Early in his now 40-plus-year love affair with Young Emily, my friend Gabby had a talk with her about Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. She had just resolved a tense situation with a joint for the warring parties. From his memoir:
I say to Emily, “I don’t mean this as an insult and please don’t take it as one, but you don’t strike me as the type.”
“I’m not and none taken. Some of my bad-Catholic-girl girlfriends were over last night and left it. Isn’t it odd how the path to peace is sometimes a sin? How much do you know about Grigori Rasputin?”
“I am drawn to the legends surrounding his death more than those surrounding his life. The nuns in Wisconsin taught us that it is a dangerous trap for Catholics to who believe that to attain grace, one must understand sin, and that to understand sin, one must experience it – they have fallen into a dangerous trap.
Emily shrugged her shoulders. “I am not convinced. And besides I was talking about the path to peace, not the path to grace.”
“Who said I was convinced? I’m not convinced about much.” Famous last words of somebody who is about to get convinced.
They kissed for the first time shortly after this conversation and Gabby got convinced about Young Emily. It was, I understand, a Philadelphia first kiss of and for a lifetime. Understandably, Rasputin became something of an important figure in Gabby’s sense of the pantheon of Gabby and Young Emily’s Love.
One manifestation of Gabby’s Rasputin fixation was his collection of movie posters depicting Rasputin. Gabby sheds most of his collections after a certain point, a firm advocate of the road being all, the end nothing. And – conscious of hoarding as a problem. And – conscious of Young Emily’s less-than-limitless patience with his collections. She approved of the collecting, but the collections were a bit overwhelming.
That said, he has held off on shedding his Rasputin movie poster collection. When he saw my post on Mark Bulwinkle’s new work on Telegraph and the mention of Rasputin’s Records, he sent my friend photos of his poster collection.
Salvation through sin indeed. I myself had two great interests early in my college career – Russian history and American literature. Fairly quickly, American literature won out. But I share some of Gabby’s interest in Rasputin’s death.
Whatever. My friend spent a long evening with the Rasputin movie posters. What was his overall impression?