Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape. In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine. Which, of course, I swig rapaciously. Just as I readily proffer myself to be raped by any female cabal. And then last weekend I laid back to enjoy the art of seduction. Indeed, a Kodak moment…

While the world was perched on the upcoming Syrian Armageddon last Sunday I was being seduced by an ex crack addict… who also happens to be bisexual.

Is this so unusual? It’s one of my typical love stories. Or atypical.  No doubt depends on whether you are pitching or catching… I guess.  It was no Casablanca. But upon meeting and greeting we were on the path to making our own bed to lie in.

Alisa was quite forthright with noble fortitude. And for some reason I was enticed by more than her thoracic moguls – not to mention her pensive musings on the world’s shortcomings, which were much like her. That included the obvious: That she was much shorter than I like. Like my last ex. Then again, I was shorter than her tall likings. Also much like my last ex.

So? Nu? Who says size matters?  Yet, alas, alack I have learned you can often tell the size of a person by the size of the thing that makes him — or her – mad.

But, of course!

And madness can be so divine… Even if Alisa was absolutely the converse of dear ol’ Big-MaMa – except when my 93-year-old Big-Mama still rears the bawdy Gypsy implanted in her recessive DNA.

Oy-vey-iz-mir!

Alisa was embellished with metal piercings thru lips that perched deliciously beneath a butch-buzz haircut. This inhabited only half her coiffed, round dome. The remaining longer, brunette terrain was neatly nested among the undecided vote.

On her short, muscular legs she sported a couple of unsophisticated tattoos. One of which she said she did herself. Which made me wonder how much painful pleasure she might really be into…

Hmm…

It’s amazing what arouses a man’s semper paratus. It is rather serendipity. Much like a bull randomly sniffing downwind from the herd. On the one hand what could possibly be more prestigious than to seduce a woman famous for strict morals, religious fervor and the happiness of her marriage?

On the other hand there was Alisa.

And this was before I popped a Cialis.

A man has no shame.

She discovered me sitting in a chair, smoking a cigar outside of Sow’s, my friend’s emporium along Philadelphia’s landmark 9th Street Market. That celebrated strip of open-air merchants has been long-referred to as the Italian Market. With all its vendors loudly hawking fruit, meat, fish, vegetables, cheese, pasta and everything else that goes with ‘gravy.’ But it’s not only Italian anymore, as the new migration of Mexicans and Asians have shouldered their stores in among the century-old street bazaar. During the snows of winter, rusty 55-gallon drums still burn to thaw the frigid, egalitarian air.

And then, of course, there’s my friend, Sow, from Guinea. That’s in oscillating, badass West Africa where I worked and endured its lack of obeisance to time a few years back. His shop is overstuffed with shoes and clothing for a younger-than-me generation who desire to look ruggedly hip without paying ruggedly hip prices.

Anyway, Alisa approached us with her hips waving hello, cupping a 35mm zoom-lens camera. The black apparatus appeared the size of a rocket launcher in her elfin hands. She held a mysterious smile that curled at the corners of her thin lips, edging around a Lilliputian mouth that was merely a punctuation to her inviting, dusky, Lebanese face.

She said she was photographing the market for a school project. And would Sow and I mind if she snapped our picture.

I told her the last time I allowed my mug to be mugged my last future-ex was selling me out to anyone willing to bid for her lack-of-services – as in ‘any’, including biblical. I ended up getting calls from a bunch of bill collectors. Not to mention the IRS. And then there were all those strange people my very-strange ex would simply dial to say there was a monster in her house. It was my house. But I called it our house.

Hmm… I wonder what is politically correct?

Alisa smiled at my coy humor.

At first she seemed tentative, in her careful speech, as well as her artistic approach to brushing the canvas with that Nikon. In an exhale of veteran smoke to a future acolyte I offered that the job of a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain. Besides, I’ve always learned that being tentative is what gets you killed…Or, at least mortally wounded.

So go for it, babe.

And so she did.

It didn’t take her long to engage the moment. Like the plaintive moans of an old Nina Simone song she was hungry to jump into her new life. Into a new world.

Her old world of the previous three years seemed to consist of mayhem and an enlightenment that – as most often is the case — begins with disillusionment. From a battered and abusive journey cracking with cocaine in the constricting arms of a native lover in the bathos of Brazil… to squatting and dumpster-diving in plain-sight under the lime-lights shining on Europe’s capitals… she survived on spare change and sparer friendships.

