On a recent sojourn to Cleveland, I attended an opera production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale put together by a local talent.
The moral of the Don Pasquale’s story is simple and unassailable: a man who marries old is weak in his head. Rather sad and ironic, given the aging audiences of opera performances these days. On the other hand, no one, regardless of age, goes to the opera to learn moral lessons.
Now let’s leave the lascivious Don Pasquale to opera lovers and switch the subject, while keeping the lesson of the libretto in mind.
Nearly 2 years back, I posted Of Love As A Drug And Mule As A Peculiar Animal, a retelling of a bizarre story about a prominent English physicist, Professor Paul Frampton.
Some 2 months before his fate made a drastic turn to the absolute worse, while working at the University of North Carolina in the US, the aging Professor joined a dating website. By his own admission, he was lonely and looking for love. And soon enough he struck gold.
Paul Frampton began exchanging hundreds of messages with his online ‘girlfriend’ before he agreed to fly to Bolivia to meet her in person. In fact, he was communicating with drug traffickers from the South American mafia, who were posing as Ms Milani.
To make a long story short, Paul Frampton became yet another honeytrap victim. Unbeknownst to both of them, a South American drug mafia used the identity of a buxom Denise Milani to lure Professor Frampton into a drug smuggling activity. Professor became a drug mule.
In January 2012, after being stopped with two kilos of cocaine at Ezeiza International Aiport in Buenos Aires, hapless Professor arrived in handcuffs to Buenos Aires’ Villa Devoto, one of the toughest prisons in South America. The drug smugglers’ wing held 80 foreigners, all sharing one large cell with 40 bunks bolted to the concrete floor.
‘I was conned into smuggling cocaine by a voluptuous bikini model – then locked up in an Argentinian hellhole where an inmate was butchered in front of me,’ Paul Frampton says in his first interview since serving his 4 year sentence in Argentinian jail.
Paul Frampton spent nine months in prison.
‘The prison was a squalid place and we were treated like animals in a zoo. There were thousands of cockroaches crawling all over the floors and walls. We used a hole in the floor for a toilet and had just two showers between the 80 men on my wing. […] I can honestly say it nearly killed me. I believe I would have died if they had not let me out when they did.
‘The other prisoners laughed at me. They couldn’t believe how naïve I was. But I had spent my life sheltered in an ivory tower and had no idea there were professional scammers who would operate like that.’
The remainder of his sentence Paul Frampton served under house arrest at a friend’s house in Buenos Aires. Freed last June, he moved to the UK, where he continues to research particle phenomenology and theoretical cosmology. He lost his job at the University of North Carolina.
Eminent scientist, Professor Frampton has written hundreds of academic papers. The subject of his latest book, however, isn’t theoretical cosmology. It is titled Tricked! The Story of an Internet Scam.
Where are they, the librettists and composers, to write a contemporary Don Pasquale — an opera buffa with the same old, simple and unassailable moral?
But then again, age factor, so overriding in Don Pasquale, might not be all that important in a contemporary version. Just look at that girl! And be on a look out for Internet scam.