One of my favorite alternate universes is the one spun by my dear friend John Yohalem. Ruritania, evolving beyond Hope, slowly recovering from a soviet interlude, is still a chiaroscuro of intrigue and welzschmertz. Cultured, whiny, not rich enough to live up to its past, not egalitarian enough to join the EU, it's a good location for trysts and tristesse. (John goes for the trysts; I'm more the fan of bittersweetness and reimagined golden ages.)
I would visit there with John if it didn't put such a smudge on my passport. The visa stamps used to have gold dust in them. Now it's just cheap brown ink and some kind of yellow pot metal.
Still, Strelsau in the spring...sigh.
John, maybe you could just write me into a little afternoon in a cafe with a view of the Five Young Lions of the Revolution monument, a short walk from the opera house. Something light on the bills, please. Ruritanian Fruchtcremen and operettas have spoiled me for that heavy german stuff they used to favor. And soon, while we can still afford it, the american coins becoming endangered specie, as it is.

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