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Sometimes Greenstein Didn’t Lie

April 16, 2018 Leave a comment

I want to make it clear, before I tell the story, that Greenstein is a very good man. He’s eccentric as Hell, and a gentle giant with strong moral values. The only problem with Greenstein is… he’s liar.

He doesn’t lie for any nefarious reasons. It seems like he reads something in a magazine, and when one visits with him, he regales all in his audience with awesome tales of financial adventure, engineering adventure, and medical adventure. It depends what’s in the news, and what he last read.

He sometimes told stories of unique mishaps, like when he was driving a stock car at a race, and his steering came loose. He claimed he went through the guard rail at the end of the straight and into a wall. The car was ruined, and Greenstein needed a metal plate in his head. It might not be true, because that’s Greenstein, but it certainly isn’t harmful to anyone.

Greenstein was such a sweet guy, we never challenged his stories. Even when he told us he was part of a team that is going to raise a treasure ship off the bottom of the ocean, we acted impressed, and he was happy.

On another occasion, he told us he had a contract to do some underwater welding on a landmark installation that stands on iron stilts offshore on a lake. Again, no reason to argue, ‘cause that’s Greenstein.

He said he had opened a bank in the Cayman Islands, and it’s doing great. It was always like that with Greenstein, but he was a good friend and totally trustworthy. He told us he’d built a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in his back yard. It’s possible, I guess.

I was visiting a speed shop for some parts. The guy saw my Jewish-sounding name, and asked if I knew Greenstein, as I was in a speed shop he used. I said I knew him, and the guy began to regale me with a story about when he saw Greenstein go through a guard rail and needed a metal plate in his head. So… it seems Greenstein sometimes tells weird but interesting stories that are true.

I opened the Daily Star one day, and took out the second section. There on the front page, second section, was a half- page photo of Greenstein with his old-fashioned, hard-hat diving rig over a caption that read, “Underwater welder to shore up Ontario Place”.

I visited Greenstein one summer afternoon. We went out to his back yard, where he was growing beans. Right there in his back yard, an older model Harley-Davidson motorcycle sat on a jack, and construction was obviously just completed. There was an ample crop of beans, as well.

In the end, I guess it could be true that he raised a treasure ship from the bottom of the ocean, but I doubt it. He could have a bank in the Cayman Islands, but I doubt it. However, his welding story was in the newspaper, and the motorcycle is right there in his yard.

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A Dearth of Mensch

April 10, 2018 Leave a comment

If you’re a woman of gentle nature and living a wholesome life, you might be seeking a special, exclusive partner. Women who fit that basic description are up against a tough situation. Although women of this type are desirable, and men would love to partner up with such women, it doesn’t happen happily as often as it should.

The main thing that diminishes the number of happy unions between gentle women and men who desire them is the dearth of mensch. The scarcity of good, kind, decent and honourable men is a potential problem for women of that same kind. Many women are not attracted to cowboys, high rollers and tattoos on bodies rippling with muscles.

Most any woman is attractive to a man of some type, but many men are unattractive to women of taste and quality. I don’t mean divas, or wealthy women. I mean good, honest, intelligent women. A man in a flashy car with a tattooed elbow out the window will be compellingly attractive to some women, but a woman with much self-esteem might find that image dated, or even comical.

The situation is such that for some women, a good man is hard to find. For other women, a hard man is good to find.

I Think I’m Elitist

March 9, 2018 Leave a comment

I drove up and parked in front of the convenience store which is beside a biker bar. Lingering in front of the bar was a bunch of slovenly looking characters waiting for the bar to open on the Friday afternoon. All of them were smoking cigarettes and chuckling together in French. I could hear that they were exalted because it was Friday, “vendredi” as they call it, and a weekend of drunkenness was eagerly anticipated. They were speaking French because this town in Eastern Ontario is close to the border with French Quebec.

As I exited the car, two of the men and one butch looking girl in worn work boots rushed to enter the store ahead of me. I entered and was made to wait patiently while they purchased dozens of cans of beer, undoubtedly planning to spend their weekend in drunken stupors, and would begin by squandering some of their meager pay in the dingy biker bar. When the girl had her beer she turned quickly and slammed right into me.

I think I’m elitist because I definitely feel superior to them. I don’t smoke nor do I drink except on special occasions, and rarely is it beer. I do not rush to get ahead of others so they must wait while I complete my purchase. In this case it was potato chips to please my granddaughter and a lottery ticket because if one doesn’t enter one can’t possibly win.

I wonder if any of the rabble ever reads books or listens to good music or watches intelligent television. They probably have never sat at a computer keyboard and explored the world outside of bars and beer. I might well be wrong, but I doubt it. The simple lives of simple people are a burden for people who contribute intelligence and taste to society.

So I’m an elitist. What of it?

The Sad State of Contemporary Morality

February 12, 2018 Leave a comment

We can read the decline of social morality by observing the tone of commercial advertising and products. In the U.S.A., the head of state is a proven, psychopathic liar and traitor bereft of morality, yet he was chosen by selfish fools to be head of state.

