Sunday, 12 August 2012

Me and the Shoe-Banging Russian President

What does a shoe-banging Russian President have to do with me you might ask? Nothing ostensibly, except that if I had been born a boy my parents intended naming me after Nikita Khrushchev.

Khrushchev was the 1st Secretary of the Communist Party [from ‘53-’64 – I was born in ‘63] preceded by Stalin and succeeded by Brezhnev. Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during the tensest years of the Cold War, backing the Soviet Space program and progressing the Soviet Missile program that culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis [see my post ‘Cuban Cigars’]. 

If you ask the Russians about their take on the 20th century, only Nicholas II [the last Tsar] and Khrushchev are viewed in any sort of positive light.

Khrushchev was a bit of a naughty boy and I suppose if I had been born a boy, at least I wouldn’t have been named after someone boring. In one famous incident at a meeting of the U.N. [United Nations] in 1960 in New York, he protested a speech by the Philippine delegate who had accused the Soviet Union of having ‘swallowed up Eastern Europe’ and deprived the population of ‘the free exercise of their civil and political rights’. Khrushchev became completely infuriated [possibly aided by a predilection for vodka at any hour of the day or night], calling the Philippine delegate a ‘lackey’, ‘jerk’, ‘stooge’ and a ‘toady of American Imperialism’. When the Philippine delegate kept speaking even after he’d received a reprimand, Khrushchev proceeded to pound first his fist on his desk, then getting nowhere with that he famously removed one shoe and started banging it on his desk in a furious rage instead. You’ve gotta admit the guy had spunk!

Anyways, as I was born a girl my parents chose a name that both my German relatives and my Danish relatives would equally be able to pronounce – Dorit. Apparently my mother had been doing art in Copenhagen with a beautiful girl named Dorit and that is where she happened upon the name. I guess they hadn’t factored in emigrating to Australia at that stage, where no one would ever be able to pronounce my name properly [due to the unusual Danish ‘r’ sound and the different emphasis on the syllables – in Danish Dorit kind of rhymes with ‘sweet’ and the ‘r’ is almost not heard, but in English most people that read it will pronounce it like Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit, so I’m forever educating my fellow humans them to pronounce it ‘Dau-reet’ – still not entirely correct but infinitely preferable to Dickens’s version [that R uses if he really wants to piss me off]. 
Anyways, the amusing thing is that it was only recently that I discovered through befriending a number of different Jewish people travelling and a namesake on Instagram – Dorit Shekef, graphic designer from Tel Aviv – that Dorit is actually a Hebrew name and neither of my parents new this when they chose it! You should have seen their faces when I revealed this to them a few weeks ago – totally astounded, not in an anti-Semitic way, just in a ‘fuck- I never knew that!’ sort of way – priceless! I wonder if this accounts for my long fascination with Jewish history?

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