Red Pantiesrnby Akosh ChernushrnVanessa was the first American woman in my life. “Yournforced a superpower to her knees,” congratulated myrnfriend Peter, when I told him what had happened the previousrnnight. Things went considerably quicker in Paris in 1958; Irnhad no reason to beat around the bush posing questions aboutrnbisexual lovers, blood transfusions, or junky boyfriends. Vanessarnherself obviously wasn’t a superpower; however, as an EastrnEuropean full of 50’s macho, I felt some pride that I had successfullyrnswept a native of the American superpower off herrnfeet, even though she was not exactly the type that I’d generallyrnimagined Americans to be. She was beautiful, with impeccablerncurves, gorgeous long legs, a great sense of humor andrnself-irony that redeemed almost everything else, even the factrnthat she was a radical Marxist.rnI picked her up in a Montparnasse bistro, the Select, wherernPeter and I dropped in often, sometimes several times a day, torncheck for anything new on the flesh market. We sat down at arntable next to hers and borrowed her Zippo to light up yellowrnGauloises, cheap French cigarettes of industrial strength. Wernstarted a conversation in our heavily accented but already fluentrnFrench. The girl was noticeably intrigued by us when shernlearned that we were Hungarian students who had fled tornFrance after the Soviet repression of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.rn”Vous etes contre-revolutionnaires, alors?” she askedrnwith pretended fear, as if the next second we would attack, withrnknives between our teeth, the international revolution. Woridrnrevolution was her all. Vanessa was a Trotskyite, and she rushedrnto explain to us that the Russian communists committed a fatalrnmistake when they tried to build communism in a poorrncountry without any democratic tradition. “You may con-rnAkosh Chernush is the hterary editor for the HungarianrnService of the Voice of America in Washington, D.C.rndemn what the Soviets did in Hungary,” she continued. “I amrnnot for violence, but on the other hand, the Soviets had to dornsomething, because communism still hadn’t deep enoughrnroots in Hungary.” I almost lost my temper when she went onrnexplaining to me what had really happened two years ago inrnBudapest.rnBefore and after I met Vanessa, a good many other French,rnAmerican, and German leftists tried to explain to me what hadrnhappened in Budapest, ignoring the reality that I had personallyrnwitnessed almost every important development leading tornthe Revolution and its defeat. Later, for my participation inrnsome revolutionary events and for several anti-Soviet articles Irnhad published in the revolutionary press in Budapest, a socalledrnpeople’s court condemned me to death in absentia.rnThese leftist students usually repeated fellow-traveler arguments,rnwhich openly or in veiled form defended the Soviet actionrnin Hungary. Some of them remembered the large headlinernof a Paris communist daily, which had sent its best reporter,rnAndre Stil, to Budapest. Stil affirmed after the Soviet invasion,rnon the front page oiL’Uumanite, that “Budapest smiles again.”rnA first-year student at the elitist Ecole Normale Superieure reproachedrnme that “you Hungarians, with your unnecessary littlernrebellion, endangered the super-powers’ peaceful coexistence.”rnShe added, “next time consider the political realitiesrnbefore you move even your little finger!”rnIn l958, it was still difficult to score if one wasn’t well versedrnin and kindly disposed to Marxist dialectics. Most of the girlsrnI met at the Sorbonne, the student cafeterias, or the bistrosrnwere Marxists, some kind of leftists, radicals. Third Worldists,rnor else they had cats and preoccupations in which I could notrnbe involved or to which I could not add my word. I had runrnaway from Hungarian comrades; now in Montparnasse, I confrontedrnAmerican ones, young Jane Fonda types, before theyrnAUGUST 1993/31rnrnrn