The Fountain With A Dark Penalty

by Kenneth Rayman on August 14, 2018
I posted on Instagram a photo of me with the Lenin Statue in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle and told a story I use in the Moscow presentation with the residents; since I had a few communities wonder if my presentation may enflame sensitivities to the time period in which seniors of today grew up in, and ask whether my talk was political in any shape or form.

In the same spirit, I wanted to share a story I use for St. Petersburg.

When this video comes up in the presentation I say, “Now let me set this video up real quick.”

“With the gardens I just showed you, there is a separate part called the ‘trick garden.’ And what that is, is Peter was a prankster. He loved to play practical jokes and fashioned some benches in the ‘trick garden’ so that if you sat down unknowingly, you would get goosed in the butt with a spritz of water. You would return to the party at the palace soaking wet, Peter would see you, know exactly where you had been and laugh hysterically.”

“This fountain though was not a laughing matter. Peter, for his fun and games, was also very strict in his rules because he was appalled by laziness. So this fountain, on the path to the Mon Plaisir Palace at the edge of the Gulf of Finland, was set to go off when his meeting there had started. So, if you were walking down the path and the fountain went off you knew you were late and would be punished for it. Walking in soaking wet, Peter would give you a big chalice filled with vodka and you had to drink it in one fell swoop. This often resulted in alcohol poisoning, if someone didn’t keep pace with Peter’s drinking, and many died as a result.”

(laughter often ensues when the kids start running and screaming)

“Now the fountain is a kid’s attraction. And no, I didn’t get in and run around and get wet.”