09. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

May 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter 9

Milton Korn listened while he ate the meal that Mitch, the albino friend/butler prepared and served. It was a good meal of roast beef, roasted potatoes, and bean sprouts. Across the table, Honey Freed talked slowly, with enthusiasm, about her plans and possibilities for the farm property.

While she spoke, Milt half-listened while he watched her face. It was a beautiful face, oval, tanned, and framed by a tumble of blond hair, streaked with darker shades. Her eyes were a deep, dark blue under neatly arched brows. While she spoke, excited by the visions in her head, her face was fully animated. Milt thought she behaved as if she didn’t know she was gorgeous. Of course she had to know, because people, mostly men, had been telling her she was beautiful since she was a little girl.

Watching the woman’s expressive face, Milt decided that she might be the most interesting woman he’d ever met. They knew nothing much about each other, and he knew that was a setup for problems. He decided it was time to talk about something other than the property and its potential.

“I’m 28 years old,” said Milt. It startled Honey, who was pouring out her heartfelt ideas for the farm, including animals.

“Wha… oh, uh?” said Honey.

“I think we have to know each other, before we go into details of the partnership,” said Milt.

“Oh. Well, what do you want to know?” said Honey.

Milton Korn began to tell his own story. His wealthy family in the legal, medical marijuana industry. His uphill battle to just be an artist, win or lose. Finally, his talent and concepts developed to the point where he can earn a very good living by doing the one thing he really wants to do – paint pictures.

Honey Freed unfolded her own story. Her grandfather developed a magical medical treatment that made him tremendously wealthy. He had only meant to do good for society, and surprised himself by succeeding in the rather high goal he’d set for himself. There was no reason for Honey to seek a career, but she did so because she wanted to be a producer/director. She began by studying broadcasting at Seneca, then acquired a job as a weather girl at a local station. She knew it was her looks that got her the job, and she used her brain and energy to rise to the position of producer/director. Her next goal, after acquiring the farm, was to put together a feature film deal, from script to Hollywood premier.

While they talked, they moved to the living room. They sat together, jotting notes about details agreed upon, and sharing a plump joint. The discussion began to get a bit silly as the drug took its effect. They giggled together about things that were not funny, while they passed the joint back and forth between them.

“I will have a couple of horses,” said Honey, “and some goats, some Scottish Highland Longhorn cattle, many dogs…”

“Hang on,” said Milt, drowsily. “I tol’ you I don’ want to aminals… animals.” He laughed.

Honey turned to face Milton. She put her hand on his thigh, and slid it up until it touched his scrotum in his jeans crotch. She leaned in and kissed him with a wide open mouth. Milton’s inhibitions had also been removed by the smoke. He cupped her breast and responded to the kiss. Honey felt the stiffness in his pants, and moved her hand over it.

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I have given much thought…

May 16, 2017 Leave a comment

I met a girl at a dance, many years ago. We were in our teens, out of town at a beach resort during summer holidays. We danced, and back in the city, we dated. Some of my buddies met her with me, and some of them also dated her. Neither I nor any of my buddies continued a relationship with her. Over the decades since, I think of her from time to time, and wonder why we all moved on from this truly gorgeous young woman.

When I say gorgeous, I mean more beautiful than Julia Roberts or Liz Taylor in her prime. She was more beautiful than any of today’s splendid beauties. Her body perfectly proportioned, her hair magnificent, and the assembled features of her face could not be made more perfect. She had a nice speaking voice and good diction. Her parents were successful and wealthy. She dressed perfectly. They lived in a magnificent stone home, shaded by giant oak trees. So why did all us guys move on? I couldn’t understand it, even within myself.

Sixty years later, she seeks and finds me on facebook. Over the weeks that followed, we talked through facebook every few days. During that time, she gradually told me about her life. She has a daughter, a son, and a granddaughter. She was generally uninterested in my background, which frankly is quite unique.

As the tales spun out, it was easy to tell they were true, although somehow atypical. I never asked at what age she married, but she was disgusted by her ex-husband, who was 10 years older than her. He was wealthy like her father, and was a business associate of her father’s. I found this very odd, for the most beautiful woman I have ever personally known. I had heard that she had become an artist, and I asked her about it.

