Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year.

We are at my mom’s in Kentucky.  We are headed to bed to get up at the butt crack of dawn to drive to NYC.  We are a little worried about what we are going to find there.  We are mostly concerned about the streets near our house and how difficult it is going to be to find parking.  It’s my guess that we’ll have to suck it up and pay for parking at the garage down the street. 

It’s been an awesome trip but a VERY LONG trip.  I have been going non-stop since I left.  Between Xmas at Adams and the stress of being at  home, I’m exhausted. 

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more diligent about posting.  So I hereby promise to give everyone the LONG and short of the trip.  Including why Adam hates my mom.  And why I strongly dislike his stepmother.  The details of driving five hours for a lamp.  My mother outright telling us that she HATED her Christmas gift.  My cousin being excited about getting a box for Christmas.  Buying an another boy cousin a girl’s shirt.  Watching a 7 year old and a 2.5 year old unwrap at least five or six hundred dollars each in gifts.  This is the short list.

In the meantime.  Have a safe and happy New Year’s celebration.  I’ll see you on Saturday.

Hugs,

Maddog.

Christmas in Texas

Merry Christmas everyone!

It’s 9:15 on Christmas night.  I’m sitting the living room of Adam’s dad and stepmom pretending to be interested in the Cowboys football game.  Our suggestion to watch a movie was vetoed by his father.  Instead I’m on Adam’s laptop, he’s playing Angry Birds on his I-phone, his stepmom is on her laptop and his father is engrossed in the game.  It’s definitely a family event.

It’s been a long week.  I drove from NYC to Kentucky on Sunday.  I then spent all day Monday in Kentucky.  I did some shopping.  I’d tell you what I got but then the surprise for Adam would be spoiled.  We won’t be opening presents until sometime after the 1st.  I would still like to pick up a few more things I just need to find the time.

From Kentucky I drove to Springfield, MO where I spent the night at a Ramada Inn.  I love Priceline.  I was lucky enough to have dinner with my friend Sarah that used to work with me in NYC.  Along my drive to Springfield I stopped in Santa Claus, Indiana.  What better place to buy an ornament than in Santa Clause.  Unfortunately they were very picked over.  However, while I was asking a question a very nice lady over heard me and told me that I might be able to find what I was looking for a couple of towns over in an antique store.  This began and afternoon of antique shopping.  I stopped at every antique mall advertised on barns driving across I-64.  It added about three hours to my trip but it was worth it.  I didn’t buy anything but I did find a lamp that I love.  I texted a photo to Adam but I was already back on the highway before he responded.  I’m going to make him take a look on our return trip.  If it’s still there I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy it.

So I had a couple of beers with Sarah and a burger called it a night early to prep for the last leg of my trip.  I woke up at 6:00 a.m. with the worst headache ever.  If I hadn’t known better I would have sworn I’d drunk the whole keg.  I could barely open my eyes.  I forced myself to go back to sleep and when the alarm went off it was just as bad.  I reset the alarm for an hour later and it was still bad when it went off again.  Unfortunately I couldn’t put off driving any longer.  I showered, got a diet coke and some advil and hit the highway.  My head did not stop hurting till the I was awake the next morning.

Which unfortunately was VERY early.

There is more to tell but I can’t sit here and be rude.  The game is almost off and I think I’m going to get another piece of red cake.

More tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a great Xmas.

PS.  I’m not proofing.  I’m publishing.  Please excuse any typos.

Love, Maddog

A holiday tradition for Adam and me is to send out Christmas cards.  Last year and then again this year we have designed and then hand made 200 cards to send out to our favorite friends, acquaintences, and relatives we don’t like but our mother says we have to send a card to anyway.

This year’s card had approximately 200 steps.  It involved hours of discussion starting last January about color and card stock.  We actually chose all of the paper by the middle of spring, with a promise that we would buy early and get started early, so they’d be sent out on time this year.  We didn’t start early but they were sent out on time so I guess it was okay.

We also spent hours sorting through stores looking for just the right stamp to emboss on the card.  We bought several that didn’t get used because we didn’t like them after we got started.  We bought at least seven or eight ink pads before Adam found the color comination that he liked.

