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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Call me Odysseus." A Landlubber's Dream of Sea Adventure Remains Just That: A Dream


"Call me Odysseus. In my seventh decade I put out to sea in a 38-foot sloop.”  

So began a story which won't happen and won't be written.  Not on sea anyway.  Last Saturday I thought I was putting out to sea but the dream turned to reality within 24 hours.  Here's what happened.

My friend Philip is a sailor.  He knows another sailor by the name of Pat Shannock who upgraded to a 38-foot sail boat from a 25-footer.  Pat wants to sail the inland waterway down to Myrtle Beach for the summer and then head down to the Caribbean.  He says he has a lot of sailing experience.  He's even crewed on Olympic races.  All that may be true but when I met Pat he was a bit thin and scrawny to sit in the Mount Olympus of my imagination.  That didn't matter a whit to me, though, as long as we could get out of town before I had to find a new place to live.  You see I live in the old house, in a sleeping bag, with my son's black cat, Russell, the sweetest cat that ever lived, and a new family will be moving in real soon so Russell and I need a new place to call home.

"Cherie Amour: Newtown, Connecticut" it says on the back of Pat Shannock's boat.  It's in drydock in Portland, Connecticut, but that's a minor detail.  The problem was the major details.  And Pat Shannock turned out to be a bit shaky on the Big Picture.

That first meeting last Saturday morning got my hopes up.   Pat seemed a bit thin and emaciated but he told a good sea story, at least initially.  I noticed when he smiled his teeth had a bit of a yellow cast, as if he didn't brush enough.  His arms were long and lean.  Actually, lean makes them seem more fit than they are.  Lacking in musculature is a more apt description.  I did notice a lot of medicine bottles on the table in the mess.  When I use that term I'm not just identifying the kitchen below deck where we had our discussion that morning.  I'm also describing the look of the place.  I said I'm used to living in clutter, although the truth is that Russell and I keep the old house pretty neat.  We've had to.  It's easier and faster to get ready for showing prospective buyers that way.  Cherie Amour was more cluttered than Russell and I have become used to, but I figured we'd get used to it.  After all, this old boat needed work, and a lot of straightening up, but it sure looked like an exciting way for Russell and me to get out of town soon.  And I needed to escape because I was pissing off a lot of people on Facebook.  Some of them were even threatening to beat me up or kill me even, if I continued going to the kids' dance clubs.  That was another similarity between Odysseus and me.  He was always pissing people off and getting himself chased off the islands he had his adventures on.  In his case it was cretins like one-eyed Cyclops.  In mine, a bunch of age-bigoted, verbal-weakling kids who dislike an old man who dances like an uninhibited maniac in their dance clubs where their main interest is seeming cool and popular and looking good.

I liked what Pat Shannock was telling me.  "I need to get the boat down to Myrtle Beach before hurricane season begins, which is June first."  I knew from my years of riding the big surf at Matunuck and Point Judith that the typhoons twist up the eastern seaboard starting the beginning of June and going through the middle of October.  So when Pat said we'd have to spend a few weeks getting the boat ready, I figured we'd be able to hit the road, the sea, really, well before Russell and I had to vacate the old house.  "But I've got another problem," I said, "my son's cat.  I'll need to find a home for him while I'm at sea."  No problem, Russell can go with us, Pat assured me.  We'd just put his cat pan underneath the table.  I liked Pat's willingness to accomodate my needs but wondered how Russell would deal with being cooped-up on a sailboat when he's used to having free room of a four-bedroom house with a back porch overlooking trees, and lawns, and, most delectably, birds he can stalk by sitting near the windows and making squeaking noises at all the wildlife on the other side of the glass.  I was also concerned that Jamie's cat might fall overboard on Cherie Amour.  I mean Russell's agile but he's used to level floors.  He's never been on the deck of a ship at sea.  All that rising and falling would scare him to death.  And the fiberglass surface of the deck would give his claws no purchase.  Nothing to keep Russell from slipping off, into the sea.  That thought bothered me a lot.

