Alone with all the money in the world

michaelI am not sure why I am writing about experiences that I went through during my past, specially my relationships with long, gone dead friends. Like Autumn, I may have reached an age when melancholy sets in, as if I am rewinding the video tape recorder of my brain and checking synapses of memory long gone.

It was during one of my trips to Amsterdam that I met a guy  whom I shall call Michael Grinder. This was my first time in Amsterdam, and my first time flying East to the other side of the world. I kind of felt lonely, not knowing what to do next in the middle of the gayest city in Europe. On the other hand, Michael was already a seasoned traveller. He was the youngest child from a well-to-do family. Dad was a doctor who knew how to invest in real property. By the time Michael became a young man, he was appointed the manager of all that wealth. Michael knew how to have fun with it too; making friends all over the Southwest United States, including repressed queens from that strange place called Texas. If you were a friend of Michael, you knew you would have a great time. Private plane rides, dinners at expensive steak houses, partying in the darkest cruise bars of Amsterdam, whoring all over Western Europe. It was fun, fun, fun. Or so it seemed.

I still vividly remember one of my trips to Amsterdam with Michael. He got together a bunch of us queens (mostly from Texas) to spend a week whoring through that city. Some of them rented a boat house at a canal and flew this huge flag of the state of Texas. I am sure the natives were used to the explosions coming out of tourists long repressed in their homelands. Still, the sight of semi naked young guys drinking, smoking (yup) and showing affection under that symbolic flag of fundamentalism, may have been a sight out of this world.

Another incident that is stuck in my brain involved his friend Ruddy. Ruddy originally owned one of the tawdriest  piano bar in San Francisco. He was a self-made wealthy man and was in constant semi-competition with Michael as to who can top whom. Michael used to say that unlike his airplane, Ruddy’s was so tiny and underpowered that it would fly backwards in the air. Ruddy was also a snob when it came to European high culture, specially the Dutch. So, one day, when we were waiting at a train station, he saw some Dutch words written on the wall of an old building. It must be a wise Dutch phrase, he said. Since none of us knew any Dutch, we asked a nearby young girl to interpret the Dutch words. She saw them and started to giggle and laugh. “First class toilet,” she said. Enough to say, we teased Ruddy all the way back to the States.

Back in the Southwest United States, Michael had a nice upper-middle class life style.  A nice big four bedrooms house with the cursory swimming pool. He was also one of those who had a cellular phone in his SUV. Those were the days when portable cellular phones were like a brick and were priced like a brick of gold. Most sensible, spoiled upper-middle class kids had a cell phone installed in the car. Michael was the model of our current cellphone addicted youth. At home, he was a normal guy. Inside his car, he would be on the phone forever. He reminded me of my current addiction: Holding my Iphone wherever I go, even if I am not doing anything with it.

Given what I have written about Michael, one would think he was a great catch, right? There is a phrase from a song that says “money makes the world go round and round.” Like Walden in the TV show Two and Half Men, Michael’s wealth was a blessing and a curse. He was blessed with lots of guys seeking his attention because he was a nice looking blond. The fact that he had money was just extra gravy. Like eligible wealthy bachelors, Michael could never  know for sure if it was him or his money. While he was generous, he also used his money as a weapon to control others. So, in a society where we value equality between the partners, how much equality could he find with a potential partner?

There was actually one who almost reached that level. I’ll call him Evangelos. Evangelos was just a normal middle class kid. Not very good-looking but totally innocent. Michael found him charming, specially on an occasion when the service workers at the airport filled up his airplane. Evangelos flashed out his credit card to pay for the fuel; not realizing that a single filling of fuel would cost around $500 (early 1990’s Dollars). Of course, there was no way Evangelos would be paying that. During my phone calls with Michael, it looked he finally found someone with whom to settle down.

Well, this is not a cinderella story. What I failed to say till now was that Michael was also HIV positive. The word “bareback” was not yet in existence at that time, but that was what happened between Michael and Evangelos. If my memory is correct, Evangelos willingly played Russian roulette with the virus. He lost. After that, I am not sure what else happened, but the happy relationship became an unhappy one. Evangelos used the only weapon available with him and sued Michael for being infected. I don’t really know the details of the court action but I think it was settled mainly in favor of Michael. Evangelos continued to haunt Michael, destroying his property, assaulting him. Michael had to get a restraining order.

