Somewhere in northern Spain, Dec. 10, 2012 – Dec. 7 was Pearl Harbor Day.
It was also the 35th birthday of my dear Russian friend Basil Kozlov, administrator of this site, sometimes editor, and always confidante. So I wish you a very public Happy Birthday, Basil. Thank you for being my friend and for all that you have done and continue to do to make my life more liveable.
It’s the Christmas season in Catholic Spain; no, make that “commercial season” here -- as it is in the U.S. Exactly when and how Santa Claus took over the spirit of Christmas is a question for history and sociology, but he certainly did.
The Christmas season was also a scourge in Orthodox Russia, where the mayor of Moscow declared it a punishable offense if stores didn’t have their Christmas decorations in place by the first of December! And if merchants don’t sell record amounts of trash in this season, it’s considered a financial tragedy – in America, in Russia, in Spain.
So it’s the commercial Christmas season. Grin and bear it.
After I sent Igor, the “Joe @#%^&*” in my life, the $ 80 for treatment, and another $ 200 to get back to a job in Moscow he said was waiting for him, I relaxed, feeling good about being a Good Samaritan and at last getting Igor off my back.
He had e-mailed me a recent picture. He’s lost a lot of weight and looks a lot more like the adorable teenager he was five years ago. I wrote and told him he was very handsome.
And so I continued in my ignorant bliss until I got this bombshell on Nov. 29th:
Hello, my dear Dane!
How are you? How’s your health? I miss you very much.
Excuse me, Dane, but I wasn’t successful in Moscow. My leg didn’t heal. Pus began to form (I’m very much afraid that they’ll have to amputate I got to Moscow and started to work. My leg got worse. It wasn’t completely healed. I worked with my bad leg, because I didn’t want to return to Moldova. But I couldn’t work any longer. My leg got really bad and swelled terribly. I came to Moldova to heal….That’s how it is. I don’t know what to do and who to ask for help. I’m very sorry, but it’s a very bad problem. I will take photos of my leg tomorrow and send them to you if you don’t believe me. I don’t want to ask you for any more money my dear Dane.. I just want to ask of you this one favor. I miss you very much. I love you, kiss you. 'bye. I await an answer.
Oh Christ. Just as I was beginning to get on my feet financially. And this won’t be a one-shot deal. He will ask me for more for treatment, then for more to return to Moscow, then for more….
He’s a bottomless pit. As bad as I feel about leaving him in the lurch, maybe to die or at least go through life with just one leg, I have to look after myself first. I’m nearly 80 years old with a funky prostate that could kick up any time and force me to return to the States. I have to have the money. I don’t have a “Dear Dane” that I can milk for money whenever I need it. Nobody is going to come to my rescue.
And so I reluctantly wrote:
My dear Igor,
I’m very, very sorry. That’s just terrible. I love you, but I can’t help you. I earnestly hope you get better,
Saturday, Dec. 1, I got this reply:
Yes, Dane, I understand….Excuse me…It’s just that there isn’t money or any possibility of any. There is no medicine…I’m afraid that it will get worse….and I soon have a trip on a long-distance truck (I didn’t even know he had a license!). That’s the way things are Dane :-((((. I love you, kiss you. ‘bye, I await an answer.
I had to stand my ground. There is no end of emergencies for which only my limited bucksi can provide the remedy:
My dear Igor,
I know how terrible it is. I wish you the best of luck
And then on Sunday, this final appeal:
Hello, my dear Dane! Help me as much as you can! Just what you can. $ 100 or even $ 80. Help me so it doesn’t get worse. You don’t want me to die, or lose my leg? I love you, kiss you, await an answer,
No, Of course I don’t want him to die or lose his leg. But I simply can’t send any more money:
My dear Igor,
I don’t have any money. I can’t help you. I’m sorry.
I lie awake at night worrying about him. But I’ve got to cut him off while I still have some money that I myself might desperately need
But, as I’ve observed before, Igor doesn’t give up eagerly.
Last Monday morning, Dec. 3, I had two more e-mails from him:
Hello, my dear Dane, if you can help with the medicine….Send $ 50 for treatment….I will treat it and then I will work on it myself….If you can. Help me? I love you,
But the second one was the real clincher:
Dane, don’t you love me any more? Earlier you helped me survive, you were my lifesaver….Now you’re hostile….I have it very hard, life has become very difficult. I am afraid, literally….Earlier you told me that you could send $ 100 a month to live on….I tried to work in Moscow. I wasn’t successful because my leg got much worse, terrible…. pus…For that reason I couldn’t work….There’s no money for medicine….My leg is getting worse and worse….I haven’t forgotten you, I miss you, I am ready to look on you as a relative, you are like a blood relative to me, I love you!
