Treacherous Denial

At seventeen he told me that he was never going to have children. I asked him why.

“I can’t do what you do,” he said.

Of course I know enough about psychological signs to know that he was telling me he intended to dodge the realities of life. I didn’t see what I could do about it at that time.

When he was about twenty, he was lethargic and sedentary. If I’d seen any other boy living in such a pattern, I’d have immediately guessed that he was a drug addict.

I was living in a distant city when my son called asking for money. I told him to go to my closest friend for it, and I’d pay my friend back. My friend, who is the founding president of his company, had a visitor in his office when my son was invited in to get the money.

As soon as the boy left with the money, the visitor commented, “The kid’s a junkie, eh.” It seems the visitor was a recovered heroin addict, and he recognized the signs. My friend was stunned, because he was in denial just as I was. As I said, if I’d seen any other young man with my son’s behavior, I would have known at once that he was an addict. But, because it was my own son, it didn’t occur to me, nor to my closest friend.

I warn you to avoid denial if you can. To subconsciously overlook something obvious is to succumb to denial. Denial can cause one to miss facts like your roommate is stealing your cosmetics; or the girl just doesn’t really like you. If you’re alert to denial, you might save yourself some unpleasant surprises.

Other people knew my son was a heroin addict. His mother and sister knew, and feared to tell me. I imagine the discomfort my friend suffered, when he knew he was going to tell me. That’s how I know he’s a true friend. He lives by a strong moral code, and recognizes that right and wrong are separate entities from legal and illegal.

Of course, the money I had given my son from time to time was spent on heroin. A star sapphire ring, a family heirloom that I passed on to him, went to the drug dealer I now realize. Similarly, a very elaborate breathing system I bought to protect him as he was working with fiberglass in the hulls of large sailing yachts under construction. I suppose he never used it, but traded it for heroin.

Beware of denial, because it sneaks up on you and could hurt you.


The (Drudge) Lady of the House

We all knew that Claire’s home would be perfect, as always. I confided in Lois that it was difficult to understand her horrible personal taste in clothing, considering the absolutely flawless design and colour pallet. Her home is the epitome of aesthetic perfection, yet her wardrobe seems to be made of dishtowels and drapes.

“I suppose it takes all kinds,” Lois said

“Some kinds of aesthetic decisions should be stopped,” I said.

“How could one do that?” Lois said. I paused a moment.

“I’m going to confront her with it,” I said. “I’m going to ask her why her home is so perfect, yer her fashion sense is lacking.”

About ten days later, after I had confronted Claire about her aesthetically perfect home and less attractive garments, I phoned Lois.

“What did she say?” Lois said.

“She dropped her clothes off, right there in the kitchen,” I said. “Then she said, ‘What do you see?”

“What did you see!” Lois screamed into the phone.

“I see a stunning body, a gorgeous face without a speck of makeup, flowing black hair and legs that are long, and beautifully shaped, as is all of her. That’s what I told her. She said that she used to dress in fashion, with good aesthetic designs and fabrics. Men would not take her seriously, nor would they leave her alone. She shows herself to men that she chooses, and the rest of the time, she lives her life unmolested.”

via Daily Prompt: Aesthetic

Arthur Was an Author

I met Arthur Closden last year, at the “No Shame” after hours club. I don’t go there often, but when they have a jazz musician that I like, I spend the entire evening at a side table near the front. I like to relax to the music and draw the musicians and audience members as the music inspires moods in me.

On this occasion, the group was Theresa Margolis and her band. The drummer, the keyboardist and the bassist were always with her throughout her career. I had long been a fan of the Margolis group, so I spent the evening, as I’ve said, at the table, sketching the musicians and some of the patrons. It was a rich treasure of characters.

One character was Arthur Closden. He studied the room from the entrance doorway, seeking a table in the full-house club. I watched as he spotted me, off to the side at a table alone and immediately made his way in my direction. He flowed among the tables like an eel gliding through obstacles. His long, boney legs moved with a smooth, swift gait that brought him to my table in just a few seconds.

