Chapter 37 – Sex Games

For me, junior high school was a time of sexual experimentation. Most of the kids played games like Truth Or Dare, Spin The Bottle, Seven Minutes In Heaven and a host of others. The only real difference between me and the other kids, was that I created my own game, “Sex Games,” at about the age of eleven. Unlike the other games, this was an actual board game. Yes, a sex board game for three or more people to play. I completely forgot about it until at my 30-year high school reunion, my junior high school girlfriend asked me about it.

Many memories were rushing through my head when I first saw her. She was my girlfriend at the time we played the game. Mostly, we played it with her girlfriends. It was a throwback game…sort of a mix of Monopoly or Sorry with some Mousetrap thrown in. Players would roll dice to determine the number of spaces to move forward on the board. In that regard, it was like Monopoly. There were slides and ladders that advanced you past the serious sexual options. If you landed on pick a card, you had no idea what you might be asked to do. There were spaces for a “Truth” challenge and a “Dare” challenge. Some spaces would require actions similar to those from Seven Minutes In Heaven. I even adapted a spin type gizmo from another board game to determine who players had to make out with, when they landed on that spot on the board.

Once, I landed on a space that required female players to change seats according to breast size. When the few girls playing kept arguing over who had the largest breasts, I was chosen to determine who was going to sit where, by feeling their breasts to make the determination. Do you think a preteen boy would create the game any differently? Life was good. The entire game was geared towards experimentation with kissing, touching, foreplay and more. And, when I say more, I mean a lot more. It was all based-on chance. I remember playing the game for the first time with my girlfriend and two of her friends. I had just finished developing it and this was to be the test. The girls loved it. As an additional benefit, I thought I could market it. I was entrepreneurial, even as a young man.

For me, junior high school was a time of sexual experimentation. Most of the kids played games like Truth Or Dare, Spin The Bottle, Seven Minutes In Heaven and a host of others. The only real difference between me and the other kids, was that I created my own game, “Sex Games,” at about the age of eleven. Unlike the other games, this was an actual board game. Yes, a sex board game for three or more people to play. I completely forgot about it until at my 30-year high school reunion, my junior high school girlfriend asked me about it.

Many memories were rushing through my head when I first saw her. She was my girlfriend at the time we played the game. Mostly, we played it with her girlfriends. It was a throwback game…sort of a mix of Monopoly or Sorry with some Mousetrap thrown in. Players would roll dice to determine the number of spaces to move forward on the board. In that regard, it was like Monopoly. There were slides and ladders that advanced you past the serious sexual options. If you landed on pick a card, you had no idea what you might be asked to do. There were spaces for a “Truth” challenge and a “Dare” challenge. Some spaces would require actions similar to those from Seven Minutes In Heaven. I even adapted a spin type gizmo from another board game to determine who players had to make out with, when they landed on that spot on the board.

Once, I landed on a space that required female players to change seats according to breast size. When the few girls playing kept arguing over who had the largest breasts, I was chosen to determine who was going to sit where, by feeling their breasts to make the determination. Do you think a preteen boy would create the game any differently? Life was good. The entire game was geared towards experimentation with kissing, touching, foreplay and more. And, when I say more, I mean a lot more. It was all based-on chance. I remember playing the game for the first time with my girlfriend and two of her friends. I had just finished developing it and this was to be the test. The girls loved it. As an additional benefit, I thought I could market it. I was entrepreneurial, even as a young man.

Other times we played it with some of my friends. It seemed whenever a girl had their choice of whom they were going into the closet with, or whom they were going to take a dare with, I was the guy. It probably helped my chances that our mutual friend was going through some dramatic voice changes. His voice was very high pitched. Some thought he was gay and in the closet, so of course they picked me. I loved it when he joined us. It always worked out for me, lol.

At first, my girlfriend did not mind the game. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying it immensely. We were advancing our relationship as a result of the game, although we only played a few times. Like many adolescents we went into the woods to ride bikes and the mini-bikes I was building at the time. There was a fort behind Parkway School. It was on a narrow strip of land, between the highway and the school. To be precise, it was the woods on the side of Wantagh Parkway. There, we could always make out privately. Hand jobs were a regular routine. I was terrified of getting her pregnant. Back then, if you got someone pregnant, you would have to marry the person. Whether you loved her or not was irrelevant. That was just the way it was back then. If you helped make the baby, you took responsibility for it. You helped raise the child, for better or worse. It didn’t matter that you were 16. No one got abortions back then. I believe they were illegal at the time. So, you were very careful. Still, we were not using protection. I started to love her so deeply; I felt I wanted to marry her, even at that young age. If she became pregnant, I would propose. That is what my heart told me when we made love. That’s the way your heart works when you are so young.

Our first time was in the woods. We had been together for over a year, on and off. We wandered into the woods and found a huge, fallen tree to lay down on. We made love for the first time. At that age, it doesn’t last very long, no matter what my baby sitter might have taught me years earlier. Sex is almost over before it starts. All the same, what started as innocent experimentation, became so much more. We both drew the “go all the way” card, while playing my sex game. That took us from the very innocent, experimentation stage, to the passionate, heart-pounding, I love you stage.

I think that even though it was over in a few strokes, she felt as much love as I did. She was a virgin, so it meant a lot to her. We knew it was risky since we didn’t use protection. I thought she was going to get pregnant, but she didn’t, even though I came inside her. I didn’t mean to, but I didn’t know it would happen so quickly. By the time I was cuming, my instincts overruled my brain and I pushed in deeper, as opposed to pulling-out, as I swore to her that I would. I could feel myself pulsating harder than I ever had before. Her body was pulsating with mine. We were melting into one another. The only thing good about that age was that as soon as you came, you could take a piss and do it again. Most of the time, over and over. And that is exactly what we did. We totally lost any semblance of self-control.

This went on through our final year of junior high school. I was such an idiot. Other girls would want to go out with me, so I would break up with her. In most cases the other girl would ask me to help her lose her virginity, as If I was in the business of training virgins. Typically, immediately afterwards, I would ask my girlfriend out again. In my naivety, I didn’t want to cheat on her and felt breaking up with her was the only fair way I could have sex with another girl. The virgins wanted a guy they could trust to not tell the entire school. I was as safe as any guy could be. Many girls simply wanted to know what it was like. I started to get a reputation as being experienced. So, I was kind of a go to guy. Not for being a long-term boyfriend, just someone to do it with.

At the time, many of the kids would have home parties, either in their parent’s basements, or when their parents weren’t home. I was invited to a lot of them. Often, it was just a cover for another girl wanting to fool around with me. By the time I turned seventeen, it was even happening with girls I met at movie theaters. As I started to travel to other schools to compete, especially as a wrestler, everyone would look for a girl to hook-up with from that school. Before long I was with girls from several other schools as well. My father used to drive me and my date to movie theaters where we would always find some private spot to make out and experiment.

Everyone’s favorite spot to pick up girls was at the Levittown Roller Rink. They had a couple’s skate on the weekend where they would turn the lights down and you could ask any girl to skate. If she said yes, it always meant she was interested. You always held hands until the song was over. If you were lucky the girl would join you for a soda and you could get her number. I was a pretty good skater, so I got my share of phone numbers.

I met this incredibly beautiful girl at the movie theater. I was with several of my friends. We were watching Blue Lagoon, starring Brooke Shields. This girl looked like her twin. I was throwing popcorn at her and being a pest to get her attention. Eventually, after I passed a series of notes to her, she agreed to meet me at the beach the next day. I was about fourteen at the time, and was allowed to take the bus to Jones Beach on the weekends. I was particularly excited about meeting her at the beach because we just watched Brook Shields swim naked with her teenage lover. The movie was porn for teenagers. Every teenager who watched that film wanted to go skinny-dipping with his or her significant other.

The following day, a group of my friends and I went to the beach and met her and her friends at the tunnel that connected the parking lot to the boardwalk. Eventually, all our friends left. We stayed until after the lifeguards went off duty. We started making out on the beach. We were reenacting Blue Lagoon. We took our clothes off and snuck into the water. The waves were rough that day. We tried to have sex in the water. The choppiness of the water along with the strong current made it difficult. To compound the problem, the salt water was getting into our eyes. We swallowed copious amounts of sea water. The movie romanticized the process. It was almost impossible to duplicate, especially if you wanted to stay low in the water to be discreet. Eventually, we stood up in the crashing waves and managed to make it work. It was nice, but again, jack rabbit fast.

We left the water and lounged on the sand until we knew the last buses were about to leave. We had to take different busses because we lived in different towns. Neither one of us had a private phone, nor was there internet in those days. She gave me her number at the movie theater but I lost it. So, after our beautiful Blue Lagoon style, romantic encounter, I never saw her again. I was so upset. I shed a few tears over her. But, like the clueless person I was, as soon as she was gone, there was a new girl to take her place. Or, I would hook- up with my on and off again junior high school sweetheart. No surprise, by the time we were in high school, she had enough of my antics and broke up with me. She fell in love with a guy and spent almost all of high school with him, as I bounced from partner to partner.

In my senior year, my girlfriend and I broke up. She was the college girl who taught me how to play the guitar and much more. Originally, she was to be my prom date, but that ship had sailed. We were both sad after our relationship ended. We avoided each other for the most part. I was so shallow and full of myself. No excuse, but I was following orders from the wrong head. I was on my way home from wrestling practice on the day of the prom. For some reason, I took the bus home. Usually, I ran. Guess who was on the bus? It was my junior high school sweetheart. She had broken up with her boyfriend days earlier. We decided to go to the prom together. This was after three years of her dating her ex. It was a romantic bus ride home

I was excited to be going to the prom with her. She was such a close friend. I always felt that when we were together, we were home. I loved her, but I was not ready to be with one woman for the rest of my life. We went to the prom. I was so skinny I was able to sneak an entire bottle of liquor into the event in my pants. We shared a nostalgic yet romantic evening. Something in my heart told me we could get back together and give it a real shot. We went to Long Beach, as many couples did after the prom and slept under the pier. We reunited in more ways than one.

As the night waned, it became apparent to us both, that our chapter of love had ended long ago. Any hope we could rekindle the relationship was unrealistic, as graduation was just around the corner. We lost touch shortly afterwards. Today, she is a schoolteacher and single mom. I often reflect on our extended, on and off, chapter of love with fond memories. We were so innocent. I would get butterflies in my stomach every time we kissed. I wish I kept the design for that board game. I think Sex Games would have been a real treat for new generations of experimenters. What an APP it could be!

 

Chapter 32-The Kiss That Stole My Heart

The memories of my chapters of love are quite vivid and clear in my mind. Not just the visual or auditory memories, but the actual kinesthetic feelings associated with those chapters. Recently, I watched a video that explained love at a biochemical level. They use a functional MRI to look at the brain chemistry of people who are in love, who are mourning a chapter of love and those who claim to feel love at first sight. What they found is that the same area of the brain that releases endorphins when you are in love, becomes more active when you lose love. So, at the end of every chapter of love, biochemically, you feel that you love that person more and yearn painfully for them, despite how you may think you feel. We feel more when we are longing for love than we do when we are in love. Love becomes stronger with desire, especially unrequited love, even painfully so. With respect to love, the way our brain works is the greatest mind fuck in nature. Other mammals react to losing love this way as well. Scientists have even tested people who experience love at first sight and proved the biochemical reaction is not based on lust and is identical reaction to those who have been in love long term. That is why love at first sight is more than simple infatuation.

In my case, I carry the deep memories of love with me from everyone I have loved. My reflections of love, as I call them, are so clear that at times my heart races. I see and feel the love I have shared so vividly that I am often moved beyond my current state of being. The sparks of feelings that have stayed with me, my entire life, spur these vivid memories. Writing about them helps me channel that energy and is an emotional outlet for any lingering emotions that are still very much entangled deep within my heart.

Many people have near photographic memories. Some for history, some for math equations, or science. For me it is feelings. Scientific research suggests that we remember through our visual memories, auditory memories and kinesthetic memories. I am extremely kinesthetic. That’s why it is such an emotional process to share these chapters of love. I am very often moved beyond words. I share them as vividly as possible to share the passion that was shared between my lovers and myself. Every one of my lovers are extremely significant to my heart no matter how long we have been apart or how long we were together. Sometimes it was the act of creating together that built so much sexual tension. With one woman, who came to live with me, that tension became unbearable. In many cases, it was unfulfilled passion that drove me to extraordinary levels of originality and creativity.

The memories of my chapters of love are quite vivid and clear in my mind. Not just the visual or auditory memories, but the actual kinesthetic feelings associated with those chapters. Recently, I watched a video that explained love at a biochemical level. They use a functional MRI to look at the brain chemistry of people who are in love, who are mourning a chapter of love and those who claim to feel love at first sight. What they found is that the same area of the brain that releases endorphins when you are in love, becomes more active when you lose love. So, at the end of every chapter of love, biochemically, you feel that you love that person more and yearn painfully for them, despite how you may think you feel. We feel more when we are longing for love than we do when we are in love. Love becomes stronger with desire, especially unrequited love, even painfully so. With respect to love, the way our brain works is the greatest mind fuck in nature. Other mammals react to losing love this way as well. Scientists have even tested people who experience love at first sight and proved the biochemical reaction is not based on lust and is identical reaction to those who have been in love long term. That is why love at first sight is more than simple infatuation.

In my case, I carry the deep memories of love with me from everyone I have loved. My reflections of love, as I call them, are so clear that at times my heart races. I see and feel the love I have shared so vividly that I am often moved beyond my current state of being. The sparks of feelings that have stayed with me, my entire life, spur these vivid memories. Writing about them helps me channel that energy and is an emotional outlet for any lingering emotions that are still very much entangled deep within my heart.

Many people have near photographic memories. Some for history, some for math equations, or science. For me it is feelings. Scientific research suggests that we remember through our visual memories, auditory memories and kinesthetic memories. I am extremely kinesthetic. That’s why it is such an emotional process to share these chapters of love. I am very often moved beyond words. I share them as vividly as possible to share the passion that was shared between my lovers and myself. Every one of my lovers are extremely significant to my heart no matter how long we have been apart or how long we were together. Sometimes it was the act of creating together that built so much sexual tension. With one woman, who came to live with me, that tension became unbearable. In many cases, it was unfulfilled passion that drove me to extraordinary levels of originality and creativity.

Her constant flirting, the intentional brush of her breasts against my shoulders, the placing of her hand on my upper thigh, crawling into my bed while I was sleeping all led to heightened creativity and a desire for more. Most anything you could think of, she would do. Most of the time it was after she downed a bottle of wine or two, so I never acted upon any of her actions. I ignored them, which frustrated her. I did not invite her to live with me and create so I could destroy it all because of her flirtatiousness, or the sexual opportunities she offered.

As I finished shooting her music video, featuring her actual lover, it became clear she was willing to do almost anything to tease me or to get the money shot. They were both barely wearing any clothing and passionately locked in each other’s embrace. Although she was performing with a man I could only describe as “Tarzan-eske,” she looked at me with a certain longing. She was classically beautiful, but for some reason her career was going nowhere. I intended on changing that. She had the look of a classic Greek goddess. Her voice was soft and sincere. After the shoot they went upstairs to her pseudo apartment in my house. Before long she came back down and while I was editing sat on my lap in her wet black bikini. Before I knew what she was up to, she kissed me. The ringing in my ears was so loud; I could hardly hear what she was saying. She said it twice, so I am sure I didn’t misunderstand her. With a very disappointed tone she said, “I haven’t had sex in months while I was waiting for him to get here. If I go back upstairs and he can’t get it up, I’m coming back down here and you better be ready!”

With that, she looked into my eyes and then slowly turned and went upstairs. My heart was racing. She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever known, both spiritually and physically. I tried to focus and continued editing her music video, which was turning me on even more. I could hear them upstairs. He was drunk in the bathroom, laying on the floor moaning. She was pissed. She came back down with an empty bottle of scotch. I am not sure who drank more. Earlier, oddly, he wanted to massage my shoulders, not hers, after the music video shoot. It made me believe he was just using her to advance his career and that he preferred men, but I wasn’t positive. He tried to keep up with her, but he was no match for a girl that could drink more than anyone I ever knew, even as a bartender for many years. He may have looked like Tarzan, but he was a lightweight when it came to Scotch. She literally drank him under the table. Now, she was coming for me. I didn’t know what I should do. The months of her living with me, teasing me and flirting with my friends, while looking over their shoulders into my eyes told me a lot about her. She helped make me feel very good about myself during this period. Not only would she look at me as if I was a Rembrandt, but she was a lot of fun and enjoyed being submissive when we created, intentionally teasing me. We shared many private stories about our lives, hopes and dreams. But that was the extent of it until she kissed me that afternoon.

I first met her after I received a phone call from a mutual acquaintance. He told me she was stranded, without a phone or cash. He was out of town, so he couldn’t help her. She was a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model at one point of her career. As I found out later, the drinking and drama that followed her made it impossible for her career to reach the levels her beauty and charisma would have dictated otherwise. I didn’t know that when I took it upon myself, to go find her when I was told she was absolutely desperate. I drove three hours, picked her up, lent her a phone and paid for her plane ticket home. I had no expectations of receiving anything in return. I truly practice what I preach, when I say I continually pay it forward as often as possible.

I didn’t know what she looked like in her post Sports Illustrated modeling days, or if she was even ever going to repay me, but when I picked her up I could see in a second she was stunning. I never thought it would go any further than a goodbye at the airport, but it did. She told me she was robbed and her landlord was hitting on her. She packed a bag and waited for someone to help her. She knew someone would. Women with that level of insane beauty are used to things coming to them easily. Regardless, her gratitude and sincerity seemed quite genuine. It was hard to believe that a woman of her beauty would be broke, helpless and all alone in a small town in New Jersey. But, all the same, she was. It would take me months to understand the reality of her circumstances.

A few months later, she moved in with me. We worked on a pilot for her reality series focusing on modeling in New York City. It was surreal. A Sports Illustrated swimwear model was going to live with me for months. We became very close. Being no different than most of the male population, her beauty blinded me. Often, it is easy to create expectations and make presumptions about the character of one so beautiful. After a while, her true self started to emerge. She was miserable working as a model. Her sports injuries made it worse. She began to open-up to me. From that point, I knew our relationship would help change her destiny. Years later she confided to me that it did.

While we were living together we both partied quite liberally. As she said in her parting interview, we became family. I gave her the movie star treatment. I even got her an on-stage gig with Martin Short. When she was partying, she totally opened-up and told me everything. She treated me as a boyfriend in every way but one. But at the same time, she knew how to work every man she came in contact with. Few could resister her. She worked every guy I introduced her to like a pro. it was obvious that this was how she was able to advance her career, but I refused to be seduced by her.

All the same, she was now walking directly towards me. Her black bikini barely concealing her stunning figure. She was carrying the empty bottle of Glenlivet, which pretty much told me the story. The two of them were drunk. She waited months to see him. He couldn’t get it up, so she was coming for me. Again, as I turned to her from editing, she sat on my lap. I wanted her, but not in that condition. She kissed me and started taking her bikini off. I was in shorts. I was getting harder and harder but doing everything I could to restrain myself. I don’t know too many men who could have resisted a horny, Sports Illustrated, swimsuit model. As she was taking her bathing suit off she was trying to take my shorts off as well. But I was resisting the best that I could. I doubt I would have been able to if not for her next few words.

