When the Odessa Intelligentsia was a little girl, the favorites among all of her toys were her dolls.
In her expansive collection she had not only rubber Little Red Riding Hoods with holes in their sides and seamless celluloid baby dolls, but also the latest models of German dolls from the German Democratic Republic who quietly mewled “Mama” in electronic voices. On her birthdays, she would be given dolls who could open and close their eyes to anything. She would then get up onto a chair and recite the Pasternak poem “Snow is Falling,” even though her birthday was in the middle of the summer.
After that came the guests’ questions. The eternal classic “who do you love more, mommy or daddy?” was inapplicable in this case as the identity of the birthday girl’s father had never been established, so guests opted for “who do you want to be when you grow up?” To this, she would invariably respond with “I want to be the Odessa Intelligentsia!”
Once, that question was also followed up with “and who will your dolls be when they grow up?” The birthday girl promptly responded — “They will be the prominent members of my society!”
The guests applauded and laughed for a long time.
But as it turns out, they were completely wrong to laugh!