He towered over the table from the opposite side, his long, boney face disguised by a handlebar mustache and long goatee. He wore a straw farmers’ hat and a thick tweed jacket with worn and faded leather patches on the elbows. His trousers appeared to be from a pinstriped suit, and the cuffs crumpled on well-worn desert boots from a previous era. Nothing on him was harmonious with anything else on him.

“D’yuh need ‘dis whole table?” he said, a threat hidden in his voice.

“Not at all,” I said. “Take a chair.” He didn’t say thanks, he just sat down and took a lined notebook out of his jacket pocket and three partly worn pencils. He ignored me, so I was able to watch him openly. I sketched him while the band got settled for this final set. When they began to play, I ignored Arthur and started sketching the musicians. I didn’t notice him watching me as I sketched until he asked me what I was doing.

“I’m just doing some preliminary sketches that I can refer to later, if I want to develop them further,” I said.

“You uh artist?” he grunted.

“An illustrator, actually,” I said. “I just like to do random art for my own pleasure.”

“D’yuh put it up anywhere?”

“Do you mean show? Not yet. Don’t know if I ever want to.”

“Dat’s idiotish.” He scoffed. “Yuh might git money!”

“I’m well paid for my illustrations, but I do them to order, for clients. I believe that putting a commercial motivation into my personal work would taint it.”

“What d’hell you talkin’ ‘bout?” he barked. “Y’some kinda commie?”

“I do my work in my studio, and earn a living at it.” I said. I was getting pissed off with Arthur Closden. “When I do things like these sketches, I’m nourishing myself, and this nourishment isn’t for sale”

“Well,” he said, “eva’ting I write is fo’ sellin’.”

“Have you published anything I might have seen?” I said.

“Can’t,” he said. “Damned publishas an’ mag-editers doan know nuttin’ ‘bout lit’rature. I outta kill ‘em all.”

“I’m sure you don’t mean that, friend,” I said. He was quite strange. I didn’t know what he might do.

I didn’t see Arthur Closden around for several weeks, and I forgot about him as my life filled up with other activities.

The next time I saw Arthur’s face, it was on my desktop monitor. He had used a high-powered hunting rifle to murder two publishers and three editors. I thought it was all talk, like Don Trump claiming he’s the rightful president of the United States. I wonder if I could have done anything to stop Arthur… or Donald.

Women Should Run Society – Seriously

The best way to understand the curse of sexual violence is to view our society as we would observe wildlife societies among mammals. Of course they are sometimes brutal and always in pursuit of preservation of the self and the species. It is the way nature meant it to be, and it is essential to life among all species. Based upon these natural facts, it shows that the female of the species takes care of the essentials for survival.

The male animal always wants to copulate, and the female animal must understand that. The female needs to be ‘in heat’. The scent reaches males, and they fight for the right to mate with the female. The winner gets the female and impregnates her. It works out – nature’s design – that the female’s body is ready to have an egg fertilized. Nature’s design has the male always wanting sex because the urge is to have one’s genes carry on into the future. The male has to deal with the fact that there is no ‘ready’ female around. That’s why groups of males are seen lying around in the sun.

Coming to our own species, a high level of primate but still primates, we are basically the same as all the other primates and all the other mammals. We males always have the urge to mate, and the females have to be in the mood. On the downtown streets of any city, men on the street are dressed for comfort, labour, or business. The women on the street are usually attractive. Some women, of course, are asexual, and they look it. But women who are truly alive look sexual. Their necklines, their hemlines, legs and shoes often appear to be designed to attract males – but they are not! Women dress for other women, to look good among women.

This is where the imbalance comes into our society.