Then we started assembling.  We cut paper.  Glued paper.  Embossed paper.  Stamped paper.  Stamped paper.  Glittered paper.  Special ordered return envelope stamps with our name and address and then stamped all 200 hundred envelopes. 

And here is the best part.  On one Sunday afternoon Adam and I worked for about five or six hours addressing envelopes and signing cards.  Not just signing them but writing at least a small note and sometimes long notes on each card.  We would discuss what to write on cards that were to mutual friends.  We kept cards separate that needed both of our signatures on them.

Around 10:00 on that Sunday night, after watching hour after hour of HGTV, we were finished.  I put stamps on all the cards (the stamps were chose because they continued the pine branch theme on the outside of the card) and Adam ran them down to the mailbox outside of our home.

A project that had started in January that involved all of our friends was complete.

And then cards our friends wrote started to arrive.

And at last we get to the whole point of my post. 

Yes Adam and I do the cards because we are gay and want to send out fabulous cards.  But that’s not why we take the time to write a note on them.  It’s because we want 99% of you to know that we are happy you are in our lives.

And the cards we get in return.

Photo cards of their children saying love Sally, Steve and little Johnny printed directly on the card.  Or a photocard of their cat/dog/parakeet.  The most offensive was a photocard of a friend from grad school that just had a picture of her on it.

And none of these would be so troubling if they wrote something on the card.  But they don’t.  They go online, order cards from some photo company.  They plop those cards into envelopes that are addressed with labels printed from their computer.  They get them metered at the post office.  And there you have it.  The most impersonal excuse for a Christmas card known to man.

At this point I don’t want to even hear that it’s the thought that counts.  Because that’s just it.  There is no thought.  It’s not personalized.   There is nothing about a card like that that says I love you, I miss you, I care about you, I’m glad you are in my life, not even I hate you.  If I wanted to see photos of your kids I’d look at the 12,000 you have posted on Facebook.  You sent me a reminder of this fact 12 times last week.

In this digital age, there is something very sweet and old fashioned about getting a piece of snail mail.  It doesn’t have to be as fancy as ours.  You can go to Big Lots, buy a box of cards for about 2.99 and then take a couple minutes to address them by hand and enclose a message perhaps like this:

“I’m so glad that we reconnected this year on Facebook.  I love seeing photos of your children, they are as beautiful.  Happy holidays, Maddog.

Or if you are in a really big hurry:

Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year.

Season’s Greetings.

Happy Holidays.

And then sign the fucking card.  With a pen.  With your name.

It takes about 30 seconds per card if you keep it simple.

It will brighten everyone’s life that you send a card to, to know that you were thinking of them even if only a minute when you made the card.  It will make their day.

If not, then you should know this:  The photocards are one single page with photographs.  It’s not a card.  There is no way to stand it up on the fireplace with the other cards.  So we look at it for 3 seconds and then throw it away with the envelope while we discuss whether we should take you off our Xmas card list for next year.

The party continued.

One more time.

It’s FUCKING cold.  I can’t wait to get to my mom’s house next week where the thermostat will at least be on 55.  At least there will be SOME heat.  I love that Adam leaves me a message before he goes to bed saying he’s about to take a shower to warm up.  And yet he wants the a/c on when I come to bed.  I don’t understand it.

Speaking of Adam.

He called me a liar today.  He said that my representation of the fact concerning his emotional outburst was somewhat wrong.  I told him he should get his own blog so that he can tell his version of the story.  So there.

Speaking of Adam.

I must admit that the day would not have been nearly as wonderful if he hadn’t been there.  He planned a menu that included our favorites like oreo balls and bourbon balls.  But he also found recipes for some amazing “savory” foods, that proved to be more popular than the sweets.

He spent one whole night making wreaths and garland for the front door and the fireplace.

He kept me from being totally spaced out and not helping at all.

He wore his Christmas sweater even though I’m not sure he wanted to.

And he made me proud that he was my boyfriend each time I looked across the room watching him chat with our guests.

He’s an awesome boyfriend.

Even if he does lose his shit every once in a while.

BRRRRR! And boyfriends that aren’t happy.

