Chapter 41 – Sailing My New Love

I am no longer marathon walking, as the years of pounding the pavement have taken its toll on me, as have the sports injuries from my youth. Like everyone, a half a century young, I have many bumps and bruises. One of my ankle ligaments is now completely gone. I had walked enough, between the miracle surgeries, to stay alive. When I stopped, my testosterone levels plummeted. The same doctor who fought the insurance companies on my behalf, saw this in a blood test and immediately put me on hormone therapy. He said I was going through “manopause” and my hormones were off from the sudden change in lifestyle.

He implanted some Tic Tac sized pellets in my abdomen that helped my body manufacture more testosterone. My body made a ton of it. All a sudden I was losing weight. My belly that had been growing, without explanation, melted away, well, most of it. I started to grow hair all over my body and I woke up with a woody every day. It was like I was fifteen again. While I had remained mostly celibate for several years, I was now hornier than a hotdog on Viagra. I wanted to stay committed to my sexual sobriety, but there was just no way. I had come full circle. Shortly after putting myself on several dating services as “Husband 4 Hire,” I started to get tons of likes, winks and chat requests. I had girls from around the globe contacting me through online dating services. Big data and members of those networks, were spreading my profile all over the world. I already made the decision to meet my soul mate organically, so although I chatted with hundreds of women, I only dated a handful. One such woman joined me to go sailing, but as it was raining, we never made it out of the marina. We put the time to good use and were all over each other.

I am no longer marathon walking, as the years of pounding the pavement have taken its toll on me, as have the sports injuries from my youth. Like everyone, a half a century young, I have many bumps and bruises. One of my ankle ligaments is now completely gone. I had walked enough, between the miracle surgeries, to stay alive. When I stopped, my testosterone levels plummeted. The same doctor who fought the insurance companies on my behalf, saw this in a blood test and immediately put me on hormone therapy. He said I was going through “manopause” and my hormones were off from the sudden change in lifestyle.

He implanted some Tic Tac sized pellets in my abdomen that helped my body manufacture more testosterone. My body made a ton of it. All a sudden I was losing weight. My belly that had been growing, without explanation, melted away, well, most of it. I started to grow hair all over my body and I woke up with a woody every day. It was like I was fifteen again. While I had remained mostly celibate for several years, I was now hornier than a hotdog on Viagra. I wanted to stay committed to my sexual sobriety, but there was just no way. I had come full circle. Shortly after putting myself on several dating services as “Husband 4 Hire,” I started to get tons of likes, winks and chat requests. I had girls from around the globe contacting me through online dating services. Big data and members of those networks, were spreading my profile all over the world. I already made the decision to meet my soul mate organically, so although I chatted with hundreds of women, I only dated a handful. One such woman joined me to go sailing, but as it was raining, we never made it out of the marina. We put the time to good use and were all over each other.

I thought that I could get to know a woman through a pen pal style relationship. I soon learned that who people say they are and who they really are, rarely match. I had at least ten women try to scam me for money, pretending to be in love with me. I was never fooled and kept most of those dialogues in archives. They are pretty funny. I have made hundreds of real friends via social networking. My online friends or contacts, became the only social life I had, while I was walking and recovering. My social network became my support group, as much as I became theirs. Many who were reading my posts, were battling adversity as well, and shared their experiences in addition to their chapters of love.

I’ve been told many times that I missed my calling. I should have been a therapist. All I was doing was being honest and giving people hope. I am a perfect example of, no matter what your organic destiny, or your genetics, which my health issues stemmed from, miracles happen every day. I am one of those miracles. I connected with many people who showed me love and helped me through my bleakest moments. I also connected with many of my chapters of love who were following my story; although, at the time, I had no idea they had any interest. When I went back and read my former posts, I realized that pain killers act like truth serum. Despite my memory issues, when I meditated and was relaxed, I could recall so much more about my life than I ever could before.

