Somewhere in Northern Spain, Jan. 23, 2013 – The first time I went to Morocco to renew my Spanish tourist visa in 2010, my buddy BB in Seattle advised me tongue-in-cheek to keep an eye peeled for the ghost of William S. Burroughs.
BB is a literary aficionado as well as a follower of the Beats of the ’50s. He was a close buddy of Beat artist Robert LaVigne in Seattle until in Robert’s old age (he’s five years older than I and as I write this, the only member of the Beats still living) he became paranoid and convinced that everybody – including BB -- was after his non-existent fortune. He’s still close to some of my Seattle friends, including Damion, now in NYC and Dave G in Oregon.
Anyway, I told BB that I thought Burroughs had spent his North African time in Algeria or Tunisia or somewhere else in North Africa. Morocco didn’t seem right.
But I discovered on this trip that I was wrong. BB, as usual, was right. Burroughs – and Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and most of the other beats – spent a good part of the early and mid-’50s wandering the streets and patronizing the ubiquitous cafés of Tangier, Morocco, about 35 miles from the landing place for ferries from Algecirus, Spain, 14 km across the Mediterranean from Tangiers.
Burroughs wrote most of his Naked Lunch in Tangier and Jack Kerouac typed it for him. Because Kerouac mis-read Burroughs’ scrawl for the actual title – Naked Lust – he mis-typed it “Naked Lunch,” and is credited with coming up with the name of the book.
After my earlier trips to Casablanca, I realized that I had wasted a lot of time – and money – by trekking a couple of hundred miles west of where we docked. I could take the bus instead to the city of Tangier, just a few miles from the port. Besides, I’d always wanted to see the city of Tangier, whose very name invites visions of mystery and intrigue. It was, after all, a major center for spies of all shades during WWII.
Blogger Sam Jordison, who wrote an article about the Beats in Tangier in the British newspaper The Guardian a little more than two years ago, illustrated his article with pictures of Ginsburg’s lover Peter Orlovsky, Kerouac, and Burroughs on the wide beach in downtown Tangiers.
Since Earth Day cofounder Sam Love has compared my blogs to Burroughs’ Naked Lunch – though I hope they’re not as lurid -- I felt a kind of obligation to pay my respects by visiting some of Burroughs’ old Tangier haunts -- the Café Paris and the Grande Café overlooking the spectacular downtown Tangier beach.
The Café Paris, only a couple of blocks from my hotel (the Tanjah Flandria -- Tanjah is the Arabic word for Tangier), didn’t look like it had changed from the ’50s (although surely it had) – sedate leather chairs and benches and grey-haired waiters silently serving the tea or café au lait, and a homeless Arab sleeping in one of the doorways outside. Not a word was to be found about Burroughs on the walls – only the mandatory picture of Mohammed VI, the current youthful king of Morocco.
Since it was about lunch time when I finally found the Grande Café, I ordered eggs and orange juice. The eggs were wonderfully fresh and the OJ freshly squeezed, and at a little less than $ 3, reminded me just how cheap Tangiers is to live.
This was confirmed when I dropped into the American Language Center. There, Director Mark Holbrook, a native of New Hampshire, told me that rents in the city of three-quarters of a million people are cheap – 200, 300, and 400 euros. As inviting as it is, I have opted against living there because it’s an Islamist country, where people can go to jail for what Sasha and I did in Moscow and hope to do in Spain.
On Monday morning, Jan. 14, I got a call from Vanya in Spain. Pepe, a prominent Spanish businessman and the father of Vanya’s former boyfriend, had dropped dead of a heart attack! At 72, seven years younger than I, he was one of the few Spanish gents that I would call a “don,” and a respected and respectful friend.
He had invited me to a Christmas Eve dinner at his home, which I had to beg out of because at the time the lumbar region of my back was hurting so bad I could hardly walk.
The funeral was held the next day, while I was traveling, so I didn’t have to attend. I hate funerals because they are so sad. I cried when I extended my condolences to Vanya’s former boyfriend. I would have been a mess at the funeral.
The mid-January weather in Tangier was exemplary – around 11 to 14 degrees C – 54 to 60 F – and perfect for the light coat and warm velour vest I had brought. But they were no match for the wintry blasts of the Mediterranean seaport when I arrived to catch the ferry back in Spain. The port facility, where I spent about four hours, had no heat and all the doors were open, with nothing to block the wind.
