When The Candy Was Free

You know what I hate? People who hardly know each other jumping into bed together. I’m not against it for religious reasons. In fact, I’m not even sure what family values are — but I think they have something to do with the Care Bears. No, it’s because of my best friend John T.

Back in the late Seventies, John and I were “writer-producer-directors” for a big public relations firm in San Francisco. And over time we grew to be tight friends. We shared a lot of interests. He was a wonderful photographer and a classically trained pianist. He was gentle and funny and he had a warm heart. Truth is, over the years we worked together I came to love him like a brother.

John and his boy friend Todd were regular dinner guests at our big old house on Seventeenth Avenue and the evening always ended around the piano howling out Beatles songs or Cole Porter ballads or Christmas carols if the season was right. I won’t forget the time Patrushka attempted Creme Brulee for dessert, but the melted sugar topping got way too sticky and glued John’s mouth shut. The table fell apart from laughter.

John was a pal, and pals are hard to some by and I still miss him. Love is forever.

All because John couldn’t pass up a good orgy. He used to regale me with his sexual exploits. I learned a lot about the San Francisco gay community and its bathhouse, gloryhole culture. He once said living in San Francisco was like being a kid in a candy store and all the candy was free.

We used to go on the road together and I was amazed at his ability to spot and meet and pick up a gay cashier or waiter at the hotel – all with a look, a glance. He told me once he had been driving down Highway 101 up in the country somewhere and he had sex with a guy who passed him on the highway. They just exchanged looks and that’s all it took. They both pulled over and jumped out and got it on in the field and then jumped back in their little sports cars and off they went. Yahoo! Life in the free candy store.

He laughed about it and I laughed too. I guess I could have gotten all moralistic with him but I never thought of it, and it probably wouldn’t have made any difference anyway. That was the way it was in the gay world in San Francisco. Nobody had ever heard of AIDS.

Actually, the word was starting to get around. I remember one bluesky Saturday morning in 1982. We took the kids over to John and Todd’s Potrero Hill flat and jumped into their hot tub in the backyard. We had a great time as usual, but underneath I worried. Could AIDS get passed on through water in a hot tub? Should the girls be in here? Looking back, I’m glad I ignored the thought. Those guys weren’t long for this world and I’m glad for every moment we had together.

So, the next year I took a job on the east coast and, after that, I only saw John and Todd when I flew back to the City on business. I’d always drop by their flat to see what was up, and John wasn’t looking so good. He never would cop to having HIV, but I saw him preparing little vitamin protein supplements to spread on his cracker. We never really got down to what mattered – we’d just talk about business and trade east coast vs west coast work stories and talk about if the multi-image slide show business would survive.

John and Todd usually stayed with us when they were on the east coast and we managed to stay in touch, but less and less. Then one evening Todd called to tell us John was dead. He caught pneumonia and died quite quickly.

The fuck.

John’s parents came out from Pittsburgh. I guess the flat was in John’s name because they sold it and evicted Todd. They blamed Todd for everything. After a few months, he left the City. There was someone in Long Beach who said he’d take care of him.

God bless those guys. They’re both dead now because John couldn’t keep it zipped. Why couldn’t he just stay home with Todd? Was it really that hard to do? Excuse me, gentle reader. But do you see why I have a personal dislike of promiscuity?

Instead of a dear friend I get to see whenever I go to San Francisco, I just get another stupid fucking grave to put flowers on. I’ll just have to miss his sweet smile and gentle ways till I get to heaven. I wouldn’t want to go to any heaven that didn’t include John T.

So while we’re changing the world around here today could we please eliminate AIDS too?

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3 thoughts on “When The Candy Was Free

  1. Who knows, Ponderer, maybe in the time period between the last time you saw John and the day of his departure, he genuinely repented from sensuousness and was forgiven – just like that! – and was given a new chance to live a life of purity of spirit.John’s desire to bring joy into the world, as you noted, was a noble calling to fulfill. I don’t think it is God who determines who will or will not enter into his Presence (a.k.a. the kingdom of God or of Heaven), but the individual himself or herself. As Jesus said, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” This kingdom, as I view things, comes not with observation (like a physical place to live), though, but through a progress of hearing and heeding the urging of God’s righteousness flowing up from “within.” Following Jesus’ teachings, I believe, even blindly at first, helps us to help ourselves to live this individual maturing-in-the-spirit life God wants for us … and “practice makes perfect,” as the saying goes.However, “With God, all things are possible,” so please continue to follow your own leadings, not mine.Sure, we all have some wickedness in us that we may have given in to at times – or often – in the past, but this being the case doesn’t make it okay for others to go and do likewise, not even your friend John. “Repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” is available for everyone at anytime in their life. Let’s hope that John came to grips with his own behavioral shortcomings while the daylight was still shining upon him.I appreciate your seeing the goodness in your friend. I could feel your brotherly love for him in your writing. We can all uplift one another best, I think, by seeing the potential for perfection in others – and continuing to do so.This is high loving prayer for the humanity we live in.Signing a “Family Values” contract before entering into heaven – now there’s a good one to ponder!

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  2. Hey Ponderer, I think you are just playing the devil’s advocate with your question of, “Why is uncommitted sex so bad?”I know you and Patrushka have taken the time to study the Bible quite well in the past – all the pages. I also know you wouldn’t have earned a degree in English Literature if you were a poor reader and could not remember much of what you’ve read after reading it.With this said I’ll remind you that one of Jesus’ direct orders to his flock of followers was “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness …”If after you’ve completed this first-of-all spiritual task you still think there is nothing wrong with fornication, and maybe sodomy and adultery too – then you’ll be able to ask the Lord directly – like asking your own mind – for this answer that seems to be eluding you now.Perhaps you’ll get a different answer from the Lord than I’ve received. If so then go with what you yourself are hearing, not with what someone else thinks is the truth. I figure you will be doing this anyway.But as I supposed at the start, I think you are just playing at being dumb here!

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  3. I think maybe I can respond to your questioning comment a little fuller today, maybe not.For the person who doesn’t yet know Christ as an aspect of his or her own mind (i.e. His Spirit acting in union with the human spirit) a spiritual reason for not engaging in premarital sex will probably be the same as no reason at all, I would think.For the person with “only the foggiest concept of God,” the threat of acquiring venereal disease or having an unwanted pregnancy will probably be a more meaningful deterrent for them than being told, “God doesn’t want you to do it,” or “The Bible indicates this is displeasing to God.”A spiritual answer is for spiritually-minded people who love God with all their mind and heart and strength. For them whether an activity is good or bad, divine or evil, high or low is secondary to trying to do what God desires of them simply because this is God’s good will for them. And they have learned that God, who is Love, is also Boss. We can trust His fairness.For the rest a physical “No Trespassing – Fair Warning!” answer seems to be necessary along with the unpleasantness that comes when caught – like disease, emotional conflicts, financial concerns, anxiety, resentment, depression, etc. – and for some even death.Therefore I believe it is God’s desire for everyone that men “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” Then, with persistence in seeking, we will be able to understand better what the path of righteousness includes.Jesus sometimes ended his statements with, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” I know you are trying to do your part, Ponderer, in presenting on your Blog what your ears are hearing.

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