She told me that she had been waiting for him ever since I picked her up in the park that day in New Jersey. That made absolutely no sense, as she was supposed to be stranded and alone. It was at that moment I realized that they made up the entire story. It was a cover-up. They were together. Both her mom and her manager were trying to find her. She would have gotten in serious trouble if they did. In her drunken stupor, she told me all of it. She lied to me. No matter what she was offering, as well as how beautiful she was, I was so disappointed she lied to obtain my help, I was turned off completely. Part of me wanted to fuck her because she used me, but part of me pitied her for having to lie in the first place.

She also told me that she didn’t want to model anymore. She wanted to be a nurse or a hairdresser. I asked her why she continuing to model. She said she was supporting her entire family and they wouldn’t let her stop. They forced her to leave high school many years earlier. She felt like a slave. When she tried to stop, they threatened to throw her out on the street. She had never obtained any education and her parents were controlling all her finances. It was the most incredible case of “stage mom control” and exploitation I ever heard.

After thinking long and hard about all the sexual opportunities I could have had with her, and what was best for her, I decided to do the honorable thing. The very next day I cancelled her co-production agreement and insisting that she get enroll in a twelve-step program before we ever shot again. I cared for her enough to try to save her despite the great economic loss abandoning the project cost me and the plethora of threats from both her mother and the original photographer who introduced us. It turns out he was a genius sociopath.

Fast-forward many years. She went through a twelve-step program and is sober. She no longer models. Instead, she completed her courses in cosmetology and is currently cutting hair. Unfortunately, she had a car accident that almost killed her. She was literally scalped, but they were able to restore her hairline and she is as beautiful today as she was back then. Today, she derives pleasure from making others look beautiful. When we spoke and texted last she sent me a photo of a tattoo she put across her wrist, the same wrist she considered severing many times before she met me. It contained one simple word “BELIEVE.”

Not every chapter of love requires a sexual experience for it to be genuine. She expressed gratitude that I stood up to her mother and told her to stop enslaving her. She told me it was the impetus for her to get a proper education and to get into a twelve-step program. She also told me that she wished we were together, creating again and that she would no longer tolerate the slavery imposed by her family most of her childhood and into her twenties. I told her we would always have that kiss. That was one loving kiss. I will never forget it, or my Sports Illustrated swimsuit model roommate. I knew then that I had control over my sexual obsession and that my spiritual awakening had changed me forever. I no longer needed a woman’s love to feel whole or wanted. In her final interview, she said, “John is family now” and she meant it. That was worth more than anything she could ever have given me physically. But that one kiss truly stole my heart.

Chapter 31 – Sisters

After the first few short chapters of love after my divorce, I realized that I could possibly find love again. If I met someone I thought might be my true soul mate and we spent years together, I would consider living with her. I thought if by some miracle they came up with a cure, I might even get married again. I was flip-flopping on the commitment and love thing. I had hope, but then again, I never thought I would survive, or have a life partner again. But, with each new chapter of love, and time, the crack in my heart was healing. I didn’t know it, at the time, but it was.

I started to believe even more, as I picked up my camera again. I was shooting like I did when I was a younger man. All the interaction with women gave me even more confidence. Then it started. Everyone I knew was trying to set me up with someone. It was obvious to them that I was heartbroken. They wanted to help me through these rough times. I was shocked when some of my friend’s wives’ and my children’s friend’s mothers, were throwing themselves at me. I couldn’t understand their thinking. I would never fool around with a married woman, period.

Then a family member set me up with her best friend’s sister, not realizing that I had been in a serious chapter of love with her best friend, decades earlier. She never told my family that we were involved. She wanted to keep it that way for some reason. I had not spoken to her in years, although I saw her occasionally. I knew she had gotten married and had children. Clearly, there was no future for us. But maybe there could be with her sister. At that point, the more absurd the possibility, the less fear I had of the opportunity. As I thought more about it, the full ramifications set in. I was being set-up with a woman who was the sister of my former lover, a woman I would have married in a heartbeat, if she had wanted me and I was not in such a wild stage of my life at the time. I was confused. This was a bit of a moral dilemma.

After the first few short chapters of love after my divorce, I realized that I could possibly find love again. If I met someone I thought might be my true soul mate and we spent years together, I would consider living with her. I thought if by some miracle they came up with a cure, I might even get married again. I was flip-flopping on the commitment and love thing. I had hope, but then again, I never thought I would survive, or have a life partner again. But, with each new chapter of love, and time, the crack in my heart was healing. I didn’t know it, at the time, but it was.

I started to believe even more, as I picked up my camera again. I was shooting like I did when I was a younger man. All the interaction with women gave me even more confidence. Then it started. Everyone I knew was trying to set me up with someone. It was obvious to them that I was heartbroken. They wanted to help me through these rough times. I was shocked when some of my friend’s wives’ and my children’s friend’s mothers, were throwing themselves at me. I couldn’t understand their thinking. I would never fool around with a married woman, period.

Then a family member set me up with her best friend’s sister, not realizing that I had been in a serious chapter of love with her best friend, decades earlier. She never told my family that we were involved. She wanted to keep it that way for some reason. I had not spoken to her in years, although I saw her occasionally. I knew she had gotten married and had children. Clearly, there was no future for us. But maybe there could be with her sister. At that point, the more absurd the possibility, the less fear I had of the opportunity. As I thought more about it, the full ramifications set in. I was being set-up with a woman who was the sister of my former lover, a woman I would have married in a heartbeat, if she had wanted me and I was not in such a wild stage of my life at the time. I was confused. This was a bit of a moral dilemma.

When I was with the older sister, I was a teenager dabbling in photography. I never forgot our affair. Nor did I forget just how much I loved her. When we were kids, she and her family were close to my family.. I never spoke to her much. So, when she called and asked me to photograph her, I was surprised. I had known her most of her life, but had no idea she blossomed into such a beautiful young lady. But, she was not only calling about a photo-shoot, she was flirting and giggling. It didn’t take long for me to agree to help her with her portfolio. I was living in New York City and had not yet started the relationship with my neighbor, so I was still looking for love. I just moved from Thompson Street to the Upper East Side by Central Park. I was making great money and having the time of my life.

The first time we shot she was more than willing to take her clothes off. That was not unusual, as she was also an artist and most artists are also very carefree. Perhaps, she was trying to seduce me. I was never quite sure. I was on my best behavior since she was a family friend. At first I was just interested in creating abstract nudes and experimenting. She was affectionate, intelligent and well spoken. She also had a great sense of humor. She followed my directions incredibly well, even though I was a fledgling photographer. We shot everywhere. We shot in bathtubs and at the beach. We shot on sand dunes even though it was freezing! In addition to the nude shots she posed in various outfits. She looked incredibly exotic and mysterious in traditional kimonos.

Her creative instincts were spot on. I loved working with her. I spent hundreds of dollars on film and hundreds more on processing, without even giving it a thought. When the slides came back from the lab, we met a local place called The Wine Gallery. At one point, I was a waiter and bartender there, so I knew the staff. They were cool and gave us our space. The setting was unique. The booths were antiques taken from old church confessionals. They offered a great deal of privacy. It was a naughty place to look at nude photographs, especially given the origins of the seating.

Back then there was no instant gratification as with today’s digital photography. You had to wait days or even a week to have your film processed. A lot depended on the film choice and how much you were willing to pay to get the film developed quickly. I paid a premium to get them processed and messengered back the next day.

As it turned out, the confessional was the perfect spot. We drank wine and looked at the art we created in pretty much total privacy. After we went through quite a few of the photographs, I went to my car to get fresh batteries for the slide viewer. When I came back, something had changed. She was no longer looking at me as an artist. She wanted me. It was very clear. She kept touching my hands while laughing and giggling. It was both erotic and adorable. She invited me to her car to see some additional photographs she had in a makeshift portfolio. Within minutes we climbed into the back seat. It was a, freezing cold, winter night, so the heat was blasting. It was so hot in the car that the leather seats were sweating and the foggy windows had streaks of water running down them. We spent hours in that back seat and obviously, we were doing a lot more then reviewing her portfolio. I never understood how the car didn’t run out of gas. From that night on, we went out quite frequently. For some reason, she did not want anyone in my family to know.

I honored her request for privacy even though I was falling in love with her. Eventually, we started meeting at hotels in Cold Spring Harbor, her house and in my new penthouse in New York City. She was so much more comfortable with her body and sex than I was. She was one of the most erotic women I had ever known, even to this day. She was a different kind of lover. She wanted it in ways I had never considered previously. Frankly, in a place most women do not want to go. She said she preferred it there. Since I played guitar, my fingers were quite strong so I could fully satisfy her demands. For me, it was a completely different experience. Beyond that, there was nothing she did not want to do, or try, or experiment with. Despite the incredible chapter of love, we were engaged in, when my family started to get suspicious, she wanted to end it. It made no sense to me. Apparently, she had become one of my sisters’ best friends; only I thought they had lost contact years earlier.

For her, they were experimental hook-ups. For me, it was love. My idea of love has nothing to do with getting along with a person, as I got along with just about everyone. It’s a karma thing. I also believe that you cannot love anyone, unless you love yourself first and everyone else. It’s a spiritual thing. Even when I was very young I knew I could not be with someone sexually unless I gave my heart to her. But giving one’s heart is both a curse and a blessing. The more one loves, the more pain one feels at the end of each chapter. Even functional MRI’s have proven that now.

Eventually, we stopped seeing each other and our relationship faded, despite the fact I was in love with her. She was one of the women I would have married if we kept seeing each other. I was so naïve back then. I had no idea that women were using me for sex. I had no confidence. I always thought women would only have sex with men they loved. I was young and fell in love with just about every girl I was with, no matter how long or short the relationship. I was as naïve as a puppy.

That is why it was such a mystery, years later, to be set-up with her younger sister. I learned that she was also coming off a ten plus year relationship. Rumor had it that she was even more heartbroken than I was. At the very least, her wounds were fresher, but the betrayal was just as deep. Both of our families were worried, knowing we were depressed and heartbroken. Eventually I was introduced to her. I asked if she would like to join me to see Billy Joel on New Year’s Eve. She loved Billy Joel and was excited about the evening. It perked her up. She seemed to be very flattered and happy. I thought she knew that I was in love with her sister decades earlier, but didn’t think it mattered. It was an old chapter of love that didn’t seem to mean much to her older sister. In fact, she acted as if it never happened. All I ever got from her was a polite hello and some routine chitchat. So, I simply thought it had to be trivial to her. Why would she take part in setting me up with her younger sister otherwise?

We spoke on the telephone quite a bit before the concert. We had floor level seats, on top of it being New Year’s Eve! She was charming and charismatic, just like her older sister. She had the same exotic look and calming sound to her voice; it was a bit of déjà vu. She worked for the executives of one of the largest software companies on Long Island. She was very smart. After a few calls, during which we bared our hearts, we started to become friends and both found sanctuary in our conversations. On New Year’s Eve, she got the flu. She was vomiting all day long. Clearly, she would not be able to make the concert. I was devastated. I had started to enjoy her giggly and witty ways. She was evoking many memories from my chapter of love with her sister. I was probably confusing some of my feelings for her, with the love I had shared with her older sister. I didn’t realize it at the time.

I went to the concert without her. I held my cell phone up for most of the concert so she could hear it live. She thought that was a very kind thing to do. She said she couldn’t wait to see me. She didn’t know how sick I was and since she was trying to escape her own depression, I never told her. Ten years was a long time for her to invest in her recently ended relationship. She shared with me how dangerously depressed she became when another year went by without an engagement. So as much as she had loved him, she was leaving him and it was killing her inside. When we eventually did go out, we shared our stories and wound up crying on each other’s shoulders. The tears turned into hugs, which turned into kisses, which turned into much more. What started out as an introduction to attend a single concert together was turning into a new chapter of love. Both of our broken hearts were healing with love from each other. She was so much like her older sister. It was a bit surreal. We started to get together regularly. Easing her heartache was helping me overcome my own. We were both escaping the misery of our mutual realities. We were doing so in each other’s arms and much more.

I threw myself into the relationship, not even thinking that it would turn into anything. It was however, turning into something significant. At the time, we were going at it quite a bit, but she could never orgasm. I thought it was because of my heart condition and how difficult it was for me to go at it fast and hard. I had become a much gentler lover. I don’t know if she was just trying to make me feel ok about her not cuming, or if her claim of never having had an orgasm was true. Not having an orgasm by age thirty was sad in and of itself. It was that sadness, that broken wing, that was making me fall in love with her. I recognized the feeling. She was not the first I had fallen into “rescue love” with. I had mistaken that sorrow and sadness for love so many times in my life.

We tried and tried! I went down on her for so long my jawbone hurt and my tongue cramped up. But, I just kept going and taking verbal cues from her. I tried everything in my repertoire. No matter how hard I tried, or how long I lasted, it was impossible. She could not cum and I was close to having a heart attack trying.

Eventually her older sister told her about us. She sabotaged our relationship. I think she was jealous, even though she was married. Our private chapter of love, decades earlier, became the reason she told everyone why she didn’t want us to see each other. Her actions made me think she was secretly in love with me. I had no idea. If I did, I never would have started to date her younger sister. Although we were falling in love, we knew we had to stop seeing each other. She was upset with me because I hadn’t told her about my experience with her sister. I thought she had to have known. We had to think of her sister’s feelings above our own. Before long and after many heartfelt goodbyes, she asked for and got a job transfer to Europe. I never saw her again. I have seen her older sister quite frequently since, but never discussed either of the relationships. It was strange to have loved two sisters, two decades apart.

Some chapters you remember by the love, others you remember by the loss of love. This would be one of those chapters. It was a short but steamy chapter and it helped me through one of the worst times of my life. Eventually, she did tell me that she loved me. She left me the cd we listened to every time we made love, “You’re My Home,” by Billy Joel. It was one of her favorites. She told me it expressed the way she felt when she was with me. I don’t know if I would have survived without the love she gave me at one of the most critical times of my life. In return, I gave her love at a pivotal point of her life. For that I am grateful.

From Facebook, I learned that she married and settled in Europe. I was happy she found love. I don’t know how it was possible, but I fell in love with both exotic sisters, twenty years apart. I will always have a place in my heart for them both. I certainly hope they have a place in their heart for me. I truly loved them both.

 

Chapter 28 -My Bride

We met in the airport. I was so hung-over it was almost impossible to stand and talk without getting queasy. Her plane was cancelled. So was mine. It was going to be a several hour delay, a reroute via Puerto Rico and then our flights home. She was chain-smoking and walking back and forth to the airport bar. It was obvious she wasn’t happy with the delays. Personally, I didn’t care if my flight was cancelled. For me it was just a short trip back to the casinos and the girls. She had me enamored the first time I saw her. She was intelligent, laughed at every one of my jokes, had a beautiful accent, and most of all, seemed to have be sculptured by some great Nordic artist. She was perfect.

Eventually, she got her flight to Connecticut, where she was living and I flew to Long Island. We immediately were on the phone and talked for hours. The Saturday after we returned, she took the train from Boston to New York. It was not much longer than two weeks and we were engaged. We eloped a few months later.

I barely had time to check with the women from Saint Maarten to make sure none were pregnant. Prior to all of this, upon my return from Saint Maarten, my former fiancé came to see me. She had lost a lot of weight and was looking incredible. We had sex a few times, but I couldn’t see her again. I didn’t want to go back to a woman I knew was not ready for marriage and a family. I was also falling hard for the girl from the airport. I had already been diagnosed with the terminal disease. The doctors at the hospital didn’t know which variety of the disease I had, only that it would kill me. I never told my now unofficial fiancé about my diagnosis because I thought I could exercise my way through it and beat it. More likely I was still traumatized by my diagnosis and obsessed with having a child.

We met in the airport. I was so hung-over it was almost impossible to stand and talk without getting queasy. Her plane was cancelled. So was mine. It was going to be a several hour delay, a reroute via Puerto Rico and then our flights home. She was chain-smoking and walking back and forth to the airport bar. It was obvious she wasn’t happy with the delays. Personally, I didn’t care if my flight was cancelled. For me it was just a short trip back to the casinos and the girls. She had me enamored the first time I saw her. She was intelligent, laughed at every one of my jokes, had a beautiful accent, and most of all, seemed to have be sculptured by some great Nordic artist. She was perfect.

Eventually, she got her flight to Connecticut, where she was living and I flew to Long Island. We immediately were on the phone and talked for hours. The Saturday after we returned, she took the train from Boston to New York. It was not much longer than two weeks and we were engaged. We eloped a few months later.

I barely had time to check with the women from Saint Maarten to make sure none were pregnant. Prior to all of this, upon my return from Saint Maarten, my former fiancé came to see me. She had lost a lot of weight and was looking incredible. We had sex a few times, but I couldn’t see her again. I didn’t want to go back to a woman I knew was not ready for marriage and a family. I was also falling hard for the girl from the airport. I had already been diagnosed with the terminal disease. The doctors at the hospital didn’t know which variety of the disease I had, only that it would kill me. I never told my now unofficial fiancé about my diagnosis because I thought I could exercise my way through it and beat it. More likely I was still traumatized by my diagnosis and obsessed with having a child.

We decided to elope. Immigration wouldn’t let her out of the country to actually get married without waiting six months to come back in minimum. She was not a citizen and her student visa had elapsed. We planned a traditional Swedish wedding in her hometown. Eventually she received her permanent Visa. We bought a house together, before we were even married. I had managed to save a great deal of money while working at AT&T as well as by providing private consulting and telecom analysis to my clients. She sold her condo in France. It had been a gift from her father. During the mortgage process, they would not consider her credit, but I was approved. She chipped-in, and upheld her part of the bargain for closing. I signed half of the house over to her, without even adding her name to the mortgage. It was a strategic move. If I was as sick as the doctors thought and something happened to me, I thought she would get the house free and clear because of that and the mortgage insurance I purchased privately.

She wanted to have a child as much as I did and we never did anything to prevent it. After I asked her to marry me, I learned that she came from one of the wealthiest families in Sweden. I was trying hard not to worry, even though I was terrified I would leave her a widow before my child was born. But at least I knew she would be ok financially. When you are young and get diagnosed with a disease that no one could pronounce never mind even heard of, you simply are traumatized, at least I was.

When she was six months pregnant I was rushed to the emergency room. Despite my complete denial of my condition, the doctor’s predictions of “do not make any long-term plans,” started to seem more and more accurate. I was in denial the entire time we courted and was obsessed with giving my parents a grandchild. Now, my wife was pregnant. I was crazy worried she would lose our child when she developed diabetes early on. Now, my health was deteriorating rapidly.

I told her I was having problems breathing. We went to so many doctors. All they ever did was give me nitro pills and say there was nothing they could do. Neither I, nor the doctors, told her how serious it really was. They could see she was pregnant and knew it would be dangerous to tell her. At one point, I was having heart pain every day, almost hourly. We went to Syosset Community Hospital when it was so bad I could not take the pain in my chest. I truly believed I would die that day never getting to see my unborn son. The emergency room cardiologist could not find anything and he asked me when I felt the worst. I told him after I eat anything. So he had me eat a bologna and cheese sandwich. Within minutes I was starting to have an actual heart attack. I was not even thirty years old and my life was going to end.

