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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Weird Side Of the Mystic Russian Soul

I have always admired Russians' deep mystical streak. They seem to be in much closer contact with the intangible world than we more prosaic Westerners. This can be unsettling, of course. Casual conversations with total strangers have a way of leading into spiritual revelations.

I have had people come up to me while I am walking my dog and tell me I have a beautiful soul, a strong aura or a great supply of psychic energy. Granted, these remarks sometimes come from men in a state of less than pristine sobriety; but more often it is the babushki who stop me with their comments. I never know exactly what to say at such times; I just try to keep my aura in check and move on at the first opportunity.

Tea with my friend Valya is always a treat: She has a never-ending supply of stories of the leshiye, or wood spirits, from her native village. Meeting a leshy, it seems, is a rare bit of luck; on the other hand it can lead to disaster. It can either bring success in hunting or foretell one's certain death. She, of course, has seen them often -- I forget all the details, but it seems they help her dog kill rats. This, I guess, is the useful variety of leshy.

My mechanic has told me a domovoi, or house spirit, is residing in my car. My Moskvich's performance fluctuates with the sprite's mood. That is at least as sensible as thinking any one car can naturally have as many problems as mine does.

Even Russians without a direct channel into the other world seem to be more sensitive to its vibrations. My friend Fedya the New Russian, who is nothing if not practical, told me the first time we met that he could feel some strange power emanating from me. Of course, knowing Fedya, that is probably his standard pick-up line.

But lately this mystical trend has been getting out of hand. I have a new friend, Slava, who has this apparatus he calls his "frames," which, as near as I can tell, are two bits of wire stuck in plastic holders. With this he can measure bio-energy fields, see into the future and cure illness.

Slava is a dear and well-meaning soul. But he has taken to calling me several times a day with an update on my life. Yesterday was a special case. At midnight the phone rang -- that loud, unbroken peal that signals an intercity call. Slava's voice on the other end held a distinct note of alarm.

"Are you alright?" he gasped into the receiver.

"Just a bit sleepy," I said pointedly. "Why?"

"I just measured your photograph with my frames," he babbled. "I think you have a curse on you, maybe the evil eye."

That explains a lot. Actually, it's a relief to know that it's not my own stupidity and inadequacy that keeps getting me into trouble. Fortunately, there is a cure. Slava can get in touch with some wizards who, for a small fee, will put me right again.

I said I would think about it -- anything to get back to sleep. No sooner had I fallen into a troubled doze than the phone rang again. It was Slava.

"I asked my frames about your friend Stan," he said sadly.

Oh, no, I thought. I don't need his bits of wire and plastic to know that relationship is in trouble.

"The good news is he'll be here by Christmas," he told me. "The bad news is, it will end badly. The only thing you can do is to redirect your emotions, and fall in love immediately with someone else."

I think Slava has someone specific in mind. Or maybe I'm just overly cynical. It's not easy to live with the evil eye.