Beautifully turned out women attract men, even if they don’t intend to. Sometimes, they do intend to attract a man… or some men. How are we to know what’s going on in her head? She might not even notice me, or she might be hoping I speak to her. When we’re old enough to have the experience, we can tell how she’s feeling some of the time. When we’re young, women are frightening and full of mystery. That never goes away completely.

Women have the stronger spirit. That’s why they can survive and even excel in a society full of men. Men who lack sensitivity and respect for the enormously important roll women play in society are the ones that live in fear of women and fight desperately to overcome it, violently. When a man deserts a woman, many times they rise to heights that they never expected to attain. A woman will do what she has to do to defend and nurture her home and family. Many men can do the same, and are successful at it. At the same time, too many men cop out on the serious matters of life.

Little girls grow up to be women. Little boys grow up to be big boys. It’s up to women to make us do the right things, and when they succeed, we men become better people.

The Rich Man Who Didn’t Want To Be

Irwin Kalbin was born into a comparatively wealthy family. Not wealthy like billionaires with homes all over the world and yachts in Monaco, but wealthy with a nice city home on a well-groomed corner. It was groomed and sculptured by Margeson, the gardener. And there was a lakefront home with boats for each kid in the house and charge accounts for gas – in the boats and in our cars. Each had the car of his choice: one drove a Corvette, one drove an MGB and one drove a Pontiac GTO.

There was the Northview Golf and Country Club and the Island Yacht Club. Dress codes, schedules, and boredom. At the golf club, the game was: “A nice walk spoiled,” as Mark Twain described it. Irwin hated the game. He hated the ‘hoity-toity’ attitude of the members. They’re the kind of people who have the club send a warning letter to anyone underdressed in the dining room, or failing to wear whites on the courts.

The people around the pool were wealthy scum. Fat old guys with thick cigars clenched in their teeth as they played poker at poolside tables. Their fat old wives gushing out of bathing suits that never get wet. Their hair is dyed and sculpted. It could never get wet until Desmond washed and styled it the next day. Then it could not get wet again. Nor could it get messed, should Lionel paw her for sex again so soon. Lionel was obliged to enjoy trysts with Dorothy Logan from receivables, upstairs. Her husband is a long distance hauler, so he is usually only home on weekends and some Wednesdays. Lionel and Dorthy enjoyed a wonderful love life, but that’s another story.

Usually, when with the family at the summer home, Irwin went off alone, either hiking into the forest or canoeing out to distant shores, rocky coves and deserted islands. It was there that he began to feel that this was his preferred environment. He realized that he was never fully comfortable in the city. He could handle himself well, either on the roads jammed with vehicles or on the downtown sidewalks where any kind of shady dealings might be going on.

Irwin abandoned his family. They provided a wonderful life for him, but it was the life that they desired. They had worked hard and been successful in achieving their goals of wealth and social acceptance. Irwin found it hollow, stagnant with no perceivable advantages. He told them goodbye and he went off to find his life. His pickup truck would be ideal for making his way in a small village or as a farm hand.

He made good friends among the farmers and townsfolk. He was hired to herd cattle or sheep, sometimes goats, and gathered maple sap in early spring. He helped to raise a barn, he became a member of the volunteer fire department and avoided religious attachments. On one occasion near the Christmas season, Irwin Kalbin went alone to a concert at the Catholic church in a nearby town. Local people were led by the lady who owns the pig farm because she is also a music and singing teacher. It was a nice, wholesome event with nice people on the stage and in the audience.

A very pretty young woman was seated next to Irwin. She left her seat for a few minutes. She returned a short time later and slipped a note to Irwin. It was an invitation to a community dance the following weekend. Irwin accepted and accompanied Beverly to the dance. He enjoyed the event and the company so he began to date Beverly regularly and soon they were lovers. But that’s another story.

She Killed Kenny

Kenny was a good-looking guy. He was very shy and a bit plump until he got into his teens. At about fifteen, he began to acquire a man’s physique, and the ‘cute kid’ look to his face morphed into one of the most handsome faces most women would ever see… and some would never forget. His face was oval, and his features were well defined, but not so sharply as to consider it ‘chiselled’. He remained shy.

