When I first moved to Jones Street in 1976 David lived in the apartment behind us. He knew my roommate. We had some of the same friends, saw each other occasionally in the hallway and socially, but never really got along. The first two years we knew each other we rarely spoke.
I’m not sure what he thought of me then but I considered him shallow, materialistic, superficial, overly-dramatic and arrogant. I’ve never been one to judge. I might have been right about some of that but I learned none of it really mattered. David needs a unique set of criteria to be understood.
When the thaw came it was rapid and complete. We were constant companions for the next two decades.
David once owned Matinee on Polk Street, a vintage clothing store. He has a knack for fashion trends and always gives me things saying simply “you should wear this.” I do and they work.
David’s intelligence is filtered through dyslexia or maybe ADD. The mind always goes in the right direction although the mouth does not always follow. One of the entertaining by-products of this are his malapropisms and miscommunications.
Once on the phone he was describing this great shirt he’d found. It was graphic, radiating spokes of red white and blue. He said, “it’s kind of like the British Flag. You know, the Lumber Jack.”
Another conversation was about someone he insisted I knew. He told me parties where I met him, his physical description, but I maintained I didn’t know him. He knew if he could describe his slight speech impediment I’d know but he wasn’t sure how to put it. So he just said, “he does that ba-ba-ba Ba-Babara Ann thing.”
David is a California native and taught me it’s cool to tailgate at 80 mph on the freeway. I did not adopt his use of turn signals, however. Once while heading downtown on Bush Street to somewhere south of Market, he turned on his signal near Van Ness. It was the way we usually went except this time he did not turn.
We went a few more blocks with the signal blinking. Finally I reasoned with him. “David, when you put the turn signal on the other drivers are expecting you to do something. When you don’t do it they’re confused and get angry.”
He looked at me out of the corner of his eyes and laughed. “Oh that. That’s just a reminder to myself that eventually I need to turn right
David loves to organize. He had a Russian River house we would go to some weekends. We’d always get provisions at a little Monte Rio grocery store that used old registers to key prices in, no barcode scanners. The short conveyor belt could only accommodate a customer at a time.
One time the clerk started ringing things up while David frantically organized items on the belt. Whether by size, alphabetically, or maybe flavor, it wasn’t clear. Motion was fast and furious and it appeared things that had been rung up were pulled back so they’d be in the proper order.
I stood and watched as the clerk stopped the tally in exasperation. He put his hand on his hip and glared at David who took a few seconds before he realized the process had paused. When he looked up the guy hissed, “Are you finished?”
David was not about to let that bit of queenie cheekiness get the last word. He quietly put his head back down, moved the toilet paper behind the Clorox then the ice cream in front of the paper towels. He looked back up and said caustically, “Yes. I’m finished.” Checkmate.
When we went to Paris, David expected me to be his interpreter. I speak French very poorly but have enough understanding to get by. David doesn’t speak it at all. On one trip I put my foot down and said he had to fend for himself.
We were in Au Printemps’ perfume department on a mission for some obscure scent. I gave him a little pep talk then kept my distance and watched. The sales lady approached him and he started in rapidly. “I’m looking for a perfume from the 20’s, Dianna Vreeland wears it, might be Guerlain but Coco Chanel wore it too. It’s in a blue bottle that might be green. From the Jazz Age, unisex, you know the Ritz Bar, Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, they all wore it…” The blistering speed didn’t give the woman a chance. She turned away..
We browsed afterwards and I did a postmortem. “These people speak much better English than we do French. Go slowly, use a few key words, they’re bound to pick up on something.” David agreed as we made our way back to the perfume.
An effervescent vendeuse offered her assistance and he reloaded the M60: “Josephine Baker, The Moulin Rouge, NIjinksi, Diaghilev, looks like Chanel bottle but it isn’t, ambergis, musk…..” We went home empty handed.
This teaching thing of mine, it’s a gift.
In the first episode of Schitt’s Creek federal agents arrive to confiscate everything. The four main characters are introduced in brief vignettes as they interact with the chaos. The last one is the son, David Rose.
With dramatic arm gestures in his black Neil Barrett sweater, haughtiness in his voice and a bit of imprecise logic laden with hyperbole he demands, “What kind of person does this? Who destroys other people’s lives like this? DESTROYS LIVES!” It only took a second to realize who this character was.
David and I were two independent spirits who did not back down. We had small spheres of influence in a vast wasteland. I flatter myself to think my 70’s performances helped make the world safe for RuPaul a few years later. (As if anyone is safe from that bitch.)
But I do know that my friend David was the sine qua non for the Schitter’s David.