MOSCOW, March 19, 2006 -- Tarp Honneker’s plans to find post-peak tranquility in New Zealand continue apace, he says. Everything now depends on the successful sale of his 10-year-old consulting business here.
Jeremy Stein, former FEMA mid-level manager, friend of Tarp’s, and the guy who linked me up with Potemkin U., got together with Tarp and his wife and daughter and me last night at one of Moscow’s John Bull British pubs.
Tarp is putting out a press release quoting me and Matt Simmons on peak oil, and wanted to pin down the details, which we did over three liters of beer and a couple of shots of tequila.
Tarp actually voted for Bush in the 2000 election, but Bush’s methodical trashing of the constitution since then (“It’s only a god-damned piece of paper” – remember?) has persuaded him of the error of his ways.
Today, as a follow-up, he sent me a copy of the latest issue of The Privateer, (http://www.the-privateer.com, an Australian publication which describes itself as “the private market letter for the individual capitalist.”
In its very astute 12-page analysis of current world affairs, The Privateer warns there is a very real possibility that the Bushmaster’s obsession with going to war with Iran may well force Russia and/or China to declare themselves allies of Iran, and we may find ourselves in direct military conflict with one or both countries.
If such a nightmare scenario should become reality, it is not hard to imagine that Russia’s immediate response would be what any country at war does first: Expel all citizens of that country.
So is there a flight back to the U.S. economic meltdown (there was a 45% increase in home foreclosures in January) in my future? The prospect is enough to make a praying man of me again. Well, almost.
Fears of Russia’s manipulation of energy prices is a major factor in England’s decision to let the EU in Brussels manage its energy policy along with the rest of Europe’s.
Brussels will take over energy negotiations with Russia and other major energy suppliers in hopes they will “get a better deal” if they negotiate from a consolidated position rather than each country trying to make its own deal with the Kremlin.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson noted that Europe’s leaders have been competing with each other in cozying up to Putin. “But Europe will only be able to negotiate successfully with Russia on energy, or on other issues, if we determine first, as a group, how we want our relationship with Russia to develop."
Britain and other European countries have also been spooked by Russia’s tripling of gas prices to Ukraine over the New Year’s holidays. Europe is now importing about half of its energy, but by 2030 more than 80 per cent of its gas is predicted to come from Russia, Algeria and Norway.
Zhorik and I had the worst argument of our young relationship last Tuesday night. He had asked me Tuesday morning to buy some bread when I came home that evening. But after giving my Potemkin U. class their final exam and staying for another two hours to substitute for an ill English teacher, I was tired and my briefcase was bulging and heavy.
Rather than toting it three or four more blocks to buy bread at the 24-hr. supermarket, I decided to go home, dump the briefcase, pick up Zhorik, who had slept and played computer games all day, and go to the store.
But there was no Zhorik.
He came home at midnight. “I haven’t eaten all day.”
“There was no bread. Did you buy any bread?”
“No, I thought you and I would go shopping. Where have you been?”
He was pissed and hungry.
I was pissed and tired.
We started arguing, and he stormed out of the bedroom, held the door shut so I couldn’t get out, then rushed into the bathroom and locked the door so I couldn’t talk to him.
Furious, I returned to the room, turned off the TV he had been watching, and went to bed.
He went to Anton’s room to watch TV there.
When he came to bed about 3 a.m., I was still pissed.
“Maybe it would be better if I went into the army.”
“I think this was your fault and my fault,” he said.
“How was it my fault?”
“You don’t think it was your fault?”
“Scratch my back – and my ass,” he asked after a few seconds of silence.
I pulled down his shorts and massaged his butt, then one-by-one took each cheek in my hand and squeezed it. Delicious.
“Do I have a nice ass?”
“Very.” I kissed and licked it.
“Do you want to zalovit”?
He turned over and pulled his shorts all the way off. I took my time licking his balls (“it tickles”), playing with the hair on his legs and ass, and licking and swallowing his cock before starting to suck and stroke it.
