Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 41. Product #2

Yes, the assembly conducted by the Military Training Department in summer, 1971, right after we had finished our fifth year, was remembered by all its participants, and for a long time. No wonder that I wrote already about the assembly and have again reverted to the subject. I remembered several more episodes of that summer camp life and can't wait to share the stories with you.
The assembly was conducted in a village of Plotnikovo, which is sixty kilometers away from Kemerovo. The village is known only by its brewery producing well-known "Taiezhnoe" beer, that a Civil Defense Division is located there, and that a student of Kemerovo Medical Institute A.A. Shmalts was born and grew up there.

Leosha Shmalts

Leosha Shmalts

Yes, Leosha Shmalts was born and grew up in the village, where we were going to have the assembly. Shmalts was a calm and self-possessed guy. As a rule he did not participate in adventurous undertakings at the institute, but he contrived to get married a week before the assembly. Of course, his young wife followed him to the middle of nowhere, like a wife of a Decembrist (Decembrists are the rebels who protested against a Russian Tsar Nicholas I, December 1825. The rebels were arrested and sent to Siberia. Wives of many of the Decembrists followed their husbands into exile.); she was standing all days long at the wicket in her mother-in-law's yard waiting for him. We could only guess how she, young, longing for her husband's caress, felt when waiting for him! To Shmalts' good luck we sympathized with his situation and helped him in many ways. To be honest, Shmalts spent more time at home than in a regiment at the assembly. Everybody covered for him. Our master sergeant Felix An was his group mate. Shmalts was a grateful guy, and every time he came back to the regiment he brought us huge bags full of gifts of the village. There was salted pork fat and all kinds of greens, reddish and cucumbers from a vegetable garden, and freshly-salted cucumbers, too. And the most important, he brought a three liter jar of fruit essence almost every day.

That was an alcohol substance of 70 per cent of alcohol, it had concentrated smell and taste of various fruit. It was used to make fruit caramel in a shop of a bread-baking plant in Plotnikovo. Someone of Shmalts' relatives was a boss there. So, we stood for Shmalts, but could not help playing a mean trick on him. In the story, which I called "The Muster", I described in all details how we all together in chorus by all our company counted the days. But there was one more thing we did for fun. Someone made a simple rhymed riddle and shouted it out loud, and the company was shouting the answer back. So someone also made a riddle about that kindest Shmalts guy at the very first days at the summer camp: "Whose sweet honeymoon is spent masturbating in a tent?" The riddle was shouted out in the evening. And the whole company stroke up like one in reply: "Shmalts!"
The next character of the story is Badri Lipartiya, a handsome Mingrelian.
As he used to say - he was a descendant of Dadiani himself. Everything was all right with him, except for one distressful problem. He started loosing his hair very fast as soon as he came to Kemerovo. That was depressing him so much, that every evening after combing his hair he was counting the hair left on the comb. We were convincing him to stop using a comb. But Badri was very stubborn, like a Ukrainian villager (please, for God's sake do not blame me for chauvinism or anything else), and still every evening was counting the hair left on his comb.

Badri Lipartiya

Badri Lipartiya

The process was pretty fast, and soon before the assembly the crown of Badri's head was clear of any hair. There was a grand bold patch on his head. One day of the assembly all our company was taken to the shooting ground.

Everyone had to shoot from two positions: standing and lying. To perform the exercise each of us was given twelve cartridges, six cartridges per an exercise. One could make two shots in a row. Somehow we managed to insert the cartridges into our Kalashnikov machine guns; the mainspring was very tight. I wonder how soldiers insert 33 cartridges in there. Well, let's skip this. Back to the shooting exercise; the shooting marks were about one hundred meters away from us, and if we hit a target, it was put back with an electric motor without approaching it. So another group of students, in which there was Badri Lipartiya, was called to the position. Even before the beginning of the shooting Badri was demonstrating such tricks with his machine gun, that the officers commanded "Strike ground!" twice and fell down too. Somehow everyone was put in the right position. The students were told what to do and in what sequence and warned that they could shoot only at the command.

While major Glebov was giving all the explanations suddenly there were many shots fired one after another. Not more than five meters in front of the students the ground splashed in small fountains, and all the five targets which were much further away fell down hit.

We burst into a storm of applause and the officers into yells of indignation. It was found out that Badri Lipartiya closed his eyes and pulled the trigger without waiting for the command and did not let the trigger go before all twelve cartridges were shot. Everybody was surprised how he had managed to hit all the five shooting marks, as he had been shooting down almost at his feet. And when they started lifting the shooting marks for the next group, it became clear that Badri had cut with his shots the cable of the electric motors, which were lifting the shooting marks. That was the end of the shooting exercises on that day. We were sent back to the regiment, and on the way there it happened so that Badri stepped into a cow's poop.
That caused even a greater wave of talking.

