In 1994 my Mother brought my nephew and niece out for a visit. They were 12 and 10. I did my best to plan an aggressive itinerary that included Ghirardelli Sundaes, Tommy at the Opera House, a Giants Game, Golden Gate Park, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and row boats on Lake Merritt. None of those made the top of their favorites list.
They loved the glass elevators at the St. Francis and the Fairmont. They were easy to access at the time, no security, and free. We rode them repeatedly, whenever we were close by.
Of everything we did, however, they were obsessed with my trash chute. They just couldn’t get over this ancient technology. There was intense bickering over whose turn it was whenever the trash can was full. Then they would invent reasons why certain items had to be thrown out immediately and couldn’t wait.
Had I known these things in advance I could have saved a lot of money. I just hope the Mayor’s office is following my blog and are figuring out a way to commercialize these experiences. It’s not like them to miss any untapped tourist revenue.
Today I pdf-ed some documents to my attorney. Otherwise, all quiet on the eviction front.
As the disease and the heavy doses of AZT ravaged Jim, it was to the point he could no longer manage. He was moved to the Garden Sullivan Hospice. The dementia was getting much worse so our visits were mainly me filling the air with words hoping he’d pick up on some of them. There were so many absurd hospice moments I wanted to laugh about with him but I couldn’t get through.
One afternoon I was there and a person in his ward had just died. Two scruffy women were wrapping the corpse in black plastic and tying it with rope not bothering to close the curtain for privacy. There was a grizzly earnestness to what they did, a 19th Century workhouse feel to the scene. “Call the fishmonger’s wife! She’ll do it.”
Another time he was thirsty. He reached for his water bottle but picked up the urine container instead. I quickly grabbed it, “no, no! not that one!” Did the attendants even notice these things? Why would they place them so close together? Maybe they were Hindu and considered this an accepted practice.
On one of my last visits I let him do the talking. He thought he was looking at someone’s family portrait and he went down the line explaining to me who each person was. When he got to the imaginary guy on the end he said, “now that one, that one’s fuckable.”
Jim would not have wanted a memorial service but one of his newer friends Rachel was insistent. She lived a few doors down in the Day of the Locust complex. They had become friendly because she wrote poetry too. She was a needy and sensitive lass though I’m not sure how well she wrote. But Jim could rise to the level of the competition. With someone talented like Randy Shilts he could be brutal, with the neighboring naif I’m sure he was encouraging. Most importantly, her visits had added routine to his dwindling personal life.
I kept putting her off hoping to wear her down. I knew she would make any service more about Rachel than Jim but she wouldn’t give up. So I finally relented and agreed on a Sunday afternoon in Golden Gate Park. We would meet in front of the DeYoung at 2:00.
I thought of calling in sick or just not showing up but I forced myself to go. I drug my feet the whole way. Leaving the apartment late, taking unnecessary transfers on Muni and walking very slowly the final blocks, I arrived at 2:25 hoping it would be over. They were all waiting for me on the steps. We decided to go sit in a grove over to the right of the museum
I didn’t know any of the ten people there except his artist friend Steve who I liked. We engaged in light conversation as we walked towards the trees. In the distance there was a hippie minstrel playing guitar and singing Imagine. A nice coincidence even if it was a bit hackneyed. Jim would have liked the live music echoing in the bandshell amphitheatre. As I continued chatting with Steve I thought ‘wait a minute, that’s not Imagine, it’s Wild Horses.’ I felt a jolt. The song was not that popular, no one but the Stones ever sang it and even they rarely performed it. But now?
I wore the suit five times: Halloween in Bloomington, 1972; the 10th Anniversary Tea in Bloomington, 1973; Chicken Little’s Halloween Party in San Francisco, 1975; the reenactment in Golden Gate Park, 1976; and when Brian and I won the Outrageous Beauty Contest at the Fab Mab, 1978.
I’d like to wear it again someday but the 26″ waist might be problematic.