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Drag for every persuasion

Handing out the shop's flyers on the sidewalk in the Castro, I've come to know a few of the locals, including a guy named Dale, who's younger than I am but won't get much older. He has AIDS.

We've talked several times as he's walked by, and he walks slow. I like him, so it's always "Hey, Doug" and "Hey, Dale," and some brief banter.

He's always in good spirits, even cheerful, but he's plainly weak and struggling. He has visible lesions, he's wobbly, and sometimes in obvious pain. Ordinary clichés like "How ya doin'?" or even "See you tomorrow" seem almost ominous — he's not doing well, and there's no telling how many or few tomorrows he'll have.

During the week I was away, Dale went from walking with difficulty to walking with a walker. It's an improvement, because it seems less likely he'll topple, but he's so frail he's still a walking worry. And yet he cracks jokes, and they're funny, and I'm glad to see him.

Today we talked about the weather (nice) and my trip out of town (fine), and I complimented him on his walker, which has very nice rainbow striping. He smiled big, and told me he'd gotten it as a birthday present yesterday. He's 24.

"Happy birthday, Dale," I said, and he smiled again. We traded a few more quips, and I gave him a hug and said goodbye before he started slowly shuffling up the hill. Don't know if he saw my eyes welling up.

Happy birthday, Dale. Twenty-fucking-four years old. If there's a God, he needs to be assassinated.

♦ ♦ ♦

Another change while I was away: Unusualia's new sign was installed. It's bright and very visible from the street, which ought to help bring people up to the second floor. Maybe it'll put me out of work.

On the new sign, there's a new motto: "Drag for every persuasion," because the shop sells a lot of ladies' wear to men. Stevi, though, told me that the lawyer upstairs has already complained to the landlord about that phrase — "Drag for every persuasion." He says it's bad for his image.

Jesus H again. A lawyer who thinks he can practice law in the Castro and keep every hint of the lifestyle off the building? I told Stevi she should call The Sentinel, see if they're interested in covering a gay-bashing lawyer in San Francisco's gayest neighborhood. "And it might be good publicity for the shop, too," I added.

She said she might do it, but not yet, because she hasn't heard the lawyer's complaint with her own ears, only the landlord's paraphrase of it.

Gotta love Stevi, though. She retaliated by dressing a female mannequin in a pointed cutaway bra and crotchless panties and nothing else, and put it in the shop's front window, right next to the door that the lawyer's clients pass through to get to his office on the third floor. Stick that up your image, lawyer ass.

♦ ♦ ♦

Later on, after Dale and the lawyer had slipped out of my mind, I was vacuuming in the shop, and LeeAnn asked me, "Why are you in such a good mood? Did you get some?"

"That's not a workplace appropriate question," I said, "And how did you know I'm in a good mood?"

"Well, you're whistling and singing and sort of dancing with the vacuum cleaner," she explained. I hadn't noticed, and then both ladies started teasing me, suspecting I'd fallen in love with some special man while I was away.

Well, it isn't a man, and I'm immune to love, but Sarah-Katherine had been on my mind, yeah. Hence the upbeat attitude. She was nice to me up in Seattle, and in my memory she's getting nicer, funnier, prettier every day.

Maybe I'm in like with her, but I'm not silly enough to think she's my one true love or anything. Not sure I even believe in "one true love," and certainly it'll never happen to me. Anyway, I don't know Sarah-Katherine that well. I have a crush on her, sure. Any sane straight man who spent time with her would feel the same way. That's enough to make me sing off-key, is all.

♦ ♦ ♦

Margaret is coming to visit next month. She's my ex-girlfriend, a bit kooky, has violent tendencies, and even though we've agreed about being exes, she still presents herself as more than a friend. She's complicated. Everyone's complicated, of course, but Maggie seems extra complicated and maybe it's on purpose.

We've done the final farewell a few times already, and we've been officially past-tense since her last visit, last summer, and unofficially for years before that — and yet, here she comes again.

When she's here, I'm going to buy her a cup of coffee, and explain maybe more plainly than we've said it already, that we're over. Being friends is fine, but romance with Maggie is like kissing steel wool, and no, she can't sleep in my bed this time.

From Pathetic Life #12
Thursday, May 25, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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