MOSCOW, August 14, 2005 -- Another reminder of my immortality – if I really needed one. From my friend Marco, the M-Pact musician, comes word that he has had an emergency appendectomy. No big deal in this era of medical high tech, but a reminder of how vulnerable we all are and of how lucky I’ve been. No strokes, no appendectomies, no altzheimer’s…..altzheimer’s?
Marco had just returned from packing up his mother and step-father’s house in Spokane – the one he grew up in – in anticipation of moving them to a nursing home “to receive better care for their dual altzheimer’s disease.”
Altzheimer’s, the tragi-comic butt of so many sick jokes: “What’s the good thing about Altzheimer’s?” “I give up.” “You’re always meeting new people.”
Marco’s visit also had its tragi-comic aspects: “….Mom and her husband really wanting to help in the moving process, going around and unpacking every other box we packed, forgetting that the move had not yet occurred….”
So! No strokes, no appendectomies, no altzheimer’s. I haven’t even had a BP reading of more than 140 since Thursday afternoon. How long can my luck hold out?
As I was waiting for my Saturday morning student Valera this morning, I got a phone call from Sergei.
He and Zhorik had once more been absent when I had awakened at 8:00 – again gone to collect the missing $ 2,500, I assumed. The phone call from Sergei told me I was right. “Zhorik and I won’t be back until tomorrow evening,” he said. “We’ll have $ 7,000! Zhorik has it now.”
“He’ll be home about 7:00 tomorrow evening. I don’t have time to talk now.”
“Did you say 7,000 dollars or 7,000 rubles?”
“When will I see you?”
“7:00 tomorrow evening. ‘bye.’”
We had discussed yesterday the fact that Andrei and Sergei owe me about 10 grand. But I didn’t press them or complain about it. We just discussed it. 7,000 bucksi? Why? How? What’s going on? Where are they? Who are they with? From whom or wherm are they getting seven grand?
I’ll believe it when I see it!
Thievery is an unfortunate fact of daily life in Russia! Except for an apartment, a painting, a couple of cameras, some deeply cherished personal mementos, and a few hundred – or thousand – bucksi, I’ve been lucky.
But others haven’t. When my student Darya and her husband Aleksei went to their country dacha two or three weeks ago, they parked their car in the yard as usual. When they started packing up to return to Moscow Sunday evening, they found the rear axel sitting on the ground. Both rear wheels had been stolen.
It’s been an incredible hemorrhoid (Russian for PITA) for them: First, they had to have the car trucked back to Moscow – not cheap; then estimates for replacement, insurance forms, police reports, and waiting….And waiting.
They’re still waiting – and riding the metro.
Valera this morning told me about a friend of his who, as he was walking through the snow on a wintry morning, was summoned by a perplexed young lady to her car, which sat idling at the curbside.
“Can you help me?” she asked. “When I put my car in gear, nothing happens,” and she demonstrated for him: She put it first in reverse and stepped on the accelerator; then in low, and stepped on the accelerator. The engine roared, but the car didn’t move.
He stepped back and looked at the car. Underneath the snow, nothing was spinning but the hubs, jacked up on four stacks of bricks. And somewhere in Moscow someone was boasting a new set of wheels.
It reminds me of my friend Russ Manoog in Army counterintelligence school in Baltimore in the late ’50s. Russ was the well educated, polished, urbane scion of a wealthy Middle-Eastern family from Massachusetts. He, my closeted soon-to-be-lover Bob Normandie, and Buffalo, NY’er Jack Rollo were inseparable pals during our stint in junior spy school.
The dapper Russ wouldn’t be seen in public without a jacket and tie and his fashionable felt fedora. As we were driving to Virginia one weekend in Russ’s 1953 Mercury, Bob started clowning around with Russ’s untouchable hat, which had been ceremoniously deposited on the window ledge behind the back seat.
Russ was livid at the liberty Bob was taking with his revered badge of urbanity, but his good breeding forbade the tongue-lashing the rest of us might have given, something like: “God damn it, you brazen son of a bitch, leave my fucking hat alone!”
Instead, Russ merely snorted through clenched teeth his ultimate expression of anger and scorn: “Is nothing sacred?!
I suspect it’s what he would have said if somebody had stolen all four wheels.
Russia and China, together again, in a joint military exercise. Hey, but it’s not even “again.” In fact, it’s the first time in history the two wary giants will have coordinated their efforts to conduct a massive cooperative exercise in military operations.
Now why would they want to go and do something like that? You don’t suppose it has anything to do with the fact that our own Dear Leader is threatening virtually every country on earth with extinction if they don’t meet our demands – to provide oil, to stop building nuclear plants, to give us military bases….
But China and Russia both reassure us that there’s no connection: This new era of Chinese-Russian military cooperation is not aimed "at any third party nor (is concern(ed) with the interests of any third country." It just seemed like the thing to do at the time.
In fact, all you have to do is look at the code name: "Peace Mission 2005" to be reassured. It’s almost as comforting as the soothing Bush/Blair euphemism for their murderous conquest and occupation of Iraq: "Operation Enduring Freedom." The whole world will sleep better now.