I also liked the money part of this venture.  At first I got the impression this was going to cost me a lot more than living on land in an apartment.  My share would be two to three hundred a week.  That worked out in my mind to eight to twelve hundred a month which was a lot more than I knew I could get a small place to live on land in Middletown.  The problem was this: Pat was just not clear in the way he expressed himself, in a lot of things.  When I told him that was a lot more money than I wanted to spend he said that was only while we were underway.  Once we're in port, living off the boat, it's just the docking fees which would only be a few hundred dollars a month.  While we're sailing on the high seas we have to pay a docking fee each night and that gets expensive.  The alternative is to moor the boat offshore every night and pay nothing.  In that case we'd have to take a tender boat to shore.  From there you either bicycle into town, hitch a ride, or pay for a cab.   Pat said he planned to do a budget so I could see how much it was going to cost me, but my share would be about a third and he'd pay the rest.  Since the trip to Myrtle Beach would take us two to three weeks and then we'd be in port for through hurricane season, that would cost me two-fifty or so to three hundred a week underway but then very little after that.  That all sounded reasonable to me.  Maybe a bit too good to be true.  I'd reserve final judgment until I saw the written budget.  Trust but verify.

We spend the better part of an hour-and-a-half below deck talking, sharing life experiences.  Pat liked the idea I'm older, wiser, more seasoned.  He told me he's 52.  Married once, to a woman eight years older.  Divorced her after nine months.  She turned out to be the bitch from hell.  I've heard that from lots of men but then you meet the woman and of course there's an entirely other story to the marriage.  But maybe Pat was the exception who proved the rule.  I didn't care what the truth was.  He talked a good game.  So did I, of course.  I am a good talker after all.  Anybody knows me knows that's the case.

I told Pat all about myself.  The marriage, The Law, the misadventures and the adventures.  I had no problem living in tight quarters but my wife was concerned I'd get seasick.  Pat said that's not a problem on a sailboat.  You know you'll be in port every evening so you just throw up over the side.  Keep your eyes on the horizon as much as possible.  I never got seasick when I paddled my seakayak all over Long Island Sound and over in Rhode Island on flat water and rough wavy seas.  In my Riot Boogie surf kayak I've surfed 12-12 waves at Matunuck and Point Judith (12-feet-high and 12-second period hurricane swell) and never had a problem.  Of course that was when I could always see the horizon.  I've never spent time below deck in a stormy sea.  But I wasn't scared off by that thought.  I knew I'd adapt to it eventually.

We hit it off so I agreed to come back Sunday afternoon to begin helping him paint the boat and get it ready for our sea voyage adventure.  I did make note of the fact until I came around he was going to have to pay a young man twenty-five an hour to help him paint the boat.  I wondered if I'd be able to get credit for my labor at some lower rate, given my inexperience, since the sweat equity I was going to help Pat accrue would be applied to his boat.  I decided to take that up with him tomorrow, once I saw what it was like to work with him and not just talk.

I left Cherie Amour in a state of high infatuation and excitement.  A sea voyage.  Ocean adventure.  Spending the summer in South Carolina right on the water.  Hanging out at the beach.  Surfing.  Dancing in new dance clubs where people weren't sick of me.  Then sailing to the Carribean for the winter.  Finally, not just filtering my experience of life and my marriage through Homer's "Odyssey" but actually living out the mythology.  I couldn't believe my luck.  But somewhere back in my brain it seemed too good to be true.  I focused the dimly-perceived awareness of looming problems on the issue of Russell.  Would Russell really feel comfortable as a sailor-cat on a sailboat?  I don't remember Odysseus having a cat on board his vessel.  Had his son Telemachus had a cat which followed Odysseus on his adventures in Troy would Odysseus ever have been able to have had all those sea adventures?  On Odysseus's ship were many sailors, a full crew.  Russell hates strangers.  Would Telemachus's cat have liked his father's crew any more than Russell might or might not like Pat Shannock, let alone living on his boat?

Despite my mental reservations, which were outweighed by my enthusiasm, I called Susie, our eldest son, my brother, sister, and brother-in-law, and my friend Brian to tell them of my new plan.  I mentioned it to my minister and his wife the next morning after church.   They were all supportive, although the minister's wife seemed a bit skeptical, and Susie must have shared Sister Stefanie's thought-process because she did have a suggestion.  Susie thought I would be best-off with a permanent place of some kind on land, a home base.  Susie is so practical and, in this case, probably knew better than I did that seasickness or not, enthusiasm or not, this plan was a bit far-fetched.  As she told me the other night, the night before I first laid eyes on the Cherie Amour, when I was feeling a bit vulnerable about the idea of leaving the old house, "Bob, not matter what, I've got your back."  We may not be living together as man and wife but I still consider Susie my best friend and the only person who loves me.  I know I don't show it very well, but I feel the same way about her.  I only want the best for this woman I've been with for the past two-score and four years.  That's a good chunk of our existences in this life.  We've got a lot of history together.