It was as if my brain connected so much more with the love than ever before. I felt the love in my heart I had lost for so long. I now no longer try to fix every woman I date, or seek out women with broken wings. I do not confuse compassion and empathy with love. I have come to know love at a deeper level than I had ever known it. Deciding to live my life, for several years, without sexual or romantic relationships taught me what love is really about. My life-long obsession with sex and love was over. My quest for a true soul mate had started. I still reflect on my chapters of love. I continue to be surprised every time a new memory pops into my head. I run to my computer or cell phone and write it down. For the first time in a year, I took a five-month hiatus from trade brokering and everything else, to edit this novel.

I have taken all my testosterone-induced energy and focused it on restoring a classic Tartan 33 sailboat. Sailing has become the way I escape the limitations I have on land. I am not quite one hundred percent, as the years of surgeries, disease and stents have made the arteries in my heart rigid. When it’s too cold, I am limited. I feel my heart beat much stronger on those days. It is not a comfortable feeling. It’s not life threatening, just a limitation. Hopefully, one day, some genius scientist will figure out a way to make arteries flexible again. When I am sailing, I mostly use my upper body and I can go almost anywhere. It gives me the greatest feeling of freedom I have had since I got sick thirty years ago.

Restoring that sailboat also brought me closer to my son who I gave the sailboat to. It was his graduation gift. While it was maybe a bit much, I was able to obtain the entire sailboat, slip and restoration in trade. My angels took a risk on the trade and it paid off. It was the first time I could give them anything back, for their years of support and generosity. It felt good to give and at the same time be able to give to my son. We had no idea we would love sailing together so much. We are a very good sailing team, despite our few fender benders, when we first started sailing. So far the winter has been very mild, but the cold days are truly challenging. Still, I would not live anywhere else. I hope that in sharing my stories, and chapters of love, I have somehow helped others heal their own hearts, or at least entertained them with my journey. I will post the rest of my stories and chapters of love. I have come to realize that I have lived such a different life, that it is worth sharing, as are the many more chapters of love I can remember.

Even now, as I write this, I am chuckling, remembering the time my friend Peter and I were going to meet two of his Sunday school classmates. They were sisters and wanted us to come over the night Sunday school ended. Their parents were going out late and had made it clear, ironically in Sunday School, that if we came over we were both going to get lucky. We put our white shirts and ties on and waited. They told us to come over after their parents left and gave us their address. We were both so nerdy. It was hilarious. He bought flowers for the older sister. He was a year or two older than me, so it made sense. As far as I was concerned, the younger sister was much hotter anyway. We knocked at the door, but no one answered. Then, through the window, we saw them with nothing but bras and panties on. They signaled to us, giggling and looking through the curtains, hiding themselves. They wanted us to see them half dressed.

They eventually opened the door. They had tons of makeup on and were wearing the Sunday School outfits they wore to mass that night. They invited us in. We all sat on a couch drinking Kool-Aid and eating chips. We were talking about who was going to be with whom. It was similar to a business negotiation. The younger sister was conducting the meeting. They made us both promise that we would not tell anyone, made sure we both had condoms, which were a bitch to get back then; and that we were going to be gentle with them. They both then went to their rooms to change. As soon as they were ready, they were going to call us simultaneously to have sex with them. They wanted to lose their virginity together. They went into their rooms. We were surprised they were going through with it. We were both nervous. Just as they called us, the door behind us opened and we heard their father calling them. They were yelling, “We’re ready,” “We’re ready.” Their father didn’t see us. As soon as the door opened, my friend bolted into the kitchen and I followed. Unlike most houses, there was no back door, just a staircase to the basement. He ran down the steps and I followed, thinking he must know something about the father I didn’t. I practically flew down those steps.

As we learned, there was no way out from the basement either. After making that discovery, Peter climbed into the dryer and shut the door. By that time, the father was calling “Peter,” “Peter,” come up here. He just stayed in the dryer. I was not about to climb into the washing machine. Finally, the girls’ father came down the stairs and looked at me dumbfounded. He asked where Peter was. I pointed to the dryer. At that moment, the door opened and he tumbled out. He tried to tell him that we were playing Hide and Seek, but he knew it was bullshit.

