I didn’t find it all that newsworthy to learn that the Russian and American governments often used bugging devices to find out what one another is doing/and or saying.
I always had taken this as a given. Wasn’t the first thing Bill Cosby and Robert Culp did when they checked into a hotel room in "I Spy" was to search out the bugging devices, which always were located in the flowerpot? I also figure both U.S. and Soviet operatives are smart enough to know how to say things in code when they are being listened to by the other side.
My stepbrother, Ludlow Porch of WSB/Radio in Atlanta, who happens to be an ex-marine and quite the patriot, was along with me on a trip to the Soviet Union a couple of years ago and we often carried on sensitive conversations in our respective hotel rooms.
We certainly took for granted our rooms were bugged, especially after one KGB "maid" asked him, "How are you enjoying your stay in Soviet Union?"
Before Ludlow could answer, she said, "Please speak directly into flowerpot."
After that Ludlow and I devised a brilliant code to use each time we knew somebody out there was listening.
Now that we are both safely out of the country and plan never to go back, here is one of our typical conversations while in the Soviet Union, followed by the translation:
Ludlow: "‘Rosebud’ in the third race at Pimlico."
(I’m so tired of Russian food, I could eat a horse.)
Me: "This little piggy went to market."
(Before I left home, I went by the Piggly Wiggly supermarket and picked up a couple of cans of pork and beans for the trip. Want some?"
Ludlow: "Is a bear Catholic?"
(In the name of God, yes.)
Ludlow (again): "Are you going to watch "Sanford and Son?"
(Are you as sick as I am of looking at all that junk in Russian museums?)
Me: "Roger. The big polar bear walks late."
(Dang right. I’m going over to a bar tonight at a hotel where they are supposed to have ice.)
Ludlow: "Is the new Sears Roebuck catalog in yet?"
(You got any toilet paper left in your room?)
Me: "Pass the Charmin."
(A little, but I’m in big trouble when that’s gone.)
Ludlow: "Does Bonzo have the key?"
(Do you think President Reagan is correct in thinking these people are a major threat to the security of our nation?)
Me: "A flush beat a straight."
(Are you kidding me? A country that still can’t master the flush toilet couldn’t hit its own foot with a guided missile.)
Ludlow: "Shoot low, boys, they’re ridin’ Shetland ponies."
(Have you noticed how squatty-looking all the Russian women are?)
Me: "The elephants are marching."
(They all have big fat ankles, too.)
Ludlow: "When the bird of paradise flies away, Santa’s belly will roll like jelly."
(When we finally blow this place, I’m going to be one happy fat man.)
Me: "Hey, Mabel, Black Label."
(I’ll drink to that.)
Ludlow: "Now’s the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."
(Isn’t it a little silly for two grown men to be sitting here talking like this?)
Me: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy brown dog."
(You can’t be too careful when the security of your country is involved.)
Ludlow: "Loose lips can sink ships, Jarhead."
(That’s the first thing they taught us at boot camp in Parris Island.)
Lewis Grizzard was a syndicated columnist, who took pride in his Southern roots and often wrote about them. This column is part of a collection of his work.