So right after the Mother's Day service at church I went over the bridge again to the marina.  There was Pat finishing sanding off the old paint from Cherie Amour's port side.  It was no longer a good angle to see the old girl.  Pat was complaining to me about the cost of the pain.  "$115 a gallon.  That stuff's not cheap.  And the worst thing is this.  The guy who was going to help me fix the engine says his transmission broke down so he can't get down from Enfield to help me.  And I've also got to repair the entire electrical system."  In broad daylight, Pat looked even more sickly than he had the day before when we sat below deck and took the measure of each other.  Looking at his scrawny arms I wondered how the heck is he going to deal with all the hard physical labor involved in running a sailing vessel in bad weather?  And that was just the beginning of the reality-testing I did that afternoon.

Pat started right out telling me that I had to take the Acetone and wipe off all the blue paint dust residue which remained from him sanding off the paint that morning.  Then I had to put a prime coat on the spots where he'd scraped off the rotting paint so the finished surface, once painted, would be mostly smoothed out.  He seemed tired, as I imagine anybody would be from using an electric sander to take all the paint off the bottom-half of a 38-foot aging sailboat.  How long is it going to take us to paint the boat, I asked.  At least two weeks of solid eight-hour days.  Hmn, I thought, that alone will take us right up to the beginning of hurricane season.  And the engine has to be fixed, the guy who was going to do that can't get himself down from Enfield, and the electrical system is shot.  How are we going to get down to South Carolina by the first or second week of June, I wondered?

And then all the problems poured out of Pat Shannock.  It was as if he was having a major bout of seasickness and all the problems were like the contents of a drunken sailor's stomach in a wobbly sailboat: it all had to be vomited overboard.  I happened to be the ocean water into which all this stomach-stuff needed to be thrown up.   Well, we'll be lucky if we can get underway before late July.  Maybe even next year, he cautioned me.  Look, it's an old boat.  Needs a lot of work.  And it's all pretty expensive.  That's the way it is with sailboats.

I was beginning to loose my enthusiasm about this sailing adventure and, more particularly, the prospect of spending a lot of time with Pat Shannock.  I cross-examined him, gently but directly.  "Yesterday you said you wouldn't want to be caught sailing off the coast of New Jersey in hurricane season.   Now you're saying we may get underway in mid to late July."  Well, he explained, hurricane season doesn't begin until late July, the beginning of August.  "Look, I don't want to be nasty about this but that's not what you said yesterday.  I'm beginning to get the idea this trip may never take place."  His tone of voice and the look on his face were more tired than yesterday, a bit annoyed even.  "Boating is not cheap.  When I moved up from my old 25-foot boat to this 38-footer, I knew there was going to be a lot involved in making it seaworthy."  Why, I wondered, did he not just hang on to the old boat.  "In boating, like life, it's always about Moving Up.  You never move back down."  I told him this did not square at all with my own philosophy of life.  "I'm at a time and place in life where I want to scale back, go minimal, live with less.  Less is actually more, in my experience."  Pat Shannock just looked at me.  He is clearly not a well man.  He'd told me he lives on some small savings plus his disability checks.  That was the first I'd heard explicitly of disability.  "Sorry to be intrusive, but I need to know what you're disabled from if we're going to be on a ship on the high seas together for any extended period of time."  "Well, you saw all the medication down in the cabin."  Yes, I had, but I hadn't taken a look at what was in the plastic orange transparent pill containers, those little cylinders with the white labels you get from CVS or Walgreens.  "It's my heart," he explained.  Oh, boy, I thought to myself, just what Russell and I need, to get on an ocean-going sailboat with a man with a heart problem.  Russell would never approve, I'm afraid, if he could speak English and not just Cat.  I know what a big baby that old tiger really is.  I've lived with Russell for too long to take a chance piloting down the eastern seaboard on a ship with a heart-challenged captain.

Look, I told Pat, my wife and I will be selling our old house very soon.  I need a place for Russell and me to move into.  I have a sneaky suspicion you're just not going to be able to dress up Cherie Amour in time to take her down the coast to Myrtle Beach this season.  Maybe next year.  If you still need a crew and a cat then, let me know, I might be interested.  I didn't want to offend him so I didn't put the emphasis on the might, but with his heart problems, his shallow financial pockets, and his sickly appearance, I'd have to take a long, hard look at the operation before forcing Russell to learn to live on a sailboat.