I had an e-mail from Parry Brass. Who’s Parry Brass? That’s what I said. And here’s what he said:
I learned about your blog site from the gay news agency you sent a release to, so it must work.
Your blog reminds me more of Christopher Isherwood's Berlin diary stories (from "Christopher and His Kind"), his love affairs with "straight" young German kids who'd do anything for money.
I find some of your revelations pretty "old hat," in that they are the same ones I've heard about most of the Old Soviet block: kids who'll do anything for money, etc. There is now a huge gay tourist business in Budapest, which has become the hustler center of Europe, filled with gorgeous nubiles who want to work for the Yankee dollar. What I find interesting in your blog is the integration of bits about the oil economy, business gangsterism, and social situations. That's something that some book editors might find worthwhile—there's nothing that moves books more than the intersection of blood, money, and . . . well, cum.
I've published 13 books, been in about 20 anthologies, and am still run crazy by all this. Good luck and I hope to read more of your stuff.
I liked him because he also mentioned the “B” word -- a book. When I answered his e-mail and asked him what kind of books he had written, he referred me to his website: www.perrybrass.com. So I checked it out. This guy truly is a talent – a sensitive, savvy, spiritual, irreverent, funny, undaunted, original, and very queer talent.
He offers books (mostly his own), news, and provocative essays, including one on the role of teen oral sex in reestablishing “The Penis as an Object of Beauty.”
Parry says teenage cocksucking is becoming “in.” Of course it’s hard to perfect your cocksucking without a cock, so nubile little honies are lining up on Saturday night to establish their credentials as a cool hottie, leading to Parry’s heralding of new hope of “again realizing the aesthetic loveliness of this forlorn anatomical detail.”
“Even the august New York Times,” he writes, “in a recent ‘Thursday Style’ section piece, is starting to admit that teen ‘oral sex parties’ are getting out of hand, the way that teen drinking parties are. In fact, drinking and cocksucking are working hand-in----.”
As a consequence, he says, girls are “going down faster than the Dow after the price of oil shoots up.”
He credits the religious right with giving us this delightful new trend. Since they’ve defined sex “as only being ‘missionary position’,” sucking cock aint sex. You don’t even have to lie to Mom. Even better, now the guys, wanting to see what the girls are so excited about, are trying it too!
So, says Parry, dicks are “’coming out,’ at teen oral sex parties. And so are the teens sucking them.”
Born 60 years too soon!
An on-line excerpt from Angel Lust, one of his novels, was nothing less than haunting.
I think I’ll be tapping frequently into this website.
You should too.
When I went to pay for a couple of Russian books at the New Arbat Book Store today, the nearly $ 1,000 that was in my under-the-shirt bag, or “sumka" wasn’t there.
One of two things happened: Either Sergei and Zhorik took it when they left during the night or I’ve lost it. I’m pretty devastated. If they took it, it’s because for some reason they needed it, and I don’t mind; but why, without asking me or leaving a note?
If they didn’t, how could I have lost it? There’s one possibility. There are three compartments in the bag, one of which doesn’t have a bottom. I keep my passport in one; and my money in the other one with a bottom to it. Obviously, I carry nothing in the other.
When Sergei gave me the $ 500 yesterday morning, he took all the money out and put it back into the bottomless pocket. But I noticed it, took it out, recounted it, and was very careful – I thought – to place it back into the proper compartment. Usually I button my shirt and tuck my shirt tail in so that even if anything should fall out, it would be caught and kept by my bloused shirt. But it was hot yesterday and I wore a pair of walking shorts and didn’t tuck my shirt tail in. It’s remotely possible that a) I didn’t put the money back into the right compartment; b) that it fell out of the bottomless compartment while I was walking; c) and that I didn’t see or feel anything as it fell out.
Anyway, I’m depressed and mightily upset. You might even say “stressed.” Even so, my BP is only 128/89. Cool as a cucumber.
3 p.m. Sunday – Sergei just called. He repeated that he would be home with $ 7,000, but not till 11 or 12 tonight.
I’m at a complete loss to understand what’s going on.
At 4 p.m. today Zhorik unexpectedly showed up.
“Do you have the money?”
“Sergei has it?”
“Were you with him?”
“When you left yesterday, did he take the money that was in my ‘sumka’?”
“Probably. He’ll explain everything when he gets here.”
“I don’t understand anything about anything. Where’s this $ 7,000 coming from? Is it legal?”
“I don’t know.”
If terse, Zhorik was nonetheless affectionate. He let me hold and hug him, and we kissed twice in the mouth.
“I’m leaving again right away. I’m going to see Valera Dmitrivich, the lawyer. I’m not going to go to school this fall. I’m going to work.”
“Where are you going to work?”
“For a court.”
“Is that why you’re going to see Valera?”
So the plot thickens. But at least I know that a) Zhorik is okay; b) I’m probably going to get some money tonight, maybe as much as 7 grand; c) I probably didn’t lose the $ 1,000.
Other than that, I’ll have to wait for Sergei.
And my mood has brightened considerably, but it hasn’t helped my BP It’s even higher: 155/99!