It’s not what I wanted to hear. I replied angrily:
My dear Igor,
Don’t you understand? I am almost 80 years old!!! I have to pay for medicine in Spain and travel to Morocco to renew my tourist visa every 90 days. I don’t have the money to send you $ 100 every month. I don’t know when I told you that, but it’s impossible! I love you, and I know that your health is not good. But I’m not to blame for that! Tomorrow I will send you $ 100. But you must understand that IT’S THE LAST TIME. I have sent you $ 5,000 – five thousand dollars – in the last two years and nothing has changed. I don’t have the money to continue sending you. Please understand: It’s the last money I will send you. Period. I wish you all the best, but you have become a stone around my neck. I love you, but there’s a limit, and it’s now.
Please don’t ask me for any more money. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have it.
I hope you get better quickly.
I will write you and give you the transaction number tomorrow.
The next morning I took money out of the bank, went to the Western Union office, and sent Igor $ 100, the last money I will ever send him.
Then I returned home and wrote:
My dear Igor,
Today I sent you $ 100. I want to say again: This is the last time I will send you money. If you ask for money again, I will erase the e-mail and won’t answer you. The average life span in America is 77 years. I should have died two years ago. Pretend that I am dead and can’t send you money. I wish you the very best, honey, but without money from me. I have sent you $ 380 in the last two months!!! And for what? You are still ill and still in Moldova!!! I need that money for myself!
I hope you get better quickly. I want to hear good news from you. But I won’t have any more money
I’m probably condemning him to death, but I can’t throw a drowning man my own life jacket Mother Theresa, I ain’t; besides, I’m not sure even she would have handed a drowning man her own life preserver!
Good news! On Nov. 21, I at last got another e-mail from Sasha:
My darling Dane,
I’m fine now. I’m out of the hospital. I miss you very much.
How are you? How’s your health, your work?
And what kind of weather are you having now?
You’re wonderful. I love you very much.
Of course, I answered at once:
My darling Sasha,
How happy I am to find out that you’ve left the hospital and are again healthy :-)))))
I am also healthy, but of course I miss you terribly. Do you think that you will come some day? I very much hope so.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in America. I have something to be very thankful for, that I’ve heard from you :-)))))
The weather here is good. Today it’s from 7 C to 15 (about 45 to 62 F)
What are you doing now? Are you working? Where? As what? Do you plan to come here?
Well, my darling. I am very happy to hear from you. I love you very much.
By the first Monday in December, Dec. 3, I had heard no more from him. I was quite concerned. How many times has he been days away from arriving to make my life complete, when illness has reared its ugly head?
Will he ever be my main squeeze, will he truly be my secret to being a toddler at 80?
Nothing to do but write:
My Darling Sasha,
How are you? Are you still healthy? Where are you living? What are your plans. Are you planning to come live with me? I very, very, very much hope so. I miss you terribly.
New Year’s is coming How wonderful it would be if you could be my New Year’s gift :-))))
In any case, write and tell me how and where you are. I love you very, very, very much and wait with hope.
I’ve heard no more from him. Will I ever? Without him, my life isn’t beginning at 80 :-((((((
Stop the presses – again! This morning I got another e-mail from him:
My darling Dane,
I also love you and miss you very much. I very much want to travel to you in Spain and live with you.
I am working now in Moscow, in order to come to you with money and invite you to a restaurant. I think I will soon be able to do that.
How are you; how’s your life; how’s your health? Is it cold there?
I kiss you and love you,
I immediately replied:
My darling Sasha,
I am very, very glad to hear from you. How I miss you :-(
Okay, my darling, if you want to work in Moscow, you can; but please not too long. I plan to meet an American friend in June in Morocco when I go to renew my Spanish visa. And maybe after this you can come to me. What do you think? It means you will have six months to work in Moscow, and you won’t have to worry about going to Morocco with my friend; and then we can live together happily ever after :-) Later, we can go to Morocco if you want.
Of course, if you can come before that, please come! But it will probably be easier, and you can work for six months in Moscow.
I’m fine, honey. Of course I am a little lonely without you, but I can survive till you come. I think my health is also okay. Vanya is now in Moscow, but I hope he will come in January.
Oh, well, my darling. I kiss you a thousand times :-))))) Again, I am glad to know that you are coming to me :-)))))
Your loving Dane
So, my book, Life Begins at 80, is still on, and I will actually be 80 by the time he arrives! What a happy day that will be. I’m still enough of a Pollyanna to believe that he will actually make it here!
In my letter to Sasha, I mentioned that I was meeting an American friend in Morocco in June. I was talking about Marco Cassone, my soul-mate and former house mate in Seattle. He was a founding member of the a cappella singing group M-Pact in the early 90s (they used to practice in my living room) and made his living singing around the world until recently (maybe he still does; we’ve been out of touch).