She was very proud that she had graduated from the Art College, which I also found strange. How tough can it be to graduate at an art college if you have even at modicum of talent? She showed pictures of some of her work. Suffice to say it was worthless crap. No creativity at all, just badly done replicas of others’ works.

Eventually she told me she had a 9-year affair with a man much younger than she was. He was a large black man, with whom she travelled Europe and attended various resorts. He loved her, she said, and she loved him and misses him. She paid the way for everything, of course, because she’s very rich. I suppose the inheritance from her dad and the payment from her ex-husband must come to a tidy sum. The lover left her to marry another woman. Still, she claims they love each other. No intelligence.

She’s still very beautiful, even in her seventies. Her body is bad though, she said because of thyroid cancer. She is never seen without stunning makeup. Tinted glasses hide imperfections around her eyes. She wears baggy, black garments to apparently camouflage her bulk. Always, there is Hermes scarf around her neck. Those $800 silk scarves that Hermes puts out every season. Wealthy wackos like this woman must have the latest one, of course. A couple of times a year, she flies to Los Vegas to visit her daughter and granddaughter.

Suddenly, I had an epiphany. I put together what I think was the truth behind her story. I believe that she was very, very stupid. Just that simply put. Not at all intelligent. That might explain the heroic attitude about having graduated Art College. Maybe it took her 11 years to do it.

I recall that her father was concerned that she was going out with me. I didn’t see why he should be concerned – I’m from the same social enclave, same religion, my family is known and respected in the community. I can actually remember only one date back in the city. There must have been a couple more, and I was wondering why I was uninterested in this very beautiful girl, who very much wanted me. Recalling that date, when I picked her up in my Corvette, I think her father knew that she was intellectually challenged. That’s why he was concerned. She might not have had a date before, I don’t know.

The younger man that she loved and that loved her, until he married someone else, was not a man who loved her. He was a young black guy that had the smarts to enjoy almost a decade with a gorgeous, wealthy young divorcee. He was a gigolo.

I believe her father made a deal with his business associate. He was a man a decade older than his daughter was, and he should marry the gorgeous girl, and look after her. The man was apparently a mean bastard, and made her rich to get out. She’s never had a proper job in her life. Everyone works for a living at some point, but not this girl.

So she lives alone, in a luxurious penthouse, and I expect she has a servant. She has two German cars, and lots of money in place of a brain. It really is a poor little rich girl.

The most exciting organ in a woman’s body is her brain… usually.

 

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How Much Life is Enough?

May 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Editor’s note: Amitai Etzioni is a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including “Security First” and “New Common Ground.” He was a senior adviser to the Carter administration and has taught at Columbia and Harvard universities and the University of California, Berkeley.

(CNN) — No one has come out yet and explicitly suggested that old folks like me (I am about to turn 83) should be treated the way the Eskimos, as folklore has it, used to treat theirs: put on an ice floe and left to float away into the sunset. We are, however, coming dangerously close.

A recent study by Dr. Alvin C. Kwok and his colleagues finds that surgery is common in the last year, month and week of life. Eighty-year-olds had a 35% chance of going under the knife in the last year of their lives; nearly one out of five Medicare recipients had surgery in their last month and one in 10 in their last week.

Nobody doubts that some of these surgeries were necessary. But major medical and ethical figures argue that they reflect our reluctance to accept death or let go, the surgeons’ activist interventionist orientation and the way the incentives are aligned.

As the surgeon Atul Gawande put it in The New Yorker: “Our medical system is excellent at trying to stave off death with eight-thousand-dollar-a-month chemotherapy, three-thousand-dollar-a-day intensive care, five-thousand-dollar-an-hour surgery. But, ultimately, death comes, and no one is good at knowing when to stop.”

It remained for Daniel Callahan, an influential bioethicist and co-founder of the prestigious Hastings Center, a nonpartisan bioethics research institute in New York, to take the next step. In a May article in The New Republic, Callahan (with co-author Sherwin B. Nuland) argues for a cease-fire in America’s “war against death,” calling on us to surrender gracefully; Americans thus “may die earlier than [is now common], but they will die better deaths.”

Focusing on care for the elderly, Callahan and Nuland warn that our present attitudes “doom most of us to an old age that will end badly: with our declining bodies falling apart as they always have but devilishly — and expensively — stretching out the suffering and decay.” They hence call on us to abandon the “traditional open-ended model” (which assumes medical advances will continue unabated) in favor of more realistic priorities, namely reducing early death and improving the quality of life for everyone. They further advocate age-based prioritization, giving the highest to children and “the lowest to those over 80.”

