a play by Sylvan Rogers
Henry: Gay white male looks middle forties but in his early fifties.
Robert: Gay black male in late forties.
The play takes place in the modest living room of the suburban home of Henry and Robert, a middle-aged black and white gay couple. Stage right exits to the kitchen. At rear of stage is front door of home. There is a window to left of the door that is open and a wall that angles toward front of stage. There is a large mirror hanging there. There is another door on stage left that exits to bedroom.
Scene 1 (Henry and Robert):
(When the lights come up, we are in Henry and Roberts modest suburban home.)
Henry enters from stage left with a large box and several photo albums in his arms. He crosses to the couch and sets the box and photo albums on the floor in front of him. He takes the photo albums and sets them next to him on the couch and then takes one of those and puts it on his lap and opens it. He reaches down into the box and spends a moment looking at it as if trying to remember. He puts it carefully into the photo album. He reaches back down in the box and takes out another. This one he just sets aside and goes back into the box for a handful of pictures. He sorts through them, creating a discard pile and putting others into his lap that he then puts into the photo album.
Robert comes in through doorway left stage. He is carrying plastic grocery bags laden with groceries. He crosses and exits stage right. He enters the stage again and walks across to stage left and as he crosses the stage, he speaks.
Robert: Come and help me get some of these groceries. (he exits stage left and soon returns with two more bags of groceries and crosses again to stage right.)
Henry (not moving to help with the groceries): I’m sorting pictures for the photo album. (Robert has exited and Henry goes on) There’s a great one of you from our vacation to Key West I just put into the album.
(Robert re-enters and again goes for another bag of groceries while Henry continues)
That was a great vacation even in spite of the “Storm of the Century.” We were in that little gay bed and breakfast when the storm hit, remember?
(Robert re-enters with more groceries and crosses behind Henry).
Robert: I got a few extra things for our earthquake stash. I figure if I get a few canned things for our stash every time I go shopping , we will be prepared for when everything shuts down. You should pick up a few things too.
Henry to Robert who is now off right: Do you really think the world is going to come to an end?
Robert: It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Henry: Alright chicken little. Are we going to become survivalists? I’m not so sure I look so good in camouflage fatigues.
Robert: You will look great.
Henry: Oh, here’s a picture of Stanley. He taught me about the importance of douching before getting fucked (he laughs). Stanlietta. I miss the old girl and his craziness.
Robert Re-enters: “Tina” didn’t help.
Henry (in agreement): Really. Was I with you when Stanley called me in the middle of the night because he thought the FBI was watching his every move? I went over to his apartment and he hadn’t washed clothes for weeks and they were all in a pile. His hair went in every direction and his eyes were wild with paranoia. There was no consoling him. Of course there was no FBI… just tina burning up what was left of his brain cells.
Robert: If it happened in the last 25 years, I was with you.
(He takes a stack of polaroids out of the box that are bundled together with rubber bands. He takes the rubber bands off and starts looking through them.) This is interesting.
Robert: What are those?
Henry: These are polaroids. I took them back in the seventies before I met you. I was fucking so much back then and I was having trouble keeping track of all my tricks so I bought a cheap polaroid camera and after tricking with somebody, I would take a polaroid so I could remember them. When you are having sex with hundreds of men each year, it is hard to keep them all straight… especially if you are smoking a lot of pot at the same time. It was always so embarrassing to be out somewhere and run into a trick and not remember their name. I wanted to remember each and every trick so I took polaroids.
Robert: I don’t think you were expected to.
Henry: Of course I couldn’t take my polaroid camera to the baths and so I didn’t get pictures of THOSE tricks. I didn’t even have conversation with most of them, much less take their pictures. Usually I was so fucked up on qualudes back then when I went to the sex clubs…but the ones I dragged in off the streets or out of the bars for an overnighter at my place... I felt like I wanted to remember them. Everybody was fucking everybody but each everybody wanted to think they were special… that somehow there was something about them that made them memorable. These polaroids are what made them memorable to me. (as he looks through the polaroids) Of course now as I look at them all these years later, I don’t remember any of them. There were some cute men though. I wonder how many of them have died?
Robert: Let me see. (He walks over to Henry and Henry gives him a stack of pictures). (looking at a polaroid): You fucked white men back then?
Henry: Occasionally. I think I was in transition. I was into hispanic men for a while but all the one’s I meant seemed like they wanted to do drag. Everybody talks about the Latin culture being so macho but most of the latin men I dated were bottoms! I was looking for what they called a “cholo” at the time and most of the ones I found were hot until I got them home and they threw their legs up in the air.
