Lyrics : On Mortality

Court Counsellor Semyon Petrovich Podtikin sat down at the table, spread a napkin across his chest, and, quivering with impatience, awaited the moment the blini would appear. Before him, as before a general surveying a battlefield, a vista unfolded: rank upon rank of bottles, from the middle of the middle of the table right up to the front line--three types of vodka, Kiev brandy, Chateau La Rose, Rhine wine, and even a big-bellied flask of priestly Benedictine. Crowding around the liquors in artful disarray were platters of sprats, sardines in hot sauce, sour cream, caviar (at three rubles forty kopecks a pound), fresh salmon, and so on. Podtikin ran his eyes over the food, salivating greedily. His eyes melted like butter; his face oozed with lust.

Frowning, he turned to his wife. "Why is this taking so long? Katya!" he called. "Hurry up!"

Finally, the cook arrived with the blini. At the risk of scorching his fingers, Semyon Petrovich snatched up two of the hottest from the top of the pile and slapped them onto his plate with gusto. The blini were crisp, lacy, and as plump as the shoulders of a merchant's daughter. Podtikin smiled affably, hiccupped with pleasure, and doused the blini in hot butter. Then, as if to tease his appetite, luxuriating in anticipation, he slowly, deliberately heaped them with caviar. He poured sour cream over the places the caviar left bare. Now he had only to eat, right? Wrong! Contemplating his creation, Podtikin was not quite satisfied. After a moment's thought, he topped the blini with the oiliest slice of salmon he could find, and a sprat and a sardine; then, no longer able to hold back, trembling with delight and gasping, he rolled up the two blini, downed a shot of vodka, smacked his lips, opened his mouth--and was struck by an apoplectic fit.