er with toothpicks that had miniature paper flags. The pastramirnwas as good and as unusual as promised, but too rich forrna I lungarian stomach now accustomed to French food. “Good,rnbut too heavy,” 1 told the old man when he came to refill ourrncoffee cups. “I never said it’s light,” he answered. “It’s heavyrnand probably killed more Jews than Hitler. I wouldn’t touch itrnat my age. Order something lighter next time, smoked turkeyrnor tuna fish. When Trotsky came here, he ate tuna fish.”rnVanessa had seemed bored earlier, but she came to life and said,rn”Trotsky really came here? When?”rn”Oh, a long time ago, early in the century. He often aternthere at the same table where you’re eating,” the waiter replied,rnsitting down opposite us, as he sensed that in Vanessa he’drnfound an audience. “He lived on the West Side, but he camernhere, liked our food, and most of the time I had to wait on hisrntable because I was the youngest. The other waiters avoidedrnserving him as much as they could. Trotsky never tipped.rnAnd at that time, we lived from tips; we had no formal salary,rnno minimum hourly pay, no nothing. I frankly said to himrnonce, N’Ir. Bronstein (that’s how we knew hiiu then), my fatherrnis a scholarly man and he hasn’t found a job yet, my motherrnworks in a dressmaker’s shop and doesn’t make much money,rnI have three sisters and a brother, and tips are my only income.rnWhy don’t you give me a few cents? Bronstein said that hernwould never give anything to the capitalists’ lackeys. He calledrnme a lackey. Me, a kid of 13! I would never forgive that. Andrnhe just cut the conversation, returning to the pages of an agriculturernmagazine, looking at tractor advertisements. Nextrntime I again called his attention to this tip thing, and he answered:rnWhy don’t you form a union? Why let yourself be exploited?”rnVanessa became noticeably gloomy, but she faithfully interpretedrnfor me in French everything that I didn’t catch in English.rn”Trotsky went home, they had this big mess in Russia,rnand there were voices saying we must go back, for working peoplernRussia is the right place now, there will be no exploitation,”rnthe old man continued. “First of all, that time, when the Bolsheviksrncame to power, my family was doing something betterrnhere. One of my sisters married a very rich man, and my parentsrnhad no desire to move again. My father said if Trotskyrndidn’t care about you here in New York, why would he carernabout you over there? If he didn’t understand the little manrnhere, why would he understand him over there? I was sorryrnwhen I heard that in Mexico somebody had put an ice pick inrnhis head; after all, he used to eat my tuna sandwiches, and evenrnif he wasn’t a good man, he was clever. If he had stayed inrnAmerica, he could have gone into real estate and had officernbuildings downtown, skyscrapers even. Real estate was the bestrnbusiness. And even if he didn’t make a fortune, at least his childrenrncould make it here, they could become dentists or lawyers,rnlike my kids.”rnI paid for the sandwiches; Vanessa, finding mv tip insufficient,rnleft a whole dollar on the table—this back in the daysrnwhen a dollar was still money, especially to a student from Europe.rn”If Trotsky really didn’t leave tips, then Trotskyites mustrnhelp,” she said, but later began doubting what we had heard.rn”The old waiter talked nonsense. I’ve read several Trotsky biographiesrnand an essay about his sojourn in America. Maybernhe did forget to tip once in a while, but nothing I’ve read everrnaccused him of being insensitive or stingy. I le was a generousrnman.” “Do some research,” I suggested. “That could be a greatrnsubject for a doctoral dissertation.” Three weeks later, beforernI flew back to Paris, and as I kissed her good-bye in her WestrnEnd Avenue high-ceiling apartment, her poster of the non-tippingrnold goat in grey Bolshevik uniform still hung on thernkitchen wall. For a while, we corresponded; then, we lostrntouch with each other forever. At least that’s what I thought.rnDo all roads lead to Washington as they did 2,000 years agornto Rome? I don’t know the answer to that, but I knowrnthat since I moved to Washington, I’ve encountered most of myrnold friends and acquaintances from Paris. They have come asrntourists, government officials, museum curators, a zoo director,rnand one is even here as free Hungary’s ambassador. Recently,rneven childhood pals and schoolmates have arrived by therndozens; after having lived as pariahs for years behind the ironrncurtain, they now travel as World Bank economists, musicians,rnwriters, members of parliament, and historians who spendrntheir days at the Library of Congress. I wasn’t especially surprisedrneven to encounter Vanessa. But what is almost unbelievablernis that I recognized her by the back of her calves! Shernwas walking her Labrador in Georgetown’s Montrose Park,rnwhen I spotted that rear view. If I had encountered her faceto-rnface on the street I might not have recognized her. Thernblack-haired Parisian had become a Washington redhead. Shernhad gained a few kilos. She wore fancy designer glasses. Butrnfrom the back, those calves were so familiar that I couldn’t notrnrecognize them. “Vanessa McQuinn, I presume,” I said to her.rnShe did not recognize me immediately, but when she did, shernwas delighted to see me.rnSmiling, we sat on a park bench. “I never thought that you’drnend up in the States, much less that we’d be neighbors withoutrnknowing it,” she remarked. Then she lectured me because Irnstill smoke. Waving away my cigarette smoke with a disgustedrngrimace, she informed me that she had stopped in 1964. Shernmentioned that she worked for a labor union, and, like myself,rnhad been divorced for several years. We no longer spoke inrnFrench, the language of our youth, but in English, the languagernof making a living, of adulthood. So many things had happenedrnsince we last saw each other that politics were not discussedrnfor a while. She seemed much less interested in politicalrnevents now than 50 years ago. Finally I asked her if she hadrnever imagined that the Soviet Union would collapse so speetaculadv,rnand during our lifetime. She said that she neverrnthought this would happen and added in a pedagogical tone,rn”I don’t have to tell you that this collapse would have neverrnhappened if Trotsky had been the leader instead of that paranoidrnmass murderer who ruled things for decades.”rnThe memories of our passionate lovemaking and of thernphysical joys we had given one another in the past created arnbond between us. But she could read on my face as I could detectrnin her eyes that these past 30-some years had done no goodrnfor our relationship. The elemental attraction that brought usrntogether originally, overcoming even our embarrassing politicalrndifferences, had vanished. Without saying it, we felt sadness asrnwe realized that regrettably we can’t turn back time. We knewrnwe’d meet again, invite each other to parties, be friends; still,rnwhat happened in Paris can’t be repeated or brought back.rnIt began to drizzle. She said that she had to go feed her dog.rnI kissed her cheek, and just to add something more personal Irnremarked, “Your legs are more exciting than ever.” Vanessa unexpectedlyrnswitched to French and inquired, “Et mon derriere?”rnAUGUST 1993/33rnrnrn