As time went on, my communications with Michael became less frequent. Phone calls were not returned, emails unanswered. The few times that I was able to reach him did not show anything amiss. He was happy that his period with Evangelos was over and was moving on. Then, a year later, a common friend told me Michael killed himself. He went to a hotel in a questionable area of town and overdosed himself.

I don’t really know what is the moral of the story that I just wrote. There may be no moral but just something that my brain wanted to put down in a corner of cyberspace.

Being drunk because…

I posted on Facebook a picture of me drinking a glass of beer. A Facebook friend (yes, you mi querido) asked why I was drunk. The answer is obvious, no? Because either I am trying to forget about something sad, or trying to enjoy something happy. What an oxymoron!

I don’t know. We humans need a drug to alter our state of mind so as to avoid reality or enhance fantasy. I bet all societies have a legal drug so that its members don’t get rebellious. We have alcohol, some Muslim countries have hashish. Never tried hashish, so I don’t know how it may affect my mental state. As for alcohol, well, I am happy to say that it makes me a happy, frisky drunk (Y mi querido, saves como se dice “frisky” en Espanol? Pienso que para tus paisanos son todas las palabras tras  “pinche”)

My memory of drunks harks back to my childhood years in an Andean country. Los campesinos were born into a harsh life, with nary a peso (or sol or escudo) of inheritance. Whatever tierra they possessed was long stolen by the conquistadores from the madre patria. What remained was work in the haciendas for the descendants. While everyone claimed to be mestizo, in reality some mestizos were more equal than others.

So, what does a hard-working, money-less campesino do? Besides the numbness of chewing coca leaves, there was the harsh clear liquid fermented from sugar cane. That drink produced the typical borracho who was angry but so drunk that he was mostly harmless. Any fiesta celebrating the endless parades of saints brought the excuse for drinking and drinking and drinking. Just to forget the harsh existence of everyday survival in a land close to heaven.

Y para mi querido, algo para que te emborraches:

When you say what you do not mean

nostalgiaSometimes we do things out of politeness because we think this will spare someone else’s feelings. How often have we said “I am busy,” “I am tired,” “I’ll call you later,” “I don’t have time”? What we really mean is “get out of my life,” “I don’t love you any more,” “please go away.” However, we are trained to be nice and polite. We do not really want to hurt someone else’s feelings.

But by saying things diplomatically, don’t you think it makes it worse? I have gone through an array of human beings during my life time. I have been taught to be nice, to not hurt someone’s feelings. However, I wonder whether going the “nuclear” option (that is, just be honest) may be the best solution. If something festers like a cancer, don’t you think it is best to cut it off, rather than smooth it with medication? What the later does is to just shrink the cancer; it does not go away. Cutting it off will at least give you a chance to start anew, even if it may be illusory.

I wonder how many people have I hurt by saving words that I do not mean. I wonder how many of them do really know what I mean, and go away quietly, cursing the day that I met them. They say that honesty is the best medicine. It may be the best medicine but it hurts a lot.

Was having a nice day until an email from the past spoiled it all

I thought I had nothing to write today. Just relax, take a hike up a nearby trail. However, the best laid plans can be thrown asunder. When I checked my inbox this afternoon, someone from my past sent me the following:

siempre te recuerdo

tus susurros a mi oido
tu cuerpo exitado
tus labios besandome
tus manos tocandome

 How do I respond to that?  For a second, I thought of replying to him, saying how happy I was that he remembered me. Then, as introspection descended, I realized that nothing has changed. All the reasons why I stopped communicating with him are still there. Money. I remembered that those words were exactly the same words he sent me in another email a long time ago. Can’t he be a bit more creative than that?

As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well….

Y para mi querido, te doy esto para que te diviertes. Se que estas muy cansado.

De lo que pienso en este momento (my thoughts of the moment)

Image

This came from pinterest:

Se que estabas chequeando cuando enlazo mi blog en Facebook. No se que travesura en mi mente me hacen poner cosas como esto, decirlo a todo el mundo y, gracias a esta tecnología, solo tu entiendes de lo que digo. Y no te preocupes mi querido, solo tu lo ves allí.

