My apologies for bringing up the Russian Spy Caper again, but I can’t seem to get it off my mind.
There is one person who has impressed me more than anyone else in this whole sorry tale, and that’s a fifteen year old neighbor of espionage suspect Cynthia Murphy, a person identified in the New York Times as Jessie Gugig. Ms Gugig was interviewed for an early online version of the Times story and was quoted saying she could not believe the charges against her neighbors, Ms. Murphy especially.
“They couldn’t have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”
These two sentences perfectly capture the absurdity of this situation. There is nothing to add. I believe Ms. Gugig’s quote will be repeated whenever this story is mentioned, today, in the next weeks and months, and one hundred years from now. It will live forever, and when you are fifteen years old this is a great accomplishment. Most people lack the skill and the opportunity to create such a verbal landmark. Jessie Gugig made the most of her moment.
Some will point to the quote as an illustration of the simple minded cluelessness of the Average American Suburban Russian Spy Neighbor. But here’s an interesting detail … the Times edited later editions of the story to present the quote this way …
“They couldn’t have been spies,” she said jokingly. “Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”
Here the Newspaper of Record is going out of its way to tell us that Jessie Gugig is no simpleton. She didn’t just say the thing about the hydrangeas. She said it “jokingly“. She saw the craziness and packaged it up for us – on purpose. I’m impressed with Ms. Gugig’s powers of observation, her summarizing skill and her humorous boldness.
I expect great things from her.
For some inexplicable reason, the hydrangea quote made me want to express the same thought less gracefully, using the least elegant of all poetical forms – the limerick.
A gardener arrested for spying
Missed detection without even trying.
Every flower she grew
Blossomed red, white or blue.
Her heroic Hydrangeas flying!
Please feel free to add your own limerick, or your favorite inspirationally absurd quote. Or you could talk about beautiful hydrangeas, and what they can tell us about their gardener.