Back in the days before Gavin Newsom turned San Francisco into a dump totally unfriendly to tourists, the Czar and Царица were enjoying uncharacteristically hot weather. She had never been to San Francisco before, so the Czar was taking her on a tour of the place. We even spent the money to take the Alcatraz tour, which the Czar hadnt done since December, 1937, (when it was a functioning prison) to drop off a cake to a couple of guys he knew.
While on the boat that takes you there, the Czar and Царица were admiring the gorgeous views, the sun burning off the morning fog, the Bay Bridge looming through the haze behind us, and a babble of languages from the many tourists around us.
Suddenly, a petite woman next to us screamed out a particularly shocking obscenity as loud as she could. Everyone stopped talking and stared at her. She grabbed the arm of the guy next to her and pointed at the water. A small seal was following the boat wake. Voyez? she said.
Ah! The Czar laughed and turned to the people around him. Shes French. The Царица blinked. The French word for seal is phoque, we added, spelling it out.
Everyone sighed around us.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.