What happens when you mix the power and resources to do anything you want, an obsession with maintaining a virile public appearance, and a Bond villain’s delusions of grandeur? You throw yourself a birthday party that would make any 7-year-old boy sob with jealousy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t 7. He turned 63 on Wednesday. Yet the encroaching march of his elderly years didn’t stop ol’ Vlad from getting the gang together to celebrate with a rousing game of ice hockey—and his gang is made up of NHL vets, oligarchs who are facing U.S. sanctions, and senior Russian military officials. Putin’s team won, of course, a solid 15-10, because who loses on their birthday? And the man of the hour even managed to slap seven of those goals into the net himself, and was then presented with a gigantic, Stanley Cup-esque trophy from costumed rink attendants.
And, naturally, all of this was broadcast on live television, so his comrades could watch their fearless leader win big. Makes you wonder what he’ll do for the ol’ 6-5, doesn’t it? Maybe guide some endangered birds to their breeding ground from a hang glider, or go whale hunting with a crossbow. He could keep it low key and just fly his favorite ABBA tribute band in for another private party.
Naah, been there done that. But when you’re the unimpeachable dark wizard dealing with the overwhelming stress of maintaining Russia’s dwindling relevance, the sky’s the limit when you have to blow off some steam. Maybe just wage World War III instead? That’d be one for the history books.
Happy birthday, you crazy bastard.