When we got back upstairs, I just sat there. The girls were mortified. They couldn’t believe how badly Peter screwed up. If he just stayed in the living room, their father would have left in two minutes. He just came home to get some show tickets he and his wife forgot. We would have had the time of our life. Instead, he sat there red-faced and was blasted by the girl’s very religious mother and father. It was one of the funniest things I ever saw in my life. Every time I looked at the girls we started laughing. Neither Peter nor the parents seemed to find any of it amusing.

Peter never did hook up with the older sister. She hated him after that debacle. As soon as the younger sister was no longer grounded, we met at the park and had a very sweet one-time encounter. It was on the black railroad train that was a major attraction in Eisenhower park. However, when I think back, what immediately comes to mind isn’t the encounter in the park. All I could picture was my friend Peter, tumbling out of that dryer.

 

Chapter 5- Midwest Farmer’s Daughter

I was promoting a nightclub and bartending in the early eighties. Eventually I found myself bartending at the Palladium, in downtown New York City, the largest and most popular nightclub in the world, at the time. It was an incredible time for music. MTV was all the rage. I was actually featured on the first MTV music awards, drinking champagne and toasting with Mark Goodman. BB King, Robert Palmer, Robin Williams, Andy Warhol and Deborah Harry, were just a few of the celebrities that I hung with at my bar. Hundreds of other celebrities, in the peak of their careers, came to the club and drank with me. In truth, they were not drinking with me, but at my bar in the Michael Todd Room. It was there that I bartended for many celebrity parties. I was in my early twenties and getting bookings that would have me flying around the country. I stayed in places like the Beverly Hills Hotel.

I photographed everyone from Miss Canada to Andy Warhol, Deborah Harry, Mohammad Ali, Brooke Shields, Patty Duke, Tina Louise, as well as other actors and celebrities I had seen on television most of my life. I was even invited to Tina Louise’s (Ginger on Gilligan’s Island) home for tea and to pray with her minister. That same minister invited me to photograph the King of Tonga and to become his personal photographer, offering me an enormous amount of money. I didn’t, because I was concerned about leaving New York City when my career was exploding. My popularity was growing exponentially and there seemed to be a never-ending source of clients who wanted me.

It was a surreal experience. Not only did I tend bar at the club, but the manager and head of security often had me personally work the VIP list and the ropes at major events like the Directors Guild of America Annual Awards Ceremony. I kept a tux in my locker and I was “that guy.” I had no idea that it was such cool thing. I was just working. Initially I preferred to be inside, at the bar, flipping glasses and meeting beautiful women. After a while, I realized that being, the club gatekeeper and holder of the VIP list made me considerably more desirable. Women thought it was a position of power, but I had no power at all. I simply followed the list, except for that occasional hot model who wanted to slip through.

I was promoting a nightclub and bartending in the early eighties. Eventually I found myself bartending at the Palladium, in downtown New York City, the largest and most popular nightclub in the world, at the time. It was an incredible time for music. MTV was all the rage. I was actually featured on the first MTV music awards, drinking champagne and toasting with Mark Goodman. BB King, Robert Palmer, Robin Williams, Andy Warhol and Deborah Harry, were just a few of the celebrities that I hung with at my bar. Hundreds of other celebrities, in the peak of their careers, came to the club and drank with me. In truth, they were not drinking with me, but at my bar in the Michael Todd Room. It was there that I bartended for many celebrity parties. I was in my early twenties and getting bookings that would have me flying around the country. I stayed in places like the Beverly Hills Hotel.

I photographed everyone from Miss Canada to Andy Warhol, Deborah Harry, Mohammad Ali, Brooke Shields, Patty Duke, Tina Louise, as well as other actors and celebrities I had seen on television most of my life. I was even invited to Tina Louise’s (Ginger on Gilligan’s Island) home for tea and to pray with her minister. That same minister invited me to photograph the King of Tonga and to become his personal photographer, offering me an enormous amount of money. I didn’t, because I was concerned about leaving New York City when my career was exploding. My popularity was growing exponentially and there seemed to be a never-ending source of clients who wanted me.

