Odessa Tales with Boris Khersonsky

Odessa Tales with Boris Khersonsky


Once, the Odessa Intelligentsia came to me with a one-liter jar of salted black sea sprats, and, somewhat embarrassed, asked me to help her debone the fish. “You understand” – she said suavely – “I never debone the fish, I just eat it. I am simply a consumer in a consumerist society.” It was quite an easy job, so I was done with it in about fifteen minutes. It took the Odessa Intelligentsia much less time to consume the fruits of my labor – two minutes. After wiping her lips with a handkerchief (monogrammed with the initials “O. I.”) and reapplying her vintage “Communist Banner” lipstick, she said: “You see, it’s been three months since we had any banquet receptions in the City Cellar Club! The situation was just hopeless! Where is the Literary Society looking?!”

“She is looking in the eyes of her young, curly-haired husband” – I responded.

“Husband?” – she exclaimed sarcastically, “She cheated on him within the first week of marriage with some Publishing Holding. She -” – and here my guest switched to a whisper – “- why, she told me her husband leaves her completely unsatisfied!”

“I wish she was as unsatisfied with the quality of her own poetry” – I quipped.