In the end I thanked Pat for his time, wished him luck, and told him he knew how to reach me if he still needed a crew and a cat when he and Cherie were ready to push off from shore.  I was disappointed with the realization that I'd have to continue my life as a landlubber, experiencing the Odyssey largely in my mind.  James Joyce's "Ulysses" is the story of the Odyssey in one action-packed day in Dublin.  I wonder if Joyce moved his mid-life story from sea back onto land because he too once encountered an Irish sailor just like Pat Shannock?











38 comments:

  1. I loved this story, Bob. Great work.

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  2. Hey Bobby- Zimmerman had a broken nose . Not looking good for your dead black buddy is it?

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    1. Dear Jumpin' the Gun Anonymous (May 16, 2012 at 11:54 a.m.),

      Until we can see and hear all the evidence, it's impossible to put any of the bits and pieces we've heard into proper perspective. I can spin as many scenarios as the next guy from any one aspect of the case. Was it a fresh fracture? How did it happen? Why did Zimmerman pursue Trayvon in the first place when he was told to back off? If the nose was broken in a tussle between the two men, was Trayvon reasonably defending himself from an armed vigilante who had no business singling Trayvon out?

      I have confidence in the legal process. Fortunately, you and I are not going to be hearing the evidence and deciding the case.

      You seem a bit obsessed with the case. Relax. It's an important story but there's lots of other stuff going on in the world. We can't have any more impact on the Zimmerman Vigilante case so I hereby give you permission to get a good night's rest.

      All best,

      A Man patiently awaiting Justice

      Delete
    2. Let's meet at Klecko coffee shop to discuss.

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    3. Dear Claims to Wanna Meet Anonymous (May 18, 2012 at 1 p.m.),

      I'd be happy to meet you. Identify yourself and tell me where "Klecko" coffee shop is? Never hear of it.

      All best,

      A Known Man

      Delete
  3. This is probably your best blog post to date. Well done, sir.

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    1. Dear Positive Anonymous (May 17, 2012 at 8 a.m.),

      Thanks for the encouragement. I kind of liked it myself.

      Disappointed though I was that I would not be leaving land on an extended voyage, the opening line of "Moby Dick," slightly altered and tailored to my own life journey, inspired me to look on the bright side of the situation. I've been filtering my experience through the myth of Odysseus for a long time, even though the closest I ever get to a sea adventure is sea kayaking, surf kayaking, and body surfing in Rhode Island. But I have good literary company in this.

      Leopold Bloom, Joyce's protagonist in "Ulysses" lived the "Odyssey" in a single day in Dublin. There's no reason I can't do the same in Middletown.

      Thanks for reading the blog and making your Comment.

      All best,

      Bob

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  4. Bob- I thought you were living alone in your old house to keep an eye on it. Now that it is sold why don't you move back in with your wife? Will she not have you? Is she, like everyone else, so sick of your crap she wants nothing to do with you?

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    1. Dear Simple-Minded Anonymous (May 19, 2012 at 4:31 a.m.),

      Susie and I have been together 44 years. So many memories. So much life together.

      Simple-minded people like you cannot comprehend the complexity of a relationship of such duration. You'll just have to take it on faith that we're working it our, in our own way.

      The "crap" you speak of is a necessary stage in my personal development. You speak only for yourself. Not everyone is sick of my "crap." I have a number of old and true friends; we will stick together through thick and thin, good times and bad.

      Stay tuned. Remember, life is a process, not an end-stage, as long as you're not six-feet under.

      If you work on it, you, too, can develop a longer-view of life, a more patient attitude towards other people. Relax. God is working His purpose out.

      All best,

      An Always-Changing Man

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    2. N.B.: In the second paragraph, "we're working it out, in our own way."

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    3. simple minded people like me cannot comprehend your relationship? Really? Is it simple minded to think that two people who have been married for over 40 years and have 4 children together would still be living together under the same roof? Get your head out of your ass.

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    4. BTW......you don't need to correct yourself for misspelled words. u
      Unlike your OCD condescening self, no gives a shit.

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    5. Dear Simple-Minded Anonymous (May 20, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.),

      You're pretty thin-skinned and angry, Mr. Simpleton. The complexity of my marital relationship boggles that narrow-little mind of yours. I'm sure reality is a bit daunting for someone of your limited world-view. I understand.

      Look, you hardly understand yourself, let alone my wife and me. The world is full of people in all kinds of complex relationships. Not all married people live together and not all married people who live together are happy with each other. Appearances are often quite deceiving.