We were then bussed to the ferry, where the entrance to the boat, usually protected by lengthy outdoor “hallways,” was wide open to the elements. By this time I was shaking with cold.
I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday my throat started getting sore, and by Wednesday night I had a full-blown case of the flu. My sleep was frequently interrupted by coughing and spitting fits and an aching head; Thursday night was even worse, and by the middle of Thursday night I thought I would be seeing Pepe a lot sooner than I had planned.
Friday morning’s dawning to downpouring rain, through which I had to trek to the hospital to pay the final 50 euros for my September prostate visit, didn’t help any.
But miraculously, the worst was over and by Saturday I was my old self. My resilience and natural immunities at almost 80 surprised even me. Maybe life will begin for me at 80 :-)
This was in serious doubt when Sasha didn’t show up as expected back in October. It was the 4th time he had failed in his promise to come to me and make my old age a happy one.
Sitting in my apartment alone one night, I got a text message from Igor: “I’m on Skype.”
As we chatted, I realized that I hadn’t heard anything from Sasha for 10 days. Igor was begging me to go to St. Peterburg, Russia, with him. The cost of living is drastically cheaper than Moscow, and we could probably both find work and live very well. The twins are in jail and we wouldn’t tell anybody that we were there.
It suddenly seemed very alluring. I think I would still have difficulty getting a visa; but then I remembered Rob Jenske and Language Link. I would write Rob and see if he would hire me and give me a Language Link apartment in either Moscow or St. Peterburg.
In the meantime, I would go to Moldova to renew my visa in March, and Igor and I would try the sex thing again.
Igor and I agreed to get on Skype again the following night.
The next day, Dec. 20, I had an e-mail message from him:
Hello, my dear Dane!
I was very glad to see you and hear you on Skype! I am very glad that I can communicate with you and that we can see each other! I would very much like to come to you and live with you, Dave, as we did in Moscow! But unfortunately I don’t have such opportunity and no money :-( Here in Moldova there is no work to earn money….I would work if I had the opportunity…
I have a little problem; I write to you in secret …Several times I haven’t been able to get a hard on. I’m afraid it’s the same kind of problem I had earlier….Urethritis…Now I can’t even get it hard enough to stick it in….:-(
There is some good news!! I still don’t drink or smoke….and I don’t want to….
And there is one question….Only don’t be offended….You won’t have the possibility of helping a little for New Year’s? If not, I won’t be offended…
Everything is normal….Thanks for helping me….
I love you, kiss you, ‘bye! I await an answer and will be on Skype….
My dear Igor,
Thanks for your great letter. I am sorry to hear about your problem. Unfortunately, I’m not a doctor, and don’t know what to tell you. As you know, I have a problem with my prostate, and I have the same problem. I can’t get it up :-(((((. I’m afraid I may have to go to the U.S. to treat it.
(That’s a little fib. I can get it up, but pictures, e-mail, and my lonely little hand aren’t enough to make me come. I’m afraid I need a live body with cock attached. Whether the cock is attached to Sasha or to Igor, I think would not be important, although maybe it would because Igor never came when I visited him in Moldova in 2010. Maybe it was because of the urethritis?)
But I’m glad that you don’t smoke or drink. As you know, I never smoked and now don’t drink. Like you, I don’t want to.
New Year’s, like Christmas, is for children. So I’m sending you $ 50 for Alyona’s son Denis. You can buy him clothes, and maybe a toy.
I’m also glad that we’re on Skype and can see and talk to each other. Oh, by the way, I said that I would come to Moldova in March. It won’t be March, but April. I have to leave Spain every 90 days. I need to go in January and then again in April.
Okay, honey, that’s all for now.
Love to everybody,
On Dec. 22, two weeks since I’d heard from him, I wrote another e-mail to Sasha:
I am thinking of you. How are you? It will soon be New Year’s.
I love you and miss you.
On Dec. 28, I got another e-mail from Igor. He hadn’t been on Skype for several days because the computer on which Igor communicated, including for Skype, belongs to Alyona; and they had had a lover’s spat – maybe because Igor couldn’t get it up to stick it in. Anyway, he said:
Hello, my dear Dane!