He actually did not realize that not all young men had an easy time getting dates and girlfriends. Added to his personal appeal, he was wealthy as well. He drove a Cadillac sedan for utility and a Chev Corvette for fun. He was a part of a group of eighteen to twenty year olds who lived the same part of the city. The girls and guys in the group were of more or less middle class families, except for Kenny’s, which was upper middle.

Kenny married young, at the extreme urging of his mother. Kenny had an adventurous spirit, and had sought excitement in some dangerous ways. He had done some cliff climbing in Montana, wilderness camping and canoeing, sometimes in winter, and began hang-gliding in the Sierras. His mother lured him home with the gift of a perfectly restored, pearlescent white Jaguar XK120. Once home, he was carefully led to encounter his former high-school sweetheart, Bonnie.

Bonnie was the ‘nice girl’ in high school, and Kenny wanted a nice girl. He was sensitive to the thought of ‘his girl’ having sex with another boy – or girl, perhaps. Bonnie was pretty, slender, and simple. Her mother was a gentle ‘stay at home’ and her father was a handsome, shy fruit and vegetable vendor. He and his older brother learned the trade from their father, and continued the trade after the old man retired. Kenny’s car cost almost as much as Bonnie’s home, but that meant nothing to Kenny. Bonnie was the kind of nice girl he wanted.

Bonnie’s parents were terribly intimidated by the sumptuous wedding – paid for by Kenny’s parents, of course. The marriage went on as marriages often do, for seventeen years and produced two children. For the duration, Bonnie remained, as always, nice, if a bit cold toward intimacy. At the same time, Kenny’s spirit led him to seek adventure in all things. He provided well for his family, and raced cars, raced boats, and enjoyed risks.

The marriage dissolved amicably, and Kenny enjoyed a period of promiscuity very much. He had been in the marriage cage for almost two decades, and he burst out of it like a rodeo bronc, leaping from the gate. He had been lusting after a girl in the office, a temp named Brenda, in the steno pool. He began an affair with Brenda. They moved in together in a neat apartment near the water. Life was fun, and centered on lots of good sex.

Gradually, Kenny began to see the flaws in Brenda. He learned from her that she had been a stripper, and actually preferred to do that. She was just taking a break from ‘dancing’ as she called it, by taking the office job. Kenny began to notice some behaviour that looked to him like she was a sociopath. She seemed impervious to having feelings for anyone else at any time. She returned to exotic dancing.

She didn’t need the money, of course. Kenny was supporting them both in high style. She just liked to show herself because she was a severe exhibitionist. She most often ‘danced’ at a strip theatre rather than bars. She felt that in bars, she was just a bit of entertainment on the side while the folks came to talk and drink. In the theatre, the only reasons the people are there is to see the dancers. In bars, total nudity was not legal, but in the theatre, she could be totally nude and even show her private parts. Brenda liked that better.

One night, when Brenda got home, Kenny smelled another man on her. He began to work off his feelings, getting her out of his system. On another occasion, she had sex with a man that is a public figure, seen on a daily television show. She was happy to tell Kenny about it when she got home. Thereafter, she began to watch the man’s show, which she had never done before. That helped Kenny to turn off his feelings toward her. He spent two weeks finding her a cheap place to live, took her belongings to her parents’ home, and was done with her. He understood that she was a sociopath.

Kenny set off on another period of pleasurable promiscuity. He dated beautiful women, single mothers, elegant professionals, doctors and lawyers. On one occasion, Kenny was featured in a newspaper story and a television newscast. A woman had asked him to accompany her to a very grand opening of a Broadway show. She was Mrs. Carter, older than Kenny, and the widow of high society’s highest highbrow. They made the media light up, as the society lady and her arm candy.