He moved to LA several years ago and is getting an advanced degree in something to do with communications. In early November we skyped each other and decided to meet in June in Casablanca. He has already bought his plane ticket and I will go, as usual, by bus. We are trying to get some other Seattle era friends to meet with us, like Dave Gremmels, Sydny Brown, Patrick Durban, and some others, but don’t know if we’ll be successful.
I want my friends to meet Sasha, but Marco thought a new face would change the dynamics, and he’s probably right.
Although I was madly in love with 23-year-old Marco when we were housemates in Seattle, we never had sex. He wasn’t attracted sexually to an old fart like me :-) And even though I was then a mere lad of 60, to him I was still an old fart, and you know how gay American laddies feel about old farts. I felt that way too when I was a gay young blade.
If Sasha should somehow be able to join us, that would be great, but it will also be okay if he wants to work in Moscow a little longer.
I travelled from Moscow to Tallinn, Estonia, when Marco had a singing gig there in 2004. The last time we met was in Dubrovnik, a breathtakingly beautiful walled city on the Adriatic Sea, in 2006. It will be a real joy to see him again and get caught up on all the gossip I’ve been missing :-)
“Socialism” became the word most asked about on the U.S. Internet as a result of last month’s election, according to dictionary publishers Merriam-Webster, followed closely by “capitalism.” So maybe, just maybe, now that capitalism is in its death throes, its adoring U.S. public will discover what it is – or was, and will consider the system – probably some sort of socialism -- that is going to replace it.
Internet consultation for “socialism” peaked during the Obama-Romney debates, when Romney tried to smear Obama’s health care legislation – which was copied from the plan Romney himself got passed when he was governor of Massachusetts -- with being a socialist ruse.
I, for one, am still shaking my head over that one!
But what I find more telling than that the American people are looking up the meanings of socialism and capitalism is that the American version of Yahoo news didn’t carry so much of a whisper about it.
The Spanish version did, which is where I learned about it!
To me it is simply more evidence of a corporatized American “journalism” that censors very carefully what you, the American voter and consumer, are permitted to know about your own country!
I have mentioned my Spanish neighbors before – Conchy, her husband Jose, her 14-year-old son Javier, and her mother Carmen. But in the meantime, I have become almost a member of their family.
Javi, pronounced “Hobby” because of the Spanish way of fucking up spelling and pronunciation, spent a month last summer as an exchange student with a family in Maine, and consequently speaks rather good English.
But Conchy wants very much to learn English too, and so I am giving both Javi and Conchy English lessons. Conchy, a teacher in a primary school here, is a very fast learner; but of course the couple of hours a week that she has to spend on English won’t help her very much – some, of course, but not a whole lot!
I don’t charge them for lessons. I have coffee with Conchy every afternoon and usually dinners with them on Saturday and Sunday. In a feeble attempt to repay them for my regular weekend lunches, I fixed Thanksgiving dinner for them the Sunday after T’giving. I made the scrumptious skillet pork chop barbecue with equally scrumptious rice, a slaw with walnuts and raisins, and the stupendously delicious baked eggplant my ex-wife Elaine used to make. They furnished the dessert, which I don’t do.
Conchy and Jose are probably in their early 30s. Jose is the kindest, most loving husband and father I can imagine. He is also an excellent cook and often fixes lunches on weekends. Neither he nor son Javi turn me on, which keeps things from getting too complicated. They also have a pet Yorkshire terrier, which is as loving and loveable as they are.
Jose is very “manitas,” or good with his hands, and has fixed my ancient TV several times. This past Saturday he took me to a nearby hypermarket to buy a piece for my TV, then came home and installed it for me. Klutz that I am, I could never have done it by myself.
I am very lucky to have them as neighbors and for them to have become such an integral part of my life. Having them to chat with daily is an immense assist for my Spanish, which has vastly improved since I began giving Javi lessons in September and started spending almost daily time with them.
They’re making the time I have to wait for Sasha bearable. I’m a lucky whomp!
If we are to believe the dire predictions that have sprung out of the Mayan calendar ending abruptly on Dec. 22 – which I don’t – this will be the last Fiesta Queen I grind out for you. In the unlikely event they should prove correct, here’s wishing you all the best in the next life. Although we may deserve to be wiped out like a cancer on the face of Earth, I for one don’t think it will happen that way.
If I am wrong, here’s to you!
In any event, have a Merry (commercial) Christmas and a Happy New year!
See you in January 2013 -- if we survive the Mayan “prophecy” and the more troubling and more certain “financial cliff” we’re about to tumble over.