Thank you very much Dave for the money :-) I gave Denis a gift and my brother and Mama!
…With this money, Dave, I also bought medicine….A preparation called “Tribelus” packed in 60 tablets, 3 tablets 2 times a day….It’s for 10 days. I need 30 days for a full course of the medicine….I need to buy 2 more packages….in order not to get sick again and for me not to be impotent and to be able to get a hard on.
(His brother) Denis is ill, he doesn’t have the medicine that he needs….He has TB :-( There wasn’t money to treat him :-( That’s the way it is, Dave….
It will be really great, Dave, if we can live together in St. Pete! And I will look after you and we will live as before, and even better….We will live together, work, and go for walks...I will give you massages so your back doesn’t hurt!
As for Romania, come! We will meet each other and stay in a hotel there. Then we will come to Moldova…but I don’t want to stay long in Svetliy….We have one house, we all live together in one house…and you, too, when you are here, will be together in one house. So we can look for an apartment or something in Kishinev. I am looking forward to your coming! I will be very happy that you come, and I will see you and hug you and kiss you!
Get on Skype today! We will talk….I kiss you, love you, miss you. ‘bye. I await an answer.
Hello, my dear Igor,
Yes, we will meet in Bucharest, and them go to Moldova. Maybe we can find a cheap hotel in Kishinev and them go for one day to Svetliy.
I will write a letter to Rob Jenske, chief of Language Link, and ask him for a job teaching in Russia.
How glad I am to get your letter. I am also glad that you bought gifts for Alyona’s Denis, your brother, and your Mama. Honey, today I will send you $ 50 more to buy medicine.
I am very sorry that your brother Denis is ill; but unfortunately, as you say, that’s life :-) I wish he hadn’t taken drugs in Moscow. Even so, I am very, very sorry.
Yes, honey, it will be great if we can live together in Russia. I wrote a letter to Rob Jenske, the head of Language link, and asked him for a teaching position again in Moscow or St. Peterburg. I hope that it is successful.
Yes, honey, we will talk tonight on Skype. I will wait till I get a message from you.
I also love you, miss you, and kiss you.
And finally on Dec. 29, almost three weeks after his last e-mail, I wrote Sasha again:
My darling Sasha,
Happy New Year, my darling. I’m writing to wish you a Happy New Year, but also to find out what your plans are. I’ve been waiting for you for a year and a half, and I’m beginning to ask myself if you’re really sincere when you say you want to come live with me.
Igor is begging me to move back to Russia and live with him; I would like to, but I really deeply love you and would prefer to live with you, but I’m beginning to think you don’t really love me.
Please make some kind of commitment now. If I don’t hear from you, and if you don’t come by the 1st of June, I will plan to move back to Russia in the fall of 2013.
In the meantime, have a happy New Year, my darling. I wish we could be together for New Year’s; but hopefully soon. Remember that I love you deeply, but I need to know your plans so that I can make some plans of my own for what’s left of my life :-)
I love you and miss you deeply,
The same day, I wrote Rob Jenske asking him for a teaching position either in Moscow or St. Peterburg and for a Language Link apartment. I realized that he might be in France to spend the holiday with his daughter and that it might be weeks before I heard from him.
Dec. 29 was also my oldest brother’s 89th birthday. I sent him birthday wishes and he mentioned in reply that he and my ex-wife Elaine had chatted by telephone a few nights before, and that “she said when I communicated with you to be sure and express her love and best wishes. She still thinks you are the kindest, most thoughtful man on earth.”
Wow! That’s quite an accolade! I have in the past communicated to her my need as a gay man in 1965 to be independent and free to pursue my own passions. She in turn has been very supportive and kind over the years.
Anyway, my brother’s comments prompted me to write Elaine a letter on Jan. 1, New Year’s Day of 2013. Since she doesn’t have a computer, I scrawled by hand:
Happy New Year!
How are you feeling? When I talked to you from Bob Fletcher’s home in 2010, you were not feeling very well. I hope things have improved for you. How are Zola and Clyde? Does Clyde spend most of his time in Florida or in Panama?
Please excuse the handwriting. My handwriting has been terrible since I took the course in speedwriting in Orlando in 1960. I usually type my letters, but since you don’t have a computer and I don’t have a printer, I’ll try to make my handwriting legible enough for you to read.