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What does it tell you that the long-time board game, Monopoly, now has a version that is designed to please people that choose to cheat?

The idea of winning by cheating is a sad circumstance to suggest to naïve children. There are television commercials and programs in which one person takes advantage of another by nefarious means. It’s subtle, like Mom tricking her son so she can snatch one of his potato chips. Or Dad claims to need to pick something up at the store, so he can go for a solo drive in his new car. Another husband hides from his wife that he receives kick-back money from his insurance policy so he can enjoy the bonus personally.

Face it, contemporary society sucks. Cold people struggling to get more than their share occupy every opportunity to cheat.

Do you?

Abba Da Gooch

November 15, 2017 Leave a comment

I didn’t know his real name. To all the men at the club, he was Abba Da Gooch. Da Gooch was a colourful character. He’d hang around the poker table for hours until he’d decide to sit in on the game in progress. He played quietly, and sometimes won a bit, sometimes lost a bit. Nobody knew where Da Gooch got his money or what he actually did with his days.

Like a character out of a Damon Runyon novel, he slouched around in loose fitting striped trousers that were crumpled onto his well-worn penny loafers. His shirt was plaid flannel; very out of place in the poker club. His mustache was too long, and his hair was a black, greasy-looking mess under a stained, pork-pie hat.

Da Gooch was something of a mystery among the players. All of the players were what we called ‘rounders’; guys who got around the city, doing various kinds of business, usually for cash. I don’t think they were criminals, just street guys, taking care of business.

I had a job as a courier. One day I get called to a pickup from Templeton Cosmetics. At the Templeton office I am given a small, gift-wrapped box, with instructions to deliver it to Morris Gross, with an address in a very expensive part of town. It was the same as any of a hundred calls, until I got to the large, splendid home and knocked at the door.

A uniformed maid answered the door. I told her why I was there, and she asked me to step inside. She called out that it was for Mr. Gross. The maid walked away, and I stood waiting. After a minute, Mr. Gross came down the wide staircase. My eyes bugged out of my head; Mr. Gross was Abba Da Gooch. His hair was carefully combed, there was no hat, and he looked good.

It was like Da Gooch was another guy. He wore a silk robe in black, with a gold crest on the right breast. His slippers were polished black patent leather. He called me kid, said he didn’t know I was a courier, and took the box from me. He called out for Lorna. A beautiful teenaged girl in jeans and a T-shirt entered from the next room. Da Gooch handed the box to his daughter and asked her to go try it on.

I turned to leave, and Da Gooch stopped me. He said that I was the only one that knew of his double life, and his real name. I assured him it was just between him and me. He slipped me a $20 tip and ushered me out the door. I wonder which life was his real life, the character at the poker club, or the elegant man in the splendid house. And how did he earn his money? Only Mr. Gross knows.

The Dealer’s Place

October 31, 2017 Leave a comment

The only interesting thing about the dealer’s place was the people who gathered there most evenings. The time I saw them, they had gathered to enjoy “Star Trek” together. I am uninterested in Star Trek, but I lingered to observe the group. I admit that in my case, I was there to buy some grass from the dealer. The dealer was a very nice, shy guy, about 6 feet tall, 30ish, and considerably overweight. His name was Gregory.

Greg also had a small travel agency, where he struggled to make a living. He didn’t like dealing grass, but the travel agency was barely getting by. I later learned that he’d been orphaned while in his teens, and had been making his way in life as well as he could. His disadvantage was that he was not cool… not smooth. Greg was awkward, and that was probably why his apartment was ground zero for a group of socially awkward people.

The most visible person was David. He was noticeable because he talked a lot, always  with unnecessary urgency. One could almost see him vibrating, so tense was he. I later learned that his mother was severely depressed, and drove him crazy. I’m thinking, he’s about 30, why is he with Mom? He expressed shame that he worked at selling ‘diamond futures’, knowing full well that it’s a worthless product and he’s bilking people. His weirdness kept him from getting a regular job, so telephone hustling is the best he could do.

There were two females, as different from each other as possible. They were not together in any way. Sitting on a black bean-bag chair was a very pretty girl in her 20s. She was dressed in Goth style, all black, some veils, thigh-high boots of black leather and a black shawl. She smoked a joint, did not pass it around, and shrunk back into an obscure corner at the back of the room.

Every person in the room was facing the television set. I sat on a straight chair to the side. On the sofa, Greg joined the two that were already there. Next to Greg was a young woman midget. She appeared to be tiny, seated by large Greg. On her other side was Nick, a rather good looking man in his twenties. He planned to be a rock star singer with a band. He was in the process of auditioning bands. Good luck with that.

Awkward people gathered together, perhaps for safety in numbers. The midget asked me to fetch her a coke. Why me, I thought? I rose and stepped toward the kitchen and turned at the apartment entrance hall and left the apartment.

