Safely Soviet

I never knew what Melissa meant when she said that. Safely Soviet. She said she was Safely Soviet. Was she Russian? No. Her family came from England, not from Europe or Asia, and she was not a member of the communist party.

She never wore paraphernalia that might suggest a political bent of any sort.

Melissa liked nice jeans and expensive shirts – preferably men’s cuts, which flattered her figure and, she said, were generally more durably made than their feminine counterparts. She liked expensive shoes. Her car was a Mercedes Benz, and she replaced it every few years, always with another Mercedes Benz.

Melissa lived in a nice house, not exactly in the suburbs. She’d bought the New Hampshire property in the nineteen eighties for almost nothing – then proceeded to landscape the place for almost a decade before finally buckling down to build her house. The beautifully forested property had a plunging backyard that overlooked a lake – and a piece of private shoreline where she could sunbathe or swim without fear of interruption or observation.

Although she never married, she became pregnant several times, on purpose, and gave birth to four beautiful children – two boys and two girls. They grew into proper citizens, a close knit bunch, each of them self reliant and balanced. They had practically raised themselves, she liked to say. She’d never had the problems one normally hears about rebellious teenagers, or dissolute drugged out college students. They all chose stable and reliable careers. They all built their own homes too, following their Mom’s model, but all four married having children of their own. The marriages were stable and unremarkable, again with none of the normal turbulence one associates with married couples. And their children were healthy, normal children as well.

Despite this normalcy, when anyone asked her to describe herself, Melissa would say “Oh, I’m Safely Soviet!” And then she would chuckle quietly to herself, and never offer an explanation.

Charles used to go for long walks with her when they were in their mid sixties.

Charles lived on a neighboring property – with its own beach holdings, and one day, the two of them had met at the boundary between their two beaches.

Melissa invited Charles in for a glass of wine, after deciding that he was likely not a serial killer or a Republican. They’d hit it off, and started taking walks in the hills around their homes. Charles had a large and robust golden retriever. Melissa said she loved dogs but had never wanted the responsibility for one. In her home, she had two cats – they were independent and standoffish, but at the end of the day both would sleep on her bed if she let them.

Charles laughed when she told him that she was Safely Soviet. For some reason, it sounded right in his mind, and rather than pursuing an explanation from her, he simply smiled and said “I guess that describes me as well.”

They never talked about it again, except at their wedding a few years later when they both declared that being Safely Soviet was what drew them together, and that it is what assured that that they would never separate.

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