Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Portraits of Statisticians: Oskar Anderson

They fall before him like sexy wheat, the ladies do. Oskar Johann Viktor Anderson: Statistician, Lawyer, Lecturer, Geological Surveyor, Player. His German mystique is an aphrodisiac beyond compare for the impressionable young ladies of Kazan, their Tatar blood hot for that exotic sophistication. Anderson may have been born in Minsk, but he plays the Teutonic Lothario role to the hilt: wooing with gifts of "Dresden" china (bought by the crate load during pleasure trips to Bulgar) and claiming to have been dandled on Bismarck's knee as a child.

The opportunity to study in St. Petersburg comes not a moment too soon, and Oskar heads to the big city, leaving an army of bastards crawling in the gypsum dust that always seems to blanket his provincial spawning ground. Anderson quickly grows to a big fish in a big pond, wowing the academics by day, seducing their wives and daughters by night. There is more than one ribald local folksong of the period with the refrain "Oh Oskar! Oh Oskar!/Oh oh oh Oskar!", a cry familiar to anyone who strolled around the University precincts during those heady nights.

But all good things must come to an end. In 1920, Anderson had a meeting with Lenin, ostensibly to talk about Anderson's future in the Bolshevik government. In truth, the heated discussion centered on Lenin's winsome younger sister Maria, and whether Oskar intended to make an honest woman out of her, considering the condition he had put her in. Oskar replied that his long suffering wife was honest woman enough for him, and perhaps Maria could be fobbed off on that obsequious Georgian with the ridiculous tough guy nickname who was always sniffing around. Stalin was already on his second wife at this point, so this comment could only be seen as adding insult to injury, and Lenin hurled himself at Oskar, swearing he would "pull off those rotten Kraut bollocks and stuff them into that snide little Kraut cakehole." Oskar replied that he preferred sachertorte, before diving out of a conveniently located picture window and hustling himself home, where he breathlessly informed the wife and kids that they were heading west. Now.

When she asked him why, he replied that it was "a political matter".

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