LENINGRAD, 10 MARCH 1985, 10:38A
The hidden pack for the drop bunched beneath my long johns. The Aeroflot flight had been freezing, the pack’s stainless steel hardware sucked body heat, and the threadbare cotton blankets emblazoned with Vladimir Lenin’s image given out by the polyester’ed flight crew were useless.
As we landed, I switched out a New Order mixtape in my Walkman FM-1 for one that Camilla had given me the night before in Helsinki. Putting the New Order tape back into my zippered vinyl 10-cassette carrying case, I pulled out Queen’s The Game to make room for the New Order tape.
McGuiggan, sitting next to me aisle seat 7B, had given me the Queen record when we reached cruising altitude. I turned to him as we made our descent into Pulkova Airport and held the cassette over the armrest for him to take back. But he said “Nah, keep it,” and his already alabaster complexion was somehow paling a few shades whiter as I looked at him.
“You feel all right?” I asked, worried he might be airsick. The worst is landing in a foreign county next to a pucker.
“You think they’re going to search us good?” he asked through a shaking voice. This answer eased me a bit. No vomit potential. McGuiggan was merely deathfraid of Russian customs from all of Fr. G’s lessons leading up to the trip. “Fr. G said a lot of ‘western’ music was still considered contraband. I’m shedding anything that may be a threat to have me detained,” he continued. “Here take these, too.”