I’m doing well here in Spain. Unfortunately, the economy is in a shambles, and there is very little opportunity for teaching here. A friend and I started a school, but the economy tanked, and I am down to only two or three students, so I’m primarily living on my Social Security, which fortunately is adequate here in northern Spain. I only pay 180 euros (about $ 250) for a relatively new, very convenient apartment, and groceries only run about $ 100 a month. My biggest expense is having to renew my tourist visa every 90 days, which I do by traveling to Morocco for three days.
I have some very nice, kind neighbors here with whom I have coffee every day and Spanish meals on week-ends. The husband, Jose, is also very handy with tools and electronics and has fixed my computer, my TV, and my wardrobe. Conchy (short for Concepcion), his wife, is an elementary school teacher and she and I trade language lessons – I give her lessons in English and she gives me lessons in Spanish. They have a 14-year-old son, Javier (nickname Javi – pronounced Hobby – their “Js” are pronounced like “H’s” and their “Vs” like our “B’s”. They also pronounced soft “Cs” and all “Z”s like “th”, but they have no “th” in their language. It’s all much more complicated and difficult than it was in Miss Ellsworth’s 8th grade class at Cherokee Jr. High School almost 70!!!! years ago.)
Anyway, Hobby spent a month in Maine last summer and speaks rather good English. I also give him English lessons 3 times a week.
I sent a birthday wish to Arnold, who just celebrated his 89th birthday, and he said the two of you had had a nice telephone chat, and that you said some nice things about me, for which I am very grateful. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, but I’ve written in my (as yet unpublished) memoirs that you are one of the angelic figures in my life. Mom, of course, was one and Ken DeHaven was one, and there haven’t been many more. But I am eternally grateful to you for your unfailing patience and kindness; and I will always hold you in a special place in my life.
Arnold’s comments reminded me that I haven’t called or written for a very long time. One reason I haven’t is because Sasha, my boyfriend in Moscow, has been promising to come to Spain for a year and a half, and I thought I would wait till he got here, but illnesses have kept getting in his way. The last time he was supposed to come was Oct. 21, but he said he came down with a severe case of bronchitis, had to go to the hospital, and couldn’t come :-( This has happened so often that I’m beginning to think it’s a ruse.
In the meantime, another Russian boyfriend, Igor, who now lives in Moldova, where I have visited him a couple of times, is begging me to go back to Russia and live with him. Moldova is an extremely poor country, and it’s impossible for him to find work there, but he could find work in Russia if he could afford to get there. He, too, has had recurrent health problems, but now seems to be okay.
In the meantime, I aint gettin’ any younger, and I’m not getting any healthier. As you know, I’ve never smoked and haven’t consumed alcohol since I came to Spain. I had three minor strokes in Russia, but have been to doctors both in Russia and the U.S., and my heart problems seem to be completely under control. But at my age, something could always go wrong. I had a bout with my kidneys and prostate a couple of months ago that cost me 350 euros (about $ 500), and I can’t afford any more of those.
VA treatment for me is free, and it’s possible I will have to go back to the States for medical treatment at some point, but orphan child that I am :-), I have no place to go. A friend in Seattle has said I could live with him, but I don’t know him that well, and don’t know how that would be. I also have a friend in Ashland, OR, who has said I could live with him, but I don’t know how accessible VA care would be in Ashland – not very, I assume.
Which brings me to Orlando. Unfortunately, there’s no family left in Orlando except you, if I may consider you “family.” I would assume that your garage apartment is rented, which rules that out; and since I don’t know when or if I will need to return to the States, I wouldn’t think of asking you to hold it for me. Which brings up the question of renting a bedroom in your house. I have become a pretty good housemate over the years, and I could help with the cooking (I’ve become a pretty good cook over the decades) and the dishwashing. I’m still a lousy housekeeper and won’t promise to vacuum :-) but otherwise I think I’m a pretty good housemate.
Ideally I would either stay here in Spain with Sasha or move back to Russia with Igor, but in an emergency, and if worse came to worst, would it be possible to rent a room in your house? My sister Nadine lives in nearby DeBary, but she has become a complete recluse since her husband Floyd died a year ago, and doesn’t even answer my letters. Her son, my nephew Dennis, is moving to an isolated town in Virginia which is many miles from a VA facility.
