Chapter  2

The impotent sex buyer

Monday morning I travel to the swimmingpool where I practise breaststroke swimming two times a week. The pool is located in a hotel on the outskirts of the industrial town of Sarpsborg, which lies halfway between Larkollen and Halden.

         I feel a bit uneasy. Will the guys in the sauna comment upon my impotence?

         A magazine called Se og Hør (Look and Listen) published an article about me in its weekend edition. Se og Hør is a tabloid gossip and scandal magazine. It has an incredibly wide circulation in Norway. As much as a million people – every fourth Norwegian – reads the magazine regularily. I had refused to let one of their journalists interview me about my internet book. The reason for my refusal was that Se og Hør lately has had a bad policy towards some of my artist friends. When I refused, they made what they in their internal lingo in the editorial staff call an ”X-ray portrait” of me.

         A young female journalist, Signy Eika Kleppe, got the task of putting together quotations from my book ”Brev fra de troende”. In the book I have tried to be as open-hearted as possible about my disease and its consequences. This frankness could of course be useful to a scandal magazine that wants to dig into the disease story and my private life, but has no intention to tell what the book is really all about, which is faith and disbelief.   

         The superficial article in Se og Hør has three subtitles about me:

          Increased weight greatly.

         Lost the potency.

         Regrets buying sex.

To illustrate the weight increase, the magazine publishes two photos of my face. One was taken in November 2005, one in February 2008. And, yes, there is a difference. While I underwent hormone treatment for the prostate cancer in 2007 I put on quite some weight. The 10 kilogrammes extra have been very hard to get rid of. Even if I am no longer on the hormone cure, I struggle with my weight. It is a problem I share with most people who have had similar treatment for cancer. It’s an honest affair, and nothing to be ashamed about. When I participated in a TV show in February 2008, I knew that the viewers would see the change in my face. So what? Se og Hør writes that viewers of the TV-programme ”Nytt på nytt”  noticed that I was not as slim as before. Could I care less? Yes, I could care less, but I don’t care too much.

         Another man who is portraited in Se og Hør as growing fat is the American actor Jack Nicholson, now 70 years old. On the front page the magazine has a picture of him while bathing at a holiday resort called St. Barth. The magazine writes, in its tradiotional vulgar style, that movie star Jack Nicholson has a beer stomach and tits that can compete with Pamela Anderson’s. Still, says Se og Hør, he is as popular as ever with the ladies.

         The intelligent reader will notice that there is a incongruity between the two subitles concerning me about potency and buying sex. Why would a man who has lost his sexual power buy sex?

         It is true that I have bought sex, but that happened a very long time ago. When I was a young sailor, in the nineteensixties, I followed the – bad! – custom of sailors and went to prostitutes in the harbour red light districts. In an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in the atumn of 2007 I said that I much regreted this practise. The comment was related to a new law that soon will be imposed in Norway. The law prohibits the buying of sexual services. I said that it would have been helpful to myself and thousands of other young Norwegian sailors if such a law had existed in 1962, when I made my first sea voyage as a deck boy. A law of prohibition could have steeled us youngsters to say no when our older comrades told us to go to the prostitutes. There was a strong social pressure upon young, immature souls to do so. Maybe I would not have made all the sorry mistakes I did if there had been a law against indulging in prostitution.

         When I was in the last months of the hormone cure I went through 35 days of ray treatment at Kreftsenteret ved Ullevål universitetssykehus (The Cancer Centre at Ullevål University Hospital) in Oslo. Powerful X-rays were beamed at the cancerous tumour. There is no denying that the combined effect of hormones and roentgen beams does something to a male patient. Temporarily or permanently the sexual power is extinguished.

         In my book ”Brev fra de troende” I write that there is no use to walk about and hang one’s head if there is some other thing that hangs down. Se og Hør quotes this. Okey. I mean it. Going through the treatments the most important matter for me was that my life could be saved, and that with good luck maybe I could get rid of the cancer. Eventual impotence was not the big question.

         But now, going to the pool and the sauna in Sarpsborg, I feel a bit shy about the whole business of impotence. I have spoken strongly and openly in my internet book. It is not as easy to speak with candour about such a phenomenon face to face with fellow swimmers in the sauna, where one sits naked.

         In the sauna there is only one other man. He is an old sailor who has been a chief steward in the Norwegian merchant fleet, mostly on oil tankers. I know from our discussions that he reads serious newspapers. I cannot imagine that he ever reads Se og Hør. We talk about the cold April weather and our longing for summer.

         I go to the pool to do my training. My goal is to swim 1000 metres in less than half an hour. A year ago I managed that quite easily. After the whole affair with cancer I have trouble going under 30 minutes. I use a waterproof stop watch to check my time. After the first round of 500 metres the clock shows 15 minutes 21 seconds. After the second round it shows 15.25.

         It’s allright. I swim. I am alive.

         What more could I ask for?

         Back home I page through Se og Hør again. I read in the article about myself: ”Since he does not believe in God, he has no God to whom he can confess his sins, but this does not mean that Jon does not have a bad conscience.”

         Of course I have a bad conscience. We all do. It is deeply human. I regret the sins of my youth, I regret the sins i commit now. I confess to myself, and sometimes to people close to me. It would have been much easier if I had a God to confess to, a God that could forgive me and liberate me from my sins. But I do not. I confess in my writing. It helps me a little. Hopefully it might also help my readers.


                   Chapter  1

Chapter  3