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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Only a Week To Go Before Vacation Ends

Gennady who? These have to be among the sweetest words in the English language, at least for a burned-out Russia hack on vacation. From the myopic oblivion of Boston, Massachusetts, "Zyuganov" is just a meaningless collection of syllables, Moscow looks very far away, and the locals have little time, or patience, for the vagaries of post-Soviet politics.

The big news the weekend I returned home was the 100th anniversary of the Boston marathon -- the most famous of the U.S. amateur runs. With 40,000 hopefuls descending on the city from all corners of the globe, it is perhaps understandable why few of the natives could spare a thought to the trials and tribulations of the land of the tsars.

No one I have spoken to so far has any idea who is running against Boris Yeltsin in Russia's presidential elections, except for those with a soft spot for Mikhail Gorbachev.

"A real democrat," said my sister approvingly, reading a snippet on Gorby's presidential ambitions in the weekend paper.

It was, by the way, the only Russia-related item I could find.

Boston may be off the beaten track in terms of foreign news, but even those who should know better seem to be sadly out of the loop when it comes to Russia.

On a radio talk featuring editors of prestigious newspapers, one pundit explained how Yeltsin was facing a stiff challenge from a "charismatic old-style communist." I don't think that even Zyuganov's mother has ever accused him of being "charismatic." Is there somebody else on the scene I haven't heard about yet?

In the interests of relaxation, I have had to impose a virtual news blackout on myself. For two weeks I refuse to think, hear or worry about Russia.

Which leaves me American news, which is not helping my state of mind much, either.

Keeping up with the Yeltsin-Zyuganov race may be enervating, but it sure beats trying to make sense of U.S. politics, where the "unabomber for president" movement is just gathering steam.

I had, at least, hoped to escape the mad-cow hysteria on this side of the Atlantic. Fat chance. My fellow countrymen miss no chance to panic, and every time I turn on television or radio I hear about the relentless advance of the "worst mass health problem since Chernobyl," which "could make AIDS look like the common cold." I am becoming obsessed with American dietary practices. If you believe the health pages, beef is a no-no, chicken a laboratory of microbes, eggs a virtual invitation to salmonella. Another week in America and I will be living on kelp pills. Or Twinkies, another popular health food.

At least there's shopping. With eight months of commercial deprivation behind me, I have been in a non-stop consumer whirl since I hit America. In my tender, just out-of-Moscow state I am particularly vulnerable to the wiles of marketing.

I can't believe I have existed this long without long-life lipstick and citric acid skin cream. My wardrobe, it seems, is hopelessly outmoded, I am six months behind in movie viewing and there are at least 200 books that I must read before going back to Moscow.

Vacationing is too much work. Thank heavens I only have another week to go.