My apartment was stolen in Moscow (yes, those things happen in Russia) which probably cost me a quarter of a million dollars between loss of the apartment and the necessity of paying Moscow rents (when I left Moscow, my rent was $ 1400 a month!!!!) I have asked my former employer in Russia, an American with whom I became good friends over the 12 years I lived there, for a teaching job and a Language Link (the name of the company) apartment and health insurance, but haven’t heard from him. I hope his answer will be “yes,” but I can’t count on it. I am, let’s face it, getting to be a crochety old man :-) that he may no longer want as a teacher.
I know you don’t like to write, but maybe you could answer this letter? I’m a big boy, so don’t be afraid to give me bad news.
I hope you had a pleasant New Year’s celebration, and that 2013 (13 is supposed to be an unlucky number :-) will prove to be a good year for you. My neighbors invited me to see the New Year in with them.
Oh, yes, I’ve started a new book, “Life Begins at 80,” but hopefully I’ve got a long ways to go before I finish it.
As you can see, I’ve got diarrhea of the pen and can’t quit writing, but I will force myself to.
Happy New Year. I look forward to hearing from you.
But finally, on January 3, an e-mail from Sasha changed everything:
My darling Dane,
I very much want to live with you and love you very much. In June I will come to Spain with you.
I’m fine and my sausage is always ready for you.
You don’t need to live with Igor. It’s a bad idea. Believe me. Igor needs from you only money. He doesn’t love you. In Russia you will have a lot of problems. You will always be nervous and stressed out. Living in Spain is a lot better. And how will you get to Russia? Do you have a visa? Without a visa, you can’t go to Russia.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Good health to you and luck!
Everything he said was correct. But I’ve indicated to Igor that I will go to Moldova in April and will bring him here in the fall if I can’t go there. I will have to do some fast backtracking.
But unfortunately Igor wasn’t on Skype either that night or the next. On Saturday I wrote him an e-mail:
In the meantime, here’s what I wrote Sasha:
My darling Sasha,
Again, how glad I am to get a letter from you. I miss you so much and am so lonely that I thought if you’re not coming, maybe I could live with Igor as a poor substitute. But I really don’t want to live with Igor. I want to live with you; and I’m so happy that you want to live with me.
No, I don’t have a visa for Russia, and I would have a lot of problems. Yes, I would always be stressed out and nervous. I agree that it’s much better to stay here in Spain and live with you. I am so glad you are coming :-) How I love you and your sausage :-) Bring it to me so I can enjoy it – and you!
My darling, it would be better, since you are going to wait till June, to come after I return from Morocco. I will meet my American friend there June 16-22. So by June 30 I will be back in Spain. My birthday is July 6, so if you could come by July 1, you and your sausage would be the best-ever birthday present :-))))
I can’t wait until you come. Please don’t disappoint me again. Come straight to Madrid (if you fly) or to my town (if you come by bus). If you fly, I will meet you in Madrid and we will come together by bus to where I live.
Where are you working? Are you earning good money? Do you like your work? Where are you living? Is it cold? It’s not cold here.
Well, my darling, that’s all for now. I love you and miss you very much. I hug and kiss you in my dreams.
All my love,
On Saturday afternoon, Jan. 4, I bit the bullet and wrote Igor:
My dear Igor,
How are you? I have some bad news and some good news for you. The bad: I received an e-mail from Sasha and he’s coming in June. So I am staying here with him. I have a very, very small apartment and there’s not room for three people; and so I can’t send you money to come here in the fall.
Also, it means I have to save my money so I won’t come to Moldova in April.
Now for the good news: I will send you $ 100 in April and $ 500 in August so you can go to Russia and find good work.
I’m sorry, honey; but it would be difficult for me to return to Russia. It’s easier – and better – for me to stay here in Spain, and there’s not room for three people :-((((
My computer wasn’t working yesterday, so I couldn’t get on Skype. Now it’s working and I can talk on Skype this evening.
I hope that we can talk this evening.
On Sunday, Jan. 6, I got a terse reply from him:
I knew it all along, Dane, you love Sasha more.