It was a surreal experience. Not only did I tend bar at the club, but the manager and head of security often had me personally work the VIP list and the ropes at major events like the Directors Guild of America Annual Awards Ceremony. I kept a tux in my locker and I was “that guy.” I had no idea that it was such cool thing. I was just working. Initially I preferred to be inside, at the bar, flipping glasses and meeting beautiful women. After a while, I realized that being, the club gatekeeper and holder of the VIP list made me considerably more desirable. Women thought it was a position of power, but I had no power at all. I simply followed the list, except for that occasional hot model who wanted to slip through.

I was living downtown, on Thompson Street, in a third story walk-up. It was in the heart of the art district where all the movie stars lived back then. There was a definitive artsy and gay tone to the neighborhood and it truly was a neighborhood. It made for easy access to the Palladium, which was located between 13th and 14th street, just a bit uptown. Later, I upgraded to a penthouse duplex when the dollars started rolling in from photography and bartending. All in all, it was a wild New York City lifestyle that lasted for over a year, until I moved back to Long Island. There, I experienced hundreds of chapters of love. Far too many to write about. They were typically short in nature. I simply could not keep it in my pants. I would wake up in the morning and go to the beach with 2-5 international models and shoot their portfolios. By dinnertime I would be at happy hour and then work until four AM. I was going 24/7 for the most part, just occasionally coming up for air. We would always be at the beach before sunrise, as that was the golden hour, so I only had to carry my camera and a reflector. There was no need for bulky lighting setups. At times, I would fool around with one of the models at lunch and then with another while I was bartending, or afterwards.

But there was one girl who captured my heart while I was living in New York City. This was despite the fact that I was completely insensitive to her needs. It was the only time in my life that I was with a girlfriend and still living the playboy lifestyle. I simply could not choose between the two. We were neighbors in the apartment building. Since I was living in a duplex, her second-floor door was right at my first-floor entrance. I thought she used that door because she lived on the second floor. Later, she admitted that the only reason she used it was to intentionally run into me.

She was exceptionally cute and the first Midwest farmer’s daughter I ever met. This is no exaggeration. She truly was a farm girl. For her, the city was a circus and she loved it. She would come out of her door at the same time I did and say sweet things like, “hey neighbor what you cooking?” With that, she invited herself for dinner. We hooked-up every chance we could. I had a balcony facing a huge Upper East Side courtyard, a block or two from Central Park. Her balcony was just underneath mine. I would intentionally go out onto the balcony with my guitar and sing love songs until I got a response from her. I would leave my door open and wait for her to enter.

When she did, I stayed right on the balcony. I wanted her right there. It was an exhibitionist thing. Before you knew it, we were both naked on that balcony. If you had a decent pair of binoculars, or a telescope, you could see everything. We pretty much knew it, but that was what made our relationship so unique. We both loved it. It was kinky and outrageous. We knew others were watching. It was a turn-on and an extreme public display of affection. I never did anything like it prior. I have no idea what motivated me. We said we would never fall in love, that we were just neighbors. But, when your hook-up hundreds of times, sometimes several times a day, you develop feelings for each other. That is when everything went wrong.

After bartending, I was bringing models home in limousines. Sometimes, even two girls at a time. We were making all kinds of noise right above her bedroom. Even though we said it was going to be casual between us, it never truly was. She started to get jealous. When I would sing on the balcony she would say things like “can’t you shut that thing up,” or, “do you have a volume control on that contraption.” She would be steaming and I didn’t understand why she was upset. I thought we were just neighbors who were hooking-up. I was also regularly dating other girls. I was naive enough to think that if I kept the music loud she would have no idea what was going on. We never said anything about being exclusive, but man did she get pissed-off when the music started. I would hear things banging downstairs and all kinds of obscure rantings, but she never said anything to me. Every time I saw her, she was that same cute country girl, “hey neighbor, you have any butter?” which was her way of saying can I come in and can we hook-up. It was always something like that; milk or salt or pepper and it always meant the same thing, great care-free sex. She would refer to me, when her roommates were around, as her sentimental fuck… so why would I have thought anything different?

Of course, over nine months it came to mean more than that. Until I was in the same situation, I had no idea what she was feeling. The first time I heard a man’s voice in her apartment and what sounded like sex, I went into a jealous rage. What made it worse was that I thought I knew who the man was. It sounded like my landlord…our landlord. I was upstairs hooking-up with one of my regular girls from the Palladium and she was hooking-up with our landlord, who was thirty years older?