Este es mi experimento de escribir en Castellano. Si, el español no existe. En lo mismo que el Ingles no existe. Todas estas lenguas que hablamos son combinaciones de gestos humanos. Ay, mi mente se va a otros lugares ahorita. Tengo que regresar a lo que estoy pensando y no ser un cobarde.

O si! Del amor. Ayer vi una película con el titulo “los hombres al lado,” o en Ingles “the men next door.” Es sobre un chavo de treinta anos de edad. Accidentalmente, el tuvo citas con dos hombres que eran padre y hijo. El padre diez anos mas, el hijo, diez anos menos. El chavo estaba enamorado de los dos. No podía decidir entre ellos cual sera la persona con quien pasar la vida. Ellos, los dos, continuaron ir a las citas porque no querían también de perderle. Y sabemos todo de lo que pasara próximo, no?

Ellos los dos no podían continuar una relación conjunto de tres. El tenia que decidir. Y como decidió? En la película, fue la persona que le movió los sentimientos mas. Nos se si en la vida real sera como eso también. Si querías leer un fin cierto, lo siento. Hasta ahora, no se como ver el fin.

Of “discrete” love and long lost friends

A couple of days ago, I decided to hike around a nearby trail. Gosh, I have been doing that since moving to this side of  San Francisco Bay. Used to do that more often during my younger years. Nowadays, I usually let the stair machine at the gym do the work, preferring the stare of sweaty bodies (rather than the outdoor’s green view). I am regressing again. What I am trying to say is that during this walk, memories came flooding to my consciousness of a long dead friend of mine. His name was Karl Distad. [NOTE: What I did not know until I started writing this, is that Karl’s birthday was in May. Spooky, nah.]

Karl befriended me at work. Those were the late Reagan years and the early Clinton years. Karl was the designated gay man at work whose job was to sniff out greenhorn newbie workers with a homosexual tendency. He circled around me for a couple of months until we decided to go out on a picnic lunch together at a nearby park. At that time, I had a beautiful red Fiat Spider convertible. We drove to the park in that car while my car’s cassette tape player played Pet Shop Boy music. After the picnic, Karl said: “You know, I knew you were gay the moment you started playing the Pet Shop Boys.” We became the greatest of friends. It was from Karl that I got the bug for travels to far away places. We were also airline junkies, discussing which airline had the cuties stewards and how we can get upgrades to business class by doing nothing. Those were the years when ground crew had enough authority to give you an upgrade if you dress nicely and ask politely. Now it is all different, everything is according to your status with the airline’s computer.

Karl also had a deep secret that he did not tell me until the later years. Yes, you guessed right my dear reader, he was infected with HIV…and the only drug available was AZT. All what AZT did was to slow the virus. Once the virus assimilated, it started to spread again. There were a couple of painful years to witness. I don’t know why I can write so methodologically now. Distance in time make past feelings hazy. Karl dealt with his end courageously. He continued traveling, even if that mean strapping himself to the airplane’s seat. He continued working until it was too obvious. I wish I could say that death came peaceful. But death never comes peaceful with humans. We do not allow humans to die peacefully. We insert tubes and chemicals until we can’t.

Karl did achieve some temporary immortality by staying in the reams of my memory. That will disappear once it is my turn.

Oh, yes, total 180 turn around on my story. What about “discrete” love? To only you whom I allow to see this page via Facebook:

 

Four years later

It has been four years since I last posted on this blog. Time slips by if you are not careful. One day, your brain is still bright and alert, the next, you can’t bring the world out of your tongue.

I have grown older but not wiser. I have been hiding on Facebook. It is so easy to hide on Facebook. Check messages, check who is following whom, make a “like” here and there, and half of your day is gone. I better start writing again or both halves of my mushy brain will really turn into mush. I am already witnessing a dear friend of mine slowly die a thousand strokes a day by just being in front of a computer monitor, clicking links away.

I am not sure why I am posting again. Maybe the news of TUMBLR being acquired by Yahoo, or the couples of messages that I exchanged with a Facebook friend. He was the father of someone I briefly knew and who has been dead awhile ago. I posted a story about him years ago here. But for his father keeping his torch alive, his memory may have faded into the recesses of my brain.

If you really ask me why I am starting to post again, well, it is because I can. LOL

Now for something really from my childhood years: