Riddle me this

Fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me. Well, there should be a heap of shame on my head given my recent bout of encounters with my latest weakness, a young gay Muslim Arab lad from ( this time) the UAR. Let’s see, I’ve been involved with Firman in Indonesia, Tarek in Algeria, Mehdi in Iran, Ash in Algeria and now Rahim in the UAR. Rahim is very loquacious, he pours out sentiments like honey. He’s glib, oozing with adolescent eagerness. He also appears to be somewhat mendacious. Why am I surprised? His photos are no longer in his first email to me. He denies having a Skype handle which (coincidentally is the same as his email address) and he’s a one note samba when it comes to expressing desires in a man which are obsessive and not real.

I went on Skype this morning and noted that Ash was online. I tried to call him but the call didn’t go through. He’s another one who is always gushing how he loves me, he wants to hold me, etc, yada yada, but discloses little about himself. It’s like being connected to a bit of sticky paper, or velcro that sticks to all sorts of surfaces. He’s always taking selfies, he seems to have mastered the art. But, in truth, I know so little about him. If I were sober, I’d wonder if my trip to Turkey is a voyage into fantasy — the trip has been done in my head so much that the actual experience could be a tremendous let down.

Today’s question posed in this morning’s reflection asked “do I know the difference between a passion and an obsession”? As I wrote to Rahim, it’s easy to cross over from one to another; a passion being a health drive, an obsession not so.

After reading  Emmanuel Carrere’s book The Kingdom I came to doubt the resurrection of Jesus. I don’t doubt the existence of Christ although to admit that the person Jesus is to be known as the Christ one has to allow for some transformation that led to that designation. I believe in the teachings of Jesus. I believe in the Trinity (Creator, Word, Spirit).  But I also came to face my pride that prevents acceptance of grace in my life. Even though I admitted that a power greater than myself relieved me (and relieves me) of the addiction to alcohol and other obsessive behaviors, deep down I resist giving God credit for that action in my life. I say I surrender, but I withhold the final say in my heart of what I will do and say. It occurred to me yesterday that it was my pride that keeps me from fully giving over to God the acknowledgement that my addictions are relieved by a power greater than myself. To surrender completely, ah, there’s the rub.

Is it a family trait that we are so goddamn stubborn to think we’ll do it alone and we resist seeking outside help? Mom and Dad were certainly pioneers that pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. They passed that gene on to us, for good and for ill. I thought I was being so clever in arranging for my discharge from the hospital in September of 2015 to give answers that would allow me to be independent at home and not placed in a skilled nursing home. Clever yes, smart, perhaps not. I, who have a history of falls and strokes, was going to make sure that there was not a solid back up plan if I had an emergent need. I was bound and determined to be independent though. What a clever monkey I was.

And now? What the hell am I doing? Like dragging a string in front of a cat I play with young Arab Muslim men who have some sort of fetish with older men. I seem to fit the bill for their fantasy, whatever that is. Hmm, they don’t know me as I am, they know me as they THINK I am, some kindly old white guy who is a sexual turn on for them. I am the equivalent of a playboy centerfold for them.

If Ash doesn’t have the visa by August 12, I’m calling the trip to Turkey off. As far as Rahim goes, let the backpedaling begin.

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