It’s still cold as fuck in here.  I did get permission from Adam to turn on the radiator in my “office” but I don’t think he’ll be happy if I do.  He was nice enough to give me an extra blanket to use on my side of the bed last night.  But the real surprise, he left a note telling me to turn on the a/c when I come to bed because he got hot last night.  I told him to just throw a sheet over me till the spring thaw if he finds me frozen to death in the apartment.

BOYFRIENDS THAT LOSE THEIR SHIT.

Hmmm.

Adam gets a little controlling when he’s working on a project.  Be that a project from work.  A cake.

Or a party.

This weekend he was VERY controlling.

At one point I was ready to put on my coat and go to the movies for ten hours till after the party.

It all started on Thursday when Adam announces to me that I’m not carrying my weight.  He says this as if he’s surprised by it.  He also says it as though I’ve been told a million times what to do and I just don’t do it.

He left dishes in the sink this past week that needed to be done.  I didn’t do them.  I didn’t make the bed.  And all of this conspired to ruin our weekend because I wasn’t stepping up to the plate to get ready for the party.

He was actually right on this account.

But in my own defense:  He likes the planning stages.  He likes the prepping stages.  I’m not so sure he actually likes the pressure of getting it done.  I thrive on the pressure.  I’m the person who could stay up all night and do it all at the last minute.  I’m the one who can pull it out of my ass at the last minute.  That makes him crazy.

So he spoke to me sternly and I tried to do a better job.  I did this by walking around on tip toes as to not upset him again.

Then I gave up my shift on Friday, which sent him off again.  Yes we need the money.  Yes I’m about to be off for ten days to go to Texas.  Yes, yes, yes.  But as I told him, he lectured me because I wasn’t helping more with the party and now he was yelling at me because I wanted to help with the party.  I told him him that I didn’t want to just be a guest at my party but to be an active participant.  I don’t think that appeased him but he let it go.

Now for the shit losing.

We drank too much on Saturday night.  Actually we didn’t drink all that much.  Michelle and Lisa were in town and we drank on an empty stomach.  It went to our heads and we both woke up feeling a little woozy.  I finally get him out of bed which is a first because I’m the one that usually has to be pushed out of bed.

Michelle and Lisa leave for breakfast.  I ask Adam what I should do first.  It sort of went down hill from there.

I needed to be more motivated.  I needed to not ask so many questions.  I needed to not distract him because when I distract him he has to stop doing what he’s doing and it makes him lose focus.  And on and on and on.

It was starting to get to me and THEN…

We live in New York.  We have a pre-war apartment.  It was built in the late 30’s and as most apartment buildings in NYC that have been around that long, they have their issues.  And one of our issues is that water t backs up into our tub.  And it backs out on to the floor from the vertical drain stop we have sticking out of our bathroom floor.  It’s late.  I’ll take a picture later and show you what I’m talking about.  Anyway.  The water backs up into the tub.  It backs up onto the floor.  And it’s all soapy water.  (Adam thinks the problem is actually an illegal washing machine upstairs).

This happens around 10:00 a.m. on the day of our party.  And he slams his hand into the wall and starts shouting.  And I decided then that I was done.  It’s just a party and if it means breaking up or being made to feel bad then I don’t want to do it.  So I just sort of turned off the whole thing and went and sat on the sofa ignoring him.  It didn’t take long for him to realize that he’d pissed me off which only made things worse.  He kept cussing under his breath and I just sat on the sofa.

Then Michelle and Lisa return and I put my shoes on to go the store and suddenly with their return he’s all smiles again.  Which pissed me off even more.  I left for the store pissed as can be.

By the time I got home I was drenched and I was pretty much over being mad.  I don’t tend to hang on to things very long anymore.  And it really was silly that I was getting upset with him after the amount of time and energy that he’d put into the party.  And it’s not really surprising that he was losing his shit a little.  It was a lot of pressure to plan the menu and then create the items for a party.

By the time the guests started to arrive everything was done and we were all smiles.

(This is my take on the events.  This is also my blog so I’ve taken the liberty to embellish as needed, to condense as needed and to change the facts so as to make me look as good as possible in the eyes of my readers.  At no time should any of you think that any of this was my fault.  I say all of this because I’m afraid Adam will read this tomorrow morning and will promptly wake me up and tell me to get out.)

It was an awesome party.  And it was 100% his doing.  He’s an amazing boyfriend that I love dearly.