They caught it just as it started. It turned out that it was a good thing that they had me eat. As we later learned, every time I ate anything with salt or fat, my clogged arteries and newly formed capillaries were put to a test. Often the collateral circulation as they called it would fail when I as eating from the fat that would clog the network of capillaries that were enough to barely keep me alive, but not nearly developed enough even to eat or walk up a small flight of stairs. Eating a fatty sandwich was putting me in the ideal condition for a life ending first heart attack. Just after I had the sandwich, I felt my chest tighten and it became hard to breathe. The bells and monitors all started to flash with a CODE SOMETHING coming out of the loud speakers. It all happened so fast. It was a blur. The nurses came running and hooked me up to an intravenous system. By radio, a doctor instructed them to give me nitro and God knows what else. Out of desperation, one of the nurses slapped a nitro patch right onto my chest. They had the paddles at the ready, to jump start my heart, just in case. It happened so fast, yet, it seemed to take forever. The EKG machine was ringing and all kinds of alarms were going off. I saw my wife the entire time. She was looking on from a distance, in shock. Despite the fact I was having a heart attack, all I could think about was her and my unborn son.

My heart did not stop. But, as the we later found out during surgery I did have a mild heart attack. The nurses saved my life. I guess it was not my time to die, but I believed that these were to be my last few minutes on earth. The nurses and the doctors were in shock that a guy in my condition, at my age, was having a heart attack. Prior to this, my BP and EKG were taken, time and time again, at the HIP Centers. The HIP Centers were a new concept of managed care. In reality, it was inferior rationed health care. Clearly, HMO’s were not working, at least not for me. The insurance companies forced the doctors to quota out procedures and base decisions more on profitability than what the patients needed.

No one knew about capillary circulation back then and how limited it was. It was terrifying. My poor wife sat there by herself, six months pregnant and watched the entire episode. I could have died right in front of her, never to see my unborn son or her again. My entire life flashed before my eyes. The guilt of marrying a woman in my condition started to haunt me. It later became my personal emotional plague.

She was tough, a true Viking. But, this was more than she was prepared for. I knew at that moment, that no matter what I did, she would never look at me the same way again. It would be replaced with fear and sorrow and coldness. The doctors sent me, by ambulance, to North Shore Hospital for a catheterization. I purposely distanced myself from the rest of my family. I knew my parents would be a mess and I didn’t need any extra stress. Frankly, I didn’t think that my heart could withstand the pressure of seeing them from a surgical room; I simply loved them too much to tell them. I went through the heart surgery with only my wife at the hospital. She was so alone and I was sad for her. I wasn’t thinking about my life or death, just my wife and unborn son. Going into that surgery, I had no idea if I would ever see her again. They opened all the arteries in my heart. They learned that every major artery in my heart was blocked, either completely, or over 95%.

We left the hospital and I tried very hard to minimize the event. She was never the same. Neither was I. I was more worried about her and my son than I was about myself. It was only a few months afterwards, at that same hospital, that my son was born. It was the most incredible moment of my life. I had a son and I was alive. Life was going to work itself out. But, even while she was in labor, my heart was missing beats. I was chewing on nitro pills to prevent another heart attack. I knew the surgery had was not going to be a permanent solution.

I had my second failed heart surgery not long after my son was born. They put stents into my collapsed arteries. This was at Saint Francis Hospital. The hospital was known for pioneering this procedure and was supposed to be among the best in the world. Dr. Shlofmitz was kind as well as being incredibly talented. Dr. Shlofmitz made the surgery (then a completely new procedure) seem routine. They put me in a stainless steel, mission control style, surgical room. I had to stay awake for the procedure. It was terrifying but Dr. Shlofmitz was amazing choosing to listen to loud rock and roll during the surgery did give me some relief from my fear as did the tranquilizers.

It was not long after the second surgery that the stents failed. I had to go back for drug eluding stents that eventually were recalled. They failed almost as fast. On the bright side, I was a father. I had an amazing wife and my bloodline was intact. For a few years, I thought I might be ok, but as time went on, all the symptoms came back. I was even worse as the blood thinners caused me to bleed extensively and the statins were raging havoc on my system. The pain was unbearable. Even though they fixed my heart the “cure” was not a cure. All it did was buy me time. I knew it was just a matter of time before I died, or she left me. I wasn’t sure who was in worse shape, my newlywed wife, or me. I couldn’t believe she stayed with me. After all, I never told her about my condition, or at least the extent of it. She found out after we were married for a few years and my health deteriorated exponentially.

I loved her more than anyone or anything in my life. We had a magical relationship. We traveled to France, Italy, Switzerland, and Sweden. We spent months at a time in Europe. I was smoking a lot of weed. For some reason, it not only helped control the pain, but also the growth of the xanthomas, the cholesterol bumps, that were growing all over my joints as well as throughout my arteries and organs. I was extremely handicapped, but always tried to hide it from her. I was buying nitros on the black market from pharmaceutical salespeople. Often, I was chomping on them right in front of her to avoid another heart attack. She never knew what I was doing to survive. I certainly did not tell her. She encouraged me to walk but just did not realize that walking was like being under water for way too long and not being able to get to the surface. I tried but I just could not keep up.

Eventually the pain of claudication in my legs and the side effects from the medications were too much for me. I could barely walk. I knew she thought it was all in my head, or at least that was her way of coping. She was a terrific mother and an incredible wife. She was everything I ever dreamed of in a soul mate and more. But she was extremely depressed. Eventually I couldn’t go on walks with her or do much more than take photographs. We were together for several years at that point and I had lived with her longer than anyone but my parents. She was everything to me, as was my son. We spent many years together trying to recover from all we had been through. Despite the fact my condition was getting worse, my bloodline was intact.

At this point I was earning a living through telecom analysis. I put the camera aside, other than to photograph my family. I was a wreck. Shortly after we met I had a water skiing accident and fractured some vertebra. Then, when for the first time, I went snow skiing with her; I almost had a heart attack on the slopes and crashed into dozens of skiers. The adrenaline from any event like that was simply too much for my now fragile heart and I lost control when I nearly fainted. I wanted to be the athlete I was most of my life, but I couldn’t even walk to the ski lift without fear. I was making very good money as an analyst, but I never knew if I would wake up the next day and it got to both of us.

When my son was about three years old, I found out I was going to be a father again. This time we were going to have a daughter. I was amazed and happy. We both went through major depressions due to my surgeries and inability to live a non-handicapped life, even though I did my best to hide my pain from her. As soon as she told me, I knew I had to get my heart checked again. Shortly afterwards I had many more stents put in by Doctor Shlofmitz. He couldn’t believe the rate the xanthomas were growing all over my body and how fast the stents were failing.

About the time my wife was pregnant with my daughter, my analysis and software company was also failing. I couldn’t tell her. I changed my career from photography to technology and became an expert at analyzing data and generating designs for voice and data networks. But, I was having severe memory issues, from either the medications or the incredible pain the xanthomas were causing throughout my body. They were not only growing in my heart, but in every artery of my body as well as in many joints in my legs, elbows, and in my abdomen. Later as they found out even some the size of golf balls.

Although I had been earning significant dollars, we were spending money faster than I could make it. Our family income was supplemented by advances from her inheritance. For several years, I found new clients, just when it looked like we would run out of money. We were living well, but the house we bought in Centerport was starting to fall apart and my health was getting much worse. She was only too willing to contribute, by becoming the data entry administrator at my software company. I started that software project so she would be able to do the analysis without me. I even recruited her genius brother to architect the software. As we later found out, software development was an extremely risky and expensive undertaking. Eventually, we ran out of money. Sprint killed my business when they introduced a flat rate program. That program allowed callers to call anywhere, anytime, for a dime a minute, so no one needed an analysis anymore. Every telecom manager and consultant I knew was out of business within six month.

How could I tell my wife that I was about to die and my plan of leaving her my consulting and software company was failing? I attempted to start a business building e-commerce sites for electronic shopping malls, but someone and something was working against me. Everything got to her. I was sure that if she didn’t have a nervous breakdown, I was going to have one. Although I didn’t truly know her when we got engaged and eventually married, I grew to love her more deeply than anyone I ever loved.

As the truck pulled up to our home, to move her out, my heart started to miss beats so frequently I didn’t think I would live long enough to try to convince her to stay, nor did I think it was fair of me to ask. I cried a lot over my lost rock star. It paled in comparison to the utter anguish and feeling of loss I experienced when my wife left. I was on the Grim Reaper’s short list and almost didn’t care. Without her, I thought I deserved to die. I hit rock bottom.

When she left, she told me I didn’t matter anymore. She said she had to do what was best for her and our children and that it didn’t matter, as I was dying anyway. She said that I simply did not make enough money any longer and she had other choices that were promising her country clubs and life of luxury. Those were the last words she said to me as she left with all our furniture. I was alone in an empty house with just a bed, my computers and my old cameras. I hated life at that point and wanted to punish myself for marrying her in the first place. If I did not die from a heart attack, I was going to die from pure misery and depression. I pulled as much cash out of the house as the mortgage banks would allow, gave it to her, paid off the company debts we accumulated after Sprint’s program put us out of business, and signed a divorce agreement without even reading it. What did it matter anyway? I was in no position to support her and she didn’t want to draw on her inheritance to support us both. I was screwed financially and had gambled every relationship and every dollar I ever earned on our consulting business. She was no longer the free spirited, beautiful, European princess I fell in love with. She had toughened herself and made logical decisions, closing her heart to everything but herself.

I would be a single father from that point on. Our marriage counselor told me she was so far gone that there was no way to fix the relationship and that she was in a worse mental condition than I was physically, despite the fact I was suffering and about to die. Watching that moving truck pull away was one of the worst moments of my life. I didn’t leave my bed for several weeks. The following day I went on antidepressants, tranquilizers and sleeping pills, on top of all the heart medications. The stress nearly killed me right there. For weeks all I did was sleep, barely eating a thing. At times, I thought I would be better off taking all the pills at once. The pain in my chest and arms was nothing compared to the pain in my heart. No longer was life about my obsession with sex or having children. It was about survival for my children. I had to carry on, despite how deeply sad I was, filled with gut-wrenching guilt for bringing children into a world where they would soon have no father with a mother so distraught over my health she could barely function herself.

 

Chapter 27 – Love Conspiracy

I was getting in and out of quick hook-ups and quasi relationships faster than I could get to know many of the women I was screwing around with. I knew I had to slow down. I was going night and day. What I wanted was a real girlfriend, like my friend from Allentown, but we all know how that ended up. I seemed to attract some of the most beautiful woman in the world, but every one of them seemed to have issues, or maybe the issues were with me. I started on a period of intense self-evaluation and psychotherapy, wondering why I kept choosing the wrong women. I was frustrated. I wanted a soul mate, a wife, not just a girlfriend. I was approaching the age when most men and women start to dream about having their own families. It seemed like I was a better lover and sexual partner than a life partner. Or, was I just choosing the wrong women? Mostly, they were choosing me. Typically, I was just going along for the ride and I was still as naïve as ever.

By this time, I was a seasoned New York City bartender. I was working twenty-four seven, trying to build my photography business while bartending six days a week. I did not bartend on Sundays, as traditionally no one would put me on the schedule. I never thought much of it. I figured the bar was closed after the two late nights on Friday and Saturday. I would shoot at the beach all day, rush to the bar for the corporate networking events that started at five and then bartend until four in the morning, often getting home two hours later. I was working twenty hours a day most of the time. I was also hitting the psychologist twice a week. He told me I was playing the role of a rescuer in my relationships. He helped me recognize that I was naturally attracted to women with broken wings. I started to re-evaluate my playboy lifestyle. But it would be decades before I could manage my obsession with sex and my attraction to wounded souls.

For a short time, I dated many fewer women. The experience with my friend from Allentown had a lot to do with that. I was also a bit wiser by then. At least I thought I was. Some of the back-story, I have not shared in my chapters of love, will help clarify where I was in my life at that time. After finding out my roommate was doing blow every day, I moved from Hell’s Kitchen to SOHO. I thought I would put some distance between us, despite the fact he was a good friend. He was in and out of rehab. His girlfriend was doing so much blow she might as well have been a dealer. I had no other real friends in the city and was starting to get lonely. All the parties and sex in the world doesn’t replace genuine friendship or love.

I was getting in and out of quick hook-ups and quasi relationships faster than I could get to know many of the women I was screwing around with. I knew I had to slow down. I was going night and day. What I wanted was a real girlfriend, like my friend from Allentown, but we all know how that ended up. I seemed to attract some of the most beautiful woman in the world, but every one of them seemed to have issues, or maybe the issues were with me. I started on a period of intense self-evaluation and psychotherapy, wondering why I kept choosing the wrong women. I was frustrated. I wanted a soul mate, a wife, not just a girlfriend. I was approaching the age when most men and women start to dream about having their own families. It seemed like I was a better lover and sexual partner than a life partner. Or, was I just choosing the wrong women? Mostly, they were choosing me. Typically, I was just going along for the ride and I was still as naïve as ever.

By this time, I was a seasoned New York City bartender. I was working twenty-four seven, trying to build my photography business while bartending six days a week. I did not bartend on Sundays, as traditionally no one would put me on the schedule. I never thought much of it. I figured the bar was closed after the two late nights on Friday and Saturday. I would shoot at the beach all day, rush to the bar for the corporate networking events that started at five and then bartend until four in the morning, often getting home two hours later. I was working twenty hours a day most of the time. I was also hitting the psychologist twice a week. He told me I was playing the role of a rescuer in my relationships. He helped me recognize that I was naturally attracted to women with broken wings. I started to re-evaluate my playboy lifestyle. But it would be decades before I could manage my obsession with sex and my attraction to wounded souls.

For a short time, I dated many fewer women. The experience with my friend from Allentown had a lot to do with that. I was also a bit wiser by then. At least I thought I was. Some of the back-story, I have not shared in my chapters of love, will help clarify where I was in my life at that time. After finding out my roommate was doing blow every day, I moved from Hell’s Kitchen to SOHO. I thought I would put some distance between us, despite the fact he was a good friend. He was in and out of rehab. His girlfriend was doing so much blow she might as well have been a dealer. I had no other real friends in the city and was starting to get lonely. All the parties and sex in the world doesn’t replace genuine friendship or love.

My new landlord was a friend of my former roommate from Hell’s Kitchen. He made the introduction for me. I was living in a rent-controlled walk-up on Thompson Street, in the heart of the Village. One night I was asked to bartend on a Sunday and told I didn’t need to bring my bartenders uniform. The uniform consisted of black pants and a custom woven shirt that cost well over three hundred dollars. They were black and made from a water-resistant material. They were from some famous designer. I wondered why we didn’t need our uniforms that night, but I didn’t think much of it. I went to work in one of my black shirts as a backup. When I got there, the place was empty. I went up to the Michael Todd room where I was told I would be working alone for a few hours. I was told to take my shirt off. I was like “what? Take my shirt off?” My manager handed me a white collar that had a bow tie attached to it. The entire staff was shirtless wearing only these collars. The ladies wore tuxedo vests without shirts that didn’t leave much to the imagination. I put the collar on and thought it was going to be a hell of a night. How was I going to kick my sex obsession if I was half naked? I thought it was going to be one of those nights when I went home with another fan. All the same, I wanted to buy some new photographic lenses, so the money would come in handy. Plus, I just moved to SOHO and although it was a three-story, rent controlled, walk up, it was still expensive.

When the guests arrived, they seemed somehow different than the usual crowd. Also, they seemed to arrive at pretty much the same time. We went from empty to packed, so packed they had to close the entrance almost as soon as they opened. But there was more to this night than I knew. It was gay night and I became the toast of the bar. It was tradition, or so I was told, to put the straight bartenders who were working their first gay night at the bar by themselves. It was an initiation of sorts. I called the manager and asked why he put me on for a gay party. He told me that it was an every Sunday night event and that I would make twice as much money as I did on any other night. Plus, he was short a bartender. That appeased me, so I said fuck it and just bartended. It was strange that many of the patrons seemed to know who I was. Many knew my name. They were throwing huge tips at me no matter what size the drink order. It was literally raining money at my bar that night.

I made thousands of dollars. For the first time at the Palladium I was treated like a piece of ass. There were some straight people there, as well as people who loved in many different ways. However, most in the crowd were “Boy George gay” and wore absolutely crazy costumes. I had never seen men kiss and be so openly affectionate. It was not my scene, but I sucked it up and kept bartending. Then my landlord showed up and told me that I was going to have to find another place to stay, as she needed the apartment for herself. She even asked if she could stay with me that night. She also asked if I saw two bottles of prescriptions in the medicine cabinet. They were the same two bottles of pills my bartender friend found and I told to take. Apparently, she was the source of those Valium and Quaaludes. Holy shit! I thought now I was going to have to pay for them! So, I said, “No, I haven’t seen any prescriptions.”

After one of the weirdest and most lucrative nights of my bartending life, I went home with my landlord. She told me she had a friend who had tons of apartment buildings that were rent controlled and that, as a favor, she would introduce me. We slept with each other that night. It was nothing to write home about. She took a few pills and jumped me in the middle of the night. It was strange because she was much older than I was, maybe the oldest woman I ever slept with at that point. She had huge breasts, but they were hard as rocks. They must have been breast implants prior to the process being perfected. They stuck straight out. She kept calling me “Papi, Papi, Papi” and speaking to me in Spanish. She was from Puerto Rico. Eventually, I found out she was a prescription drug dealer long before it became popular.

Like so many others who hung out at the Palladium, she was making a living selling blow and prescription drugs. When I realized she was the one supplying my uptown friend, I knew I was going to be better off moving to one of the rent controlled apartments as soon as I could. She kept putting blow on my chest and snorting it. She wanted me to do some, but I had a bad experience with it. Frankly I was afraid of it. She would snort a line off my chest from a clear glass tube she wore around her neck that had a tiny gold spoon attached to the inside of the cap. She would stick it up my nose and say, just take a bump. Like a moron, I did. She started to rub it on my dick and suck it off. It started off being exhilarating, but after a while it just made me numb. She just wanted more and more sex. Apparently, blow would make a man last longer. We did it a few more times with her always on top, calling me Papi. The entire experience was surreal. It was one of the weirdest nights of my life. I had to keep from laughing at her. It was j comical.

The next morning, she wanted me to pack up my things and leave. She told me to call her friend. At first, I refused. I told her I would have to see him and sign a lease before I left. Plus, I just moved there from Hell’s Kitchen and moving in the city was a bitch. I had to do it with taxis and the subway. That same day I went to her friend’s skyscraper and he just handed me the keys to a 3-bedroom apartment on fifty-seventh street. He asked me if I knew how to paint. I said “Sure, my father taught me how to paint when I was young.” That’s all it took. Now, I had my own apartment on 57th Street, right by the bridge. It looked more like a hotel suite than an apartment, because it was completely furnished and had mirrors everywhere. I moved in a few days later. The few days I stayed in SOHO, my landlord crashed with me. The entire time she kept asking to join me in bed. I wanted out of there as soon as possible. I just couldn’t get past that Papi thing, or how she was obsessed with my body. She was getting off more on the blow than from me. I might as well have been a vibrating mannequin.