When I saw her and asked if she had a man over, she denied it completely. She swore I was dreaming or hallucinating. She played it very cool, as if nothing was wrong. Soon I was the one yelling down the balcony, as it became a regular event for them. It got to me. Jealously is a much stronger emotion than love. At one point, my landlord, who I was friendly with, invited me to California to shoot for Vidal Sassoon. I went just to get away from it all. I never had any proof and did not want to approach the subject with him, as I was making a lot of money from him and his associates. Plus, I was not exclusive with her, so what could I really say about it? I was staying at the former Beverly Hills Town Hall, which was a mansion.

There I photographed models from around the world and slept with many of them. I even photographed Sassoon’s daughter and yes, we fooled around at her apartment. I was sort of being set-up with her. Vidal made it known that he approved of me. But, I was surrounded by so many models, who were living at the mansion, that I was hooking up with a different one every day. There were so many that I cannot even remember them all. When I heard my landlord force himself on one of them, I realized the kind of shady individual he was. I left immediately. I began to realize he was sleeping with my neighbor to throw it in my face. He did not know that despite my promiscuity, I loved my neighbor, hook-up, and pseudo-girlfriend. I was just realizing it myself. I had to fly back and see if I could rescue the relationship before he took control of it, or even worse, me.

I flew back to New York. When I got back, my neighbor was in my penthouse. She had packed all my things and put them out the door. She made a deal with my landlord that if she slept with him, she would get my apartment. It was a deal he kept. I was out before sunset and back on Long Island. My heart was broken, but I did not understand why. How could I be hurting so much over this hook-up? We weren’t even exclusive! That Midwest farmer’s daughter played me like a fiddle and taught me a lesson I would never forget. Never play with a woman’s heart. Later, I finally understood that you could not hook-up with another human being, hundreds of times, without it affecting your heart. And, when your neighbor comes looking for butter or milk, know it has nothing to do with baking a cake. She could wind up with your rent controlled apartment, just before it turns into a condo.

 

Chapter 4 – My Virgin Babysitter

Obsession is typically defined by a thought that preoccupies or intrudes into one’s mind to such a degree that he or she is powerless to resist the object of that obsession. It is an all-consuming passion that takes hold of your thoughts until you are totally dominated by your compulsion and persistently overwhelmed by your desire. There is no question in my mind, that without ever realizing it, most of my life was spent powerless to my obsession with romance.

I was so obsessed with romance, that for the better part of my life, I spent most every waking hour searching for it. Typically, I would find women who were also obsessed, but most of the time, with me. I would go so far as to say that most of my relationships were based on obsession… not love. I was powerless. I spent much of my time pursuing that obsession. Photography was a means to feed that desire because I would meet thousands of women from every corner of the world. Typically, I would be alone with those women and we would almost always be shooting in the most intimate of settings. I am not sure what came first, the camera or the obsession, but they fed each other. Not that there is anything wrong with a healthy sexual desire, but I was consumed. Beyond consumed. That is one of the reasons I stopped dating. I wanted to break the addiction. But, as hard as I tried, it did not work. I literally had to take medication to stop myself from obsessing so enthusiastically.

Obsession is typically defined by a thought that preoccupies or intrudes into one’s mind to such a degree that he or she is powerless to resist the object of that obsession. It is an all-consuming passion that takes hold of your thoughts until you are totally dominated by your compulsion and persistently overwhelmed by your desire. There is no question in my mind, that without ever realizing it, most of my life was spent powerless to my obsession with romance.

I was so obsessed with romance, that for the better part of my life, I spent most every waking hour searching for it. Typically, I would find women who were also obsessed, but most of the time, with me. I would go so far as to say that most of my relationships were based on obsession… not love. I was powerless. I spent much of my time pursuing that obsession. Photography was a means to feed that desire because I would meet thousands of women from every corner of the world. Typically, I would be alone with those women and we would almost always be shooting in the most intimate of settings. I am not sure what came first, the camera or the obsession, but they fed each other. Not that there is anything wrong with a healthy sexual desire, but I was consumed. Beyond consumed. That is one of the reasons I stopped dating. I wanted to break the addiction. But, as hard as I tried, it did not work. I literally had to take medication to stop myself from obsessing so enthusiastically.

