I still remember living in “no Google times”. I was probably six or seven. I would see an unknown word written on a wall. An itch to find out what it means becomes intolerable. The word starts to possess me. I feel there is a mystery, and magic, and depth, and promise to it. I’ve never seen a real person writing anything on the wall. Why would they do it? They should have a good reason for doing it. And I should know the meaning.
The first way to clarify it was to look it up in a huge dark blue English-Russian dictionary. It was rather comprehensive (fifty thousand words, ten A4 pages for a 3 letter word), but failed at explaining street cryptography way too often. (I quickly lost my faith in an ability of all sorts of indices to illuminate life, although I still enjoy flipping through their pages in search of random knowledge.)
Then I could ask. As a timid kid I could only approach closest relatives, so chances of discovering the truth were low. So I had to live with an undisclosed secret until one day an answer manifested itself out of the blue. The truth wasn’t very inspiring most of the times: sophisticated cursing and musical groups.
But there was an outstanding case which found its resolution just recently. There was a huge inscription at the very top of a blind firewall of a building on the corner of Mokhovaya and Belinsky streets. It read “Jean Tatlian — Love bridge”. I used to see the graffiti twice a week on my way to art school. No one could tell me what it was. I could only imagine: a novelist. A romantic poet. A great lover maybe? A singer whose songs are so deep they make people climb the walls to express their delight and admiration.
A trivial answer struck me in a music recommendation service. Yes, a singer. No, nothing special, second-tier soviet-greek entertainer. So in a way it still holds a secret: was it a joke? A drunk stunt? Fortunate use of a scaffold by a fangirl? This I will probably never know.