      Why don't you get out-and-about a bit? Get to know some people. Get to know yourself. Live a little. Learn how interestingly complex human beings are. Then come back and we can talk.

      All best,

      A Complex Man in a Complex Relationship

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    6. Dear Post-Scripted Anonymous (May 20, 2012 5:04 p.m.),

      I can understand that a man like you, who cannot write the English language properly, doesn't pay attention to little things like the spellings of words. I do.

      Also, if you don't care about how I live my life or how I write, why do you continue to read me and choose to get so angry about me? You're most revealing about your emotional life. An interesting case, indeed.

      All best,

      A Man who does what he does and cares about The Language

      Delete
  5. I think this is a great idea! Jump on a sailboat and sail yourself into a hurricane.

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    1. Dear Brilliant Idea Anonymous (May 21, 2012 at 5:46 a.m.),

      Go ahead, be my guest.

      You choose to be so angry about me. Interesting. Any insight into why you feel that way?

      All best,

      A Pacific Man

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  6. Dear Mr. Dutcher- this story you wrote was so delightful. Thank you for sharing this. I hung on every word as I read it. The worse part was when it ended. I can only imagine what you went through as you had thisopportunity to do something so exciting only to have it slip though your hands. If you get another opportunity please share. I would love to share a boat ride with you. Sailing along, the waves bouning us up and down as we head into the sunset together. It sends chills down my back thinking about it.

    -Sam

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    Replies
    1. Dear Wannabe-Ironist Anonymous (May 21, 2012 at 7:47 a.m.),

      Sorry, this fish ain't bitin'. Nice try.

      All best,

      Not Fallin' For It

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  7. Bob- your a sorry pathetic olde man whose starving for attention. Perhaps you're mother didnt hug you enough. Your problems run pretty deep. You think you are always rite but your not. You should look in the mirror and realise you ain't no more smarter than the next guy. You think you are a writer when all you do is write this blog about you're pathetic life. You're comedy act is almost as funnie as your career. Get a life.

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    1. Dear Judgmental but Clearly Fascinated-by-me Anonymous (May 22, 2012 at 7:52 a.m.),

      What you say is all interesting. Interesting ideas and fantasies in your head about what you think of me. What you say about me says nothing interesting about me and you know little about me. But I'm always interested in hearing peoples' reactions to my writing and my life.

      One interesting thing about you is this. You take pot-shots at me, all in the shadows. What are you afraid of? Why don't you tell all of us who you are? Now I'd say THAT'S pathetic, not a Man, as I am, who is open and honest about who he is, where he's come from, and his deepest vulnerabilities. I'm far from pathetic. Honest, yes. Open, yes. Risk-taking, yes. Pathetic? I don't think so.

      Now, why do you say I'm not a writer? I write a blog. I've had over 31,000 page views since I began writing the blog last July, less than a year ago. I write well, which is more than I can fairly say about you, based on your written Comment. Based on what I've seen of your writing, you're not the first person I'd consult about the quality of mine. If you disagree with that, please let me know why.

      I don't claim always to be right. Never have, never will. I LOVE to be challenged. But I don't take baloney from anybody, you included, just because you choose to throw it my way. I fight fire with fire. And, unfortunately, in your case, I'm fighting a tiny flame, barely visible, very cold. The way I view your analytical ability, your psychological acumen, your verbal power, based on your Comment is this: lame, at best. No fire needed to deal with the likes of you. But please keep on reading my blog and trying to knock me off my stride. A lot of people do but no one has come even close, and you're one of those.

      All best,

      A Man who's got your number, no question

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  8. You keep mentioning how many hits your blog has. Don't you realise that 90% are reading it to mock you or to read the comments of those who mock you? Are really that naive to think you are such a good writer that the masses flock to your blog to read it? The hits you get are for me and others in our comments to you and your idiotic responses to them which you somehow think are superior in some way. No one is interested in your life anymore than a circus audience is to a freak show.

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    1. Dear Too-much-protesting Anonymous (May 22, 2012 at 10:22 a.m.),

      Each time you write a Comment you display your lack of self-awareness and lack of intelligence. How can you possibly know why 90 percent of my readers read my writing? That's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Don't you see how unintelligent your speculation is, how lacking in foundation?

      I don't know why I've had over 31,000 page views of my blog in the past 10 months but that statistic demonstrates the blog evokes a strong and consistent response. I'd say one out of 20 of the Comments I get are from intelligent, thoughtful people. Most are from people like you, who are neither.