She was pissed when I didn’t want to sleep with her anymore. She was yelling all kinds of shit at me in Spanish, pissed she couldn’t find her blow. I sure as hell didn’t have it. I was sure she snorted the entire vile off my cock, but she swore she had a few grams left. By that time, I hadn’t slept much in days as that shit was cut with something like speed. It made both my heart and brain race, I didn’t like it. There was one benefit. After a twenty-hour day of both shooting at the beaches in the morning and then bartending all night, it would help me stay awake. When the other bartenders who did bumps regularly, heard I was doing it too, they started openly breaking it out behind the bar every night and trying to drag me into the bathrooms with them. I was no longer an outsider. I was one of them, snorting bumps most every night at about 2 am, to make it through my shift.

Living on fifty- Seventh Street by 1st Avenue was boring. It was nothing like the art district downtown where there were tons of restaurants and boutiques. It was a community downtown. Here it seemed like a business district. Plus, I was near the bridge and the cars were loud. I couldn’t leave my windows open without hearing the commotion. To make it worse, there was no natural light and no place to comfortably shoot. But, all the same, it was going to be my apartment and all I had to do to get It, was to paint the place. I didn’t even have to pay rent. So, I started painting.

It was not long after I started painting that my landlord started sending over a very hot model to bring me supplies. He asked if it was ok if she stayed with me from time to time. He said he was trying to get rid of her. She was one of those girls who had very little motivation. All she wanted to do was hang out and party. She would always bring tons of blow and booze with her. Just when I thought I got away from my drug-dealing landlord, I now had a drug obsessed roommate of sorts. She would come over and try and blow me most every time. There was no mystery or romance just, “do you want a blow job?” It was pretty much the first thing she would say to me when she came over. Like most men, I accepted every one of them. In between painting, she would blow me several times a day, without ever asking for anything.

She wasn’t a very successful model. She was in a different class than most of the models I would photograph. She was a decent runway model, until her coke habit started to get in the way. After a while I called my landlord and asked him if he could find another place for her. He refused and instead said he had another place for me. It was an uptown duplex with cathedral ceilings, a balcony and skylights. It was perfect for a photo studio. He said all I had to do was to paint it and manage the building; I could pay my rent by supervising contractors. I thought it was a great idea. Growing up I learned a lot about construction from my dad. We renovated so many bathrooms and kitchens. I had enough knowledge to pull this off.

After only being on 57th Street for a few weeks, I was moving uptown, quite close to Central Park. Pretty amazing! My new landlord seemed cool and he gave me a lease, which I didn’t even read carefully, I just signed it. My new coked-up model friend helped me move my things to my new prestigious penthouse duplex. I was feeling like, “The Man” now. I ran my photography studio from there, but shot at the beaches most weekends. I was bartending seventy to eighty hours per week and was now also managing the renovation of a sixty or seventy-unit building. I went from not liking blow and fearing it, to taking frequent bumps, just to just to stay awake through the now twenty-hour plus work day. I was getting it for free from the coked-up model and the other bartenders. Just about everyone at the Palladium had it. It was the eighties and blow seemed to be part of the NYC culture at that time. It certainly had taken over the entertainment industry.

I was living a photographer’s dream. Now that I had my own studio, models were coming to me around the clock. The agencies didn’t even make appointments, as I had an open call daily. From two to four pm the sun was in a bad position for shooting, so I just met with models anytime they rang my buzzer. That was when I tried to rest. I would get to the bar by five for happy hour and business networking. I was invited to many high-end corporate parties and I always had some model on my arm. Sometimes, even two. Often, models would come for a call and just throw themselves at me before I even took my camera out. There were many days and nights spent servicing women from around the world. I wrote about a few of them that were more than quick hook ups. I don’t remember them all. I was practically a gigolo, as they were always bringing me gifts. The young models from around the world, many just eighteen, were equally sexually free. This was about when AIDS became a real threat, so I used protection almost every time. If I knew the model was a virgin, I would make an exception. I learned that virgins did not get as wet as non-virgins, until after the first time. I started to feel as if the virgin models were telling each other about me and I became the go to guy to lose one’s virginity to. It was an unbelievable time.

But then I started to fall in love with my Midwest farmer’s daughter – neighbor and it was also not too long after my model friend from Allentown was raped by her agent. I was still very concerned about the city and how devious people could be. After I punched out that bartender for giving me acid on a piece of chewing gum, I was fired from the Palladium. But now that I had a studio, and I was in high demand and shooting full time, it didn’t much matter. By that time, I had supervised the renovation of most of the bathrooms and windows in the building, even getting some of my childhood friends’ contracts to perform the work. But, I was still burning the candle at both ends, scheduling photo shoot after photo shoot in addition to setting up exhibitions at clubs and restaurants all over the city. After I left the Palladium I no longer was given free bumps by the bartenders. I got most of it from the coked-up model who was relentless in her quest to see me as often as she could. She would bring me coke whenever I wanted, with a side order of head. I started to realize when I didn’t have blow, I would not only crave it, I had to sedate myself until I got more. I was addicted. One day when I asked my friend to bring me a gram or two she said, “you have to get it from the boss this time.” I was like…”the boss? Who’s the boss?” She quickly replied, “Our landlord. Who do you think is paying for all the blow I’m giving you.” And that’s when the problems began.

I went to see my landlord. He was no longer the nice guy who just wanted someone to watch his building and paint his apartments. He wanted to know how I was going to pay for the thousands of dollars of coke he was sending over. I was so incredibly naïve. I had no idea he was playing me. He kind of laughed it off and then said, “Just do me a favor and we are even. Take this cash to the racetrack and bet on this horse. Once you get the ticket give it to the guy in the hat by window. Once you give him that ticket, we are even.” I said what if the horse doesn’t win. He told me not to worry, that it would. I went to the track, placed the bet, gave the ticket to that guy in the hat and my debt was paid. I checked and the horse did win, so the fix was in. I started to realize it was not just people in the entertainment business who were obsessed with blow. Even millionaires and real estate tycoons were doing it. It just seemed like the entire city was hooked on blow, including me.

I started to shoot editorials for magazines regularly with designs from Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Henry Grethel, and numerous other designers. The Stock Market was selling my photos to Fortune 500 companies. There were huge paychecks attached to those sales. I was still modeling here and there, occasionally for GQ. However, the city was getting played out and I longed for my true home, Long Island.

Despite being home sick, all was going well. I was becoming a celebrity photographer. I frequently traveled between NY and LA to shoot catalogs, fur coats, Miss Canada and “Miss Everything.” More and more pageant contestant models were coming out of the woodwork. I just didn’t have the time to photograph or even interview them all, so they started to bribe me with travel and sex. Meanwhile, my Midwest farmer’s daughter, who lived next door and who I was falling in love with, was doing blow with her roommates. I must have been juggling a hundred different women at that point. My landlord kept asking me to come to his skyscraper to hang out. I didn’t have the time and I was more than a little leery of him, knowing he was doing blow and feeding it to many models. He asked me if I liked the blowjobs from the girl who was supplying me with blow. It became obvious that he was up to more than just dealing.

Shortly after I went to Hollywood for an assignment for Vidal Sassoon I learned the full truth. My landlord was connected to some very bad people, including the agent who raped my friend. When I got back to New York, my girlfriend had moved into my apartment! Now things started to make sense. My landlord was working with that deplorable agent to recruit girls, promise them careers, lend them money, get them addicted to cocaine, and then turn them into high end prostitutes. This was his major source of income. He took all the money he made illegally and laundered it in real estate. He was a pimp, drug dealer and a criminal. He maintained all the apartments so he had a place for his coked-up models to live and work. He was running a prostitution ring. His girls were thousand dollar plus a night call girls who he got addicted to coke and then were blackmailed to pay off their bills. They would threaten them, even rape them, if they did not pay.

When I moved out, he asked me for back rent and told me to give it to the model agent who raped my friend. I never even knew he was friends with that crook. I was terrified but I stood my ground and told him “I don’t owe you a dime because I painted and took care of your building as we agreed.” He responded by telling me we could forget any back rent if I pushed a guy, who was going to testify against him, off the train tracks. I wanted no part of it. I told my father the entire story. He went to the city that very day and I never heard from my landlord again. My father probably saved my life. Dad was tough that way. So, I left NYC and moved back in with my parents. I confessed to him about snorting blow. He cried and I swore I would never do it again. And, I never have and have preached about the dangers of drugs every since including counseling many friends who were addicted to get into treatment.

I started my life over at a film laboratory in NYC, New York Film Works. I was paying off my father who fronted me some money. It was a huge blow to my ego to have to start over, making minimum wage. However, I eventually obtained an amazing education from the top photographers in the city on a variety of proprietary lighting and film processing techniques. Also, over time, I learned how to print and use every darkroom tool in the business. I was now smarter and humbled by the experience. It was not soon afterwards that I met my rock star girlfriend, on the train, while commuting to work. I didn’t have a car or even bus money, so I walked three miles every day to the train station and back. I had not saved a penny. I spent everything I made as a top photographer, partying and on women. It was good therapy to walk. After a few months, I stopped thinking about and craving blow. Eventually I eliminated every single NYC friend, concerned that they were part of that group of notorious people intentionally ruining peoples’ lives to turn them into slaves and worse, unwilling prostitutes.

This was the point in my life that I started getting crazy feelings in my chest including pain and tremors. It started when I was living in the city. It felt as if I was going to have a heart attack and I was having issues breathing. I thought that I was self- destructing from all the drugs, booze, twenty-four hour back-to-back work days, and the wild partying with women all night long. I went back to being an athlete and tried to start running again, but eventually was not able to do much more than walk. That was a sign that it wasn’t the partying that was causing the breathing issues. It was much worse. It was not long afterwards that I fell in love with my rock star fiancé. It was also the time I learned why I had all that pain in my chest, issues breathing, and growths all over my elbows. I was told I was dying.

 

Chapter 26 – A Bitter Sweet Chapter

By this time I was shooting for almost every modeling agency from NY to LA, as well as some of the most elite models from all over the world. I was living in Hell’s kitchen and just getting to know the city. Other than family events, or as a child, going to work with my father, I didn’t know Manhattan. For the first time in my life, I was learning the streets of New York. Not just as a passenger in my father’s car, or a school field trip, but by living and working in the city. It was a virtual playground with huge nightclubs and millions of women from around the world. I was in a single man’s paradise, as there was a plethora of opportunity and a smorgasbord of women from just about everywhere. That is why I found it so strange that I was falling in love with a shy coal miner’s daughter from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

I don’t understand how I could fall in love so often, or why certain women immediately triggered that love at first sight switch in my brain. But those love hormones, like dopamine and all the others, would simply drive me wild at times. I would experience these amazing floodgates of love for certain women. She was one of them. After our first shoot I thought we would spend a lot of time together. It was a simple shoot. She modeled in a torn pair of jeans and a ripped t-shirt. She was slender and much cooler looking than most models. She carried herself like the main character in the feature film “Flash Dance.” That was the style at the time. She was definitely a tomboy, but shy. Acting and modeling was drawing her out of her shell. She had long curly brown hair. Not naturally curly, just part of the act. Kind of her unique style. She was very fashionable. She wore outfits that looked like they came out of Vogue or Elle’s sportswear section. She came off as a sexy, hot, jock, dancer chick.

By this time I was shooting for almost every modeling agency from NY to LA, as well as some of the most elite models from all over the world. I was living in Hell’s kitchen and just getting to know the city. Other than family events, or as a child, going to work with my father, I didn’t know Manhattan. For the first time in my life, I was learning the streets of New York. Not just as a passenger in my father’s car, or a school field trip, but by living and working in the city. It was a virtual playground with huge nightclubs and millions of women from around the world. I was in a single man’s paradise, as there was a plethora of opportunity and a smorgasbord of women from just about everywhere. That is why I found it so strange that I was falling in love with a shy coal miner’s daughter from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

I don’t understand how I could fall in love so often, or why certain women immediately triggered that love at first sight switch in my brain. But those love hormones, like dopamine and all the others, would simply drive me wild at times. I would experience these amazing floodgates of love for certain women. She was one of them. After our first shoot I thought we would spend a lot of time together. It was a simple shoot. She modeled in a torn pair of jeans and a ripped t-shirt. She was slender and much cooler looking than most models. She carried herself like the main character in the feature film “Flash Dance.” That was the style at the time. She was definitely a tomboy, but shy. Acting and modeling was drawing her out of her shell. She had long curly brown hair. Not naturally curly, just part of the act. Kind of her unique style. She was very fashionable. She wore outfits that looked like they came out of Vogue or Elle’s sportswear section. She came off as a sexy, hot, jock, dancer chick.

She took the train from Allentown to the city. She would stay with me as often as she could. We always shot at sunset. There was a beautiful golden glow emanating from the windows. The entire floor to ceiling wall of windows, facing the sunset, was the reason I sublet the place to begin with. That wall of light was my first natural light studio. She would come by unannounced. I was always happy whenever she buzzed up. It made the apartment start to feel like a home. She was generally in the city for casting calls and to see her agent, so I was pretty much last on her list. But I was a steady stop. She had a boyfriend back in Allentown, which is why, at first, we never became more than, friends. We would order in Chinese food or pizza and hang out. She was very affectionate and was always hanging onto me. I loved that feeling.

What we became is rather difficult to describe. I did have that initial love at first sight feeling, but it took so long for us to become intimate, that I was screwing around with a lot of other women. Plus, I had to control my feelings, because she had a boyfriend. It was an entirely different story after she broke up with him. We would have sex every time I saw her, even though I was screwing around with everyone else. So as much as I began to love her and build on that incredible, love at first sight feeling, I was in a strange place, juggling many women at the same time.

I may have had many chapters of love, but I did love every woman I slept with. I have chosen to love them all, almost as a religion. I often think that love is the universal foundation of any religion or society. Even though we had great sex, often in front of those enormous windows, we were never exclusive. Oh yes, the windows. At first we thought the coating on the windows would prevent people from seeing in. Later we learned that at sunset you could see everything. We were more careful after that, but we were certain scores of people had seen us.

It must have been very erotic for our neighbors whose windows faced ours. There was a month we were going at it almost every day while we were playing house together. Sex with her was almost always the same. We would shoot at sunset, smoke some herb or hash, put on Cat Stevens and screw. Most of the time we would just strip in front of the windows and make love standing up. I think she got off on it. Outside of photography and sex, we didn’t speak about too much else. We had three to five hours for each other at a time and then we were both off doing our own thing.

Eventually she started getting a lot of attention, becoming quite a bit more polished, but had less and less time for me. When she wasn’t there I hooked up with other women, but I always hoped it would be her who rang my buzzer. I started to feel I was as much a hotel room to her as I was a fun hook-up, but nothing more. Over time, we drifted apart, but occasionally, we would meet for lunch. Our relationship turned into more of a friendship again. We just hung out instead of hooking-up. We never discussed why. It just changed. I had a feeling she was seeing someone else in town. I wasn’t jealous. I was kind of relieved, as by that time, I was hitting everything that moved. She became family to me. I loved her like I would if I had grown up with her as a neighbor, or true friend. The city was no bed of roses. I started to see the real underbelly of New York City, especially with what was about to happen to her. It was a playground, albeit a dangerous one.

She didn’t know where she was or what had happened when she awoke, naked in a strange bed. She had no recollection of how she got there. She knew she had been violated. She was terrified. She saw guys with guns standing outside the doorway of the bedroom she woke up in. She heard a voice she thought was her agent. She told me she never trusted him. She said there was something creepy about him. Somehow, she got caught up with some bad business dealings and now she was paying the price.

When my phone rang, I didn’t know who it was at first. The woman on the other side of the phone was crying and absolutely terrified. She sounded familiar, but as she was whispering I thought it might be a crank call. But, the crying was too real for it to be anything but a call for help. As she started to calm herself, she told me everything she knew. What she couldn’t tell me was where she was. She was terrified of the guys with the guns. She saw them on their ankles through the doorway that was intentionally left open. As she became more lucid, I could tell it was my friend. She told me she had been raped and she was afraid to get up and leave. She was afraid the guys with the guns would kill her.

Since she thought she heard her agents voice I told her I would call him and to hang up and not say a thing. I told her to call me back in a few minutes. If she didn’t hear a phone ring she would call me back, or the police. As soon as she hung up I called the agent. He picked up as if nothing was wrong. I asked him if he had seen her because I had a booking for her first thing in the morning. It wasn’t unusual for me to call him, as I originally booked her for a gig through him. He started to get suspicious but I played it cool. I could tell he was lying when He said, he would have to make a few phone calls to find her.

Then the impossible happened. She picked up the other phone and started dialing me. I couldn’t believe it. She was dialing as I was speaking to him. Now, I was terrified for myself as well. If he was a rapist and killer, he would come for me as well. She heard my voice and said “John, Is that you?” I played it so cool. I couldn’t believe I thought of this. I said “yes! I was just asking for you. I have to come pick you up right now. We have a shoot at dawn.” I acted like I had no idea she was in trouble. She just kept saying, “Ok. Ok. Ok,” to everything I said. She couldn’t say much more. I said she sounded tired and she took the hint. She said she had fallen asleep and asked me what time it was.

The agent thought he had gotten away with it. He said he would send her down when I got there. When I got there, she was a mess. They did a job on her. Her makeup was running down her face from crying so much. I said, “oh man you look drunk. Are you drunk again?” They fell for it and let her go with me. I saw the guns and knew that if anyone said anything about it, we were both dead.

I took her home to my apartment and bathed her as if she was my child. She cried a good part of the night. Later, she admitted that she had taken advances from the agency to pay for her family’s food and other bills, thinking that she had a huge booking coming that would pay for it. I had no idea her family was having such a tough time of it. I began to realize that the reason she started spending time with me was that her agent wanted her to. When she stopped being his eyes in my apartment, he punished her.

Apparently, all the hash and herb we were smoking was stashed in my sublet apartment. She was picking it up and transporting it to him to pay her family’s bills. I was the fall guy in case the place was raided. He was also using her to make sure none of it went missing. The very night she came back to my apartment she asked me for a pair of socks. I didn’t have any so I went to my roommate’s drawer to borrow a pair. He was never there, so I didn’t think he would mind.

When I opened the drawer, I saw at least a hundred kilos of Lebanese brown hash. I was done. I knew I had to get out of there. I told no one what happened and that I just had to move downtown for work. My roommate helped me find a place downtown. I learned later that there was more of a connection between my roommate and the agent than I knew, but it took months for me to find out. When I left her at the train station we both said we were going home, never to return to the city. She left. I stayed, but I never spoke to her or her agent again. Her last words to me were that the only reason she slept with me was because she wanted to and that she loved me. No matter what she did, or how she deceived me, I loved her and was devastated by what happened to her. It taught me how dangerous the city could be. I thanked God my father taught me how to survive challenging situations.

Later, I learned the rest of the story. She took an apartment from her agent on credit. He promised her she was going to get that big break and threw phony contracts at her to convince her she was going to be rich and famous. He advanced her money for her fancy outfits and she got lost in the dark underbelly of the industry. She was a great friend and a unique chapter of love. If it were not for her getting into that trouble and me learning from it, I could have been next in line, as there were so many notorious people working within the entertainment industry back in the 80’s.

 

Chapter 24 – Strawberry Fields

When I first started modeling I did not talk about it much because I didn’t think I was going to get a lot of work. Not when I saw the competition, guys who looked like chiseled statues. I always loved photography, so I moved to the opposite side of the camera. Not only because I loved photography, but also because of my passion for the female figure. As fate would have it for a brief period in my life, I was modeling and going to interviews and casting calls. Often I would meet incredible models who looked like goddesses. They had to have super hero DNA, or the blood of actual goddesses running through their veins. They were not mere mortals.

