Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Richard & Olga
Richard and Olga
Richard Nixon looked so lost among the beaming young gymnasts, a hulking mushroom cowering before elves. As if he was a different species from them altogether. As if the B movie monster in the cheap gorilla costume stepped out of his tinfoil saucer into the Land of Oz. He shambled stiffly in a suit that wouldn't accept the gray body inside it.
If a bird would have landed on his dowager hump he would have crumbled into an oily lump of salt.
Feeling claustrophobic surrounded by all the apple-cheeked faces exuding lithe fresh energy, President Nixon accepted his Press Secretary's idea to take them out to see the South Fountain on the White House lawn. Young Olga Korbut, the astonishing gymnast from the Soviet Union, "The Sparrow from Minsk", was tickled by how awkward this ungainly American who wielded such power was made by her and her peer group's presence. The dappled sunlight on this beautiful day batted at his hooded eyes, causing him to sweep his left forearm over his face as if he was beating back flies.
Olga and the other gymnasts poured out onto the freedom of the White House lawn, released somewhat from the gravity of the media staged moment. Charming Olga broke loose from the group and performed a tuck back, followed by what came to be known as "The Korbut Flip". Camera shutters whirred and snapped as if a giant sack of hummingbirds had been released into a small glass cage.
Olga came to rest only a foot or so from the gently cascading fountain. She beckoned the American president toward her, holding up her one hand tipped as if in invitation to dance. Nixon's temples buzzed in mild agony, his neck itched and nervous moisture worked down his pale leg.
"You're a little girl", Nixon stated, as if he had just stumbled upon her and this was the first unit of classification he could transmit back to the Mothership.
Olga giggled and everyone who watched her felt her effortless joy. "You little boy," Olga said, utilizing what little English came readily at hand. She then leaned down and plucked a random buttercup, held it briefly up towards Nixon's chin, then laughed, spun, and tossed it into the fountain.
Nixon's heart jumped watching the tiny yellow color spin toward the fountain. What was he to do? He couldn't break the code of all the smiling faces. Mouths agape. All the years, all the tense conference rooms, Kissinger's thick marceled hair spread out before him like an untouched golfing range - in this sunlight he couldn't remember the purpose following all the chains of demands. One anxious trail led to another brief rest, then right onto another anxious journey and he could make no sense of all these delicate creatures whose smell was so light and beguiling, reminding him of walking as a child through his father's lemon grove.
A low moaning sound was reported to come from deep inside him, but like a Tuvan throat singer, there seemed to be multiple voices in multiple pitches issuing from a basement radiator. Reporters thought Nixon was hugging Korbut and there was an orgy of clicking cameras, but only the most astute and mechanical shutterbug blocked their human emotion and instinct and kept recording as the president attempted a muddled spin and threw young Olga from the height of his shoulders into the cascading shallow water of the man-made fountain.
Much more was ended besides Nixon's presidency when Olga was lifted like a wet doll by Russian security and loaded onto a nearby helicopter.