(I say all of this so I won’t be typing in the cold tomorrow night on the stoop in front of the building.  Of course it might be warmer there so maybe I should reconsider.)

Baby it’s cold in here. Party. Part 1.

It’s cold as fuck in our apartment.  And when I say cold I mean COLD.  My boyfriend hates the very idea of turning on the radiators.  So I sit in front of my computer chilled to the bone.

That being said, let’s make this quick, so that I can put my cold feet on his legs and perhaps change his mind about the radiators.

The party.

The party had been planned for a year.  The date changed a couple of times but we always knew it would happen.  Last year Adam decided that we should call it a Jubilee.  So on December 12th we had our second annual Adam and Maddog Jubilee.

1.  And with any jubilee you need appropriate attire.  So over Thanksgiving weekend on our way back from Philadelphia we stopped in Walmart.  And wouldn’t you know it.  Right smack on our way in the door was a whole section of Christmas sweaters.  Even better.  Vests.  With bright shiny decorations sewn right on them.  I took one look and told Adam that we had to have them.  Not only that.  We needed matching ones.  I even told him I’d pay for them.  So before either of us could change our minds they were in the buggy and destined for our party.

You know you are jealous!!!

One of my favorite moments of the day was opening the door for my friend Rachel and having her exclaim, “I didn’t know it was an ugly christmas sweater party.”  To which I replied “IT’S NOT!!!!  You shouldn’t be rude to your hosts before you even enter the party.”

2.  So as most of you know, when you visit someone’s house you should take them a bottle of wine, or a candle or something to say thank you for hosting.  And most of our guests did.  And one of them really hit it out of the park with a red wine product.  I’m sort of pissed at Adam because he put it downstairs in our recycling so I don’t have the specifics.  I know that it contained red wine.  And sugar.  And water.  And costs 6.99 because the price tag was still on the bottle.  Whomever brought it WAS nice enough to put it in a gift bag.

3.  So a brief history.  There are about a million people at work that I don’t like.  There are about 10 that I’d be happy if they were exiled to a desert island and never heard from again.  One of those people is Sage.  Even writing this makes me want to punch him in the face.  The problem with him is that he doesn’t realize that NO ONE likes him.  And I mean NO ONE!  At work he’s tolerated.  Most people actually wonder how he’s not been fired so far.  But that’s work.  Let’s talk about the party.  I invited a number of people from work to my party.  Many of them I hoped didn’t come but they were invited just the same.  I did NOT invite Sage.  I never intended to invite him.  BUT.  He over heard me talking to someone about coming up to my apartment and wanted to know why they were going to Inwood.   A little more history.  If I walked out of my apartment I could be at Sage’s house in exactly six minutes.  That’s how close he lives to me.  So when I realized that he’d heard about it and wasn’t invited I felt guilty.  So I came home and talked to Adam about it.  Adam said to me, “How would you feel if everyone at work was invited to a party but you?  You have to invite him.”  And so I did.

He arrived around 2:45.  He left around 7:00.  And he never stopped talking the entire time he was here.  And it’s not that he talks.  It’s that he’s loud.  And when I say loud I mean LOUD!  And the drunker he gets the louder he gets.  And by the end of the evening he was VERY LOUD.  He’s also obnoxious.  He has a very bad sense of personal space and tends to lean in toward you as he speaks to you.  He’s also an expert on everything.  Adam learned from him that cats only meow to communicate with humans.  It’s their only reason for speaking.  They do not communicate with each other that way.  I also learned (at least three or four times) that cats like it if you fill an aspirin bottle with cat food with a little hole cut in it so they have to work to get it.  It’s called a foraging tool.  It helps keep their paws dexterous.  It works so well that his cat can now push the hair away from his wife’s eyes.  Seems he’s an expert on cats.  He’s also written a five act play about the Roman Empire.  He’s turned it into a movie and shopped it around Hollywood some.  He’s gotten a lot of interest on it and Sean Connery has let him know he’s like to be in it if it’s ever produced.

About his wife.  He introduces her as his “old lady.”  I’m sure this might have been a term of endearment in 1954.  But it’s not so endearing now.  It was NOT endearing to my lesbian friends who found it offensive.   To make matters worse she demurs to him whenever he speaks.  It’s almost like she’s asking permission to have an opinion.  And to top it all off…SHE’S CRAZY WITH A CAPITAL “K”.  Put them together and it’s an intolerable day.  At one point I asked another co-worker how much it would take to get her to make him leave.