“I want you to come first,” he insisted.
It took several minutes, because I had to get over my anger.
Then I resumed sucking and stroking him.
He came without benefit of porn.
So making up was fun, but I didn’t like the argument.
Neither did he.
Two or three nights later, we were discussing it. “If it happens again, I will go into the army,” he said.
“If it happens again, I will want you to.”
He said it was not the disagreement that so upset him, but my shouting. He had run out of the room and locked himself in the bathroom to escape it.
I didn’t think I was shouting, but obviously he thought I was, so maybe I was. “If I was shouting, I apologize,” I said.
Ex-lover Jim also used to accuse me of shouting when I got angry. So maybe I really do. It’s pretty hard not to. I also hate shouting matches, but apparently he’s even more sensitive to them than I am. I have to remember that when we disagree.
Or lose him.
I had another go-around with BankAmerica Friday night. Rent is due on the 17th, which was Friday, but I had asked landlady Natasha if she could wait until Saturday because I wanted to try to pull it all together without dipping into my bank accounts.
But that got knocked into a cocked hat when Yegor called Thursday with a sad tale of woe. Sergei, the former boyfriend whom he’s been living with since he and I broke up (he still insists he lives here, but he only drops by about once a month) had borrowed $ 1300 from someone and promised to pay it back by Friday.
He had assumed his boss would pay him his $ 1500 salary by then, but his boss was in Paris and wouldn’t be back for a week. Could I lend him $ 1300?
I checked my accounts and figured I could lend him the money and barely have enough left for rent, but I would need to take the last $ 400 out of my BankAmerica pension account.
So after scraping together 10,000 rubles Friday night, I struck out for the ATM in the supermarket about three blocks away to get the last 12,000 rubles only to be informed: “I’m sorry, we are unable to complete your transaction.”
GDSECSMFSOB (God damned shit-eatin’ cock-suckin’ mother-fuckin’ son of a bitch -- the poetic epiphet I use in such circumstances; I haven’t yet mastered its Russian equivalent). They’ve blocked my account again.
Back to the apartment to find the international phone card and the various bank numbers from the last time this happened only a month ago (Chapt. 187). But the house phone woudn’t work (I think we owe a phone bill). So I used my mobile phone to eventually reach the customer service department. I asked for supervisor Christina, with whom I’d had the last long-distance set-to.
“Sorry, Christina is not at work today, I can help you.”
Prove it (I didn’t say that).
“I’m looking at your records now. The Security Dept. has put a block on your account?”
No shit, Dick Tracy. “Why?” I demanded.
“There’s been unusual activity on your account.”
“What unusual activity?”
“Two days ago you withdrew $ 500, and today there were several attempts to withdraw money.”
“Of course there were several attempts. When it didn’t work the first time, I tried again – and again – and again. Is that what you call ‘unusual activity’?”
“I’ll transfer you to the Security Department and they can give you more details.”
“I’m calling from Russia. Don’t lose me!”
Of course, the line went dead.
I re-dialed and finally re-connected with Antoinette in Security.
“There’s been unusual activity on your card,” she repeated..
“What unusual activity?”
“There’ve been several attempts to withdraw money.”
“Last month you blocked my card because I hadn’t used the card. Now you’re blocking it because I have. Why?”
“I’m still looking at your records.”
“Do you know my age?”
“We have your birth date.”
“So you know my age! Are you blocking my phone number every month because you’re afraid I’m going to die over here?”
“Then why are you blocking my account?”
“I’ll try to connect you with the manager.”
Again the line went dead.
Went back to the ATM. Maybe they’ve at least unblocked it by now.
“We are unable….” GDSECSMFSOB!
Walked several blocks trying to find a place to buy another phone card. Apparently I’d used up all the time on this one.
Unsuccessful. I sat dejectedly in my apartment and pondered my options. Aha! Maybe it was my mobile phone that had run out of time. Yep.
Now to the internet salon across the street where I could use their phone for another phone card call.
Amazing! I reached them again.