She picked him up in her Grosser Mercedes, with George, the Danish driver, at the wheel. They arrived at the theatre amid the swarm of fashionable ladies and conservative gentlemen. As show time drew near, people began to turn toward the theatre entrance. Mrs. Carter was feeling a chill in the evening air so Kenny took her up the wide steps ahead of the others. At the top step, Kenny saw Brenda facing him. She looked bad. Her hair was multi-coloured and a tangled mess. She wore a white coat that he had bought for her, and it was stained and dirty.

“Brenda!” Kenny said. “What are you…”

Brenda took her right hand out of her coat pocket. It held a small handgun. She aimed at Kenny’s forehead. He was only a few feet from her. She pulled the trigger. He died.


Mark used to say ‘tender when he meant pretend. He was my cousin, a few years younger than I was. I was about fourteen I guess, and Mark would have been about ten. On rare occasions I would be sent to Mark’s house for lunch because my mother had to be somewhere. That was rare. My father, on the other hand, was always somewhere else.

On those occasions when I ate at Mark’s, we’d eat together. His mother, Aunt Sylvia, my mother’s older sister, would serve each of us a large soup bowl of creamy mashed potatoes. No meat or other vegetables, just mashed potatoes. I pretended it was a proper lunch.

This Thing between Males and Females

I’m not a confused kid. Far from it. I’m what is often called a “geezer”. For many years, before I grew into geezerhood, I was a “ladies’ man.” I didn’t play many sports because I’d prefer to sit in the stands and enjoy them with the girls. When I did do a sport, it was usually one that would attract women; water skiing, racing (sports cars, speed boats, sailboats) and canoeing.

I don’t claim to understand “women”. Each woman is an individual as is each man, and must be accepted as she is. Rather, this is about we males and females and what we think we want. I admit to confusion as I observe the machinations wherever I see society.

I have had occasion to drive through a deeply Hasidic neighbourhood. On the streets were the hurrying men, all in black with wide-brimmed hats. Women pushing carriages, carefully covered with long, heavy fabric dresses, stiff wigs and covered heads. Boys,  many boys, teenaged boys and girls are also in the garb of their sects, with long curled earlocks hanging out of the boys’ black hats. The orthodox Jews are trained to avoid any physical arousal, hence the unattractive costumes.

On the streets in the Hasidic area, shaded by broad maple trees that line the way, there are, of course, non-orthodox people. Some Christian families and non-observant families are within the neighbourhood. On a summer afternoon, a trio of splendidly slim teenaged girls are gabbing together while walking up the street. Their cut-off jeans are cut to near nothing, and their tank tops revealed movement beneath them.

I focused my attention on a pair of Hasidic teenage boys. For a moment I wondered how they felt about the heavy, black costume and hats in the heat of a summer afternoon. I watched intently to see them sneak peeks at the splendid girls just ahead of them. It didn’t happen. The two boys kept their heads down, faces turned somewhat toward each other, and never a glance and the girls. I imagined a conversation they might have been having.

“I love the legs on the blond with the tight top.”

“I prefer the short one with the suntan. I wonder what she looks like naked.”

“Don’t speak so. The rabbi will know.”

“I wish I could just touch one of them some day.”

Of course, if the boys had been “real” boys. In other words, boys that had not been brainwashed from birth, they would have been walking with those girls and looking for ways to be intimate with them, because that’s the way life and society are. The poor boys were trapped in a cult into which no sane person would voluntarily join if they weren’t forced to believe a bunch of balderdash.

My conundrum is this: the girls are dressed to be as attractive and appealing as they possibly can. It would please them to be approached by boys, although they would likely feign a lack of interest. Life has taught me that the girls are interested and defense demands that they protest… until one boy comes along that suits one girl. One after the other, as they grow and mature, they will mate.

Every boy wants every girl. That’s how nature intended, and it is true of every mammal species. Females, on the other hand, are attracted to males that they judge to be stable, reliable, and capable of supporting a family. It’s only natural.