The journalist Beth Baker summed up this position: “After people have lived a reasonably full life of, say, 70 to 80 years, they should be offered high quality long-term care, home care, rehabilitation and income support, but not extraordinary and expensive medical procedures.”

Baker’s interview with Callahan reveals one reason this line of argument should be watched with great concern: Once we set an age after which we shall provide mainly palliative care, economic pressures may well push us to ratchet down the age. If 80 was a good number a few years ago, given the huge deficit and the pressure to cut Medicare expenditures, there seems no obvious reason not to lower the cut-off age to, say, 70. And nations that have weaker economies, the logic would follow, should cut off interventionist care at an even younger age. Say, 50 for Guatemala?

Above all, age is the wrong criterion. The capacity to recover and return to a meaningful life is the proper criterion.

Thus, if a person is young but has a terminal disease, say, advanced pancreatic cancer, and physicians determine that he has but a few months, maybe weeks, to live (a determination doctors often make), he may be spared aggressive interventions and be provided with mainly palliative care. In contrast, an 80-year-old with, say, pneumonia — who can return to his family and friends to be loved and give love, contribute to the community through his volunteering and enjoy his retirement he earned with decades of work — should be given all the treatments needed to return him to his life (which in my case includes a full-time job and some work on the side).

We should learn to accept death more readily; we should stop aggressive interventions when there is little hope; we should provide dying people with palliative care to make their passing less painful and less traumatic. Such a case may not just be that of an elderly person succumbing to a terminal illness — it can be that of a preemie born too early to survive, a youngster following a car wreck, a worker following a tragic accident. We should learn from the Eskimos — they long ago stopped abandoning their elderly just because they got “too” old.

08. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

May 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter 8

Honey sat on the sofa, close to Milt. On the corner of the glass coffee table, she set a crystal ashtray with two cigarette sized, flawlessly rolled joints. A gold Dunhill lighter lay in the ashtray. She opened the file folder on the table and pushed it over so it could be seen by both of them.

“Do you expect to fill the country place with such extravagance?” said Milt.

“You mean the big joints?” said Honey. “I like them like that. Why not in the country?”

“I mean the gold, and crystal and the joints too, I guess,” said Milt.

“No. I’m leaving all that stuff here. I’ll keep this condo, for when we have to be in the city to take care of business,” said Honey.

“Very nice. Very generous. Very expensive,” said Milt. “I guess that’s why you can’t buy the farm by yourself. I’m a necessary evil, then.”

Honey took one of the joints and put it between her lips. She wore no lipstick, and her natural colouring was beautiful. The lips are soft, pastel pink, and pout slightly in her face of smooth alabaster. She lit the joint, inhaled and handed it to Milt. She exhaled into the air, and the pale blue cloud of fragrance slowly dissipated.

“I admit that I originally did not like the idea of a partner, and had expected to lose my chance at that place,” she said. “I also admit that I was very attracted by your art. Then we met, and then we talked, and now… I might not want the farm without you.”

“I certainly would not want it without you,” said Milt. “I wouldn’t even know about it.”

They bent to the chore of reviewing the paperwork that Honey had accumulated. They reviewed the numbers, the costs, the mortgage, utilities and equipment. The details, agreement by agreement, moved along just fine, until they came to Honey’s intent to have some livestock. Not a lot of animals, just enough to raise and enjoy.

“Let’s have the smoke, and dinner, then discuss it,” said Honey. She rang for Mitch.

07. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

May 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter 7

A courier delivered the invitation. Milton Korn took it from the old woman at the door, signed her pad, and opened the envelope. Honey Freed had enjoyed some creativity with her idea to invite Milton for dinner. The date was the following Friday evening. The invitation was made of a photograph of one of Milton’s best-known paintings. The text read, “The artist will appear in person, for a discussion of his future plans.”

Milton took a taxi to Honey’s apartment. The building was high on the side of a hill, with a view of the busy city, spread to the horizon. Her apartment was a small penthouse, with direct access to a small garden on top of the building that she cared for. A houseboy answered the door. He was perhaps 5’2” tall, a bit plump, and shockingly, an albino. It was not possible to discern his age, because his hair was white as was his skin, and his eyes were almost transparent, with a hint of pink.

