About Us
Contact Us

|-  -|
Turn Your Head and Cough #12
by Jason Torchinsky

So she tells me that things just aren't working out, that she needs her space. And, you know, I guess she was right. I really wasn't giving her enough space. Sure, our relationship wasn't perfect, things didn't always go as planned, but what can one expect, we're only human. I poured myself out to her, exposed myself in the most open and giving way I knew. She told me to go to hell. I told her that I still had my dignity, my pride, she could never take that away from me! Then I offered to clean every pair of shoes she owned with my tongue and some Clorox. Yeah, that's my grandma for you.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. It was giving me a rash. Sometimes, most dear reader, I feel as though you are the only one I can really talk to about all those hidden, deep thoughts that slip through the neurons of my brain like kids through a waterslide. I guess it's because that at least when I talk to you, I can be certain that you're not going to go blabbing my feelings around to the whole campus.

Hey, before I get started really with what this column's about, let's play a little game. Take this newspaper you've got in your hand here. No. This newspaper. Right. Now, take a couple of pages out and wad them into a ball. Okay, now rub that ball of Tar Heel all over your face and hands. Now, find someone sitting at a table around you, go over to them, throw your stuff down on the table in front of them, demanding your dinner and griping loudly about the rough day you've had at the coal mine, putting food on this table. Make sure you say "coal mine" or this bit of nuttiness will simply fail. Don't try getting creative and saying "field" or "factory." It's got to be "coal mine." Good. Have fun.

I'm sitting around the other day, just trying to find out how far down my throat I could keep my wallet without gagging, when something struck me. An old portable typewriter, hurled through my window by one of those punk kids down the street. As I got up, dazed, looking down at the almost indistinguishable mess of typewriter keys and teeth on my floor, I remembered someone I had not thought about in a while. I feel this person is the greatest unsung hero of the 1980s. This is a man who achieved something amazing, and yet did not get nearly his share of fame or recognition. The person about whom I am speaking is, of course, Mathais Rust.

Perhaps some of you out there may need a bit of refreshing. Might I suggest a splash of water on the face and some lemonade? Okay. Now, permit me to remind you of who Mathais Rust is and his extraordinary achievement.

Remember a few years back how Tom Brokaw, with a wry smirk, told these 36 great states of America about a nutzy West German boy who flew a dinky little Cessna airplane all the way into the Soviet Union, landing in Red Square? Remember? That boy was Mathais Rust.

Let's think about what the good Mr. Rust did. And remember, things are lots different today, a scant few years later. There is no West Germany anymore. And the Soviet Union isn't some cold, belligerent behemoth, always waiting for the chance to let a couple of atomic missiles rip away, but rather now is some big, cuddly, "lovable loser," kind of like the '61 Mets or Charlie Brown. But then! Oh, then, the great USSR was mean. They wouldn't take feces from anybody. You could get thrown into a gulag there just for grinning too much. They were a nation of people who didn't need your crap, you. And, of course, for years the United States had been trying to fly planes, really cool dart-shaped planes with lots of computers and blinking lights and cloaking devices, I might add, into Soviet airspace undetected. And without much success. Some spy plane was always being spotted or shot down, and then the whole thing was covered up, all that. It seemed almost impossible.

Then, from out of nowhere, a dinky little plane, the aeronautical equivalent of a Chevette, piloted by some teenage kid, not only flies over the heavily guarded Soviet Western border unnoticed, but lands right in the middle of Red Square! Red Square! Probably close enough to smell Lenin's tomb! What a bad-ass Mathais Rust was!

Another great thing about Mathais' one-man invasion that I enjoyed so much was that there seemed to be no point. He wasn't making any kind of socio-political statement or anything, he didn't want to defect, he just did it. What was he thinking? Maybe he was trying to impress some chick? It'd sway me, if I had the genes to be a chick. Hell, beats shooting the president. When did he decide? Was he just flying around, glad his dad got him flying lessons for graduation, and suddenly get a massive craving for borscht? Or did he miss some turn and figure that the closest gas station would be in Moscow? Did he know what he was doing? If so, could he stop giggling?

I wish I knew. I feel bad for Mr. Rust, though. The Soviets stuck him in a gulag, doing hard labor like pushing continents around and living on nothing but a bowl of wood scraps for dinner. Then, finally, the German government got him out, only to imprison him in Germany. What terrible sports! I can understand the Soviets not taking his joke, but his own country? Where's his parade? The T-shirts? The dolls? The product endorsements for Penzoil? Those bastards. Hell, if he could have asked, I'd have personally posted bail for Mathais. I'd even have put him up until everyone calmed down.

Oh, well. All I can hope for is that if anyone knows Mathais Rust, to pass on my respect and congratulations. Let him know that I think he's a real bad-ass, in the highest sense of the word. I mean it. It was high time that something like that happened. It was kind of like when one of the little scrawny kids in the playground said something so cutting to the schoolyard bully that the bully was forced to run away with tears in his eyes, while the suppressed masses of children laughed in freedom, glee, and, yes, malice. Oh, Mathais. And they say there are no heroes anymore. Solidarity.

Back to the list o' columns.


© copyright 2000 The Van Gogh-Goghs