Of course the highlight of his visit was having Adam say to me after he left…”He’s never coming back into our home again.  I should have never told you to invite him.”

4.  Our last guest arrived at 6:45.  Our party ended at 7:00.  He stayed until after 9:00.  I have no idea why he arrived so late.  He called around 1:00 and told me he was looking forward to seeing us.  When he walked in I knew he was going to be there a while.  And he was.  And I suppose it wouldn’t have been so bad but it was Curtis.  My ex-boyfriend who is socially awkward to say the least.  And of course he stationed himself in our foyer with Adam’s awkward friend Carla and they talked and talked and talked and talked and talked.

At around 7:30 my friend Lisa started cleaning up.  By 8:00 we were all cleaning up.  By 8:30 all of the dishes were washed, dried and waiting to be put away.  By 8:45 Michelle, Lisa, Adam and I had all changed out of our party clothes into our pajamas and were sitting in the living room by ourselves, while Carla and Curtis stood in the foyer talking away.  We all suggested ways of getting them to leave.  Michelle said we should be direct.  Which was great but who got to do the directing.  Adam said no.  By this time Lisa is hiding in the bedroom.  Michelle said they weren’t her friends.  So I got the task.  I walked up to them at the counter and sighed as big as I could and what would you know they figured it out.  About 20 minutes later they were out the door and we were sitting in the living room having a glass of wine waiting for our pizza to arrive.

5.  We got lots of nice presents by having our party.  It’s not why we did it, but it was nice all the same.  My old roommate Chuck brought us awesome candles.  (We gave him an Santa Claus ornament which has become a tradition).  We got a bottle of Godiva white chocolate liqueur.  We got two boxes of Godiva Chocolate.  And awesome box of Japanese chocolates.  Two coffee mugs which were cheesy but nice all the same.  A Christopher Radko xmas ornament.  At least ten bottles of wine.  The list goes on.  And of course the red wine product.

6.  The best part of the weekend by far though was Michelle and Lisa visiting.  Michelle came to NYC a year ago this past weekend to visit.  It was her first visit to NYC since I moved back in 2006.  It was long over due.  This past fall her girlfriend Lisa came to visit and discovered that it was a pretty easy trek from Maine.  So they planned to come down for a weekend in December and then finally settled on our party weekend.  Adam was a little worried about having guests while he was trying to get food ready for the party.  But it turned out to be about as perfect as you could imagine.  Michelle, Lisa and I went off to play on Saturday afternoon to let Adam have the house and the kitchen to himself.  Then we all had dinner that night.  On Sunday Adam allowed Lisa to help him in the kitchen while Michelle and I sort of readied the house.  I loved that they were here.  Lisa was the perfect host.  She filled glasses.  Cleared plates.  Replaced empty platters.  And did a lot of the cleaning at the end.  I made them promise they would come back next year for our party.

7.  I’m at the boyfriend’s losing their shit moment of the post…

Here are some pictures to distract you till tomorrow when I finish.

The savory food in the foyer.  Check out the snow flakes on the napkins.  We couldn’t find xmas napkins that we liked so we stamped them ourselves.  All of the food on the table is homemade including the crackers.  All of the dishware is from my 1940’s/1950’s Franciscan collection.

This is the dessert collection in our living room .  Bourbon balls.  Oreo balls.  Short bread.  Pecan treaty things.  Grasshopper brownies.  Spiced pecans.  All homemade.  Yummy.

Our Christmas cookie jar collection.  The Santa Claus Adam had when we met.  The snow man in the middle we bought last year after Christmas with a Macy’s gift card we got at our party.  The snowman on the left we bought at the catholic school “craft” sale on Saturday.  I liked him so I bought him even though we aren’t too fond of the catholic church.

That’s it.  Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story.

The big party… to be continued.

It’s been a while.  Adam and I have been planning for our Christmas party.

It finally happened on Sunday.

HOWEVER…

It’s 4:33 a.m.

I’m tired.

I think I’m getting a sinus infection.

So.

