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  2. The Diary (22 June 1994 - 13 July 1994)
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28 June 1994

Went to the Paul Palace today. It was very eighteenth century Roman-wannabe. Suzanna went with me. We were in a group, but it was so boring and took so long that we left and kind of wandered around by ourselves. Suzanna was very mischievous and tried to crawl under the ropes. Our favorite part was the dining room, where there was a guitarist and a flautist playing music. Suzanna danced around a lot.

To preserve the floors, you have to wear these funny slipper things over your shoes.11 A side-effect of this is that there is no friction and you slide around a lot unless you're on a carpet. Suzanna fell down once or twice, and we slid around and had fun.

Every window we came to, we had to look out the window to see if we could catch a glimpse of Melanie, Olga, and Yala.

As for the actual palace, it was the usual gilt, elaborate paintings and carvings, and beautiful floors that all real palaces have. One thing I noticed was that there were two keyboards or harpsichords or something: a sight I didn't catch in the Catherine Palace.12 This palace is also restored better.

After the palace, we went to Sasha's house. It was boring. It was one of those adult get-together things where the adults sit around and talk about stuff. Suzanna and I ended up walking up and down stairs a lot trying to find something to do. A positive note: there is a spectacular back yard, with a great view beyond.

There were people sunbathing when we got there; Sasha's stepmom was topless. It was kind of weird. I've never seen a topless sunbather, that I can remember, but it didn't bother me. I mean, if she didn't have a problem with it, why should I?13

Well, after that thrilling little shindig, we went to another friend's house. I actually watched a Barney video (it was Melanie's). I honestly don't know what she sees in him. It is the sappiest, most syrupy thing I have ever seen in my life. All the kids act like they're on some kind of caffeine high. It was absolutely inane.

We ate dinner there.

11 They were either paper or thin cotton booties, with elastic around the top, and you were to slip them over your shoes (to preserve the floors, presumably). At several opportunities, Suzanna used them to make deliberate pratfalls. She was a hyper kid.

12 My first encounter with a real harpsichord was in the historical city of Williamsburg, VA. Ever since then I was really interested in harpsichords and other old instruments, and I had always liked classical music from early childhood.

13 I sound like such an uptight prude. But though it was a culture shock moment, I truly don't think it bothered me. I just don't understand why it was so important for me to insist that it didn't.

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