Before that everyone greeted Badri with successful shooting, but then they started explaining to him that that was a sign of good luck with money, etc., etc. Badri was doing his best to defend himself against those who were offering him their congratulations or explanations. And in the very evening someone made and shouted a riddle: "Who is bold and all in poop moving backwards to the group?" No one rehearsed or knew about that beforehand, but the whole company shouted the answer: "Li - par - tiya". Badri, unlike Shmalts, did not keep silence, he dashed out of his tent and demanded to name the one who had shouted the riddle and promised to kill the one. There was no one eager to confess.
Vadik Pochekutov was, like me, from Kedrovskiy opencast mine.

Vadik Pochekutov

Vadik Pochekutov

It happened so that during the entrance examinations Vadik and I did not meet. We saw each other when we already started our study in parallel groups. We were not friends when in Kedrovka. Vadik was finishing his eleven-year secondary school, and in 1966 I was finishing my ten-year secondary school. We knew each other when in school, but not more than that. We did not make friends at the institute as well. It happened so that Vadim had his company, and I had mine. When we met, we formally exchanged a question: "How are things going in Kedrovka?" At the institute Vadim was an inconspicuous student. He passed tests and exams and together with the rest of the students reached the time of the assembly in Plotnikovo. During the assembly Vadim was unobtrusive as well. Though after the first day off, when the whole company had free time, Vadik became famous. Well, he became if not famous, then known. Like I said we lived in tents during the assembly. The tents were big, like a marquee, and if it was hot a tent's sides were lifted up and there was draft in the tent. So that Sunday it was hot. Our officers were resting and gave some rest to us.

Well, and what kind of rest there could be in a regiment? Someone was idly hanging around, someone was strumming on the guitar, someone was singing along with the strumming. So everybody was doing whatever he wanted. And Vadik Pochekutov decided to have a nap. His camp bed was in the corner at the end of the tent. It was hot during the day, as it was July; the tent's sides were folded up. Vadik was asleep so fast that he sprawled out on the camp bed like on a granny's feather bed. And how could he only contrive to sleep on his back, put his left hand under his head and throw his right arm away, and in such a way that it fell out of the tent and blocked the passageway. And the palm of the hanging out hand was up.

Vadim was tall with long legs and long arms. At the beginning nobody noticed him, later someone put a kopek on Vadik's palm, then another one. They were in his palm, because Vadim's fingers were brought together a bit. Afterwards someone put two lumps of sugar on the palm.

Vadik was still fast asleep and did not change his posture. And then the news spread throughout the camp that everybody put anything he wished into Pochekutov's hand. Our imagination broke loose; someone offered to find a poop and put it in the hand, but no one was willing to look for it. Someone had an idea to find and put a condom (a Product #2, as you remember, it is mentioned in the film "A Window to Paris"), and it had to be a used one. Everybody immediately liked the idea. Though there was a big problem; we were in Plotnikovo, and not in Kemerovo. And there Badri Lipartiya came and offered a Product #2, though the brand new one. At that time they were not packed that fancy as they are now. We questioned Badri: "Where did you get it?".

And Badri told us that he had brought it from Kemerovo just in case. Well, as soon as we did not have any used condoms, we collectively decided to imitate as if it had been used. We opened it and carefully put it somehow on his finger. Vadik was asleep in spite of whispers and giggles around him. You just image an arm hanging out of the tent and in the hand there are several coins of one and two kopeks, lumps of sugar and on the index finger there is the Product #2, one end of which is hanging down.

There were also many other different ideas, but we accepted the one from Badri again, though not all of it. Badri brought five more Products #2 and a lottery ticket for him to check it and win something afterwards.

The lottery ticket was rejected by all of us at once: "What kind of winnings? His arm is full of so useful things - what does it mean? Isn't it the winnings?"

Soon there were no those who were idly hanging around the camp; everybody was waiting for Vadik's reaction when he woke up. Guys even moved to the benches, which were close to Vadik's tent. But something incomprehensible happened. When we looked at the tent the next time, no one saw the arm hanging out of it, but there was nothing on the ground there as well. There was no Vadik's reaction at all. It was much more interesting to watch how Badri was annoying everyone while expressing his indignation that his idea to put a lottery ticket in the hand had been rejected.
Oleg Syedyshev

Oleg Syedyshev

Sasha Popovitch

Sasha Popovitch

Shura Popovitch was beating up on himself that he had not taken a photo of the hand. In the very same evening there appeared a new riddle: "Who grabbed as many condoms as he could?" and the answer: "It was Vadik Pochekut!" The matter was that everything we had put into Vadik's hand disappeared; he did not throw anything out, which meant that he kept the stuff. Badri approached him several times and demanded his items back, but Vadik gave nothing to him. And such a noble impulse would be laughed at, as at those days to come to a drugstore and buy the Product #2 was for some reason a shameful act.

august, 10 2011

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #21204250865

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content