Requiem For A Friend With Benefits

October 31, 2017 Leave a comment

I really didn’t expect anything special to happen; I just wanted to see Julia again. I had a delightful affair with her several years before, and we were always as much friends as lovers. She had a beautiful face. I find that faces almost always fit into a ‘type’. Not that they might look almost exactly like the celebrity, but would be that type. Julia was, believe it or not, an Elisabeth Taylor type, and really remarkably similar in nose, mouth, face shape and dark hair.

Whenever a single mom is saddled with a special needs child my heart breaks for that mom. They are trapped in a way of life that is irrevocable. Julia’s story is one that is, unfortunately, too often repeated. She grew up in a small city where social contacts are limited by fewer opportunities because of fewer people. Often, the prettiest girl in town is from a working class family. Julia’s father worked at the Ford plant and Julia was the prettiest girl in town.

Almost as if it was decreed by an irresistible force, the boy from the richest family in town wanted the prettiest girl in town all to himself. He married Julia, to the great disappointment and disapproval of his parents. Some said he did it just to irritate his parents, but I don’t believe that. Julia was not only pretty; she was an intelligent, educated professional woman with a responsible position in a law enforcement department. That rich boy might not have been able to feel a deep love for anyone but himself because of his background, but he certainly could lust after Julia.

Julia became pregnant and the marriage was all it was ever going to be: a standoff between two people, too young and not really compatible. They were together when the baby was born. The infant should have aborted naturally because she was riddled with defects. The child very soon had to be raised in a special hospital that was capable of the trying task. Her mind was not very capable. She was blind as well and generally capable of very little. In short order, the rich boy husband and father was out of there like a shot.

About a year after that, I met her and we had a wonderful affair. I was married and had two children so many people would consider me a louse. I loved my wife and desired her every day… and every day she rejected me, saying “That’s all you ever think about.”

Well yes, I was a turned on kind of guy. And I was really in love with my wife and found her very desirable. She was slender and pretty and typical of her type. Just for the record, I was not a dog myself as I learned from several women other than my wife. For no apparent reason, she decided making love was not for her.

I knew people who were friendly with Julia, and from time to time I’d hear about how she was doing. I’d learned that she’d married again, to a younger man and again became pregnant. The child was happy and healthy this time. However, it seems the pregnancy triggered dormant Multiple Sclerosis within her. The young husband took off.

I got her phone number from one of her friends and called her for a lunch date. The next day I picked her up at her small flat in an old house and took her to a sidewalk café on a small street of high fashion shops and restaurants. I knew she needed canes to walk, so I chose a place where she could get out of the car and go straight into the restaurant terrace and sit at an umbrella table. We ordered lunch and chatted.

“Why did you always welcome me into your apartment whenever I showed up at your door?” I said. “I was a married man, yet I could show up at your place at eight in the morning or three in the morning and you welcomed me with a pretty smile.” She showed that pretty smile again, across the small table at me. It was a hot July day with just enough breeze to make it comfortable in the shade of the umbrella.

“You were safe,” she said. “You were married, so there wouldn’t be any commitment problems for me. I was out of a really painful marriage and I had no desire to get into another one at that time. And you were very good looking.”

Our meals were brought to the table and we continued to chat over lunch.

“You still do it,” she said with a broad smile on her lovely face.

“I still do what?”

“You still look directly into my eyes while we talk,” said Julia. “I loved that about you.”

“Don’t all men do that?” I said.

“You’d be surprised how unique it is,” she said. “You’re a special man.”

I drove her home. The Georgian style red brick house was three storeys high on a beautiful old street of fine old homes and shady maple trees. She invited me in for coffee and I accepted.

In her flat the air was cool after the blazing hot summer sun. The heavy curtains on her first floor windows were drawn. The rooms were in dim light that spilled through the edges of the curtains. Julia put her canes aside and made her way toward her kitchen with careful steps while she used the wall for stability.

I went to her and put my arms around her and held her close. She clung to me with desperation that told me how lonely she’d been. Her mother had sold a property she’d inherited and moved to Jamaica.

I found fasteners for each of her garments and made her naked while we held each other. I lay her back on her bed.

“You have to move my legs,” she said. I lifted her legs onto the bed.

“Does it hurt?” I said.

“It doesn’t hurt,” she said. “There’s no pain.” I heard in her voice a fear that I might not continue, afraid of doing harm.

I made love with her. It was good to be with her again. She was a very good person. Pretty, light hearted and witty. I often wondered how she could be so positive after all she’d been through. She had a disabled first child and abandonment by her husband. Then she had a healthy child that launched her MS followed by abandonment of her second husband. She had a good, close relationship with her mother. She was to join her mother in Jamaica until the illness struck her and changed her life again.

“You’re even better now than you were in the old times,” she said.

“We live and learn,” I said.

We had our coffee after we’d bathed together. At last I had to leave, and we both knew that we’d not see each other again.

“Thanks for lunch,” she said, “and especially the take-home dessert.”

We laughed together and wished each other good luck. We kissed and I departed. That was many years ago and I’ve since learned Julia passed away and her child is being raised by Julia’s mother in Jamaica.