      There's a reason I'm writing the blog getting all that interest and you're not. Your Comments are so vacuous, so driven by your peculiar psychological conflicts, as to be interesting only in a pathological way. Again, the fact you hide in the shadows of anonymity, as a fearful little boy, hiding behind Mommy's skirts, speaks volumes about you. Don't you see?

      You say "no one is interested in [my] life" but then contradict that claim by then claiming people ARE fascinated by my life as "a circus audience is to a freak show." Actually, there may be some truth in your speculation. I AM living a most unconventional life, one I suspect most people would not have the psychological strength to bear, were they interested in trying out all the interesting things I've done in the past year since I left the active practice of the law. I am certain a person like you, who cannot even Man Up and identify yourself here would never be able to do any of these things I've done. That's why I rather suspect what's happening with you is simply this: you're envious, jealous I'm as free as you only dream of being.

      Anyway, the circus and freak show analogy is a good one. I like to entertain with my life. It's much more fun and enjoyable than spending my time and energy making money.

      I'm SO glad you continue to be obsessed with me. Keep on reading the blog. And keep on making your Comments. It's fun to respond to a person like you who throws me so many slow pitches.

      All best,

      The Writer and Actor you only Dream of being

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  9. 31,000 hits

    30,998 looking to see what the idiot did next for a good laugh
    2 - accidental

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    1. Dear Repeating-Yourself Anonymous (May 22, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.),

      You're repeating yourself in this Comment. Didn't you think I got it the first time, above? Are you developing a debilitating form of dementia which is taking away your memory? There are medications which can slow the deterioration of your mind. Aricept is the one prescribed for Alzheimer's I think.

      Get help, son. I care.

      All best,

      The Man who likes to evoke a good belly-guffaw

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  10. I looked at your FB and see no threatening posts. Who is threatening you at the dance clubs? Why? What are the threats?

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    1. Dear Anonymous (May 23, 2012 at 9:09 a.m.),

      The thread containing the threats was not posted on my FB page. Someone else brought the thread to my attention. The threats have ranged from "I'll hit you if I see you in a certain club" to more serious threats by another person if he sees me on the street. These are probably just people blowing off steam but one never knows. I plan to maintain a lower profile in some places as I assess the situation further.

      The problem with communication on the internet is that people often feel freer to say things on FB than they would in person. This is why I've invited many of the people who make angry Comments on my blog to meet with me, face-to-face. No one has taken me up on the invitation. I did have one of the people who threatened me on FB agree to meet me at a local coffee shop but he never showed up. I was not surprised.

      Thanks for your expression of concern.

      All best,

      Bob

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    2. I'm afraid you mistook my curiosity for an expression of concern. I could care a less if someone whacked you over the head with a beer bottle. I just wanted to know what you did to piss so many people off and who these people were. I believe the one commentor who predicted you would either end up dangling above a kicked out stool or found beaten to death outside a nightclub might just be quite the soothsayer.

      -Curious but Not Concerned

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    3. Dear Curious but Unconcerned Anonymous (May 24, 2012 at 5:28 a.m.),

      No problem. I don't need your concern but I'll continue to satisfy your curiosity.

      There are many many young people, and older people, who quite like having me dance in the dance clubs. I'll dance with anyone who wants to dance with me, including groups of people. There are lots of people, mostly young in chronological age, who stand around in these dance clubs, afraid to dance and risk looking "foolish." I'm not one of them. I go to dance and have fun. And a lot of people like to have a willing dancer to dance with.

      Some of the "haters" are age-bigots. They just don't want a chronologically older man in their presence. I'm sure there are many motives. They may not like older people. They think older people should hang out in other places, even though there really are few places where older people congregate to dance on a regular basis.

      Some of them don't like the extreme energy and flamboyance of my dancing. Some don't like some of the comic moves I make while dancing.

      An analogy which may make my act easier to understand is this. Sasha Baron Cohen was interviewed on NPR a few years ago. I only recently saw his "Borat" and "Bruno" movies and then listened to the interview yesterday. While filming "Borat," Baron Cohen's comically outrageous behavior resulted in the police, the FBI, and Secret Service being called out to intervene in his antics 24 or 25 times. He avoided being arrested but other members of his film crew were arrested multiple times.

      Since I began my more confrontational style of being, there are a number of amateur filmmakers who have suggested they follow me around to film my activities. These have been idle suggestions, just thoughts, but it would make for some interesting and amusing footage.