I couldn’t deny it. There was that letter to Sasha which I mis-sent to Igor back in 2011 in which I plainly stated, “I love Igor, but I love you more….”
But I felt I had to respond with something, so I wrote:
My Dear Igor,
To tell the truth, I love you both, but maybe Sasha a little bit more. And if something happens that he’s not able to come, I will send you money so that you can come here if you want. Remember, I haven’t sent him any money.
He was obviously hurting and chaffing at the news. On Monday morning, this was waiting on my Internet:
Hello, my dear Dane!
I understand that you haven’t sent him anything….Sasha has a mother and a father who earn a lot of money, and they live in Russia.
I live in Moldova; I have no profession and no money, no work….Understand, that if I had money, I would have gone to live with you a long time ago. I would have gotten a visa. But I haven’t been able to earn any money….I would like very much to live with you, Dave. Has Sasha really done more for you than I have? You have become to me like a real grandfather….
We could live together as before, better than then….I don’t understand why you don’t want to. I hope you will change your mind or we can live together, Dave, three in one aparment….in Moscow there also wasn’t a lot of room….We lived normally.
I kiss you, love you, await an answer
Jan. 8 2013
My dear Igor,
Let me explain some things: First of all, Sasha doesn’t have a father either. He doesn’t even know who his father was. Yes, his mother works and earns in Russia, but not in Moscow. He has had no help from her since he was 16. He’s very smart, and so was able to go to the university free, where he learned a profession – computers. He works and earns money in Moscow.
Honey, I understand – if you had had money you would have come to me a long time ago. I didn’t have money either. But now Sasha is coming and I have a very, very small apartment with only one room
:-(((( !!! The apartment in Moscow was three times as big. I also have only one very small bed. Besides that, my landlady wouldn’t allow it.
As concerns your profession: You had a profession in Moscow as a cook, but you threw that away when you and Ira split. And I sent you money to learn cross-country truck driving, but unfortunately, you couldn’t finish the course.
So now let’s look at things: The situation now – you are in Moldova and I am in Spain. Sasha says that he’s coming in June. If he comes, that will be great for me, and I will send you money to go to Moscow and find good work. If he doesn’t come, I will send you the money so that you can come here. But it’s impossible for the three of us to live in this small apartment. We must both be patient and see what happens. Okay, honey?
I love you and miss you,
The next day I received a reply:
Hello, my dear Dane!
Sasha’s mother and stepfather helped him ….His mother doesn’t work in Moscow, but in Russia. She had her own business.
He didn’t finish his programmer’s course. He enrolled in it but didn’t finish it….Katya then (he doesn’t say when; he told me on Skype that it was not recently) told me that he wasn’t in a hospital and that he then didn’t work. He lived with con artists and thieves at a railway station….That much I know.
I have never lied to you, Dave….If I am ill then I am ill; if I work, I work….I have aways loved you and love you now, and am ready to look after you as an old man,,,,.Even if I have a wife and children…I will look after you. Now I have problems, you understand….If you have problems, I will help you….
Sasha is young, he will marry and leave you….Remember my words, Dave….But you must decide….
I am sick now. I am lying at home. My temperature is very, very high and my throat hurts…It’s very bad. Mama went somewhere, There’s nobody here. I had a quarrel with Alyona. Well, that’s the way things are now. I kiss you, love you, await an answer.
It was a very sincere letter. I had to answer it, but how?
Hello, my dear Igor,
Thanks for the information. You told me some things I didn’t know; e.g., that his mother and stepfather helped him and he didn’t finish the course. Some of the other things, I’m not sure whether I knew or not.
You didn’t tell me when Katya said he wasn’t in the hospital and wasn’t working. And when exactly was he living in the train station with thieves?
I know you have never lied to me, honey. You have always told me the truth as far as you knew it. But I will take him at his word for now. If he doesn’t show up in June, that will mean that he’s lying, and we will act on it then. I’m not ready before then to act, in any case.
I’m very sorry you’re ill and that you and Alyona had a quarrel. It seems to me that it happens fairly often, but since I’m not coming to Moldova in April it doesn’t affect me too much. All the same, I’m sorry.
Okay, honey, that’s all for now. I hope that you will soon feel better.
