To this day, I’m unsure if the mother of one of my college friends was actually a KGB operative in the 1980s and early 90s.
The woman was a gorgeous former ballerina with long, velvety red hair who grew up in Soviet-controlled Poland and emigrated to the US, ultimately becoming a flight attendant for Pan Am back when that job was still pretty much the equivalent of being a supermodel. She’d vanish here and there for long periods, and whenever she’d resurface it would be in remarkable proximity to some Cold War-related event that just happened to explode in the news as she was setting her bags back in her closet from her return flight home. After Gorbachev’s toppling and the subsequent dismantling of the former “Evil Empire”, she sort of lost her zip and drive…and seemed permanently disappointed . She stopped flying soon after that…and was honestly never quite the same.
This is all one of those in-jokes amongst my college friends, and has been for years…with us speculating as to whether or not this woman really was a KGB field agent operating under a flight attendant’s cover. Usually, when we’d get on the subject, we’d ultimately decide that “Nah, she couldn’t be. Someone would have put it together. But she sure SEEMS like she could have been KGB. But, NAH…” It didn’t help, of course, that whenever asked about it (in a roundabout way) she’d either be evasive…or would firmly deny it, but with a quick wink at the end that she’d ALSO deny was anything other than “just a blink”.
There’s a new show on F/X that’s well worth your time, called The Americans. It stars the woman who played “Felicity” — back when America was enthralled with her hair (until she cut it and destroyed so many psyches) — and the guy who played Sally Field’s gay son on Brothers & Sisters (obviously, he was one of the brothers, but he ended up with a better guy than any of the sisters…and I’m not just saying that because the character “Scotty” totally reminds me of my own boyfriend, Justin, and some people say I look like this actor). The two of them are KGB agents who were selected for a longterm, deep cover operation in suburban Washington where they pose as a husband and wife team…complete with children who have absolutely no idea that their parents are Russian spies. Kind of, maybe, like my college friend (we think).
The Americans is set in 1981, which is an awful lot of fun for me to watch as it’s just shy of the earliest period I can remember in life. I was around 4 or so when Ronald Reagan was shot, and I don’t remember a thing about the assassination attempt or his recovery. I can remember the 1984 presidential election…but anything earlier than that is just memories of school and family vacations and birthday parties. So, in a way, shows like The Americans kind of fill in missing memories for me of a time when I was alive but just not paying attention to the world outside my little bubble in Cleveland.
I have a strict rule for any show, in that I don’t recommend it to someone else unless I’ve seen three or four episodes and it holds up. A lot of shows have great pilot episodes…but then no follow through or real course ahead. The Americans is fascinating…and just gets better as the episodes progress.
It’s interesting to see Felicity and the Gay Brother ducking down to their laundry room to send coded messages to their handlers…while a few doors away there’s actually an FBI agent and his family who just recently moved in…and the big mystery of this season, for me, is whether that FBI guy really knows these people are spies and that’s why he moved there. It could all be a big coincidence, and the FBI guy might ultimately figure things out…or he could go the entire series without ever having a clue. I love a show that has so much room to twist and turn.
And I also like how the show very much reminds me of trying to figure out if my friend’s mother was a KGB agent…or if she really was just a flight attendant who enjoyed messing with people.
I also sort of nostalgically miss the Cold War, because everything seemed so much simpler back then. Some people like to say “we were all so afraid of nuclear war”, but I don’t remember the 1980s like that. I never had any fear of a nuclear strike because I knew that if the Russians were dumb enough to hit us they’d just seal their own doom. That mutually-assured destruction policy made me sleep easy at night.
It’s such a far cry from today, where the great enemy of our nation (and the West in general) is “the religion of peace” that is Islam, which is neither a religion nor peaceful. Islam is a militarized death cult patiently waging a clandestine, guerrilla war for world domination…and the Ministry of Truth that is our national media gleefully runs cover for them. Hollywood won’t use Muslims as villains even in movies with terrorist-takeover themes…instead employing North Koreans as, supposedly, the biggest threat to civilization today. Ridiculous.
I miss the days when our enemy was rational, sane, and afraid of retaliation from us. With Islam, not only are our enemies insane and motivated by pure hate…but they know we will never hit them back. New York and Washington DC are hit with major terrorist attacks…and, yet, Mecca and Medina sat unscathed. The Soviets knew if they ever pulled a stunt like 9/11 that Moscow and St. Petersburg would have been parking lots.
We’re in this weird holding pattern with Islam where far too many people are scared to death of speaking the truth about “the religion of peace”…in much the same way that the cowards of the 1930s were terrified of saying anything bad about the new regime in Berlin and the lunatic who was calling the shots there. It’s so much scarier living in Chicago in the year 2013 than it was being a kid in Cleveland in the 1980s because today could be the day that Muslims decide to bring jihad to the shores of Lake Michigan and blow something up in spectacular fashion…when I never for even one day ever thought that the Soviets would ever send a missile into the Midwest.
I really think you’d get something interesting out of watching The Americans. I like it so much that I bought one of those season passes from Amazon Instant Video, which I rarely ever do. With most things, I just wait until Netflix gets the show or I read the recaps that people do of programs that are on cable. Hulu had a few episodes of The Americans but it stopped getting the new ones…and so I signed up for the Amazon pass. It’s totally worth the $2/episode they charge because I end up watching the episodes several times.
It’s very rare for Justin to watch a show with me because he has a touch of ADD and it’s hard for him to sit through a TV program…but he’ll walk through the living room when I have The Americans on and he’ll get mesmerized…and then, of course, he’ll spend the rest of the episode asking me questions about everything that’s happening (which is a Justin trademark).
I really can’t say enough good about this show or the fascinating things I learn or end up thinking about after watching it. I really hope at some point they have a character on it who is a flight attendant for Pan Am…based on a certain person I know…so I can say “I KNEW IT!” and think of someone winking at her TV wherever she’s now retired.
QUESTION for COMMENTS: Have you seen this show too? If so, what do you think of it?
© 2013, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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