She was one of those models. When she walked down the street, everyone, stopped in their tracks and stared. People thought she was a movie star. She looked very much like a European Barbie doll. Perhaps I put her on a pedestal, but she was undeniably gorgeous. She had golden blonde hair and blue eyes, a combination I found particularly alluring. Add perfectly cut cheekbones, full lips, almond eyes and perfect curves and you have a true goddess. Every man, especially if he is a male photographer, wants his mate to be his muse, no matter what else she does.

I don’t remember what the casting call was for, but only the top male and female models in the city were invited. An agent tipped me off to it. I wasn’t with an agency at the time. When I arrived at the casting call there were many female models, but only a few men. They wanted a very specific look for the male model, so the invitations were limited. As I waited my turn to see the casting team I met my goddess. She was shy. She shared a few stories of her modeling experiences. She modeled all over the world. She was staying at John Lennon’s apartment, near Strawberry Fields at the Dakota. We laughed and flirted. She was very calm and tranquil, as if she had everything anyone wanted and not a care in the world. Girls, well goddesses like her have so many opportunities it creates a certain inner confidence. In her case, it was accompanied by inner beauty.

When I first started modeling I did not talk about it much because I didn’t think I was going to get a lot of work. Not when I saw the competition, guys who looked like chiseled statues. I always loved photography, so I moved to the opposite side of the camera. Not only because I loved photography, but also because of my passion for the female figure. As fate would have it for a brief period in my life, I was modeling and going to interviews and casting calls. Often I would meet incredible models who looked like goddesses. They had to have super hero DNA, or the blood of actual goddesses running through their veins. They were not mere mortals.

She was one of those models. When she walked down the street, everyone, stopped in their tracks and stared. People thought she was a movie star. She looked very much like a European Barbie doll. Perhaps I put her on a pedestal, but she was undeniably gorgeous. She had golden blonde hair and blue eyes, a combination I found particularly alluring. Add perfectly cut cheekbones, full lips, almond eyes and perfect curves and you have a true goddess. Every man, especially if he is a male photographer, wants his mate to be his muse, no matter what else she does.

I don’t remember what the casting call was for, but only the top male and female models in the city were invited. An agent tipped me off to it. I wasn’t with an agency at the time. When I arrived at the casting call there were many female models, but only a few men. They wanted a very specific look for the male model, so the invitations were limited. As I waited my turn to see the casting team I met my goddess. She was shy. She shared a few stories of her modeling experiences. She modeled all over the world. She was staying at John Lennon’s apartment, near Strawberry Fields at the Dakota. We laughed and flirted. She was very calm and tranquil, as if she had everything anyone wanted and not a care in the world. Girls, well goddesses like her have so many opportunities it creates a certain inner confidence. In her case, it was accompanied by inner beauty.

That evening, I picked her up in my parents second car. I didn’t have one at the time. I took her to Hammerheads in Levittown. It was the only place open that had a dance night. This was the Saturday Night Fever days. Disco was huge, as was dancing to the songs of the Bee Gees. We danced all night. All eyes were on us. People started to dance next to us and interact with us. We managed to have fun anyway. Eventually, she started to grind against me and shortly afterwards we were kissing on the dance floor. The crowd was getting into it as much as we were. They were considerably older.

We went to the car, but it was so cold I invited her to my apartment. I was nervous. It was hardly the mansion I picked her up at. When I did, I distinctly remember her saying, “don’t you know who that is?” She mentioned a name I didn’t recognize and I said, “yes, of course.” I just wanted to appear cool. It very well may have been John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono, but I’m not sure.

She was demure, until we hit the bedroom. She was a screamer and was particularly loud when I went down on her. I had to put my hand over her mouth to keep the decibels down. When she was orgasming I had to keep both hands over her mouth. I learned later, the reason she had such intense orgasms was putting my hands over her mouth was a huge turn-on for her. In fact, she was screaming so loud to get me to do so. The fact that my father was sleeping upstairs and the door was open, was a non-issue for her. In fact, it was a turn on. I started to think she wanted him to catch us. My apartment at the time was my parent’s empty apartment. We were going at it for hours. Every round was accompanied by more screaming. I was amazed that this “Wonder Woman” was making love to me.

She told me she never went anywhere until she was 19. She lived a very sheltered life. I was surprised her legal guardians allowed her to go out with me. She was going to do so no matter what they said. It was more than a year since she turned 18 and could legally do whatever she wanted. It was obvious her parents had died and various legal guardians ruled her life. So, I was her rebellious interlude. I took her home that night and walked her to the Dakota.

That was to be the last time I would ever see her. Her guardians wouldn’t allow it. They still had a lot of pull over her. I brought her home hours after curfew and we were both an absolute, sweaty, wrinkled mess. It was a sight they could not miss, as they were waiting for us by the front door.

I have loved women that many people would consider average looking… tom boy types, as well as some of the most beautiful women on this earth. I can tell you that love has little to do with physical beauty, even if that is the initial attraction. It always comes down to chemistry and chemistry we had. All the same, for a Long Island boy who was modeling for about five minutes, sleeping with such a beautiful woman was quite an experience.

Within a few years, I would see her in hundreds of magazine editorials and knew her career had taken off. I always wanted to contact her agent but never had the courage to deal with her guardians again. They were pretty threatening when I dropped her off, so I just let it be. I am sure if she could have, she would have gotten in touch with me. Her eyes told me she was falling in love with me. Throughout my career I learned just how devious and underhanded people can be to control others. The extent of control some utilized to manipulate people’s lives was unreal. Often, I dreamed about her. Eventually I forget her name. What I will never forget is that of all the people she could have disobeyed her guardians for, she chose me. It was the first time she rebelled. Despite the short duration of our chapter of love, I was honored that she chose me and I keep a special place in my heart for her.

 

Chapter 22 – Quaaludes and MTV

I worked at the Palladium during the height of its popularity. I photographed many of the bartenders in NYC and played a significant role in helping start some of their modeling and acting careers. Richard Grieco was a bartender there. I photographed him in Central Park, two weeks later Elite signed him and he got the 21 Jump Street gig. The bartenders were mostly male, as Steve Rebel, the owner was more into guys than girls. He gained a reputation for being flamboyantly gay, but more so as a, tax-evading, drug addict despite the fact he created one of the most amazing nightclubs the world had ever seen. Quite possibly it was the availability of drugs that made those clubs so popular, worldwide.

He would come to the main bar and impatiently say, “get me a glass of vodka.” It had to be Stoli or he would fire you on the spot. We were all coached that if Steve came to the bar to give him anything he wanted. And, if it was vodka he wanted, to give it to him quickly so he would calm down. It seemed he would always come to me when I was working the main bar. Typically, I worked the second level bar, for the celebrity parties in the Michael Todd Room. That was where Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd screened movies before the venue became a nightclub. On this night, the place was slower than I had ever seen and Steve was not in a good mood. He literally dumped what looked like an eight ball on the bar, rolled up a one-hundred-dollar bill and snorted it right there. Not that I had all that much experience, but it appeared to be several grams of blow. I don’t know how anyone could do that and survive. He also dumped a handful of pills onto the bar. As he was going through them, he shouted, “where’s my vodka,” many times, even when it was sitting right in front of him. Not that he was mean or even loud just totally drugged and typically intoxicated. Most nights you would never even know he was there as he was back stage with a celebrity or a musical performer. No matter what else he was, he was as cool is it got back then. He was the host of the most popular night club in the world twice. First with Studio 54 and then with the Palladium.

In any case, I quickly poured him another glass of Stoli. He downed the first one like it was water. I served them up and chilled the way he liked them. Shortly afterwards he downed many of the pills and then asked who the bartender was next to me. I said I had no idea. He said, “he’s fucking ugly, fire him right now.” The guy was one of the new bartenders. He was friendly and most of us thought he was a good bartender and co-worker. I did not want to see the poor guy fired. I heard that he screwed around with Steve to get the job. It was obvious what was going on. The guy was not putting-out for him any more so he was going to fire him. I told the guy to hide, but Steve called the manager who fired the guy on the spot. I was pretty shaken up, so when the manager asked us if anyone wanted to leave early, one of the female bartenders and I accepted the offer. She saw the entire incident and wanted out of there. We knew that Steve was messed up and didn’t want to take the chance that we would be the next one fired, especially me, as I ignored his demand to fire the guy.

I worked at the Palladium during the height of its popularity. I photographed many of the bartenders in NYC and played a significant role in helping start some of their modeling and acting careers. Richard Grieco was a bartender there. I photographed him in Central Park, two weeks later Elite signed him and he got the 21 Jump Street gig. The bartenders were mostly male, as Steve Rebel, the owner was more into guys than girls. He gained a reputation for being flamboyantly gay, but more so as a, tax-evading, drug addict despite the fact he created one of the most amazing nightclubs the world had ever seen. Quite possibly it was the availability of drugs that made those clubs so popular, worldwide.

He would come to the main bar and impatiently say, “get me a glass of vodka.” It had to be Stoli or he would fire you on the spot. We were all coached that if Steve came to the bar to give him anything he wanted. And, if it was vodka he wanted, to give it to him quickly so he would calm down. It seemed he would always come to me when I was working the main bar. Typically, I worked the second level bar, for the celebrity parties in the Michael Todd Room. That was where Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd screened movies before the venue became a nightclub. On this night, the place was slower than I had ever seen and Steve was not in a good mood. He literally dumped what looked like an eight ball on the bar, rolled up a one-hundred-dollar bill and snorted it right there. Not that I had all that much experience, but it appeared to be several grams of blow. I don’t know how anyone could do that and survive. He also dumped a handful of pills onto the bar. As he was going through them, he shouted, “where’s my vodka,” many times, even when it was sitting right in front of him. Not that he was mean or even loud just totally drugged and typically intoxicated. Most nights you would never even know he was there as he was back stage with a celebrity or a musical performer. No matter what else he was, he was as cool is it got back then. He was the host of the most popular night club in the world twice. First with Studio 54 and then with the Palladium.

In any case, I quickly poured him another glass of Stoli. He downed the first one like it was water. I served them up and chilled the way he liked them. Shortly afterwards he downed many of the pills and then asked who the bartender was next to me. I said I had no idea. He said, “he’s fucking ugly, fire him right now.” The guy was one of the new bartenders. He was friendly and most of us thought he was a good bartender and co-worker. I did not want to see the poor guy fired. I heard that he screwed around with Steve to get the job. It was obvious what was going on. The guy was not putting-out for him any more so he was going to fire him. I told the guy to hide, but Steve called the manager who fired the guy on the spot. I was pretty shaken up, so when the manager asked us if anyone wanted to leave early, one of the female bartenders and I accepted the offer. She saw the entire incident and wanted out of there. We knew that Steve was messed up and didn’t want to take the chance that we would be the next one fired, especially me, as I ignored his demand to fire the guy. We were kind of spoiled. When you are bartending six or seven nights a week and you get the opportunity to get a Saturday night off, knowing the cash is going to be limited that night, you look for an excuse to go out yourself.

We decided to go on a date and went back to my apartment to freshen up and get ready. I just moved into a third story walk up on Thompson Street between Spring and Broom, just down the block from the Manhattan brewery. I was relatively new to New York City, so she was going to give me a tour of the underground nightclubs. Not the commercial places, the underground clubs you couldn’t get into unless you knew someone. She knew everyone, partially because she was ridiculously sexy. She had a downtown, New York City, Latino look. They also knew her because she was exceptionally talented.

Most people didn’t even know these clubs existed. We took a cab back to my place. She brought a big bag of clothes so she could change out of her work outfit. After work, I would generally go home with a random woman. She would go dancing. We never hung-out before. I didn’t think she liked me. After she saw me protect the other bartender, especially because I was straight and he was gay, she seemed to change her opinion of me. I think it moved her. She went on and on about how brave I was. Frankly, I was just very naïve as to how many bartenders lost their jobs on his impulsive drug induced mood swings. Even with my naiveté I was a cocky guy who knew I was ringing up almost twice what the other bartenders were ringing up most nights, and never thought he would lose a cash cow like me. I simply put more effort into the job than most people did.

After a few drinks at the Palladium to calm us down, we made it back to my apartment. I just finished moving in so I had a bed laying on the floor and a closet filled with clothing. Other than my photography equipment and a fireplace, there wasn’t much else. She was in the bathroom and came running out screaming, “Where did you get this?” She had two bottles of prescription drugs in her hands. She was freaking out. I said I had no idea that they were even in the apartment. I never opened the medicine cabinet. I thought it was just a mirror. She found a bottle of Quaaludes with about 200 pills in it and a bottle of Valium with just about as many pills. She was flipping out. She told me that they were worth thousands of dollars and that we should sell them and split the money. I said, “You can take them. I’m not selling drugs.” I didn’t want any part of it.

In fact, the only reason I was living in SOHO was because my uptown roommate hid over a hundred kilos of hash in his sock drawer. When I found it while I was looking to borrow a pair of socks, I flipped out, realizing that I was the fall guy if anyone discovered the hash. He was never there. I liked hash. He gave me a several thousand-dollar chunk of it when I left. As far as I knew, hash was just condensed cannabis. All the same, I wanted out of there. It was a risk I never signed up for when I sublet the place. She convinced me to take a Valium. That relaxed me. She took half a Valium and a full Quaalude before we went out. By the time we hit the street she was all over me, hanging onto me like I was her boyfriend. We kissed a few times. I wasn’t sure if it was the pills that were increasing her affection, or true admiration. Ten minutes after we left my apartment, she said she had to get something to eat. She was so fucked up and I thought that food would help.

She took me to my first health food restaurant. I remember her ordering a sprout, peanut butter and sardine sandwich, on homemade, dry multigrain bread. Even the thought of it was disgusting. As she ate, the sprouts were sticking to her tongue and lips. She was smacking her lips together because the peanut butter was like glue. It was hilarious to see such a beautiful woman smacking her lips with sprouts stuck to them. After a while her mouth was so sticky and covered with sprouts, she couldn’t even eat properly. We left to go to the White Bar which was a very exclusive underground basement club that movie stars and celebrities would go to, so they wouldn’t be hassled by paparazzi or the press. It was almost impossible to get in. When we got there, it became obvious that she knew the security team. We had to walk down a long flight of white steps. Inside, she introduced me to the owners and got the ok to bring me in. She slid down the stairs one stumble at a time in her giant high heels. She literally slid across the floor, at the base of the stairs, into a group of VIP’s. Everyone ran over to check on her. I held her tightly after that, as we went to our table.

We ordered champagne, as that was the cool thing to do back then. Jack Nicholson sat down at the table in front of us, in the middle of the room. He was with two incredibly beautiful models. I could swear the models were doing lines. I kept seeing the girls put their head down and then come up sniffing. I was so drunk, or possibly it was the Valium, that I pulled my chair over to his table and told him that I loved One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I also told him that my schizophrenic, uncle spent time in Creedmoor undergoing electric shock therapy, just like his character had in the movie and that his performance moved me because of it. He thanked me for sharing my experience and we had a drink before he left with the models. I remember he was so much shorter than he looked in his movies. He was also much more handsome.

My date thought that I was going to be thrown out of the place. It had the opposite effect. We instantly became the coolest people there. I really only sat down to him to thank him for making people aware of what was really going on in mental hospitals. They were mistreating our family members and experimenting on them with unproven very radicle procedures at that time. They were treated more like inmates then they were sick people in need of help to manage their lives. In any case it was a great honor to meet him and for him to invite me to sit with him after I shared my gratitude. My friend was speechless. Shortly afterwards, she was slobbering on the table and spilling drinks, so we decided to go back to my apartment. She wanted me to take a Quaalude. She promised me that we would have great sex if I did. When we got back to my apartment she took off all her clothing and got into my bed. She made me take one of the pills and then off came my clothes.

We woke up the next morning in each other’s arms, naked. I remember her looking into my eyes and asking me if anything happened the night before. She didn’t let go of me until I told her the entire story. She remembered nothing. After I took the Quaalude, things got fuzzy for me so I couldn’t remember anything after we took our clothes off. When she asked me if we had sex, I said no. She was not the type to sleep around and the thought that she had, troubled her. She was, as far as I knew, quite conservative in that area. My package was sore so we must have done more than simply hug.

I gave her both bottles of the pills. She gave many of them to the other bartenders and to many of the actors and famous models that were regulars at the Palladium. She told everyone that they were a gift from me, so I became even cooler. It was not long after that the FBI raided the club and focused on the bartender’s cash registers and tip buckets. Steve Rebel was known for having gone to prison for tax evasion and the FBI thought he was cheating again. As it turned out, most of the bartenders were stealing from the club by not ringing up expensive drink orders and taking huge tips from the patrons. As we didn’t always pool our tips, they could get away with it. I think she along with almost every other bartender failed the lie detector test the FBI gave us. I don’t remember if she lost her job along with so many others. They asked us about drugs and what we knew about stealing by the other bartenders.

I lied about using drugs. For some reason the polygraph didn’t pick it. I thought I was going to be fired. I was actually promoted. I was not only getting the best shifts and more celebrity parties but also working the VIP list at some of the more prestigious celebrity events. I don’t believe she made the cut. I never saw her again until she got her big break as a video jock. Rumor is she gave the casting directors some of the Quaaludes. She was a short but memorable chapter of love and the evening was one of the funniest of my entire life. She is still incredibly beautiful. We bumped into each other on the street in New York City, when she was on a date. It was rather awkward. We never spoke of that night again. It was several days before my package felt right again. Whatever we did, it must have been intense.

I stayed at the Palladium for months. I left after I became involved in a fistfight with one of the other bartenders. The guy dripped acid on chewing gum and gave many of us pieces without telling us. But, that is another chapter. As for this chapter of love, the strangest thing about it is that I can’t remember anything about the evening, from the time we got back to my apartment and our clothes came off.

 

Chapter 20 – The Coat Check Girl

I was working at REDS as a promoter. Each week I would recruit thousands of teenage girls to come to a REDS Teen Dance Party. I originated the idea, handled the marketing, business development and exclusively promoted it. The lines around the club on Sunday afternoons were longer than the lines at the movie theaters. They were not paying me the way they promised, so I said screw it, and started to work as a bartender and part time manager at the Salty Dog. There are so many stories from my time at the Salty Dog, I could probably write a book about those experiences alone. However, the one that stands out as the most memorable chapter of love, was with the coat check girl. She was not the coat check girl when I started bartending there. Over time, she hung out at the bar so often that the GM gave her the job just to keep her busy. She was very beautiful, petite, black hair and a body to die for. She was down to earth and smart. We talked all the time. She became a good friend.

There was a lot of sexual tension between us. But, she was shy and also, engaged. I don’t know why her engagement ended, but as soon as it did, the flirting became much more extreme. I started hanging out at the front door, with the bouncers, just because I wanted to spend more time with her. She started working just before the holidays. It was cold, that year, so there were always tons of coats. In fact, there were so many that they could barely fit in the coatroom. Often, coats would be tagged and brought to the second floor. That was the restaurant area. That area closed at about ten pm so all the booths became another spot to store the overflow of coats the de facto second floor coatroom so to speak.