When I returned from Tangier on Jan. 15th, there were 40 letters waiting for me in my mail box, including this one from Sasha:
My darling Dane,
How are you? I’m fine, I’m waiting impatiently to see you.
I decided that girls don’t interest me any more. I want to be with you.
I understand that this sounds very strange, and maybe you don’t believe me, but that’s the way it is.
Many boys my age probably would like to be with you only because of money (For example, Igor, who loves only girls, and from you he wants only money – this much I know!) I don’t need money from you, I have money. I need only your love. That’s the truth. That’s the only reason.
I kiss you, hug you, and miss you very much, my darling.
Wow! That’s a very sweet letter. If he’s sincere, it’s all I need to know. I immediately answered him:
My darling Sasha,
I just returned from Morocco to renew my visa. I had a good time, but of course Morocco is an Islamist country, so homosexuality is strictly forbidden. But it’s a very nice country and the people are very nice – although straight :-( Maybe you and I can go there together sometime.
By the way, have you thought about when you’re coming? In May and we can go together to Morocco to meet my American friend, or in June after I return to Spain?
Yes, you’re right. After a year and a half and you still didn’t come, I began to think maybe you didn’t really love me and maybe I should live with Igor. And so, my darling, much depends on what you do in May or June. If you again don’t come, I’m afraid it means you don’t really love me and I should look somewhere else, understand, honey? I love you very much and want to live with you, but if you don’t come in May or June, I’m afraid that everything between us will have ended. Don’t let this happen, please, my darling. Come in May (or maybe sooner) or in June after the 22nd.
Please come to me quickly!
Imagine my relief and happiness when I got the following:
My darling Dane,
I am coming after June 22.
Igor loves you only for your money. In reality, he loves only women. Dane, believe me! I don’t need women.
Just think: What does Igor write to you about? Probably only about his illnesses and that he doesn’t have work. And he uses that as an excuse to ask you for money. I know many poor people from small villages in Moldova who still find work and earn money for bread. But Igor doesn’t want to work or to study. He’d rather live off you. Of course, it’s a lot easier!
Forgive me, my dear, but I need to tell you all this.
I must say, it warms the cockles of my nearly 80-year-old heart to have two 23-year-olds fighting over me – even at a distance. I will take everything Sasha says at face value – until the next time he fails to show. I love him desperately. I immediately answered:
My darling Sasha,
Thank you very much for the letter. Of course, you are right about Igor. I feel sorry for him. He has had lots of problems, I know, but even so, I don’t have enough money to continue to help him.
I’m mindlessly glad that you’re coming after June 22nd. When exactly, honey, the 25th? 30th? When exactly so I can plan and wait impatiently.
I love you very much and I’m very happy that you are satisfied to live with me and not with women :-)
When you come, I will teach you English and Spanish.
P.S. Write when you can
On the 19th of Jan. I remembered that Sasha’s birthday is around the 20th – but exactly when? So I wrote him again:
My darling Sasha,
How are you? I think about you a lot. By the way, I think your birthday is sometime in January, but I don’t know when. I think it’s about the 20th, but I don’t know. Tell me when it is and also how you are, etc.
I love you and miss you very much.
In the meantime, Igor is continuing to lobby for us to live together and to knock Sasha:
Hello, my dear Dane!
How are you? What’s new, how was the trip? What are you doing?
I’m still alive. I’m existing. Dave, I know an awful lot about Sasha and about everything, that you don’t know, that I didn’t tell you, and I will keep everything to myself…What does your Russian friend tell you about Russia? I await an answer, love, kiss, miss.
Your loving Igor
Of course I had to answer him. “I’ll be flip,” I smiled to myself smugly:
My dear Igor,
I’m fine, the trip was fine, not much new, but a good friend died. He was 72, and I’m nearly 80!!! It was his heart. I take medications for my heart, and I think it is OK. All the same, I’m an old fart and have to take care of myself.
Vanya says that everything in Russia is okay. He misses his daughter.
How is Denis, Alyona’s son, and Denis, your brother?
Okay, honey, that’s all for now.
