INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — There is a side of Vladimir Putin only his mother knew, and it is starting to emerge now in unguarded moments, that is to say, his mystifying love of animals and his secret desire to be a bird ... not just any bird -but a Crane.
This fantasy of Putin’s was realized last week on the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic, when Vladimir donned a feathery white suit, pulled on a white helmet, though passed on strapping a beak to his face. Casting aside that Dirty Harry look that has become his signature, he smiled a thin smile, climbed into a motorized hanglider, started up the engine and gave it the gas.
As a feathered Vladimir Putin took to the skies several Siberian Cranes looked heavenward and saw what they had been longing to see, a grampa to lead them to their winter home.
So there he was, Russia’s Supreme Leader, replete with crane costume, leading a half-dozen teenage cranes fighting frantically to keep up. One wonders if he made crane calls, or was even able to make crane calls with his cheeks flapping in the wind so. Crane calls or not, these young cranes were looking for a way out of Siberia and here was their ticket.
But of course Vladimir is a busy man and as it was, had an appointment with the Asia Pacific Economic Forum in Vladivostok the next day and did not have time to fly six cranes to Iran, so to the disappointment of his faithful flock, he set down, handed his Big Bird suit off to another pilot, wished his adopted grandkids good luck, and hurried off to Vladivostok.
So what does Vladimir do when he arrives in Vladivostok? He goes straight to the new aquarium there in the city, where the animal that wins his attentions and affections is an octopus. Apparently, this octopus gave Vladimir a smile that only a true lover of animals could recognize, as Vladimir advised a staff-member that he’d like to pet the octopus. The staff-member quickly checked his book of rules, remembered who he was talking to, and instead of allowing Vladimir reach inside the aquarium, he hauls out the octopus, who is suddenly nonplussed. Putin, unaware of the change of humor in the octopus, commences to stroke one of his four pairs of legs, which is bad judgment, as unlike the young cranes, this old octopus does not recognize President Putin as his grandfather and makes a stab for his hand with his beak. Luckily for Putin, he was not trying to kiss the octopus at the time, or he might have had a close encounter photo that would not be flattering to a manly-man like Vladimir.
So what is next for Putin? May I humbly suggest he don a polar bear suit, I’m sure Greenpeace will loan him one, and lead the polar bears out of the arctic, where Gazprom is about to pioneer deep oil drilling. He could run ahead of the bears to that new zoo in Vladivostok and be a hero.
Yes, this is the Vladimir only his mother knew, and I imagine only she could tell us what to expect next from Russia’s Supreme Leader.
— Learn more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.org.