I was working at REDS as a promoter. Each week I would recruit thousands of teenage girls to come to a REDS Teen Dance Party. I originated the idea, handled the marketing, business development and exclusively promoted it. The lines around the club on Sunday afternoons were longer than the lines at the movie theaters. They were not paying me the way they promised, so I said screw it, and started to work as a bartender and part time manager at the Salty Dog. There are so many stories from my time at the Salty Dog, I could probably write a book about those experiences alone. However, the one that stands out as the most memorable chapter of love, was with the coat check girl. She was not the coat check girl when I started bartending there. Over time, she hung out at the bar so often that the GM gave her the job just to keep her busy. She was very beautiful, petite, black hair and a body to die for. She was down to earth and smart. We talked all the time. She became a good friend.

There was a lot of sexual tension between us. But, she was shy and also, engaged. I don’t know why her engagement ended, but as soon as it did, the flirting became much more extreme. I started hanging out at the front door, with the bouncers, just because I wanted to spend more time with her. She started working just before the holidays. It was cold, that year, so there were always tons of coats. In fact, there were so many that they could barely fit in the coatroom. Often, coats would be tagged and brought to the second floor. That was the restaurant area. That area closed at about ten pm so all the booths became another spot to store the overflow of coats the de facto second floor coatroom so to speak.

I knew her at least six months prior to her starting to work the coatroom. Within a few weeks it was clear that there was a connection. Not just as friends. We wanted each other. But, we were both shy. Neither of us wanted to be the one to start something, fearing that the other person was not interested. Plus, as I said, in the beginning she was engaged. It was safe to flirt with humor. If it wasn’t met with a return flirt, you always had an out. When I finally worked up the courage to ask her on a date, we skipped the date and went immediately to sex. We started by making out in the front vestibule, where the coatroom was. It was isolated, so we felt safe enough. Everyone was busy inside, at the holiday party. No one was leaving anytime soon, as we had an open bar.

The soft first kisses and hugs turned into wet lip action and much deeper kisses, as we wrapped our bodies tightly around one another. We were both lost in those kisses and the grinding of our bodies against one another for at least an hour. We moved to the coatroom, which had barn style split doors. We were both rather intoxicated and once we felt safe inside the coatroom, our clothing started coming off. We were lost in the passion. We were standing up inside the coatroom, going at it like seasoned, passionate, lovers. But, soon enough, people did start to come to get their coats and we had to stop.

She would give coats to the exiting patrons and we would immediately go at it again. She decided to take her underwear off and have me take her from behind, as she stood at the opening of the coatroom, leaning on the bottom half of the barn doors. We moved a coat rack filled with coats parallel to the opening and arranged the coats close to her body so you mostly only saw her, even though I was inside of her, it looked like I was simply standing in the coatroom helping her. Of course, I had to pull out and reinsert more times than I cared to, almost cuming every time I went back in. I held off, as I wanted this to be as good for her as it was for me.

We were as intoxicated as the guests. I am sure that many of those people knew what was going on, but we didn’t care. Either did they, for that matter. We were so engaged in raw, physical pleasure, that we kept going even when we heard voices coming towards us. We waited until heads started to turn the corner to the entrance of the coatroom lobby. My head said pull out. But sometimes I just couldn’t stop. She was bouncing back and forth as patrons came up to her. I would pull out and pass her most of the coats. As the evening progressed, she was going to have to retrieve coats from the second level.

She had to get about a dozen coats so I came with her. Once we got upstairs our clothing came off and we started to passionately fool around on a pile of fur coats. We went at it for a few minutes but we knew we had to get the patron’s coats. She stayed up there locating them and I brought them down, sometimes as many as ten coats at a time. Many of the coats left that night with wet spots on them. We didn’t much think about that at the time. We were obsessed. As more and more people left, we were spending more time upstairs and less in the coatroom. As we ran out of coats, people started to hang-out on the stairs, so we couldn’t use the second-floor booths anymore. Instead, we went into the juice room that was under the stairs.

It was tight, but she was petite and I was determined. We stripped down to our shirts and went at it for about a half hour, until we both came together. The stairs were old and as people stood on them, the treads would bend and let thin streams of light shine down on us. We were nervous someone was going to see us naked and we would both be fired. The GM who was our boss had to walk down those stairs, right over us, to get from his office to the bar. He did this several times. We could even hear him ask people where we were. They were cool and said we were outside getting something from the car. They knew where we were, but they did not share it.

We knew we had to make an appearance quickly so we fixed ourselves up in the bathrooms. She went back to the, fairly empty, coatroom and I busied myself buying some of the VIP guest’s drinks, to make sure people saw me. Finally, she was out of coats and was allowed to leave. Neither of us wanted it to end there. I walked her to her car. We got in. I sat next to her and we started making out again. It was a small sports car. We managed to put the passenger’s side seat down and started at it again. It was fortunate she was so petite. It was freezing. The windows were coated with ice when we started. I loved going down on her. I kept at it for a good thirty minutes, before we realized the ice on the windows melted and the few stragglers leaving the club were getting a good look at her half naked body. By that time, I was mounting her and driving deep inside her. She was in an orgasmic state when I released inside her. She grabbed me fiercely and dug her nails so deeply into my back that I had eight or nine bloody scratches by the time we were done. It must have been about four in the morning. We held each other and fell asleep in each other’s arms with the heat on.

When we woke up, it was to a full-fledged brawl between two of the guests. I had to get out of the car and break it up. I was shocked to see it was the Editor of the Hofstra College Newspaper and his Assistant Editor. They were pissed at each other and it ended badly. I made sure the cops didn’t arrest them by hiding them in the, now closed, club. I told the officers that they already took off. Someone called them when the fight got bloody prior to me seeing what was going on. It may have been the neighbors who called the police. With all of this going on, I suggested that she go home. We would see each other at the Salty Dog the next evening anyway.

When I came back the next day, I found out that she quit. I didn’t have her phone number, or even know her last name. The GM would not give it to me. He said it wasn’t allowed. But, he gave her my number. Unfortunately, she never called. I had no way of finding her. Months went by. I thought about her almost every day and asked everyone if they knew her last name. No one did. I was so disappointed. I liked that coat check girl very much, so much so that I know that we would have spent a great deal of time together if she just showed up the next day and shared why she was quitting. Months later I was in a relationship with a cocktail waitress who worked there. Out of the blue, she showed up. I didn’t know what to do or say. I had been so disappointed that she bailed on me. Dating the cocktail waitress was convenient, but it was not turning into love or anything close. It was just an ongoing hook-up. She tried to explain that many of her friends saw us that night and was embarrassed even though she was falling in love with me.

She could tell I was disappointed, hurt and feeling rejected when I first saw her. I was trying to be cool about it. When I told her I could not see her again because I was involved with the cocktail waitress, she told me she had been grounded for months. Somehow, her parents found out what happened when she went home, apparently still intoxicated. They were incredibly strict. She was not allowed to use the phone, or car, until the very day she came to see me. When I told her we were done, she cried and started to leave. I got emotional as well and tried to stop her. I started to tell her I would end my relationship with the cocktail waitress. I realized that she would never want me again, knowing that I did not wait for her. It was a tough moment. My heart sank so low I thought it would stop beating. As is the case with so many of the girls I dated, in the hospitality industry, we shared a short chapter of love. For me it was meaningful. She was a great young woman, with a beautiful smile and laughter in her heart. She was also humble despite her great beauty. I did see her again years later, when I was visiting Long Island, after moving to the city. We shared a nice conversation but she was rather cold. As I found out shortly afterwards, she had gotten back together with her fiancé and he was there with her. When he excused himself to use the bathroom, she gave me an incredible kiss and said that she never got over me despite her return to her fiance.

I was not over her either, but I let it fade away, knowing I was now in the city and a reverse commute was not going to be my gig. Especially, since I was already involved with NYC women and bartending at the Palladium. To this day I can still visualize her ebony eyes and silky, long black, hair. Of course, the memories of making love to her in that coatroom with the door completely open, the juice room and her sports car, will stay with me forever. A few years later when I went for a stroll down memory lane, back to the Salty Dog, I stopped at the coatroom for an extended reflection of our short chapter of love.

As I was leaving, the GM said, “You better not do that at the Palladium, you two were going at it all night.” He was much older so I said something like, “that’s great advice. Thanks.” and left. I had no idea that he knew what was going on that night. I found out from some of the bartenders months later that they all knew, but thought it was cool that one of us was able to hook-up with her. I never did screw around in a juice room or coatroom again, but there was this one girl who grabbed me during a concert at the Nassau Coliseum and pulled me into a walk-in freezer, but that was just a quickie and another chapter all together.

 

Chapter 19 The Kiss That Broke My Ribs

I went to Switzerland to test my heart while it was still freezing in the Swiss Alps. At the time, I was living in Southern Florida. I had to leave New York, despite my life-long love for the city and the beaches of Long Island. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I was depressed, lonely and lost, as I knew no one and nothing about Florida. I did know it was over eighty degrees, year round- It was the perfect climate for walking, but it was the most boring place I have ever lived. It was like being stuck in a perma-vaction nightmare. Granted, if you were on vacation for a week or even three months and living as a snowbird, it was paradise. But to give up everything and everyone I knew; friends, clients, family, to live in Naples, was nothing short of waiting to die in paradise. I was deathly homesick.

I left New York knowing that the cold winters would kill me if I stayed. I cheated death so many times, despite the fact the surgeons couldn’t fix my heart completely for almost fifteen years. I was walking a marathon (26.2 miles) every two days, seven days a week, for almost six months. I recently learned, when one has stents inside failed stents, the arteries become less flexible. When it gets cold, there is more pressure. You can feel it because the walls of your arteries do not give as much as they normally would. It could cause a heart attack. So, when I left Florida for Switzerland, I did not know if I would survive. A heart attack was a distinct possibility. Yet, this was a rare opportunity to live on a farm in the countryside, so I packed my three hundred pounds of production gear and computers and was on my way. At the very least I would know if I could move back to New York, or if I had stay and try to build some kind of life for myself in Naples. Or even more concerning, If I could survive in the cold again at all.

I was going to stay with one of my best friends. I photographed her for years. On her birthday, she would always fly to NY, without her husband, to shoot with me. She did this for eight years. She extended an invitation to stay with her while we looked for backing for a feature film we started in Florida, months earlier. It was definitely an experiment. My friend was a world-class model, but I didn’t know if she would to be able to develop her acting skills fast enough to pull this off. I cared about her and we were very close, but we never crossed that line. She was married. I thought that there might be something between us, but I would never lure a married woman away from her husband, no matter how beautiful she was, or how close we had become. I had been in love, with creating with her, for at least five of those eight years.

I went to Switzerland to test my heart while it was still freezing in the Swiss Alps. At the time, I was living in Southern Florida. I had to leave New York, despite my life-long love for the city and the beaches of Long Island. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I was depressed, lonely and lost, as I knew no one and nothing about Florida. I did know it was over eighty degrees, year round- It was the perfect climate for walking, but it was the most boring place I have ever lived. It was like being stuck in a perma-vaction nightmare. Granted, if you were on vacation for a week or even three months and living as a snowbird, it was paradise. But to give up everything and everyone I knew; friends, clients, family, to live in Naples, was nothing short of waiting to die in paradise. I was deathly homesick.

I left New York knowing that the cold winters would kill me if I stayed. I cheated death so many times, despite the fact the surgeons couldn’t fix my heart completely for almost fifteen years. I was walking a marathon (26.2 miles) every two days, seven days a week, for almost six months. I recently learned, when one has stents inside failed stents, the arteries become less flexible. When it gets cold, there is more pressure. You can feel it because the walls of your arteries do not give as much as they normally would. It could cause a heart attack. So, when I left Florida for Switzerland, I did not know if I would survive. A heart attack was a distinct possibility. Yet, this was a rare opportunity to live on a farm in the countryside, so I packed my three hundred pounds of production gear and computers and was on my way. At the very least I would know if I could move back to New York, or if I had stay and try to build some kind of life for myself in Naples. Or even more concerning, If I could survive in the cold again at all.

I was going to stay with one of my best friends. I photographed her for years. On her birthday, she would always fly to NY, without her husband, to shoot with me. She did this for eight years. She extended an invitation to stay with her while we looked for backing for a feature film we started in Florida, months earlier. It was definitely an experiment. My friend was a world-class model, but I didn’t know if she would to be able to develop her acting skills fast enough to pull this off. I cared about her and we were very close, but we never crossed that line. She was married. I thought that there might be something between us, but I would never lure a married woman away from her husband, no matter how beautiful she was, or how close we had become. I had been in love, with creating with her, for at least five of those eight years.

When I went to Switzerland to meet with potential financiers and investors, I knew it was a long shot, but I needed something to believe in. I was lonely and depressed. Traveling with her, dancing with her and creating with her, gave me hope. She even walked with me. Even dreaming that our friendship might turn into something more was a dream to hold onto. This trip was different, as I could tell that she was no longer in love with her husband. She was dropping hints and suggested that I should move to Switzerland and continue to create with her full time.

Florida was not anything like I expected it to be. Not that I had a choice. I needed someplace warm to live while I was recovering from numerous surgeries. I had a multi- foot bypass surgery on my right leg that not only saved it, but also relieved the agonizing pain of intermittent claudication and from the gigantic aneurism that went undetected for so long the main artery in my leg was 100% blocked from my hip to below my knee. I was in agony for over ten years before they diagnosed it. That damaged artery was causing intermittent blood clots in my calf, so walking was extremely painful. At times, I could barely walk. Before I left for Naples, the surgeons finally fixed my heart, both of my legs and removed a golf ball sized blockage in my abdomen. The surgeries were so painful I was traumatized. I was not only in Florida to avoid the cold and lose weight; I was there because my brain was as fried as my body. I needed to get my body back and I needed to be out of pain. If I continued to suffer, even my children wouldn’t be enough motivation for me to continue to fight. I would have thrown in the towel. I just had enough.

Being on massive amounts of painkillers was not an option. It was an absolute necessity and a recommendation that ultimately saved my life. The surgeries were done at a time that I was in so much pain I stopped eating. I would rather have died of starvation than be in pain any longer. I was either going to lose the weight and make it through the surgeries, or die trying. I quit working, other than writing my memoirs. I quit everything. I gave up medical coverage, my home, everything and just started walking. I had walked for many years prior, but nothing like a marathon every two days. It was a pace I didn’t think anyone could sustain, let alone a guy with 27 stents and a three-foot bypass in his right leg. Not to mention, complication from the other surgeries that caused me to bleed profusely, on and off, for years. I was walking every day post-surgery. I even walked home from the hospital after my heart surgery. I walked everywhere and even gave up my car to make sure I had no choice but to walk. The painkillers did their job, or there is no way I would have survived. I hated the feeling of being on heavy pain meds. It affected my memory and caused me to constantly repeat things. The greatest side effect was that it acted as a truth serum. I started writing emails to everyone I knew. I said and shared things that were best left unsaid. And for the first and only time in my life, I became angry that I was suffering so much, not grateful for more life. I believe it was a side effect from the prolonged pain, as MRI studies have proven that pain over long periods of time will change the way your brain functions.

Tramelan, Switzerland would be the place I either got back my life, or died. I had to put some space between myself and my children and everyone else I loved. I had been an athlete in my youth. Years of disease had ravaged my body and I wanted it back. Even at the expense of going bankrupt, losing everything and temporarily leaving my children. I truly owe my life to my children. They were the only reason I could endure the years of pain and push on. Everyone wants to live. I decided life was not worth living if I was disabled and useless to my family. It was time to kick the painkillers before I moved back to Long Island. If the cold was going to kill me, it was not going to be while I was with my children. I wouldn’t allow them to see me suffer or die in front of them. I didn’t want them to be traumatized, so Switzerland would become my test.

So, with that, I flew to Geneva. There, I walked to the train station and took a several hour train ride to the country farm I was to live on for the next three months. I had three one hundred pound rolling suit cases with me, so it was a small miracle that I managed to traverse my way around, pulling all that weight.

I was walking every day in the Alps, often alongside my friend and her children. It was reminiscent of The Sound of Music. Beautiful snow-covered mountains complete with the smell of cow manure in the fields. They were adorable black and white cows. They would run to greet you, carefully avoiding the electric fences. And yes, I did get shocked once while photographing a model. As I tried to duck under the fence, my arm hit a wire and I was knocked on my butt. It shocked the hell out of me, but acted as sort of stress relief. It reset my “fear factor”. It was a hell of a jolt. The cows knew not to greet me when I was too close to the electric wires. They also had natural stone barriers to keep the cows corralled. They were much like giant dogs, very affectionate and so much more intelligent than you would think. Keep that in mind the next time you eat a hamburger a.k.a. a cow burger. It was at that time I decided to become a vegetarian. For the most part I have maintained that diet ever since. I do eat burgers and steaks occasionally, but I always think of those beautiful cows and feel guilty about it. So, on those rare occasions, I only eat grass-fed, humanely handled, animal products.

I would walk for miles in the freezing cold. I couldn’t believe I was surviving. Not only was I surviving, I was doing well. I still had to deal with the effects of withdrawals from three plus years of taking strong painkillers. I did not take a single pain killer with me. In fact, as soon as I called my primary care physician and told him I was now walking a marathon every two days he said to throw the painkillers out and get ready for all hell to break loose. AS is evident from all the data out there, getting off pain killers after that prolonged a period was going to have side effects. Going cold turkey was going to complicate it even further. Before leaving for Switzerland I threw them in the toilet, took a photo and sent it to my doctor. He was very supportive and literally put his medical license on the line for me knowing that it was my only hope. With that, I was prepared to go through everything I had seen in the movies about going cold turkey and the horrendous withdrawals that came with it. They were horrendous, so I will spare you the details. After living through it I understand why even the strongest willed individuals become heroin addicts when they can no longer get pain killers. I was never going to be one of them. I went through withdrawals over the next year, while I was in Switzerland and couldn’t get more pain killers anyway. Well, not easily. As you will read, I could have gotten them for my two broken ribs, but I chose to suffer without them rather than extend my addiction to them.

I made a great deal of progress. It was also apparent that my life would no longer be the same in winter. The arteries in my heart would forever be somewhat stiff. Still, it was better than being three hundred and fifty pounds and alone, basically in solitary confinement. Apparently, I could tolerate the cold, even though it did slow me down. The next challenge was to see if I could shoot in the cold. Would my heart hold up? Did all the walking and resistance exercises grow enough new arteries? If so, could I start over with nothing but my health? The only way I would know was to try. I had tried for decades and it was not possible. I was always limited, even disabled. I prayed for better results and the opportunity to rebuild my life so I could leave something to my children. During this period, I wrote my memoirs. Often I would post excerpts on social networks and man did I piss a lot of people off. When I was on painkillers, even my emails were six pages long. The first draft of Chapters of Love was a mess. It was over nine hundred pages long, most of it written on my smartphone while I was walking. I was seriously lost.

I vomited daily as my body went through withdrawals. In retrospect my doctor really should have put me in rehab as we both knew I would become addicted taking pain medication for over three years. But back then the pharmaceutical companies campaigned heavily that Oxycodone was safe, but that was a joke. I managed to keep it a secret, but it was ugly. I started to shoot and promote my production company as if I was already in New York. I was again walking and shooting for free to build a reputation in Switzerland and test my heart. My friend was a huge help. To return the favor, I made her the focal point of my photography. Years earlier she was hit by a truck and had to go through a tremendous amount of rehab to get her life back. I always did what I could to help her. Love is not always about sex. It is often about unconditional compassion, loyalty and giving. She was the object of my “paying it forward” when I had nothing to give but my photography. I was hoping to somehow help her build her career to the point she could live her dream of acting in a movie. Soon after arriving and reviewing her screen tests, it was obvious that she had made little progress. She could speak five languages, but she could not remember her lines or express herself in a role. I didn’t know how I could help her. It was then I decided I would dedicate the rest of my life to paying it forward, with my camera, to everyone I could, as I had done so many years prior while walking the country and living in an RV; even for hundreds of charity events.

