Sunday, March 30, 2014

David has left...

 I attended a casual memorial for David a few weeks ago. He was a great guy and I'm going to miss him. He never totally lost his somewhat bizarre sense of humor or his anger at being sick. Perhaps that anger gave him a few more years.
The following is an excerpt from my book "Ice" which shares the stories of wonderful people I have met on the trail of service.
I was recently at a high school sharing a bit about HIV when one of the parents in attendance remarked that she had read that the epidemic was over. Well, the coverage seems to be over. Yes, there have been great strides and many people are living longer, though not necessarily better. That a full third of the high school kids thought they could be infected by mosquitoes speaks to what is happening in education in some schools.
The Navajo tribe, in Arizona, is experiencing an 18% increase in HIV among it teens, as reported by the N Y Times in November. The country of Greece reported a 22% increase last year.

David is somewhere in his late fifties. He works in a music store trying his best to stay current on the music of the day. He has told me that he has run out of interest in the ever-changing music craved by cash flush teenagers. He finds both very boring but he needs the job and the insurance so he dresses the part and talks the talk with his customers. He could, with a little makeup, look like her was a member of Kiss. Not as wrecked looking as Ozzy Osbourne or Keith Richards but well on the road to looking like a close relative.
David has shot or ingested so many drugs he can’t remember which were good and which were horrific. He’s shared more than one story with me on trying to force down drugs when he was so high he couldn’t differentiate between reality and the possibility that he was dreaming of taking drugs. I am pretty sure he still plays with meth every once in a while. Not my role to judge or offer my thoughts unless I am asked.  I most definitely haven’t been asked.
“I have no idea how I became positive. Before this shitty job I had been a base player in, probably, a dozen bands over the years. None were great but we made a living. One of the bands had potential but we blew it partying on the road. We partied non-stop. God only knows how many women came and went on that rickety old bus. It was cool though! It had a huge fucking Condor painted on the side that looked down a valley that looked like it had the shit bombed out of it. We were called the “Black Wings.’ It was a name that worked it’s way through the acid one night when we were broken down outside of Tempe. I remember because I woke up flat on my back next to a cactus tree. A real skinny broad was glued to me. She stuck around until we ran out of money and dope. Probably a grand mother now baking cookies for the kiddies. Funny, I think of her once in a while”
David is a crowd pleaser, particularly if we are speaking with high school or college students. I always ask him to be frugal with his language and he always promises he will. It never works out like that! I’ve only received one complaint about his non stop use of the word fuck and that was from a born again who took exception to David being in her school. She confronted him in the classroom about his language. I held my breath while I watched the wheels turning in his mind on how outrageous he was going to reply to her.  The kids were all at their most attentive when he replied. “I’m sorry. It’s just that when you are afraid all the time you like to pretend like you’re not.”
Dead silence in the classroom followed by clapping and cheering.
“I don’t know whether I want to think I became infected through contact with a woman or from picking up a dirty needle. I guess I prefer the needle, as then I don’t have to think about a woman out there infecting others. Shit, I don’t know how many times we had people in a hotel room or on the road that were sharing our needles. Never thought much about it but I wasn’t thinking clearly most of the time. Safe sex was a joke. The heaps of flesh we waded through didn’t offer objections or suggestions so you did what you did and you moved on. Crazy, huh! To be so fucked up you can’t think about what you’re doing with or to others around you.”
David became positive about four years ago.
“I was feeling shitty. More than usual. I tried to cut down on the drugs by increasing my consumption of alcohol. (Laughing) Well, that didn’t seem to be working as every morning I was tossing my cookies even before I coughed down the first smoke of the day. After about a month or this I wandered into the health clinic down in the market. I didn’t fool them for a second as their first questions were about my drug and alcohol use. Hell, I think I was loaded when I went in the clinic. I filled out their questionnaire and let them prod me a few times taking my blood. One of the nurses told me she bet I was suffering from hepatitis. Would have been nice to have kept her guessing to herself but she was kinda cute and I didn’t want to push her off. The doc shot me full of vitamins and gave me the doc talk on how I was fucking up my life blah blah blah. Heard it before. Heard it from myself more than once. As soon as I could I left with a promise of checking back in a week to get the results of the blood work. I did. Positive. A bomb dropped on me by the cute nurse and a different doc. What I recall the most was that they said it wasn’t a death sentence and I could get support etc. I recall thinking about where to score some smack while they were telling me I would have a pretty happy life if I took charge of my life. Life. Fuck. It was over.  Gimmee some happy drugs and set me adrift on Fantasy Island.”
If David shares how he became infected with an audience he is always humorous and self-effacing. He is ironic, according to himself.   Not sure I understand that but I think I get a glimpse into what he’s thinking about himself. I get it the most when he talks about the loneliness that carpets him. He’s a nice guy trying his best.

Contact us at Let Kids Be Kids if you have any comments.


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