      As for your fantasy that I'll wind up dangling above a stool or beaten to death outhside a nightclub, the reports of my probable demise are greatly exaggerated. It's often the events we don't think will happen to us which do us in (e.g. cancer, heart attack, auto accidents, drunk drivers, cigarette smoking, and the like). As for me, you have no idea how resilient a survivor I am. I've been through a lot in my more than three score years. I wish only the best for you, although that hope is not shared by you for me. Ironic that you follow my blog yet care not about my personal well-being, but that reveals a lot about you.

      Thanks for writing in.

      All best,

      The Survivor

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  11. Let's see, you took up stand up comedy and got thrown out and arrested at a comedy club. You took up dancing and have gotten thrown out of dance clubs and threatened physically by other dancers. Do you see a pattern here? You don't quite got the Midas touch do you?

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    1. Dear Baffled Anonymous (May 24, 2012 at 1:18 p.m.),

      Sure, I see a pattern. I like to have fun. Shake things up. Challenge conventional attitudes. That's why I love Klearly Konventional Konnecticut. Easy to rile the conforming lemmings--people like you.

      What's the Midas myth got to do with it? I do see a pattern in your Comment: you're a person with an amusing fascination with me. Keep on watching the show. I can see you like it.

      All best,

      Amused by your Conformist View of Life

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    2. Dear Unimaginative Anonymous (May 25, 2012 at 7:06 a.m.),

      Not true at all. Your Comment just shows how lacking in imagination you are. Look, I'm on a personal journey, a process of self-awareness and self-development. I've had some really interesting new experiences in the past year, which I never would have had had I not made a radical shift in my life.

      You might want to read some Jungian theory about The Shadow. We all have a shadow side, dimly-lit. A place of untapped resources in the Self. You have one too, but you're just now aware of it. As Jung taught us, a major life task is to become aware of your Shadow energies and find the gold in the Shadow, what you call the shit.

      It would be most interesting to know who you are. Then we all could assess where you're coming from in your aggressive and hostile projections and fantasies about me. Why don't you identify yourself? Come out of your Shadow?

      All best,

      A Well-Rounded Man

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  12. Dear Robert,
    I continue to be fascinated by the individuals who seem to hate you and wish you ill, yet cannot stop reading your blog. There is a pathological need to know what you are doing, saying and then to insult you for it.

    These folks need to get a life. Leave an old man be. Live and let live; turn the other cheek and a blind eye while they're at it.

    Sheesh, some people. . . .

    Signed,
    A Concerned Spectator

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    1. Dear Concerned and Fascinated Spectator Anonymous (May 30, 2012 at 1:04 p.m.),

      I share your fascination. I also wish well to all my haters, not in their hate but in their own lives. And I hope they are able to turn their angry passion about my life into a serious exploration of their own internal lives.

      Thanks for your concern and for writing in.

      All best,

      Bob

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    2. Dear Interested, Amused, but not Fascinated Anonymous (May 31, 2012 at 5:41 a.m.),

      You have a rich fantasy life. Unfortunately, your fantasies appear un-tethered to reality. First, why do you infer that the person who wrote a supportive comment about me "must be a homosexual who is attracted to" me? The commenter may be a woman. He or she objects to all the hate directed my way. What does that have to do with sexual attraction? It appears to be a moral judgment devoid of sexual content, except, that is, in your mind. I wonder what THAT says about your own sexual conflicts? Please tell us more about your fantasies about the sexual orientation you imagine the supportive commenter has.

      Second, it's impossible to make any judgment about your claim that there are "many inaccuratecies [sic]," "pointless observations," and "meaningless attacks of others who disagree with" me unless you give us a few examples of what you have in mind. Please do. As even you probably know, the mere fact that you say these things does not make them true, although that may be a small detail which has not occurred to you.

      Third, you say reading my blog when you have a bad day makes you feel better about yourself. You're obviously a person with a fragile sense of identity if you need to compare yourself to others in order to regain your flagging equilibrium. Also, without knowing who you are and how you conduct your life, it's impossible to put your observation about yourself in any meaningful context. Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself and how you live your life?

      Finally, what sort of help do you imagine I need and why, and what specifically leads you to the interesting but counter-factual fantasy you have that I may kill myself or someone else if I don't get such help? Again, it's easy for a person who hides in the shadow of anonymity to make such wild predictions. And it's most difficult to evaluate the quality and basis of your judgment when you make such claims without any substantive analysis. You SAY you're not fascinated by me but your focus on me, your dark fantasies about me, and the wild and unfounded speculations about the sexual preference of the other commenter reflect a high degree of interest in me bordering on the obsessive. Please write a good deal more about yourself and your fantasies so we can take a better measure of you and your bizarre psychological makeup.

