the subject of language, learning English is my lifelong mission. Lately it has been boosted by several new usages I picked up from football commentators, for which I’m eternally grateful. To wit:
Multiple uses of lacksadaisical, much better than the old and tired lackadaisical.
“The importance of this goal can’t be underestimated.” Again multiple uses, suggesting the goal has so little importance it’s unclear why the team bothered to score it in the first place.
“He exerted his right not to take the knee” – a stronger verb than exercised, previously used in such contexts.
“In the absence of the injured players, he picked up the mantelpiece.” If made of marble, that piece of furniture must take much strength to lift.
“… the amount of games left…[goals scored, injured players and some such – countless uses]” I wonder about the number of beer in the chaps’ glasses.
Indeed, a poor boy from downtown Russia has a lot to learn from native speakers.