He showed Milton through to the garden, where Honey was waiting, looking out over the city. Brightly lit bridges spanned the river, beyond which a multitude of buildings lined a complex network of streets.

“Honey,” said the albino. Honey turned and smiled broadly when she saw Milton. Milton was surprised when the man addressed her by name. A servant wouldn’t do that.

“Welcome to my nest,” said Honey. She strode to greet Milton. “This is my friend, Mitch. He’s my assistant.” Milton shook hands with Mitch, who went inside. Honey led Milton to a garden table that was set for two. They sat across from each other.

“I didn’t see much of your place, but it seems very comfortable,” said Milton.

“I’ll show you around after dinner,” she said. “What do you like to drink?”

“Coffee, thanks,” said Milton.

“Coffee, before a meal?” said Honey. “No aperitif?”

“No thanks. I don’t drink.”

“An artist who doesn’t drink,” said Honey. “That’s rare. Do you at least smoke grass?”

“Yes, I do. Do you?” said Milton.

“Would you like cappuccino?” said Honey. Milton agreed to have cappuccino. Honey pushed a button on the edge of the table, and said, “Two cappuccino, please, Mitch.” She released the button, and Mitch’s voice came back.

“I’m on it,” he said, cheerfully.

“You have a very nice life here, Honey. Why do you want to leave?” said Milton.

“I’m just ‘making do’ here, Milt,” said Honey. “Do you mind if I call you Milt?”

“No, it doesn’t matter,” said Milton. “Why leave here, when life is so nice?”

“We each have just one life, Milt. I want to live mine in my ideal way. Don’t you?”

“Alright, I’m with you, Hon. Do you mind if I call you Hon?” said Milton.

“Actually, yes, I do mind.”

“Okay, Honey. Call me Milt, I’ll call you Honey,” said Milton. “Now, let’s get down to business. Let’s see the paperwork on that wonderful piece of country.”

Honey went across the room, while Milton noticed her very attractive shape in the tight jeans she always wore. He was intimidated by the thought of being alone, in the country, with this beautiful, bright woman, living under the same roof with him. Time will tell.

Honey returned with a file folder full of papers, and an ashtray with two joints and a lighter in it.

 

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King’s Life

May 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Bartholomew King was proud of his eccentricity. He knew that he was regarded as a shallow, slow-witted, trust-fund child. By the time he was 28, he was well established as a wealthy nut. Fortunately for Barth (as people liked to call him), he never had to earn a living. His parents had accumulated a substantial fortune in the medical marijuana industry, growing and distributing through their burgeoning chain of greenhouses. Unfortunately, they lost their lives prematurely, while testing their design for a four-seated hang-glider.

Of course, Barth immediately sold the marijuana business and closed down the development of the hang-glider design. As a result, he was sitting on almost three million after-tax dollars. He did regard himself as the king, at least in the large county where he was highly influential. As such, he demanded exclusivity – in everything.

He had a ranch built to his own, eccentric design. He had Brigham Coachworks build a custom body of his own design. He had it built on the chassis of an Alpha Romeo Disco Volante, the most exclusive car he could find. The Disco Volante body was discarded and the new body was constructed of aluminum.

There were many opportunities for a prolific social life laid at Bartholomew’s feet. He was hesitant, because he was never certain which woman might be the most exclusive. He attended dinner parties, if the guest list was sufficiently exclusive. He attended sporting events only if the event was rare, such as polo for blind players. He was introduced to many very beautiful women, but he was unable to feel certain of the one of a kind that he sought.

On a rare evening out, with one of the women who hoped to be The One, Barth saw The One. It was not the woman with Barth. Rather, it was a woman who sang on the small stage of the club they were in.  After they ordered, Barth looked casually toward the stage. A woman stood at the microphone in baggy, blue denim bib overalls, singing a twangy country song. A keyboard player, a guitarist, and a drummer backed her up. The woman’s face made Barth’s stomach flip. She was gorgeous, almost exactly the face he created in his mind to be the exclusive one.