      All best,

      A Man Comfortable with Revealing Himself Non-Anonymously

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    3. Dear Crazy Bob- my comment to Concerned Spectator was not an invitation for you to butt in and provide your own comment on. Mind your damn business. If Concerned Spectator wanted to comment the homosexual was welcomed to. Unless of course you are Concerned Spectator, which I would not doubt.

      Why are you so damn concerned about people's identity who you disagree with? I don't see you asking Concerned Spectator what his homosexual identity is. Why don't you invite him out coffee?

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    4. Dear Anxious-about-his-Sexual Identity Anonymous (May 31, 2012 1:51 p.m.),

      Actually, you are the uninvited interloper here. Concerned Spectator addressed his Comment to me, not you, yet you chose to respond. I'm glad you did because your first comment was so interesting in what it reveals about your fantasy life: you are filled with anxieties about homosexuality. There was not a hint of homosexual feeling in Concerned Spectator's comment; in fact, we don't even know if Concerned Spectator is male or female. Yet your mind jumps to the conclusion that Concerned Spectator is male and homosexual in "his" interest in my well-being. Given the absence of any evidence for either assumption, a reasonable conclusion about you is this: your mind is full of anxiety about homosexuality. Perhaps you are a latent, unacknowledged gay man. I strongly suggest you stop living in a kind of psychological closet about your sexual conflicts. Get some therapy and figure out what you are sexually. Stop projecting your unconscious sexual conflicts onto other people. It's much healthier for you to own up to yourself who and what you really are. I wish you the best in coming to grips with this part of what Jung called your Shadow. Let me know how you make out on this journey of self-discovery. If you are, in fact, gay, by admitting it to yourself and the world you'll feel a lot better and won't wake up the way you report you now do, feeling bad and needing to fantasize that you are somehow superior to whom you imagine I am, in order to relieve your inner psychological tension.

      It's ironic in this connection that you slipped when you spelled the conjunction "but," which you spelled "butt." As is commonly known, in the vernacular a butt is the rear-end of a human being. It is no surprise that someone like you, who obviously has a tremendous unconscious tension about your sexual identify would make such a slip in spelling such a simple word. Although it's clear from your poor writing ability that you have a weak command of the English language, even a moderately illiterate man like you should be able to spell a quite common word like "but." When you mis-spell such a word, the way you have, in your continued obsessive and anxious projection of homosexuality onto other people, Freud observed that such mistakes are usually not accidents. They are, instead, most probably the result of your unconscious wish to make public your deep-seated, highly-repressed homosexual fantasies, which are too uncomfortable for you publicly to acknowledge.

      [Comment continued in next Comment window.]

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    5. [Previous Comment continued here.]

      As for why I am interested in your apparent psycho-pathology, you are an interesting case of a sexually-repressed man who has no insight into himself. Your frustration with my earlier analysis of what I suspect is going on in your unconscious mind is a good clue that I am on the right track and have suggested a probably true interpretation about you.

      Your final thought is most revealing. You want me to ask Concerned Spectator what "his" "homosexual identity is." And then you suggest I invited "him" out for coffee. Again, without knowing, your mind fantasizes this commenter is a man, a homosexual, and someone I should meet. We know that you are a man. You spend a lot of time thinking about, and projecting onto other people whom you don't even know, fantasies of homosexuality. And you have fantasies about going out to coffee with this person whom you don't know but fantasize is a gay man. That package of thoughts and fantasies which you have shared with us speaks volumes about you, sir. I again renew my suggestion that you undertake a deep analysis of yourself in extensive psycho-therapy so you can finally come out of the closet you so anxiously find yourself in.

      Good luck. I wish you well. Remember, as the great philosopher Socrates once said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." The fact you obviously have not engaged in such a course of deep introspection may well be the reason you often find yourself having a bad day and needing to compare yourself to me to fantasize that you are so much better off than what you imagine me to be, as a way of struggling to feel better about yourself. Until you get to the unconscious root causes of your psychological distress, you will never find the kind of satisfaction in life which I suspect you truly want. I've already made what I think you are crystal clear so there is no need to repeat myself at this point.

      All best,

      A Man who has worked hard to attain great self-knowledge

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