You’ll have to wait till tomorrow for the details.

Things I’ll discuss:

1.  Christmas sweaters.

2.  Red Wine Products.

3.  Over bearing rude guests.

4.  Late arriving over staying welcome guests.

5.  Awesome gift giving guests.

6.  Best friends.

7.  Red wine drinking rude guests.

8.  Boyfriends losing their shit.

9.  Boyfriends making the day awesome.

10.  Children that I should NOT be seen or heard.  They should also keep their chocolaty fingers off the white upholstered chairs.

11.  Running toilets.

12.  Stupid intercom systems.

13.  Socially awkward guests.

That’s just a few of the fun things I promise to discuss tomorrow.

My weird train of thought….

I couldn’t have gotten someone to tip tonight if I’d given them the money to leave me.  I barely made 10% of my sales tonight and if I’d tipped out as much as I should have I’d have made less than 10%.  You’d think people would know it’s xmas time and I have to buy my boyfriend an Ipad.  Or a food processor.  Or a new Kitchen Aid mixer.  Or some underwear.  Or a ___________________________.  I’d tell you what I’m getting him but then I’d have to kill you.  I’ve told him one thing I’m getting him, but after some consideration I think I’m going to get him something else.  I have to do some thinking and planning to see figure it all out.

The general manager of the restaurant told me today that I should stop complaining about not making money when he’s done the math and knows that I make more than most of the managers.  Sorry.  They should be waiters if they want to make more.  I still need a good schedule.

I finished the book I’ve been reading.  I quite enjoyed it.  It was Stephan King’s Under the Dome.  It was quite a fun read.  I’m actually sort of sad that it’s done.  I wanted it to play out a little longer.

Adam and I stopped in a gay bookstore this past weekend in Philadelphia.  We were there spending the weekend with his dad and step mom.  It was actually a very nice trip.  We spent way too much money though.  It’s not cheap to go to a city and be expected to do all the touristy things.  Three museums in one day all with an admission price of 15+ dollars.  It gets expensive.  We did have fun though.  The last night we were there we walked back to the hotel after putting everyone else in a cab.  Along the way we passed Giovanni’s Room.  It’s now the 3rd oldest gay bookstore in the country.  We bought a couple of books while we were there.  One Adam suggested we wait and buy online, but I insisted that we buy it there, even though it would be a little more just to support the dying world of small bookstores.  Let alone gay bookstores.

The one deal we did find there was the complete set of the Tales of the City for 18 bucks.  It was in the used book section.  I read the books years ago but Adam has only ever read the first one.  I’ve assured him that it’s a wonderful series.  Now I just have to get him to pick the first one up and start.  I’m sure he’ll love them once he gets into them.

I get to start a new book tomorrow.  I tend to go from “serious” reads to “light” reads.  Stephen King was my light read.  I’d just finished Lonesome Dove.  Together they were well over 2,000 pages.  And they were both amazing in the own right.  Tomorrow I’ll scan my “to read” shelf.  Adam’s “to read” shelf.  The shelf with books we want to read but aren’t on the radar yet.  And the books on our life changing shelves.  It’s always fun to pick a new book.  It’s like getting a new friend.  For the next few weeks I’ll spend every night with them learning about their lives.  And if the book really speaks to me I’ll feel like I’ve lost a good friend when it’s over.  I felt that way about “Under the Dome.”  I also felt that way about “Lonesome Dove.”  Let’s hope tomorrow’s choice is also a winner.

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS day.

I haven’t heard much about it this year.  I’m sure there will be  ceremonies.  And speech giving.  And there will be protests.  And picketing. With signs.

But you have to wonder if it will change anything.

Even in  a perfect world an AIDS vaccine is years away.  A cure is even farther away.

And yet every day you hear less and less about HIV and AIDS.  You hear about gay marriage.  And Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  But when was the last time you heard something in the mainstream news about AIDS related issues.

I have but it’s because I read a couple of blogs that cover news in the world of gayness.

In case you missed it, there is a recent study that covers the Efficacy of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Seems if you are prescribed a specific drug currently used to treat HIV it lowers you chance of becoming HIV+.  If you are consistent about taking the medication every day it is even more effective.  How many of you saw this in the news this past week?  I thought so.

