Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Going Putin

Vladimir Putin has made an international splash with the spectacular opening and closing sessions of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and his subsequent crypto invasion of Crimea.

Shirtless in SiberiaBut his most lasting contribution to world civilization may be his signature look – riding bare chested on horseback. I have dubbed his shirtless in Siberia act as “Going Putin.”

There has been no credible explanation why the former KGB operative who now runs Russia likes to ride topless astride a horse. His physique is more likely to give people the creeps than send shivers down their backs.

Putin’s part-scowl, part-vacant stare facial expression won’t kindle memories of the feared Cossacks, whom he romanticizes in his spare time when he isn’t denying those masked guys with Russian weapons and license plates are really Russians.

Psychologists undoubtedly would have a field day analyzing a half-naked Putin on his mount. Some call it a homoerotic pose. Perhaps it reveals his inner conflicts, which is why he pushed a summer resort town for the winter Olympics. After conversing with him by phone, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Putin seemed out of touch with reality on the ground. Maybe that’s why he is undressed and sitting on a horse.

Whatever the raison d’être for Putin’s behavior, it could launch a trend. For men (and perhaps women) who live in urban settings, Going Putin could mean driving around topless on a motorcycle, a rough psychological substitute for a horse. Going Putin for politicians could involve snapping selfies of your chest hair to share with total strangers on Instagram.

It’s only a matter of time before Weiden+Kennedy incorporates Going Putin into one of its online Old Spice ads and Martine Scorsese sees an opening to shoot “Wolf of Wall Street, the Sequel,” because there weren’t many scenes with only half-naked people and a horse in the original.

As a matter of national pride, the soccer team representing the formerly semi-autonomous region of Crimea will Go Putin and play their games without shirts. It would seem apropos if they also wore masks.

There is no reason why Going Putin couldn’t animate a new, engaging comic strip, which could rival the Wizard of Id and Bizarro for viewership and inanity.

It is even possible, and quite likely, Going Putin will emerge as a lifestyle. In tropical climates, it would be hard to tell who is and who isn’t Going Putin, so the major lifestyle changes we will detect will be in cold weather climates, where going topless is more adventurous and raises your health insurance premium as a senseless, risky behavior, like smoking and ice fishing.

The greatest tribute to Going Putin will be seen on weekends when old men shed their shirts and mount their trusty riding lawn mowers. They will feel the same exhilaration as the uncloaked Putin, and cause the same level of repulsion to any accidental bystanders.

For most of us with more paunch than pecs, Going Putin will be just another trend that passes us by. The sooner, the better.

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