Robert: So you were looking for a top? (they both laugh).
Henry: Ultimately, isn’t that what we are all looking for? (they laugh)
Robert: Is that why you got into black men?
Henry As if all black men are tops! Ha! I have known a lot of black bottoms... I mean, a lot including you! (teasing him playfully) I remember when I first saw you in the Tenderloin, wearing that pink mini skirt that barely covered your clit dangling down between your legs... a toothless crack whore laying in the gutter, offering blow jobs for dimes! I knew YOU were looking for a big white dick when I first saw you!
Robert: But I never found it so I settled for your little white dick (they laugh). The REAL story is that I saw you at the Versateller machine taking cash out and I thought you were a rich white man that could buy me all the things I ever wanted... turned out you were just as broke as I was!
Henry: Yea, but as soon as I stuck my tongue up your ass, you were in love. (they both laugh)
Robert: You liked the ass, didn't you!
Henry: Oh yes, the magic ass. It would heal the sick and raise the dead!
(they laugh again).
Henry: The first man I ever fucked was a black queen I met outside the greyhound bus depot when I was about 18. She was more of a queen than you even and dragged me to her room at the “Y” to do the deed. I don’t know why my firsts were always black! The first woman I ever fucked was black, too!
Robert: Admit it, your a dinge queen.
Henry: I had never even realized when I was young that females even had sex because they enjoyed it! I was always under the impression that females had sex as a duty or as a manipulation for some material gain. It was only later in life that I realized that some women actually enjoyed the act itself besides doing it for material gain! Isn’t that weird? Of course, when I had sex with women, I always had to be heavily sedated.
Robert: I think I have heard this story before.
Henry: (ignoring him and going on) That was how I met my first lover, Jim… he was fucking Linda, a fat hippie chick I was living with at the time and I was fucking Judith with help from seconal, and he and Linda would come and get in bed with Judith and I. Linda would be riding his dick and Judith would be riding mine and he and I would be talking and we soon realized they we were more interested in each other than the women that were riding our dicks. When Jim and I finally got together without the girls, no sedation was required!
(still looking through pictures)... Oh here is one of Doug. Aids got him too. I am amazed that you and I are still here! God knows I did all the same things that everybody else did. Nobody was a bigger whore than me. I was a whore way back then and I am still a whore to this day… although being a whore at fifty-two is much different than being a whore in your twenties or thirties or in your forties for that matter. Being a whore in one’s fifties requires much more resourcefulness and creativity.
Robert: Yes, you have always been a whore… yadi, yadi, yadda… blah blah blah. That’s what I loved about you when we met.
Henry: Because we had that in common? (they laugh)
Robert: I would never claim to be as much of a whore as you were though. You were much more of a whore than me and you still are.
Henry: I was? I am not so sure about that. You were a pretty big whore too. It is getting to be too much of bother, now, though. It is so much easier just to stay home and watch porn these days. You don't have to get dressed, comb your hair or brush your teeth. Five minutes on Porn Hub and your done and can get on with your day! No awkward conversation or wasted time.
Robert: As if you had any hair to comb!
Robert: You were always running around and then trying to beat MY ass when I did.
Henry: We had a rocky year or two working out all the dynamics of an open relationship, but with a little couple’s counseling, I think we did a pretty good job of it.
Robert: That first year was rocky because you said you wanted an open relationship but you meant that you wanted an open relationship for yourself but wanted me to sit at home and be a good wife.
Henry: That’s not true. I just wanted you to be considerate and fuck on your own time and not on mine.
Robert: Yea, right. You wanted to fuck everything in site but then you got jealous if I did the same thing.
Henry: I really didn’t care if you were fucking other guys… I just didn’t want to know about it every time... you had not quite grasped the concept of discretion at that time.
Robert: What about being honest and truthful with one another?
Henry: Truth is way over rated. To live life happily, one must reserve a little bit of deniability… I am a firm believer in denial. Denial is the bumper on our bumper car ride called life. It is the cushion that makes everything tolerable. It is what has gotten me through the Aids epidemic up to this point. I didn’t care if you were fucking when we first got together but I preferred not to know about each detail. My main issue back then was about consideration. You were inconsiderate with your fucking. You would come home late for dinner. You need to get your fucking done by dinner time... you know?
Robert: Yes, dear. I know. I know maybe you just had some control issues.
Henry: The problems were around you not showing up for dinner when you were expected. That was inconsiderate and inconsideration is a much worse thing than infidelity. I just needed a phone call to let me know you were going to be late. It was not that you were fucking… it was that you were late for dinner and that is much worse!! The inconsideration of your being late was much more significant in my mind than that you were out fucking… although to be totally honest, I guess I was a little insecure too in the beginning…
Robert: I remember that… the constant phone calls every five minutes to see what I was doing.
