Thursday, December 28, 2006

A CHANGE OF HEART/ IF WE POSTULATE

(Continued from yesterday)
""my best friend and assistant, Jeff looked on in horror" as I carreened about the waiters station."

In the years before the incident I described in yesterdays post, my only experience with Gays had been through Drama Club in High School, where it had been whispered that certain members of the Department were "queer", and a few waiters I had worked around being a Chef. There was a big part of me that still didn’t believe someone could be truly gay and that the only reason they behaved in that manner was that they were lonely and just wanted to be touched and did not have the charisma to attract the opposite sex. I still didn’t quite believe they did what they did. There must be a mistake. They were Gay by some kind of default.
I figured that probably they just lacked the courage and confidence to get a woman. I figured it was just a cop out, a way to be unreal, that the people and the relationships they were in were invalid.
In 1982 there was only a whisper of a disease running through gay communities in larger cities. It was called AIDS, and over the next few years would affect the lives of a great many people, including myself. Not that I had AIDS, mind you, but 'Free Love" was about to be a pretty risky investment.

In 1982 I was Saute Chef for the Crystal Cactus, the gourmet restaurant at the Fort Worth Hyatt. The broiler man was Jeff, and he and I had a lot in common. In just a few months we had acheived a familiarity that allowed us to be a very good team as cooks, and also best friends, that with just a word or a glance we could be on the same page on just about anything. We were both pretty well read and could launch into scenes from ‘Moby Dick’, “Hamlet” "Lord of the Rings".
Our favorite was from "Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are Dead". Its a spinoff from "Hamlet" in which the two guards of Hamlets fathers tomb toss a coin that comes up heads 99 times in a row.

They contemplate the odds...
"If we postulate " says one.
"And we just have" replies the other.....
"Ninety-Nine Times!", both in unison.

While it started out to be purely extemporaneous, we both knew the material so well and had become such good friends that we could be quite entertaining at the drop of a hat. Well, we thought we were anyway. We would be in attendance at after work parties that went on 2-3 nights a week and lasted till well past dawn. The greatest thing about working in foodservice? Waitresses!
But Jeff never partook of waitresses and any time I suggested we go to here or there to chase women, Jeff always seemed to have something else to do. Still we managed to do something together at least 4 night a week. If it wasnt a party, then it was a game of “Risk” or all night Frisbee. Jeff was as good as I with a Frisbee and we would throw together for hours at a well lit park around the corner from my mothers house where I lived. Jeff was a deep and Philosophical person and as we threw we talked. He became one of the best friends I have ever had.
My mother had had a stroke which was part of the reason I lived with her. My father was in a V.A. Hospital with Alzheimers. He had been for years. Over the course of a year Mom met Jeff several times.
Ever since her stroke my mother’s speech had changed in the typical stroke victim fashion. She now talked like a little girl with a bit of a lisp and sing-song cadence.
Getting ready for work one afternoon, I mentioned that Jeff was on vacation to New York and I had a new guy to train.
My mother gets an odd look on her face and asks what he is doing in New York
“He says he is going to see as many plays as he can in 4 days” I tell her.
“ Did he go by himself?’ she asks.
‘No, he went with a couple of the waiters from the Restaurant”
Mom looks at me over the top of her glasses.
“Steve, is Jeff gay?
“NO, Mom, why do you ask?”
And in that sing-song voice she says “Well, he...just seems... like he might... be gay.”
Now in 1982 my Mom was 65 years old and had been a housewife all her adult life. I doubt she had ever met a gay person. I was surprised that she knew the word.
I thought about it all night and finally determined that she was probably right. My best friend in the whole world, with looks and energy and charisma to burn; the guy that I hung out with 4-5 nights a week and could leap at least 4’in the air covering 10-12 feet and catch a Frisbee behind his back or between his legs; that I found myself on the same page with, completely in sync, time after time after time; my best friend that I was so proud to know....was Gay!

It was a real awakening; these were real people in real relationships and there wasn’t anything wrong with them. Whatever I had been thinking about Gay people was incompetent, immaterial and irrevelant.
Jeff left the Hyatt in 1986.
I found myself behind him in a checkout line in 1988. He had not seen me.
"If we Postulate..." I said very loudly.
He flinched but didn't need to turn around.
"...And we just have..." came the reply.
In unison as he turns around;
"...NINETY NINE TIMES!" and we embrace.

I never saw Jeff again.
I got word that Jeff had died from AIDS in 1993.
I can scarcely think of him without weeping.

I would like to dedicate this one to Barbara, http://www.blogger.com/profile/5665351
who is lucky enough to have a lot of friends, many Gay; and a fellow that used to Blog named "Broken" who told me he had never really had a Gay friend and in doing so inspired me to write this many months ago.

8 comments:

Barbara said...

You see, we're all just people who fall somewhere on that bell curve of sexuality. I'm always surprised to find out about someone I've known for years. But it doesn't alter my feelings for that person in the least. Just makes me a little sad that it had to be a secret for so long.

Great post!

steve said...

Robert Heinlein has a pretty good book...if you like Science Fiction... about an old man who makes arrangements for his still viable brain to be placed into a younger body that has suffered a brain injury...he has the Money and the Technology is available...but the twist is the brain goes into his pretty young Secretary's body, whom he and his friends have lusted for for years...its called "I Will Fear no Evil" and is a good quick read that breaks down a lot of barriers...

Mother of Invention said...

What a great Full Circle story. I love those. I have 2 girlfriends who married and had kids and then realized they were gay. I would never have guessed but that didn't alter my relationship with them at all. I can't say that I understand it totally, it's just different.

(Hey, my niece who's in Texas now got a lot of stuff for people at Chritmas with "Don't Mess With Texas" on it! Cool!)

Old Lady said...

That was a good story. Friendships are so close to a love relationship. They in fact, are the way I think love relationship should be.

steve said...

Thanks, Grizzbabe for nudging me into tying the last three posts togethewr... I did not realize how ell they fit. I think this is what I enjoy most about blogging, when one thing leads to another while you are unaware.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Great stuff Bulletholes! I have had friends as well who were gay. Great true honest people. I'd like to add you to the blog roll if you don't mind.

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