Most men are driven by their obsession with sex. It has been said, “men are dogs.” I was powerless against that obsession, even when I was in a relationship. My greatest fear was that I would not be able to be faithful, as I had so many opportunities and was powerless to turn them down. I do not know when or why my obsession began, but I started young. When I was ten I shared some intimate moments with a sixteen-year-old, smoking hot, cheerleader. I did not know what the word sex was, but when she took off her bathing suit I reacted physically to her. It did not take long before we were experimenting. She definitely knew what sex was and eagerly shared that knowledge with me.

It was not like those romantic moments you see in movies. It was more like a game in which we laughed and touched each other in ways I had never touched anyone previously. Before very long, I figured out what goes where and we were engaged in full-blown relations. No one had any idea that a sixteen-year-old would experiment with a boy as young as I was. I was so enamored with the experience that I wanted to do it again and again. And yes, everything works, even at that young age.

Relations at such a young age are completely different. It is only later that you begin to understand what sex is and all the emotional baggage that comes with it. At that age, you are innocent and pure. Nothing ever compares to that type of connection afterwards. But from the very moment we started to experiment, until she moved and I never saw her again, we would go at it every time we were alone. Of course, we were secretive about it. The only feeling outside of pure ecstasy we shared, was the fear that someone would catch us.

For some reason, even though we did not know what we were doing, we thought it was wrong. We knew we could not tell anyone or get caught. The world was a lot more conservative back then. All the same, as I look back on my life, I know that my obsession started with that cheerleader and continued for the better part of my life. I would even go as far as to say, that we fell in love. When she moved, I was heartbroken for months, maybe even a year. And, I could tell no one. She simply disappeared. When she did, I had a bad case of “blue balls.” Sorry, but there is no other way to explain it. My father had to take me to the doctor to find out why.

Of course, I never told him that I was engaged in sexual relations with a sixteen-year-old cheerleader. It did not take long for the doctor to see that I was, as he described it, “fully mature at only ten.” He told my father and I that the only way to eliminate the pressure was to masturbate. He suggested to my father that he should to teach me how to do it. It was one of the most awkward moments in my life. Dad bought me some Playboy magazines, but before long I was engaging in relations with girls my own age. I did not know why I was the only one doing it. None of my friends were even talking about it.

As I quickly learned, for every willing guy, there is always a willing girl. And, there were many. I was so obsessed that, later in life, I chose to be celibate. This went on for years. Often I would tell potential girlfriends that it was because of my health that I chose not to engage in sex. The sad truth was, I was trying hard to break a lifelong addiction. It was the only way I could try and beat it. But, I was helpless. I became obsessed that very first time and it continued for the better part of my life.

Of course, I would never share any of the names of those I was engaging in relations with, because I am old school. Even then I would never kiss and tell. I would meet a girl at the public pool, or the park and almost immediately we knew it was going to happen. Maybe the world was different back then, but that obsession and the willingness for girls my age and older to just go for it, dates back as far as I can remember. Back to that cheerleader who was babysitting and decided that I was a safe person to experiment with. I do not think that it was that moment that created the obsession within me. That was just the first time I engaged in sex. The obsession grew stronger every year of my life, as did the choices I made. I became a slave to that obsession, choosing it above most everything else.

I never did see that cheerleader again, nor can I remember her name, but I will never forget the innocent and naive way in which we both learned about life and how natural the affair was. I know most people start their experimentation at a much older age. I consider myself fortunate that we met and the chemistry was so intense that we decided to trust each other. I often wonder if she remembers me, or even thinks of me.

There is no doubt in my mind that she knew what she was doing. For me, it was the beginning of a life-long adventure that became a life-long obsession. I have been celibate for some time now, except for the occasional “oops did that just happen’ moments. To this day I do not even know if I have beaten it. Nor do I want to know anymore. But, this I do know. I will not settle for less than my true soul mate and pray that such a person exists.