She appeared to be more than 6 feet tall. Barth was an average 5’9”. Barth’s problem was, he didn’t like country music, or the rural wardrobe. The drinks arrived at Barth’s table, and he clinked glasses with his date and sipped his Highball. The country song ended and Barth turned to look at the stage again. The woman had dropped the baggy overalls and kicked them aside. She stood in the spotlight in a blazing green Spandex body suit. It fit so tightly, it looked painted onto her body. She had the shape of an oversize mannequin, virtually perfect. She began to sing a love ballad, “The Nearness of You,” and the mellow tones of her deep voice infused Barth with passion.

Barth knew that this woman was the exclusive beauty he sought. He unashamedly ushered his date out the club door and put her into a taxi. The outraged woman made a scene throughout the club, and people knew that it was just Bartholomew King being Barthish. He gave the driver one hundred dollars and asked him to take her wherever she wanted to go.

Barth returned to the club and boldly went backstage. In an open area, the trio of musicians were sharing a joint. In her dressing room, the woman… The One, was sitting at her makeup table.

“I’m Bartholomew King,” he said. He extended his hand. She ignored it.

“I know who you are,” she said. “Where’s your date?”

“She had to leave,” he said. “I wonder… would you come to dinner with me tomorrow evening?”

The woman stood up and looked down at Bartholomew. She put her hand on his shoulder and walked with him toward the dressing room door.

“I want you to know something, and remember it,” she smiled. “No. Never, nay, no way. I only date exclusive men. You are so common.” She gave him a gentle push out into the passageway, and closed the door. He heard the click of the lock.

06. THE LAND OF MILT AND HONEY

May 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Chapter 6

Milton Korn sat in his cramped studio, staring at the unfinished canvas on his easel. He was unable to get clear, his vision for the painting, and it was almost frightening for him. He’d never before had the real world interfere in his private, creative world. For the first time, a melange of thoughts pressed his creative mind aside.

His thought batted back and forth, like a badminton bird over a net. One moment he’s consumed with concern about his bold assertion to Honey Freed. He could easily afford the 100 acres, with money left over to build a studio. His mind pulled from thoughts of Honey and wandered through visions of the property. The Maple forest on the southernmost 12 acres was a rare enclave of mature trees that had not yet been cut into lumber. If he was owner… co-owner… he could protect those ancient beauties.

Would Honey Freed also be a tree-hugger, or might she be mercenary, and wish to turn the trees into cash. Hopefully, she would share Milton’s ecological interests. If not, perhaps he could help her to understand its importance.

Milton forced himself to stop beating around the bush in his head. What about Honey Freed. She’s smart, a successful professional, tall, and too goddamn gorgeous for Milton, he thought. He would have living quarters adjacent to his studio, on a wing of the house far from Honey’s quarters.

He envisioned separate basic bathrooms for each of them, conveniently connected to their living quarters. Each would have a sink, a toilet, and a medicine cabinet. There would be a mutual bathroom, with a spacious Jacuzzi tub and shower, mirrors and so on. They would make a schedule between themselves, as to when the central bathroom priority was for Milton or Honey.

As for Honey Freed, she had less time to muse on the proposal than had Milton. She was busy with pre-production meetings, casting sessions, and all the other complications in producing commercials. When she at last got home, at 2:20am, she began her analysis of Milton’s suggestion. She had come to think of it as, “The Korn Roast.”

She tossed her clothes on the floor, and stepped into her shower. As the warm water flowed softly over her body, she didn’t need to think about the property. She had been enjoying it in her mind for months. She had to think about the romantic aspect of sharing a home with a tall, good-looking, successful artist.

Honey imagined that they’d design the home together. They could have their rooms across a hall from each other, just for safety. They could have animals, and let them be free to wander in the Maple forest, and frolic on the open pasture. She hoped that Milton liked the idea. She felt certain that he’d want to keep the forest safe and whole. If not… it would be a problem.

Both Milton Korn and Honey Freed slept well, with visions of their possible partnership in the country. Milton dreamed of beautiful light in his studio, and the peace and quiet in which to paint. Honey saw herself in farm clothes, caring for horses, Scottish Highland Longhorn cattle, lamas, goats, and dogs. Lots of dogs.

Within a week, if Honey decides to accept Milton’s offer, they’ll be negotiating joining lives, while they don’t even really know each other. They are each very intelligent, and will be aware of the inevitable problems they will have to overcome.