And then in her yearning for instinctive monogamy she met a tall, blonde Dutch boy and strove towards redemption. She had the sort of epiphany that manifested into removing herself unconditionally from chemical domination. And then she returned home to her parent’s house in a white-shoe Philadelphia suburb.

Now in her later 20s she’s back to school and photo journalism to espy the darkness that once shrouded a once more-pristine beauty.

Finally, a few weeks later there she and I were — Talking. Sharing. Communicating. Speaking two languages: Oral and body. It was, to be quite forthright, a seduction, under the easy sun of the trickling summer’s end on an easy Sunday afternoon. The air slumbered like the changing ocean tides while tranquility on 9th street engulfed us like worshipers at church.

Sow fetched us water and cakes while Alisa and I talked of…well…most everything. Although twice her years we had so much in common. Extraordinary experiences do, indeed, magnetize sanguine spirits.

And, especially with a woman of desire, men love to engage the intimacy of conversation. Our eyes are usually undressing them. I often aver that women fake climaxes, because they think men are listening.

We aren’t. We’re faking, too.

But not this time.

Alisa had a fortitude and determination that I had to admire. It gripped me in places that I usually reserve for more gripping carnal moments.

Her tale wasn’t so far-fetched from the stories I have written about the globe. What riveted me were the lessons she reaped when so many of us fail to recognize the moral of our own accounting. She was wise without being pedantic. That is: The wise speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.

We talked in concerned tones of the possible Syrian implications, America’s lack of public education, the extremely high, gouging price of a higher education, as well as the imperative need to legalize drugs… And mostly we concluded – with she being Lebanese and me from the Jewish Diaspora — that prejudices are what fools use for reason.

In one form or other she seemed to be stipulating that the major problem in the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves while wise people are so full of doubts.

Hmm…

And you wonder why I found her so stirring!

We continued our seduction on a long walkabout. Eventually we ended on the street where I live. (But, of course!) And she agreed to continue our investigation over a beer on my terrace with its near-distant view of America’s bold dreams towering in glass high-rises of Philadelphia’s center – city commerce.

And eventually, with the opera on the background stereo rousing our operatic desires we melted into an embrace.

We covered ourselves under the naked blanket of the moment… stripping away all conventions… especially those social rules that serve to command the obedience of fools and to guide the wise.

I found myself pleasurably stirred by the kiss of her medaled lips as she tenderly hugged her arms into the small curve of my back – aching for her.

When all was said and undone I walked her back to where she was heading before she somehow got headed off towards me. We had resumed our investigation of the screaming whirlwind being sown over Syria. And with all but the bombs bursting overhead she finally turned to me and announced, dearly: “You know, I can’t do this again. I need to be true to my boyfriend in Holland. I really am a monogamous person. I really want to be…”

She elaborated that although she views him regularly on Skype, they won’t be seeing each other again for quite a few months.

“But if he’s being true to me. And he thinks I am being true to him, I can’t betray that trust.” She spoke with the same conviction I first admired. And continue to in my mind’s eye.

Then she added that she is struggling whether to tell him – confess of our afternoon of original sin.

And I didn’t bother to remind her that being cathartic may be good for the soul, but it wreaks hell on relationships. I did jokingly suggest that she tell him I was a lesbian. After all aren’t most men?

At last I turned and held her shoulders to gaze deeply into her soft, round eyes. As a setting sun stirred a breeze to sweep us each along our separate ways, I wanted to pose: Is not this whole world an illusion? And yet it fools everybody…

But I foundered and floundered and finally ended up offering what in retrospect seems to sound something like Humphrey Bogart’s painful elegy to the end of his endless affair with Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca:

“…we’re just two people who don’t amount to a hill of beans in this meshugga, mixed up world…”

“It was a moment,” I finally uttered. “Our moment. It should linger in our cherished, Kodak memories… It was something good. Wonderful. Something we both desperately needed at this time and this place: Here and now…Before the world’s whirlwinds sweep the litter of our dreams and screams away…There is really nothing to be misunderstood. Or even understood. It just happened. Today — the tomorrow we fretted about yesterday… It ain’t Paris, babe. It was better…”

Hmm…

And I really meant it.

Indeed, the wise are wise only because they love. The fools are fools only because they think they can understand love.

All the while, those who realize their folly are not true fools.

And for that, I thank G-d…

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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