Kostunica promised boredom. Putin has promised nothing, which in the Russian context is his way of promising boredom. It's been under- stood, given his KGB past, what he plans to deliver. No more surprises. No more explosions. This is what the people want -- this is what he's giving them. Boredom. A chance for people to construct safe old lies about them- selves all over again.
As much as Russia has fallen under Friedman's visionary yoke, it's still not completely tamed. This became clear to me over the past weekend, when I nearly expired due to an unintentional overdose of Tramal, an oxycontin-like time- release opiate that the eXile research team managed to discover in one of its many apteka-intelligence-gathering SpecialOp forays. Krazy Kevin had warned me, as had others on our staff, about the dangers of Tramal; Kevin's experience landed him in the hospital for two days, where he was revived after an evening flopping on the floor and foaming at the mouth.
I didn't quite get to the convulsions stage, but after popping nine pills and guzzling an evil cocktail of vodka, champagne and wine, I came close. I started passing out while standing up; I felt myself stop breathing. When I spoke to a friend, I'd dream in the middle of answering his questions, drifting off into senseless psychobabble. That scared him and his girlfriend. They kept me compa- ny, afraid of having to answer too many questions if I should be found dead a week later. They did all they could to keep me from falling asleep. Who knew if I'd wake up again.
"You're so pale, Mark, " his girlfriend said, looking worried. She'd bundled up in a sweater and put a down sleeping bag over her. My apartment was as cold as the Exorcist devil's.
Nonetheless, I was pouring sweat. I went back into my bathroom to see how pale I was. It was a horrible sight. I wasn't just pale, I was gray. I pulled my shirt down to look at my neck and chest-all gray. Gray as a corpse. That was how I remember seeing myself. I tried laughing at the thought of it, but it wasn't that funny. Then I started feeling bad for my par- ents if I'd really overdosed, if it was too late. And bad for my landlord -- he'd be so disappointed in me to dis- cover my decayed corpse over by the toilet.
"Where did you go?" my friend asked.
"To look... at myself, " I groaned, very slowly, almost incomprehensible.
"I'm... pale. " "Your lips are without color too, " his girlfriend added, more curious than worried.
"Look, Mark's lips are same color as his face. " My friend indiscreetly tried to hush her -- he didn't want me to worry anymore.
"Stay away from the mirror, Mark, " he said.
By mid-afternoon, I got to know the toilet bowl quite well, all the little cracks. I vomited on and off for about twelve hours, and couldn't pee straight until Sunday afternoon, two days after the pill-popping began...
Oh well, failed again. I'd vowed when I returned to Moscow not to resume the self-destruction I'd escaped from a year ago, at least until I accomplished a few things. But Moscow got the better of me. Either that, or it just wants to get rid of me. After all, Moscow doesn't need me anymore. Now the only question is, will it kill me if I try to fight it. Or will my own stupidity get me first.