Some women choose mates that will join into a great party time. Those relationships are rarely happy or long lasting. It’s better to not be taken in by the brilliance of a flair that will soon burn out and be dark. The candle, burning gradually, offers time to make wiser decisions that could lead to a better life.

Old Age is a Different Life

Do you ever think about your later life? I never did. I am surprised to find myself nearing my eightieth year. I am surprised about almost everything that happens now. I suppose most guys think about their later life when choosing life insurance and career paths. I doubt they think about the way their past will look in the future.

I’ve lived in a few different cities and countries, so I didn’t keep in touch with the people I knew from high school and teenage activities. Now, in later life, I hear about people I knew. Two girls I dated in high school are long dead. One had become a doctor and the other a music teacher. The music teacher had been my first steady girlfriend. We were ‘a couple’ from ages fifteen to eighteen. We went on dates by bus and streetcar until I got my license to drive.

Learning of the passing of my old girlfriend made me wonder about other people in my long trail of life. Sometimes it’s bad. I had to learn that a best friend who was a successful entertainment lawyer representing big-name stars, is now a disbarred cocaine addict. He and I married identical twins. Another old friend shut me out on facebook and another one shunned me on the street. Now I fear that my old friends didn’t actually like me.

I was not really typical as the rest of the guys and was kind of an oddball to them. I was artsy and creative, not an athlete but a dedicated womanizer. My family was more wealthy than theirs too. Perhaps they didn’t like the way I behaved, and I regret the loss of their positive feelings. I guess they never had positive feelings toward me, but I didn’t know.

On the other hand, some of my mistakes and misjudgements and failures have died with the people who were involved or friends who were aware. Along with the sense of loss of some friends, there is a burden lifted because of the death of others. People who held secrets that I wouldn’t want divulged are dead. If they truly kept the secrets, be they personal or business, then the secrets are safe for eternity.

Be prepared. In later life, memories you didn’t know you had come back to you. You learn of the death of some people whom you loved and regret their passing. You learn of the death of other people and you are relieved that you and some of society are safer because that person is gone.

Some people don’t deal with the aging process well. I had one friend of several decades whose mind began to go astray as we aged. In retrospect, I can recall that he had several peculiar quirks and opinions when we were young that developed into an anti-social way of life. He was intelligent, good looking and a great story teller, but his mind broke. He died earlier this year, and I was glad to hear of it because I’d been concerned as to what became of him. I had employed him for six years on my hobby farm. He was a horse enthusiast and had considerable experience so I had him stay on the farm and look after the horses: four Arabians and one Morgan. He went away sometimes and became less and less diligent around the farm so I took him home to his older brother.

Another episode in my life died with him, and here I am, still kicking. Another friend of about fifty years is near my age and we speak daily on the phone. He lives about three hundred and fifty miles from me and calls me several times a day to just talk. Sometimes current matters, sometimes our favourite sport – formula one – and sometimes we analyse our similar yet different ethnic roots.

I have a brother who is ten years younger than I am. He lives on the other side of the country, about five thousand miles west. He’s coming to visit next month and I’m eager to sit with him and sort out who I am. We had another brother, about halfway between the youngest and me, the oldest. The middle brother passed away a few years ago from leukemia. He didn’t like me much, and I hope the youngest will be able to tell me why.

All these important things happen when one is in the final ten percent of their time in life. The main thing about life is, all you’re given is an unknown amount of time. Any hour could be your last. You know that’s true, in today’s unkempt society. Therefore, every minute should be lived well, as well as possible. Not dedicated to wealth, but dedicated to honour and generosity. Most importantly, do what you like because to do otherwise is to squander the time you’ve been given to live. Live it well.

As Gloria Steinem said: “Most people my age are dead.” It’s truer every day. People keep dying and I’m still here. I wonder why.