“She’s unavailable. I can help you.”
So in absolute frustration and despair, I went through it all again. “So the first thing you can do is unblock my god-damned (didn’t say it, only wanted to) account.”
“Certainly, sir, we’ll do that right now.”
“Now, I do not want this to happen again! Ever!” I shouted. “You don’t have the slightest concept of the problems you’re causing me. I’d like to talk to your supervisor.”
Off the line, then back. “I’m sorry sir, a manager won’t be available for some time. Maybe you could call back tomorrow. In the meantime, we’ll make a notation that you are living in Moscow and have asked that your account not be blocked again.”
“And if you have any more trouble, please give us a call back.”
“You can bet your sweet ass (I wanted desperately to say it) I will.”
Finally, at 2 a.m. – three and a half hours after I had first set out for the ATM machine, I returned to my apartment with the 22,000 rubles safely tucked away in my sumachka.
Did I say safely? I hadn’t counted on twin Sergei’s larcenous fingers.
Four hours later, Zhorik woke me.
“Come here,” he said somberly. “Look in the kitchen.”
There it was in Sergei’s scrawl: Dane, forgive me, please. I won’t return again. I love you.
I dashed back to the bedroom. My sumachka wasn’t where I’d left it. Zhorik found it under the bed – empty.
GDSECKMFSOB! The landlady is coming in five hours and I don’t have any money. I have $ 17 left in the Sberbank account, $ 50 in the Raiffeisen account, and $ 30 in the BankAmerica account. What in the hell am I going to do?
While my 9:00 student Valera was here, I explained to him the situation and used his mobile phone (mine was still out of money) to call Natasha and explain to her what had happened so she wouldn’t make a trip for nothing.
She was very understanding. “Do you think you’ll have it by Tuesday? I’m leaving Moscow Wednesday and was planning on the rent money for my trip.”
“One way or another I’ll get it by then,” I promised. Though I didn’t have the faintest inkling how.
Valera began by paying me $ 100 in advance. Masha’s law office will give me $ 200 on Tuesday. That’s $ 300. And I have enough students to make up another $ 100 or more by Tuesday; but where’s the rest going to come from?
Ex-student, closeted gay, and old friend Boris came to the rescue. I put the bite on him this morning when he came to visit for the first time in many months – cute as ever. I didn’t feel too many compunctions, because last year he had said he wanted to buy a car and had asked if I could lend him some money. He changed his mind about the car, but the precedent had been set.
Yes, he could lend me 12,000 rubles – about $ 400 – for a week. The other Sergei will return my $ 1300 this week, and Potemkin U. will pay me $ 2100. I’m off the hook.
Zhorik was even more shocked and stunned than I was. “I don’t have any brothers any more,” he declared solemnly. “I don’t ever want to see them or hear from them again,” he declared.”
“Do you think Andrei had a hand in this?”
“Yes. I think they were working together.” For one thing, only the day before, Andrei had promised to repay the $ 300 he had borrowed. He had also bought a new battery for the truck and had put it in the hallway. It was gone. He hadn’t even said good-bye, much less repaid the $ 300.
The bright side of it is that they’re out of our lives forever. They will never walk through my door again; and if they call, I will hang up on them. So will Zhorik.
They also stole my new digital camera – no doubt to sell.
Zhorik also told me that the $ 200 he had borrowed from me last week had been at their request. They had demanded that he borrow it. He had at first said no, but they had insisted and threatened him physically if he didn’t.
“I’m disappointed,” I replied, “that you were more loyal to them than you were to me.”
“They were my brothers. They considered me their slave. They would have killed me if I hadn’t.” It’s probably only a slight exaggeration.
So adding up the $ 800 rent money, the $ 300 digital camera, the $ 200 they forced Zhorik to extract from me, the $ 150 they stole from Zhorik, and the $ 300 they “borrowed” from me, their “two-day” trip cost me another nearly $ 2,000.
As I’ve said a few dozen times before, the Twins Era is at an end. But this time it really is. Even I have had enough.