Henry: Yea… I guess I am an insecure mess at the beginning of a relationship… especially after my three year debacle with Jim Grier. I had a hard time trusting anyone after that narcissist. He was a good fuck but he was totally fucked up. I spent all my time at his place losing track of who I was... getting lost in his world... I thought I was in love...
Robert: More likely in love with his dick!
Henry: Yea, everything else sucked! Did I ever tell you how I met him? I lived on Haight street, about a block from the old I-Beam and when I got horny, I would go out in front of my building and when black men would walk by, in a low voice loud enough that only they could hear me, I would ask “blow job?”
Robert laughs: It’s amazing somebody didn’t kill you.
Henry: Somebody did steal five dollars out of my wallet one time. I would have been glad to give it to them, though, if they would have just woke me up and asked. He DID have a nice dick and it was always fun to suck off a “straight,” thuggy guy.
Robert: So Jim wanted a blow job, huh?
Henry: Yea, about three years worth. I think he mostly just wanted somebody to argue with though. He just loved to argue, that guy. Emotionally absent except to incite and contradict. I tried to get him to go to couples counseling but he just told me I was the one with the problem. I guess it was true- I was the one that had the problem alright, and he was it! (he laughs)… That was an unhealthy relationship and was my realization you can’t base a relationship on the sex. Sex is brief...
Robert: In your case, seconds...
Henry: At least I can cum! It takes you hours to cum! I just don't have that kind of time or patience!!
Robert: (laughs) No it doesn’t.
Henry: but sex is brief and relationships that last are long and the sex will not sustain the relationship by itself in the long term. I learned it is better to look for those things that can sustain the relationship in the long term.
Robert: And then make do with the sex?
Henry: Kind of. Or find the sex elsewhere. That is what makes an open relationship with you so great! I can have it all. I was kind of a mess after my relationship with Jim. Therapy helped though. I think getting older helped. In some ways, just getting older is as therapeutic as therapy. I think getting more secure helped. I guess therapy did help a little too though.
Robert (referring to the photographs that Henry is going through): How are you sorting those?
Henry: I am putting family pictures in one album and pictures of friends in another.. .(pause as he thinks about this).. it used to be so much easier to make friends when I was young and I remember back in the seventies, thinking that these friends that I was making at the time would be my new “family.” I think a lot of us that came to the city thought we were creating our own extended families... What happened to those families?
Henry: Yea. I guess so. Sometimes I wonder why it was so easy to create a sense of “family” in the seventies as we approached the new millennium? Now, in the winter of my life when I need family more than ever,... why is it so much harder to create “family” now?
Robert: It is easier when you are young and trusting and have much less to lose. Maybe it is also easier when you are young and full of cum to offer. I think for me at least, a lot of those people I considered “family” back in the seventies were people I tricked with or got high with. At this point in my life, I am just not tricking with that many people and certainly not getting high with anyone.
Henry: I wouldn't mind getting high.
Robert: Nobody is stopping you.
Henry: The problem is that now it just makes me so paranoid, so what’s the point?
Robert: Yea, you get so paranoid so I don’t know why you want to smoke pot at all. Your an addict.
Henry: I have smoked pot since I was sixteen. It is just something that I have always done.
Robert: You used to smoke cigarettes too and you stopped that.
Henry: Yea, I quit smoking cigarettes by smoking more pot! Then I was too paranoid to go out and buy the cigarettes! And I don’t really smoke pot all the time.
Robert: Only when you have it.
Henry: Yes, but I don’t always have it. (looks through some more photographs)
Maybe I should put all the pictures of friends that have died of aids in their own album?… like a memorial or something? It seems like there are so many of them. (thinks for a moment)- Sometimes I wonder if I am somehow immune to HIV.
Robert: I don’t think you should test that theory.
Henry: I am not going to but it just seems so weird that between the two of us, you would be the one that would test positive.
Robert: As much of a slut as you were…
Henry: Maybe it is because I was a top most of the time?
Henry: (picking up a photo) Oh here is a photo of Charlene and her no neck monsters when they visited us on their way to Disneyland.
Robert: You only call them that because you are jealous because you could never have babies!
(they laugh at the Tennessee Williams reference)
Henry: I hear the placenta is good for your hair, but otherwise I don't really see the point of having children.
(they both laugh)
Henry: Children are really too needy and self centered. They expect you to spend all your money on them and I would much rather travel and eat at fine restaurants. Children are really the consolation for the poor that can't afford to do anything else or don't know how to do anything else.
