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.

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:

 

How to drink for free at a gay bar in Panama

Hello everyone. Your intrepid writer is right now in Panama City, recovering from a slight hangover. At least mine is slight; not like the one of my Panamenian friend, who threw up whatever he ate – to the chagrin of the taxi driver.

So, last night we went (all four of us) to a bar calle BLG. Don´t really know the address but you guys can google it. The trick of drinking for free at the gay bars in Panama is to look at the web announcements (I believe the website is farraurbana.com). Then, like other cities, you check which bar announces free entrance (that is without cover charge). They all seem to have the same policy, free entrance before 11pm. The trick is to figure out which bar will be more popular on that night.

There is basically two bars, LIPS and BLG. If you time it right, you can have free entrance and free drinks for the whole night. Obviously, there are a lot of Panamenians who cruise the website, looking for a good deal. This also means that there will be a lot of young guys in those days.

Anyway, my Panamenian friend had been working a lot. So, he decided to party hard too. The end result is some messy stuff along a Panamenian road. On that note, I better go and take a rest for tonight.

Living your life through someone else’s eyes

In this period when all groups claim they are the vanguard or keepers of family values, let me ask you, my reader, about how you define family. We had no choice as to which womb we come out. Also, we had no choice as to our ethnicity, cultural background, economic background, sexual identification (yes, yes, I believe we are genetically predisposed). So, while as a child, we grow up with adults who try to shape and mold us through their views of the world.

For me, as someone who grew up in a traditional Asian family living overseas, my experiences have been influenced by the “us” versus “them.” I don’t even mean “us” Asian, “you” foreigner. No, it was more like “us” our family, “them” their family. Family is our “pack.” In the animal kingdom, animals that live in packs have social norms that ensure their survival. Animals that do not conform to those norms are thrown out as outcasts so that their genes will not survive.

So, this brings me to us, the gay and lesbian group. We are the tiniest of minorities but we somehow, convey the deepest fears among some members of the heterosexual group. Since childhood, most of us know who we are. We hide our identities from the pack because we know what happens to outcasts. We are also different than other animals. We do not act by instinct. We think and rationalize. So, when we grow up, we do have to decide what constitutes family. As this blogger shows (see here), it is quite sad and dangerous if we have to continue living our lives through someone else’s eyes. So, to my fellow Indian blogger, just my advice (if you are reading this), you have to live your own life and create your own family.

I am out of touch. Israel as a gay destination?

Way back in the middle of the period when AIDS was not a manageable disease, my best friend of that time was frantically travelling around the world trying to absorb as much of our life in this planet before going to the great airports of the sky. One of his trips during that period was to Israel. He and his partner took an El Al flight and stayed in Israel for a couple of weeks. Upon returning, he relayed to me the difficulties of going through immigrations at Tel Aviv. Basically, Israeli security viewed anyone who is not Jewish or Israeli with caution. Terrorism must be a constant part ingrained in their society.

It was therefore, that I read this article (see here) with a lot of interest. I did not realize that Israel has become a popular tourist destination. I should have been more aware, given the huge amount of Israelis who populate gayromeo. While at this moment I don’t have a desire or plan to go over there, the story in the news has certainly opened my eyes to other destinations. So, Karl, whichever airport in the sky you are now waiting for your next flight, here is looking at you. Still missing you.