I came up with what I believed to be a brilliant Idea. I was going to shoot, write, edit, and do the layout for an international magazine that recognized model citizens. I bought the domain ModelCitizensMagazine.com and was on my way to becoming an international publisher. Within days of sharing the first layouts on Facebook I had hundreds of models contacting me about being in the magazine. Since this was about my friend, I put her on the cover and made her the focus of the entire 110-page issue. I included her family, friends and clients. When I saw how hopelessly in love her husband was with her, I knew that despite our chemistry and her assurances that she wouldn’t be with her husband for long, we were never going to be a couple. Neither one of us wanted to cross that line even though at times I was tempted. I am sure she was as well. After all, she lived with me every time we shot, no matter where I was living. She even came to stay with me in Florida, all the way from Switzerland.

I was proud of myself. I again turned downtime into something productive. After a while, many of the top models in Europe were coming to shoot with me. I was humbled by the experience. I also loved the Swiss people and their culture. I was fortunate to see how the farmers lived, while at the same time working with some of the most attractive and charismatic models and actors in Europe. Most importantly, I realized although limited, I could manage my life in cold weather again. Life was by no means perfect, but I was no longer disabled, even though I was still quite handicapped. I could no longer carry my own equipment. Nor could I shoot every day. Photography was no longer going to be my career. It was going to become a compliment to my writing. I had been writing most of my life. Most people seemed to think I was pretty good, so it was natural to blog and to write copy for social networking and web sites. Model Citizens Magazine was a way to help her and of course test myself. What it became was an artist’s dream. I have so much gratitude to the incredible models and people who came together to participate in the very first issues. I was writing about them, showing them love and was sharing their stories with everyone back home. I was honored.

One of the shoots was with a young lady who had not always had it so easy. She was a recovering heroin addict. I wasn’t aware of her past when I agreed to photograph her. After she modeled nude, on the train tracks and in the forest, she told me how much the photographs meant to her and how much it meant for her to be featured in the magazine. It touched my heart. We shot together many more times. Once she brought me some medicinal herbs and wax to help when I fell down a mountain and broke two ribs. Yes, I fell while filming on the side of a mountain. That fall would set my health back years, as nothing can be done to fix broken ribs. They heal, but slowly. I refused to take narcotics of any kind, as fate had it, I was literally still going through massive pain killer withdrawal at the same time.

I was only in Switzerland a month or so. My plan was to stay the legal limit before I had to apply for a work visa. I had approximately three months. When I took that bad fall, I was not photographing the model with the past heroin issue. It was another model who excited me even more. She was the reason I fell. Not only did I fall down the mountain, I fell for her. I had met her online. She was coming to shoot with me in Tramelan. She was gorgeous. She didn’t look Swiss at all. In fact, she looked Italian. She spoke Italian quite well and seemed to have an Italian accent. However, I was no expert in accents.

We shot, after my friend did her hair and makeup in her downtown Tramelan salon. Then she drove me to a lake. On the way, we stopped for bread, cheese and wine. The bread was fresh baked. And, everyone knows the Swiss reputation for great cheese. We drank both bottles of wine in about an hour as we shot on stone stairs that were on the side of a mountain, overlooking a beautiful lake that in the valley below. The stairs that went up to that hill were very steep. They were carved right into the stone hillside. The scene was straight out of a French magazine or postcard. It was there she took her shirt off and posed. I had thousands of watts of portable strobe lights on her. The shots were magical. She was magical. After a while I realized that she was not just posing, she was flirting. When we finished shooting by the lake, we went to another mountain, which was much rockier and steeper. We drove around until we found a perfect view. I could photograph her with a majestic view of the snow-covered peaks of the Swiss Alps in the distance. It was a winter wonderland paradise.

We were now finishing yet another bottle of wine and I think we even had some champagne. She was so European. Her accent was driving me crazy. When she spoke, she was very expressive with her hand gestures. She would gently touch me. I liked it. My body was responding to her touch. The more she touched me the more I wanted to see if it was just flirting or she had something more in mind. Out of nowhere I had a rather impulsive thought. What if I asked her play the role in the film I wanted to produce with my friend? Maybe she could be the lead and my friend who was not doing particularly well as the lead, could play a supporting role? Maybe that would get us funding?

I asked her if she had a monologue and she said no. That burst my bubble because I realized that she was a model, not an actress. If she couldn’t improv a monologue I doubted she could carry a film. So, with that I said, “You’re not an actress, we’ll never pull this off” and went back to our photo session. What happened next was quite unbelievable. I was photographing her. She was in lingerie and out of nowhere she walked directly over to me and kissed me with the most passionate kiss I ever had. It warmed my entire body as if I had been injected with passion. I kissed her back and we kissed again until we were enthusiastically making out. Then she put her finger to her mouth and made the shhhhhh sign, literally communicating that the kiss was just between us. With a wink of her eye we were back to shooting. My heart was beating so fast; I could barely focus. The adrenaline was rushing through my body. I was so dizzy I literally fainted and fell to the ground like a shy teenager and knocked her down the side of that mountain. She fell right on top of me.

I didn’t pass out, but I did go down hard. To protect my camera, I did what any red-blooded photographer would do; I held it up and sacrificed my body. I broke two ribs. Her elbow was bleeding; despite the fact she fell on top of me. That didn’t help my cracked ribs. If I wasn’t buzzed I would not have been able to continue shooting. I was in so much pain. To top it off, I was still in the middle of going through pain killer withdrawals. All I could think about was that amazing kiss. For a brief moment, I believe the cracks in my heart started healing and love flowed throughout my body. Endorphins were washing into my brain. Was this love? Was this somewhat famous, younger, gorgeous model my soul mate? Or was I just dreaming, or even worse, did I have a cardiac event or a stroke?

It was going to take much more than two broken ribs to stop me, so I continued to shoot the rest of the day. The following morning, after she spent the night in the country house with us, we drove to a smaller more intimate lake that had a winding path around it. It was cold and foggy that morning. We were going to shoot video to see if she could act. That one passionate kiss motivated me to see if she could pick it up quickly. I had already started writing Chapters Of Love and thought it would make a great screen play. I used a working title, “Chasing Sunrise,” but never let anyone see the story. I didn’t want anyone to steal it. I also didn’t know if I had the health or the courage to ever share it, so I used that working title while I tried to recruit both investors and actors.

She was a model by profession, not an actress. But, the Italian looking Miss Switzerland runner- up was a natural. All it took was that one kiss and she touched my heart. I thought to myself, maybe I could start my life over in Switzerland, publish a magazine and produce another film. If I had to, I’d shoot in Switzerland, where I was becoming more and more popular. The people in town were treating me like a movie star. That kiss was making me think of all kinds of ways to try to co-mingle our lives. I had very little money left. In fact, I had practically nothing. I had just enough to fly back to New York and with some luck get a place in in the city. I was simply not thinking straight. Her kiss had totally taken over my heart.

When we went to the lake the next morning, we filmed a great amount of video. All I had her say was, “I love you.” This was a directorial technique I used many times to judge the ability of an actor to make me believe what she was saying even though I knew she was just acting. By the end of that days filming I did not believe it was acting. I believed she loved me. She wanted me to believe and she wanted the part. I wanted her to have it, but I had to find out if she was going to be truly dedicated and if we could raise money with her in the lead role.

I thought that putting her on the cover of Model Citizens Magazine might give her the credibility we needed, but I would never take my friend off the cover. So, after thinking about it, I came up with the idea to publish another issue at the same time. It would be the Italian version of the magazine. She agreed and said she would help me write it and translate it into Italian, as my fifty-fifty partner. I agreed. A few weeks later, despite my broken ribs, the three of us flew to Venice to shoot “Model Citizens Magazine Italy” and give her a real screen test. She would start by hosting a travel style magazine, both for the issue and for a video version of it. We booked a tiny hotel room and started filming every day and drinking Prosecco every night. The hotel was giving us as much as we wanted gratis because they were thrilled with the publicity. Both models were pretty much becoming local celebrities as we shared the photographs with the merchants who supported our efforts. Within hours of our arrival, I was getting hit on by dozens of women. It would start almost as soon as I put my tripod out in the square and started shooting.

But something had changed with both models after our arrival in Venice. They were no longer competing for my attention, or even camera time. They started hooking-up with each other and were falling in love. They tried to keep it a secret, but it soon became obvious. Later, my Swiss friend’s husband told me it was the reason their marriage ended. It had nothing to do with her obsession with my photography any longer, or our almost ten year friendship, that extended a bit beyond. It was because she was expressing more love for a woman than for him. Venice was the most beautiful city I had ever seen. The people were so warm. I felt love from everyone; the shop owners who donated clothing for our shoot, to the restaurateurs who comped almost every meal. It was like being a celebrity, if even for a few months. We left Venice a few days later. We would never kiss again, nor would we make the film. My photographs put her on the map and her career skyrocketed within days. She was not supposed to use them before the issue came out, but did so against my wishes. She became quite the diva. It became rather apparent that the kiss was strategic and not the least bit authentic.

When we got back to the farm my dear friend was a mess. Her marriage was falling apart. She was miserable, no longer in love with her husband and totally obsessed with her new girlfriend, who was hooking-up with everyone, both men and women. Each of them were the object of so many admirers’ obsessions. It was not surprising they became the object of each other’s. My friend was building a small house in the country, on property given to her by her mom. For a moment, I thought, maybe I would stay. She wanted me to. They both did. They were both bi-sexual and thought we might live out a three’s company kind of arrangement. It was very tempting, but nothing was going to keep me from my children and my true home on Long Island. Not even the thought of building a publishing empire in a European paradise, while engaging in a modern family with two of the most beautiful women in Switzerland.

I left Switzerland with three issues of Model Citizens Magazine and very little money. But, I had proven to myself that I had my health back. I also was fortunate enough to go to Paris and Stockholm where women were much more sexual and free spirited than they were even in Switzerland. I knew my career as a full-time photographer was coming to an end, no matter how much I loved it. I also knew that my heart was healing in more ways than just physically. The crack in my heart was on the mend. That single kiss, gave me hope I could find my true soul mate and could love again. I had finally started to heal and was ready to look for true love. That passionate kiss that broke my ribs was one of the most romantic and passionate kisses I ever was blessed with. When I am asked, “was it worth it?” I always say yes. I was in Switzerland for only a few months, but I experienced some of the most creative and romantic experiences of my life. I am sure if I took them up on their invitation to stay that we might have all shared a very long and modern chapter of love. I just could not keep my heart from wanting to go home to my island, Long Island so I left as soon as I was healthy enough to fly back.

 

Chapter 17 – Honeymoon Affairs

The same day I was diagnosed, I quit my job and started spending eight hours a day at the gym, or working out elsewhere. I would walk around the indoor track so many times I would lose count. When I couldn’t handle the gym anymore, I would ride my bicycle in the park, at least ten miles. I was up to a few hundred crunches a day and lost at least fifty pounds. Not that I was fat, but I could be as in my past, extremely skinny. Prior to my fitness commitment, I hadn’t been eating well, but I had been eating a lot. Money was plentiful and so were my restaurant visits. Salad was hardly an intimate acquaintance. In between the exercise sessions I would cry. In fact, I’d cry all the time. Why I cried, I did not know. I was never afraid of dying, at least not consciously, but I was concerned for my parents. They had suffered so many heartaches. I didn’t want to be the biggest one. That was what helped me through some of my toughest times.

I was not sure if I was going to live long enough to go on what was supposed to be my honeymoon. However, as the months passed, I began to realize that I might live long enough to do so. At the time, I was being paid ongoing commissions despite the fact I left my job. I was also working part-time as an analyst, after I resigned from AT&T. I think I was having a nervous breakdown. I told my sales manager that I would be dead in mere months. A more empathetic company might have put me on a trauma-based leave of absence or on disability. Instead, they just accepted my resignation.

I was experiencing major chest pain when I exercised. For some reason my hips hurt as well. I thought from riding my bicycle and walking so much, but as it turned out it was related to poor circulation. I went from out of shape and just a bit overweight, to a rock-hard cardio machine. But, I knew something was very wrong. My second set of blood tests showed my numbers were off the charts. What made it even worse, was no one could even tell me what I had. It would take a very expensive blood test and genetic mapping to make that determination. That technology did not exist commercially at the time. One doctor concluded I had asthma and another said I had asthma and eczema on my elbows. They could not have been more wrong. Another doctor told me it was my inner ear that was causing the issue and put me on steroids. The doctors were literally just guessing and the plethora of diagnoses made a dire situation even worse. My hands were turning orange and xanthomas, growths of rock hard cholesterol, were growing all over my body and inside it as well. It was disgusting to say the least.

The same day I was diagnosed, I quit my job and started spending eight hours a day at the gym, or working out elsewhere. I would walk around the indoor track so many times I would lose count. When I couldn’t handle the gym anymore, I would ride my bicycle in the park, at least ten miles. I was up to a few hundred crunches a day and lost at least fifty pounds. Not that I was fat, but I could be as in my past, extremely skinny. Prior to my fitness commitment, I hadn’t been eating well, but I had been eating a lot. Money was plentiful and so were my restaurant visits. Salad was hardly an intimate acquaintance. In between the exercise sessions I would cry. In fact, I’d cry all the time. Why I cried, I did not know. I was never afraid of dying, at least not consciously, but I was concerned for my parents. They had suffered so many heartaches. I didn’t want to be the biggest one. That was what helped me through some of my toughest times.

I was not sure if I was going to live long enough to go on what was supposed to be my honeymoon. However, as the months passed, I began to realize that I might live long enough to do so. At the time, I was being paid ongoing commissions despite the fact I left my job. I was also working part-time as an analyst, after I resigned from AT&T. I think I was having a nervous breakdown. I told my sales manager that I would be dead in mere months. A more empathetic company might have put me on a trauma-based leave of absence or on disability. Instead, they just accepted my resignation.

I was experiencing major chest pain when I exercised. For some reason my hips hurt as well. I thought from riding my bicycle and walking so much, but as it turned out it was related to poor circulation. I went from out of shape and just a bit overweight, to a rock-hard cardio machine. But, I knew something was very wrong. My second set of blood tests showed my numbers were off the charts. What made it even worse, was no one could even tell me what I had. It would take a very expensive blood test and genetic mapping to make that determination. That technology did not exist commercially at the time. One doctor concluded I had asthma and another said I had asthma and eczema on my elbows. They could not have been more wrong. Another doctor told me it was my inner ear that was causing the issue and put me on steroids. The doctors were literally just guessing and the plethora of diagnoses made a dire situation even worse. My hands were turning orange and xanthomas, growths of rock hard cholesterol, were growing all over my body and inside it as well. It was disgusting to say the least.

Eventually, a doctor found a match for my condition in a medical textbook. But he only got half of the story. The reality of the situation was that I had two genetic mutations. The growths on my elbows, knees, and other joints were similar to the growths on the “Elephant Man.” They were growing even faster in my arteries and organs. Although this is a form of uncontrolled cell growth, it is not cancer. My body simply has a hard time processing any lipid, no matter if it was plant or animal fat based. The resulting, rock-hard, plaque growing in my body, was going to kill me. According to Nassau County Medical Center it would happen within months. When I left the hospital, I called my boss and quit. I never shared the diagnosis with my rock star fiancé. I just scared her away and she ended our engagement. I was not only going to die. I was going to die heart broken, as I loved her with all my heart. Depression set in and then, I think, shock. I was not even twenty-five and my life was ending.

There was no such thing as statins back then. Even stenting was uncommon. All four arteries in my heart were over ninety-five percent blocked. The walking and the exercise was keeping my arteries from getting worse, but barely keeping me alive. The true miracle was that my body somehow managed to grow new arteries. But at this point no one knew that I was one of the small percentage of people who could. My diagnosis stood as a death sentence.

At the time, my fiancé thought I had lost it. I experienced frequent episodes where my eyes would tear. I couldn’t control it. It happened most often when we were together physically. I couldn’t make love to her without thinking that she was about to be a widow, before we were even married. I lost it. I couldn’t maintain any sense of normalcy during those moments. Oddly enough, she never did ask me what was wrong. For me it was just too emotional. I was planning a way to end the relationship so she would not be going to my funeral in her wedding dress.

She became more and more distant, as did I. I did all I could do to reverse the damage and grow arteries but no one knew what I was going through. I was trying to exercise myself into Olympic physical condition. I loved her, but I tried hard not to think about her. If she had agreed to have children immediately after we were married, I firmly believe I would have married her. I was torn. I didn’t want to leave this world with my bloodline ended. At the same time, I didn’t want her pregnant at my deathbed. I also could not tell her. If I had, I knew she would not leave me. Eventually, I came up with a plan to chase her away. All the same, I was hyper-focused on having a child before I died. My plan was to have a child and leave a note for my father to take my place after I passed. My father lost his father to a train accident when he was only eight. He never recovered. I was determined to give him a grandchild before I died.

Before our relationship ended, we actually had a date for the wedding and the venue selected. We even had our engagement party. I had to get away, so I planned to go on what was supposed to be my honeymoon with a friend. In Saint Maarten, I played my wedding date on a roulette table in a local casino. I wanted verification from above that I had made the right choice in ending our relationship without telling her I was dying. Starting with only fifty bucks I won thousands of dollars! People started to put their chips on top of mine and the place started going crazy. It was the first and only time I every gambled in a casino. I won a small fortune. Almost immediately, I was upgraded to fine champagne and gorgeous women were hanging all over me.

I started spending like there was no tomorrow, as I thought there would not be. I brought a few of the casino women, as well as other willing women I collected along the way, back to the hotel. Several bottles of champagne later, I wound up in my room with one very pretty, intelligent, college girl. I came inside her without protection at least three times. I was trying to get her pregnant. I was a bit drunk and totally obsessed with making a child. After I planted my seed in her, I found another willing participant downstairs by the pool.

My entire stay, I was photographing everything while walking and sleeping with one woman after another. I used no protection. I must have slept with six or seven women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. Not a single one asked me to use protection. This went on all week. I would switch back and forth from one to another. I didn’t even know their names. We would just meet, drink, have hot sex and then I would leave. It was a blur of photo shoots, sex, snorkeling, walking and popping nitros.

Nitroglycerine is one of the drugs the doctors gave me to keep me alive, during cardiac events, when my capillaries were pushed past their limits. I would frequently suffer from severe angina attacks. Despite my workout routine, I had still not grown enough arteries to manage wild, hot, sex. I was putting my life in grave danger. I was also potentially fathering more babies than any man should, especially a dying man. I gave every one of them my contact information. I was hoping at least one of them would tell me she was pregnant.

I was hoping it was the girl I went sailing with. We took a sixty-foot catamaran to a small island, where we all snorkeled in the nude. Most of the girls on the boat sunbathed nude as well. I joined the party. I was snorkeling for hours. The coral reef was so beautiful. As I floated on the surface of the water I forgot my troubles. I didn’t even feel the angina. It was an extremely peaceful experience. The beauty of the reef below me, the sun beating down on my back and the warm water caressing my body took me to a different place. A place of comfort, I had long since forgotten. She would swim alongside and under me. She was very overt in her flirting. Eventually, we floated to the shoreline. She laid on her back, partially hidden under the water. I mounted her partially submerged. We made love with our genitals under the water. Since I was partially suspended in the water, it was not as grueling a physical effort. I wound up with quite a sunburn on my back, but it was worth it. The cannabis I was indulging in helped with the pain and for some reason, my breathing as well.

As my time on the island vacation my planned honeymoon was ending, my reality came crashing back to me. I was likely not going to be around much longer. And, she, amongst other women might be carrying my baby. Yes, I was completely heartbroken after losing my rock star fiancé and of course about my diagnosis, but I was obsessed with trying to get all, or any, of these women pregnant.

Having, wild, unprotected sex with virtual strangers was the most insane thing I have ever done. However, I was at peace with the fact that after I was gone, my mother and father would have part of me still…. a child…a grandchild to love. Quite possibly several.

 

Chapter 14 – Monkey Business

I was in elementary school. After a sixth-grade graduation, I managed to convince the principal to let me have the flower arrangements at each end of the stage. I combined them into one nice bouquet and left them outside the classroom of a, very cute, girl who I was taken with. I included a note. It worked, for soon afterwards we were experimenting in my tent, playing Spin The Bottle, or Truth Or Dare. Each of those games was a popular way to tempt girls into fooling around, while at the same time being somewhat innocent. But, by this time, I was not sure how innocent I was.

I had already gone through communion class. I figured I was going straight to hell for having gone all the way with my babysitter. I believed it. The nuns at church solidified that belief when I hinted I was not a virgin. There was something about going to confession I could not stomach at that age. I was not about to ask for absolution from fucking, when I was ten. It just seemed a bit much. Since I was going to hell anyway, I said screw religion. I do not believe in a God that would condemn me to hell. But, all the same, it was always in the back of my mind. I went through communion, but as soon as it was over I never went back to church again. Well, at times I had to and I always sat in the back and never ever went for confession again. I had not real mentoring when it came to religion as my father rebelled against the catholic church for beating him while he was an alter boy in a Christian boys home.

We would mostly pick Truth Or Dare. We would play with other kids who knew we were fooling around. Word spread like wild fire. Not only were we the first kids in the school to be dating, we were the youngest. None of the sixth graders were dating. Most were feeling the first throngs of sexual awakening, but had no concept of what to do about it. When we started to get nervous about fooling around in my backyard tent, we thought that we could use a secluded area of the park. At first, we were going to use that same tent for privacy, but tents were not allowed. So, we improvised and took our bicycles and a blanket to the park.

I was in elementary school. After a sixth-grade graduation, I managed to convince the principal to let me have the flower arrangements at each end of the stage. I combined them into one nice bouquet and left them outside the classroom of a, very cute, girl who I was taken with. I included a note. It worked, for soon afterwards we were experimenting in my tent, playing Spin The Bottle, or Truth Or Dare. Each of those games was a popular way to tempt girls into fooling around, while at the same time being somewhat innocent. But, by this time, I was not sure how innocent I was.

I had already gone through communion class. I figured I was going straight to hell for having gone all the way with my babysitter. I believed it. The nuns at church solidified that belief when I hinted I was not a virgin. There was something about going to confession I could not stomach at that age. I was not about to ask for absolution from fucking, when I was ten. It just seemed a bit much. Since I was going to hell anyway, I said screw religion. I do not believe in a God that would condemn me to hell. But, all the same, it was always in the back of my mind. I went through communion, but as soon as it was over I never went back to church again. Well, at times I had to and I always sat in the back and never ever went for confession again. I had not real mentoring when it came to religion as my father rebelled against the catholic church for beating him while he was an alter boy in a Christian boys home.

We would mostly pick Truth Or Dare. We would play with other kids who knew we were fooling around. Word spread like wild fire.   Not only were we the first kids in the school to be dating, we were the youngest. None of the sixth graders were dating. Most were feeling the first throngs of sexual awakening, but had no concept of what to do about it. When we started to get nervous about fooling around in my backyard tent, we thought that we could use a secluded area of the park. At first, we were going to use that same tent for privacy, but tents were not allowed. So, we improvised and took our bicycles and a blanket to the park.

Because we were so young, we had to tell our parents exactly where we were going. Beyond that, we were worried that someone would see us under the blanket. We had decided to stop with the oral and hand experimentation and go for it. We searched for a private spot, but there weren’t any. People were playing tennis, basketball, football, running and jogging. It seemed that every single sport in the entire world was going on around us.

I was not particularly nervous about doing it again. In fact, I had a major case of blue balls. They were aching like crazy. In between the babysitter and my new love interest, my doctor told me, that I had to rub one out. Truth was, I was rubbing one out at least once a day anyway. I was using my gym socks as a repository. Unfortunately, I was running out of gym socks. Interestingly, they were never as soft afterwards. No matter how many times they were washed, they would always be crispy in places I came. I thought I had super sperm.

I was determined to start the sex games I played before I moved back to East Meadow, a year earlier. We found a few spots that had vegetation so we could crawl in between the plants. Although we could hear everyone and they could hear us, no one could see us. But time and time again, footballs were tossed close to us and joggers would almost be looking down at us as they ran by. If they were walking, they would have seen everything. So, we packed up our bicycles and went to the lake. The lake had many pine trees and hills. It was infamous as the “make-out lake” by most of my older friends who would talk about such things in front of me.

I decided to tell my friend that we were going to take a bike ride by the lake. He was tagging along waiting for his girlfriend to show up. He knew what we were up to and was acting as our look-out. For him, it was more like a spy game than romance. For us, a look-out as we were afraid of getting caught. So, we took our bicycles and rode to the lake. There were couples on blankets making out behind every bush, so there was nowhere for us to go. Eventually, we found a large group of cypress trees with branches that were low to the ground. We rested our bicycles up against the tree to block the view. But we knew we weren’t hidden enough, so without saying a word we looked at each other with a mischievous smile on both of our faces, and then we both started climbing.

The tree had large branches. They were all parallel to the ground, so it was an easy climb. The branches were almost like stairs to a tree house. As we climbed higher and higher, we realized that the foliage around us was so thick that we were well hidden. I was about half a body length above her. I dropped my shorts to my ankles. Without saying a word, she went down on me. I remember the tree was sticky with sap. Everything was sticking to everything. Her hand could not slide over me because it was so tacky. I think that was the only reason she agreed to use her mouth. Even though we kept half joking about going all the way, we were both very nervous.

Shortly after she finished going down on me, she climbed a bit higher and I started on her. She was either shaving or she was bare down there, so it was clean. I enjoyed it immensely. Then, she hung her pants on a tree branch and lowered herself onto me. We were going all the way. We did this for just a short while. My lookout friend was fixing his bicycle chain under our tree, probably sneaking a peak. As fate would have it, the wind started blowing. This was a scenario too inconceivable for anyone to write into a script. The wind was moving the branches so we could now see the ground. We also realized that anyone on the golf course could also see us. I called down to my friend. When he looked up, the wind blew and there was a perfect opening for him to see me still inside her. He was shocked that we were actually doing it, started laughing uncontrollably and then just took off on his bicycle. We dressed quickly and went after him. Don’t ask me why. It seemed like he was upset and the wind was getting stronger.

When we caught up to him she asked if he was upset that his girlfriend hadn’t shown up and if he wanted to go up the tree with her. I said that I didn’t mind. After we discussed it for a while, we decided against it. For me this was like a sport and had nothing really to do with love. There really was no love involved as I did not know her long enough to love her. Although any time you are intimate with another person, I think it is accompanied by a feeling of love.

She was a virgin and was pretty sore, so we walked our bicycles home. Although she did not bleed during, she did bleed a lot afterwards. I didn’t know to be gentle with her, as I too was so inexperienced. We just wanted to do it. She was a tomboy. We played lots of sports together. She was very taken with the time I gave her flowers. The entire school was gossiping about us. That made her happy. She wanted everyone to know that she was with me. I didn’t want her to tell anyone about our tryst in the tree. I thought we would be marked with a scarlet letter. You just knew that sex at that age was not supposed to be happening. We didn’t care enough to abstain though.

Later that evening she called and said that she was sticky and itching all over her vagina. She thought she caught a venereal disease. The next day the skin on my penis started to bubble up. In places, the skin was peeling off. We thought we were doomed, that the devil had given us venereal disease. I made her swear not to tell her mother or anyone. She agreed. The next day was really tough. I was afraid to even take a bath. The skin was bubbling up all over my body. She was suffering the same fate. We were convinced it was God’s wrath. What else could it be?

Finally, she told her mother. Her mom took her to the hospital. They found she was covered in a poison ivy rash. We both were. I found out that I was also allergic to sap, so I was in much worse shape. Her mother and father were livid. The next time I called she told me I was not allowed to call her anymore. We were not allowed to see each other. I cried privately for at least a week and was singing sad songs. I could not tell anyone my heart was broken for a second time. I thought she was just a friend but I really did get attached to that cute tomboy. I think if not for poison ivy, we would have been together for a very long time. Fate stepped in that same year as we both went off to different junior high schools.

Years later, in high school, she came back into my life again. We talked for the first time in years. There definitely was a connection. But, that connection was based only on our shared intimacy. She chose to be with women for the remainder of her junior high experience. By the time we reunited it was clear that she only wanted women. I was shocked. I never told anyone, as she asked me to keep it a secret. We formed a genuine friendship, but every time I saw her I could not forget making love to her in a tree, in broad daylight. At my sixteenths birthday party, my “lookout” and best friend, who was still a virgin, gave everyone at the party a silk-screened shirt that read “Do it in the TREE’S.” With the cat partially out of the bag, he told the story to all my friends, even my girlfriend at the time, who said she wanted to do it in a tree with me too. . So, we did. Only this time it was a much larger tree with no sap. It had fallen behind the school, next to the Wantagh Parkway. I usually rode the minibikes I built there, but this was considerably more fun.

 

Chapter 9 – My Rock Star Fiancé

I wrote several songs for my rock star long after we broke-up.” Tomorrows not so far away, she’ll come back and she’ll come back and stay. So, close your eyes now and go to sleep and pray to god her soul he’ll keep… “The first couple of lines from one of those songs, “Tomorrow,” which still resonates deep within my soul. I have sung that song for other chapters since then. Love with my rock star was an organic reaction. It was a reaction I have felt and shared so many times. I still do not understand it, despite the scientific evidence proving love at first sight is in fact, a legitimate and very real phenomenon.

There is no explanation for it, but some say they fell in love the moment they first laid eyes on one another. If ever in my life I was so smitten, she was the one. I had not heard her voice in over twenty years, but after a single word “, John,” my heart started beating uncontrollably and I felt the love as strongly as I did the last time I saw her. It was decades ago and it was a true heartbreak. Until I heard her voice again, I did not realize I was carrying the loss with me for all that time. She was my rock star.

Anyone who looks back on his or her chapters of love knows that love can ignite in a millisecond. It doesn’t always grow stronger over long periods of time. Nor does love have to last forever to be true love. Or does it? In this case, we were together for years. We planned on spending our lives together. I had just moved back to Long Island from New York City. Not long afterwards I met her on the Long Island Rail Road. I was recovering from a relationship with my NYC neighbor that taught me a lesson about love or what I thought was love. As such, I was not looking at that moment. When I saw her, I was stopped dead in my tracks. I mustered up the courage to speak to her, as I was quite shy despite the act I put on. I do not know why she even spoke to me. She was not just pretty, but stunningly beautiful. Men would constantly stare at her. I was no exception.

I wrote several songs for my rock star long after we broke-up.” Tomorrows not so far away, she’ll come back and she’ll come back and stay. So, close your eyes now and go to sleep and pray to god her soul he’ll keep… “The first couple of lines from one of those songs, “Tomorrow,” which still resonates deep within my soul. I have sung that song for other chapters since then. Love with my rock star was an organic reaction. It was a reaction I have felt and shared so many times. I still do not understand it, despite the scientific evidence proving love at first sight is in fact, a legitimate and very real phenomenon.

There is no explanation for it, but some say they fell in love the moment they first laid eyes on one another. If ever in my life I was so smitten, she was the one. I had not heard her voice in over twenty years, but after a single word “, John,” my heart started beating uncontrollably and I felt the love as strongly as I did the last time I saw her. It was decades ago and it was a true heartbreak. Until I heard her voice again, I did not realize I was carrying the loss with me for all that time. She was my rock star.

Anyone who looks back on his or her chapters of love knows that love can ignite in a millisecond. It doesn’t always grow stronger over long periods of time. Nor does love have to last forever to be true love. Or does it? In this case, we were together for years. We planned on spending our lives together. I had just moved back to Long Island from New York City. Not long afterwards I met her on the Long Island Rail Road. I was recovering from a relationship with my NYC neighbor that taught me a lesson about love or what I thought was love. As such, I was not looking at that moment. When I saw her, I was stopped dead in my tracks. I mustered up the courage to speak to her, as I was quite shy despite the act I put on. I do not know why she even spoke to me. She was not just pretty, but stunningly beautiful. Men would constantly stare at her. I was no exception.

She was my rock star. She was a creative, musical genius, who played many instruments. I should mention that she had the best rhythm of any lover I have ever been with. We would literally plan our social life around sex and would engage in sex at the most inappropriate of places and times. We would screw around in the basement of her parent’s home. In the midst of this, her dad would wander downstairs. One Thanksgiving, during dinner, I went to use the upstairs bathroom. She followed me upstairs. She was wearing a short jeans skirt and tight white shirt with no underwear. She coaxed me into doing it right there. Everyone must have heard her moaning. It was virtually impossible that they didn’t. She was bent over the sink. I was behind her. Her skirt was lifted just above her waist. I can envision that moment in my mind’s eye to this day. We would do it in her above ground pool, even when her parents were home. We did it in my small apartment in the lower level of my parent’s house. We did it everywhere. We went on many camping adventures and just hung out, mostly with her other girlfriends. She never knew it but they all hit on me. I thought that if I went for it, she and her girlfriends would have wanted us to all be together…group sex therapy of sorts. I never accepted her friend’s offers, but they were there.

She had absolutely no idea I was diagnosed with a terminal condition, nor was there any reason for her to think that a man in his twenties was sick. She simply thought something changed when I drove her away. That was possibly the most life changing decision I ever made. I went for what was supposed to be a routine physical. My blood tests and EKG came back abnormal. When I didn’t pass the physical I was shocked. I was even more shocked to hear a diagnosis that included, “don’t make any long-term plans.” I was terrified. We were to be married in a year.

I had to find a way to break-up quickly, without self-destructing and without breaking her heart. I decided to move our plans up so drastically she would reject the idea. I figured forcing the issue, of marriage and immediately having children would damage our relationship and she would bolt. We were young and both nervous about marriage as it was. This was despite the love we had for each other. The reality of it was that it did not take much for her to leave. Aside from the passing of my father, I never cried so much in my life. At the time, I was not sure if it was for her or the fact that my life literally did “flash before my eyes.” It was bad. I started to self-destruct and sabotage our relationship within days of my diagnosis. I was put on one of the first anti-depressant medications, which only made things worse. It made me feel invincible and I went into denial about my condition shortly afterwards.

Despite the fact I thought it better to drive her away than to leave her a newlywed widow, I was torn. I loved her too much to just leave her. Driving her away would protect her from going to my funeral either just prior to or just after we would marry. I knew something was wrong long before we broke off our engagement. I was constantly getting pains in my chest and arms. As a life-long athlete, that was simply not supposed to be happening. A misdiagnosis of possible asthma was the only thing that made me believe things weren’t as bad as they felt. Maybe I wanted to be fooled, but with symptoms like mine, one knows something is very wrong.

For twenty years, I thought she left me far too easily and the never tried to reach out to me. So, I always felt I loved her more than she loved me. After all, why did she run away so fast when I gave her the opportunity? I am sure that seeing me in tears when we were together caused her concern, but she never spoke about it. It was humiliating. I never explained, so she must have wondered what the fuck was going on. I know I would have freaked out if the roles were reversed.

I loved her more than I had loved anyone before and I never thought I could love anyone more. It also meant I would die alone. I would die without leaving my bloodline intact. It was a devastating thought to believe that I would die before even starting my life. But, it was what I was told and what I believed. Back then, doctors were considered gods and we never questioned a diagnosis. You just accepted it as a fact. What saved me was that medical science developed one step ahead of my demise. I was told walking would help, so prior to that, I compensated by walking three to five hours per day, waiting for the next breakthrough.

When we met for lunch she was as beautiful as she was the last time I saw her. It was if she lived in a time warp. She did not look a day older. She was as “Jessica Alba” gorgeous as she was when we were together. Twenty years later she was just as hot. The sexual tension was unbearable.

She learned about my condition from an actress whom I was producing an entertainment series with. One night, my co-producer asked me who the love of my life was. She was curious as to who was” the one that got away.” It was a question no one had ever asked me. Most assumed it was my former wife. At that moment, her name came into my heart. I told my co-producer the story. All of it. How I drove my former love away without telling her about my death sentence. As fate would have it, my co-producer would meet her years later and tell her. When we met, the first thing she asked me was why I never told her. I said I just did not have the heart to leave her as a widow. It was a powerful emotional moment. I never thought I would see her again. My co-producer had other ideas.

We started seeing each other again. She was, for the most part single .Getting together not only provided some closure, but also the opportunity to share romantic moments again. She swore her husband had a girlfriend who he was in love with, so it was morally acceptable to me. Our sexual encounters were just as special as they were when we first were together. I gather sexual compatibility does not change, even over decades. We continued to see each other for quite some time, but we both knew that we could not turn back the clock and erase all that had come between us. Once, while she was going down on me in my car, I wondered if I died and went to heaven. I dreamed of that moment for decades. I do not know that I ever loved anyone with as much passion. She was a tremendously talented lover and just as passionate as she was decades earlier.

We drifted apart again eventually. I probably would have married her if she were open to it at the time. I was helplessly in love with her. She had become so much more of a woman than I ever imagined she would be. At the time, despite decades of surgeries, I was still waiting for the final surgery that would give me back my life. I didn’t think it would be fair to have her fall in love with me again, as my life was still in jeopardy. Funny how life repeats itself, Actually, not funny at all.

At one point, she admitted that the cash she had generating from a small business I helped her build, was going towards some pretty serious drugs. This was while we were engaged. I lost a lot of respect for her. It took the steam out of our renewed relationship.

Afterwards, I accepted the fact that she was not the woman I thought she. At one point she came to my studio with a male musician. She said that he was a potential client and was buttering him up…flirting furiously, even taking her clothing off for some shots. I thought she was trying very hard to hold onto me, but it became very apparent that we were long past a lifetime of love. Our chapter(s) of love were over.

I thought I knew everything about her. I didn’t know she was freebasing cocaine. That was something I would never tolerate. I have often thought that if she were in a better place when we were younger and my diagnosis was not so severe, we would have married. Fulfilled destiny is not something you often find, even with those you love. I know in my heart that I will always love her and I hope she has a happy and fulfilling life. She is a musician, an extremely talented one. Perhaps one day I will be the subject of one of her songs, as she was the inspiration for many of mine. I truly considered our chapters of love as memorable as any I have ever shared.