I intended to be flip, but I forgot that I was dealing with Igor, intent, one-track-minded Igor:
My Dear Dane,
You’re not old! Don’t be stupid. You are still young and I need you, both for morale and in general….You are a really good person, and I love you like a relative. I have never lied to you or cheated you. I have always wanted to do the right thing and not offend :-)
You are very dear to me….And I want very much for us to live as before, to look after you, to take care of you, so that you aren’t disturbed or upset. If we live together I will always look after you and care for you. Be assured, if you get sick, God forbid, I will take care of you. I am prepared.
And you, don’t you want this? I hope that you can decide the question so that you can return to Russia or invite me to you. I hope that you love me as before!
I love you, kiss you, bye. I await an answer
I had to answer and to keep alive the slim chance that maybe Sasha won’t show again and I’ll bring Igor here:
My dear Igor,
Thanks very much for your letter. Yes, I feel young, but I know that I am old – not dead but old :-) Honey, I’m not ready to decide whether to live with you or Sasha. Only in the summer can I decide. In the meantime, let’s continue our relationship – writing, etc.
How are Alyona and her son? How are your brother and mama?
I know that it is boring for you, but try to keep busy and interested. I think working out in the gym is a good idea.
I love you,
In the meantime, I’m all starry-eyed over a Spanish waiter in a café near Vanya’s apartment that we stumbled onto quite by accident. The first night we were there, Vanya noted that the waiter, Santiago (that’s his real name) was eyeing me furtively. He is unquestionably friendly and warm. Once he even winked at me. As we left that evening, he asked Vanya where I was from and what my native language was.
The Spanish use the word “gay” for “gay,” as do the Russians; and “maricon,” the slang Spanish for gay, is about as insulting as “fag” in English, so we couldn’t use that. Since Vanya speaks German with roughly the same level of fluency – or unfluency – as I, we resorted to the German “warme bruder” to express our convictions about Santiago.
While I was in Morocco, Vanya found out that he is from Venezuela. He speaks some English, so on our first visit after my return, I offered to trade him English lessons for Spanish. He would, he said, but he doesn’t have time. His only day off is Sunday, and on his day off he spends the day visiting his son.
Son? There’s only one way to get a son, and that’s by sticking your tallywhacker into a cesspool of iniquity!
But let’s think this over: Vanya is gay but has a daughter, so we reasoned that Santiago could also be gay and have a son :-)
In the meantime, he is so warm and friendly, and so glad to see us when we come, that he’s feeding my forlorn fantasies and I’m walking on air. He’s probably 21 or 22; and I, remember, will be 80 next July. For the first time since I’ve been here the difference in ages doesn’t scare me. I think we will get to know each other much better and if there really is a god, maybe we will even have sex :-)
Are you listening up there?
In an earlier column, I wondered why the number 13 is considered unlucky in the U.S. Maybe I have the answer. It may have been “purposely vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of western civilization because it represented femininity,” according to Internet research.
The article points out that “Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures…because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days)….
When “the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization, it is surmised, so did the ‘perfect’ number 12 over the ‘imperfect’ number 13….”
So the ascension of 13 as an unlucky number may have accompanied the rise of the patriarchal society.
Others have noted that Judas constituted guest number 13 at The Last Supper, and that there are 13 steps leading to the gallows from which many were hanged in England during the Middle Ages.
Somewhere in there is probably the right answer.
The psychiatrically approved word for “13-o-phobia” is "paraskevidekatriaphobia" and at the turn of the century psychotherapist Dr. Donald Dossey, coiner of the term, speculated that as many as 21 million Americans are “paraskevidekatriaphobic.”
For instance, would you set your wedding date for the 13th? No? Maybe you’re one of those too.
On the other hand, my wife and I were married on the 13th, and look what happened to us! Maybe we should have been "paraskevidekatriaphobes” :-)
I continue to wax ever more hopeless on the presidency of Obama, the ruthless power of banks and money in the Western world, the dying throes of capitalism, the rejection by the U.S. of anything that sounds socialist – and the utter horror with which the word “Marx” is regarded in America.
But maybe, just maybe, the U.S. is beginning to wake up to reality.
A seminar on “Capitalism as Power, Rethinking Marxism” is scheduled for Sept. 19-22 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
For further information, contact Jonathan Nitzan, Political Science/Social and Political Thought, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario, M3J-1P3, Canada.
This day years ago:
2008-1-24: Chapt. #276 - Putin succession battle brings uncertainty to Russia too