The Great Fundaminsky
Posted by Grady Miller on Sep 2, 2007 - 7:01:52 PM
VARIOUS— Sergei Fundaminsky's place in the pantheon of modern inventors was not secured by the number of patents he held — apparently none — but by such things as the sartorial daring to shun neckties and replace them with sanitary toilet seat covers.
"They are so practical," said the Muscovite inventor, his neck wreathed in white tissue. "If you dribble minestrone, you just throw it out and get a new one."
Fundaminsky was recognized early on as a prodigy. By the age of twelve he had devised a radium-powered baby stroller which was mocked by the Soviet establishment; new generations would hail it as an environmental hazard. Stalin was said to be fascinated by possible military applications of Fundaminsky's squirting lapel carnation, transformed by his mechanical genius, into a weapon with greatly intensified water pressure. At a congress for young Soviet scientists and inventors, Stalin clasped Fundaminsky's hand and then said, "My what a beautiful flower." As the Soviet leader leaned down to sniff the carnation in the young man's lapel, a stinging stream of water squirted into his face. Stalin's Minister of Science was convulsed.
Fundaminsky's memoirs recount in chilling detail how the minister claimed to have not laughed. "It was an innocent cough, your excellency," insisted the Science Minister.
"Well, I'm sure your cough will get better," replied Stalin ominously. Rather than find out what that meant, the minister took cyanide.
Meanwhile, the young inventor was sent to
Siberia to be "reeducated" as a ballet dancer. It was a stroke of luck, because Fundaminsky looked dashing in a tutu, and he was recruited by a ballet company that went on an American tour of
Lake. Seduced by the charms of the West, Fundaminsky defected while on a VIP tour in
Life in the new country was not easy for the inventor. First, there were shortages and long lines, then came disillusionment with the discovery that
Disneyland was not a sovereign country. Fundaminsky was deported and sent to
Siberia for another thirty years, where he tunneled out of the Gulag using a teaspoon. Showing superhuman determination, he finally escaped to freedom in 1995, four years after the
Soviet Union had collapsed.
He immigrated to
Southern California the following year. Ever conscious of his roots, he refused to change his watch to local time and used only rubles. Fundaminsky once declared, "All of Russian culture is summed up in
Gorky. But I am not sure if it is Arshile or Maxim."
In an interview with Popular Mechanics shortly before his death, the great inventor expressed his outlook on life, "At 12 I knew the point of human being was to spend one's life fighting social injustice. At 18 I recognized the importance of free alterations. At 55 I realized that the main purpose of life is to feel gratitude for being able to order entrees off the senior menu."
Fundaminsky passed away while pursuing his dream of setting of new record (18) of bowls of split-pea soup eaten at Andersen's Pea Soup and his stomach burst.
At the time of his death he was at work on perhaps his greatest invention, a whoopee cushion in the form of a hat. "I am putting new wine in an old bottle. The whoopee cushion as we know it is passÃ©, but the hat shape will revolutionize it. Everyone these days knows better than to sit on one of these cushions. There you have the evolution of the species! It has been very difficult process indeed, but it is more satisfying to climb a mountain than a rain puddle. No? So I have carried out prototypes with a panama, a Borsalino, and how you call it? a chicken potpie. All these crows swooped down and ate it. It was deeply frustrating."