AIDS has become something we just live with.  People aren’t keeling over dead like they used to.  It’s consider a chronic disease now far more than a terminal disease.  And unfortunately with the new attitude has come complacency.  We still have people not practicing safe sex.  We still has sex education that doesn’t allow the discussion of safe sex alternatives.  And god forbid we actually discuss how to have safe “gay” sex.  And then we are surprised when the number of infected people continues to rise.

As a 45 year old gay man I count myself VERY lucky.  I have only had one close friend die from AIDS.  Most men my age have known too many to count.  I’ve known acquaintances who have died.  But only one close friend.

His name was Tony Giatras.  I met him in the spring of 1989.  I had just put my stuff into storage and was living with my friend Shelley until I figured out what I was going to do with my life.  We met in a parking lot of a gay bar in Atlanta.  He was short.  And cute.  We hooked up that night and that should have been the end of it.  But of course then he asked for my number and what was I supposed to do?  I gave it to him.

He called.  We went out.  I called.  We went out.  And then he took my prisoner.  After about two weeks I told him that enough was enough.  I didn’t want to be his boyfriend.  That he was smothering me.  And that he needed to back off.  The next day he brought me a bouquet of daisies and a note apologizing.  I still have the note.  Even though we would never be boyfriends we became very good friends.  We hung out together.  We shared waiting tables stories.  I worked at Bennigan’s.  He worked at Steak and Ale, which was owned by the same company.  And our friendship was sealed.

That summer I moved back to Kentucky to start grad school.  He stayed in Atlanta.  We continued to talk on a very regular basis.  My best friend at the time Stacey also lived in Atlanta so I drove down to visit often.  Tony and I always had lunch/dinner/drinks when I found my way there.

I don’t remember when I found out he was HIV+.  I had called a couple of times and he’d been sick both times.  The last time he’d just gotten out of the hospital with phenomena.  I finally asked what was going on and he told me.  It changed nothing about our friendship.  We continued to talk.  I continued to visit Atlanta.   Whenever I was there I always made time to see him.

Tony’s birthday was three weeks after mine.  He’d always call me on my birthday to say hello.  And I always called him on his birthday to say hello.  In April of 1992 I was in the middle of tech for a show and forgot to call.  It was five or six days later and I said, “Oh fuck!”  I picked up the phone, called and his roommate answered.

“Hey Jeff.  Can I talk to Tony?”

There was a long pause.

He didn’t have to say the words.  I knew.  He explained that Tony had died the previous week.  It was very sudden.  He went into the hospital and died three days later.  He’d lost his sight about 24 hours before he died.  But he didn’t suffer and he seemed peaceful at the very end.

I asked why no one had called.

His roommate explained that he couldn’t find my number.  He’d looked and looked and had been unable to locate it. He apologized over and over.  I asked if there was going to be a memorial service.  He explained that Tony’s family had taken him back to Tennessee and hadn’t discussed any of it with his friends.  They’d never been accepting of his being gay.

The thing that was most sad about his passing?

Tony had been a lost soul.  He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life.  He had no goals.  Wasn’t very motivated.  He just sort of went with the flow.  He drove a truck that didn’t work half of the time.  He was a waiter.  And then a this.  And then a that. He didn’t stick with things very often.

In the few months right before he died, he’d finally gotten a real job.  One that would have provided him with some stability and was most certainly leading him toward a career.  He and his roommate had just gotten a new apartment.  The week before he got sick he traded in that fucking truck and got a new car.

He’d finally gotten his life on track and it was stolen from him.

I think of him often.  I miss him often.  I don’t really think of him as dead.  We hadn’t spoken for a little while before he died.  In my mind he’s just one of those old friends you just lose touch with.  He’s out there somewhere.  And he’s got an awesome boyfriend.  And an awesome job.  And an awesome dog.  And he’s as happy as he’d ever wanted to be.  I just wish he’d call and tell me about it.

One last note.  The Christmas before he died he sent me a Christmas card.  It was a beautiful card with three trees and the word peace written on the front.  When I called to thank him for the card he told me that he’d made it.  He’d hand drawn the card with me in mind.

When I was home over the summer I found the card in a box with lots of other items from my past.  It made me tear up then.  It’s making me tear up now.

You will always be loved Tony.