Robert: Or maybe God's punishment for the inane and dull?.
(they both laugh again)
Robert: By the way, tops get HIV too… and if I remember correctly, you were not always a top anyway. Remember the night we went to the baths together and you took the quaalude and got gang banged?
Henry: Oh yea… that was great… one guy fucking me right after another… I think it was seven guys in all that night. That is a one of my fondest memories... all those guys shooting their hot wads up my ass. I think of all those heterosexual people out there that have probably not had the opportunity to get gang banged, one of life's greatest joys! What do breeders look back on in their twilight years?
Robert: Their children? Are we in our twilight years? I bet none of them used condoms back then.
Henry: Of course not.
Robert: You were so proud of yourself. I think with you, it was always about numbers… you put so many notches on your belt that eventually there was more notches than there was belt.
Henry: Cum was just dripping out of my ass… oh.. the good old days. It feels like a dream. Could we have been so free? Young gay men today are so incredibly conservative. They all want to be Ozzie and Harriet.
Robert: They have never heard of Ozzie and Harriet.
Henry: Yea, that's true. (he ponders for a moment). What happened to our sexual revolution?
Robert: Aids, obviously. And some say the internet.
Henry: Yea, AIDS, for sure. Was there really ever a place called Ritch Street or was that just a dream?
Robert: Yes, there was a place called Ritch Street at 330 Ritch Street to be exact. Three floors.
Henry: I loved that pool in the basement with the huge salt water aquarium behind it. You could get a sandwich at the health food bar and sit at a table and watch beautiful men coming and going in their white towels folded just so and wrapped snuggly around the waist. There were showers to the left where one could wash the remaining vestiges of sex one had participated in on the other floors.
Robert: You mean the sweat and the cum and feces?
Henry: Vestiges of sex is what I mean. There was not always feces, you nasty thing!! Trying to take a romantic, fond memory and throw shit at it!!! Most bottoms learned to douche before a night out at the baths!
Robert: Not all. I can assure you- not all.
(they both laugh)
Henry: Well, you were kind of a scat queen anyway, weren't you?
Robert: Not at all but I'm sure you must have been!
Henry: There was also the dance floor in the basement, too, although I don't recall anyone ever actually dancing there? A disco ball spun over an empty dance floor. Disco music bounced through every corner of the entire three floors except at a slightly lower level in the T.V. Room where gay men gathered to watch the most popular shows at the time.
Robert: Where were the sauna and steam room?
Henry: I think those were in the basement as well. God!! My memory is so bad. Why can't I remember ALL of it? I LOVED Ritch Street. It was the first sex club I ever went to. My first lover, Jim, took me there when I was 18. I was there almost every week for years until it was shut down in the AIDS panic of the eighties. Young gay men have no clue how much fun sex could be!
Robert: I think most young gay men today would probably think of our sexual behavior as sexual addiction and frown on having anonymous sex with more than one person at a time.
Henry: Yea. I think you are probably right. They have grown up in a time of fearing sex and cautious sex. Men were so hot back then in their tight pants showing off their ass and their package. Then, after AIDS, everything got baggy and shapeless. The biggest problem I ever worried about with sex in those days was clap.
Robert: Oh yea. I remember it well.
Henry: The burning pee!! Ouch!! Another trip to the City Clinic. Another shot or a pack of pills... and sometimes you could even find a new trick AT the clinic and get off in the bathroom before you left. Condoms? Condoms were for preventing pregnancy and nobody I was having sex with was worrying about having babies.
Robert: Yea. All your babies got swallowed down somebody's throat or up somebody's ass or flushed down the toilet in a wad of toilet paper.
Henry: Thank goodness!! I never wanted to have babies anyway!! Thankfully you were sterile and couldn't carry a baby to term.
(they both laugh)
Henry goes on: Buddy night at Ritch Street was the best- Two for $6.00. There would be a line out the door. And inside it would be packed with hot young men in towels wandering through dark mazes with glory holes you could stick your dick through and almost be guaranteed a blow job. Not only did you not have to talk to the cocksucker, you didn't even have to see them!! THAT was truly anonymous sex.
Robert: Personally, I liked to see who was sucking my dick.
Henry: There were times I didn't care. I have always loved anonymous sex. Reality is not always as exciting as the fantasy. Sometimes you would see a hot, strapping young man in the bar and your dick would start getting hard, fantasizing how he would be such a butch top, throwing you down on the bed and fucking you senseless. Then when you finally got up the nerve to ask him for cigarette or a match, the standard opening of a sexual encounter in those days,.. and then when he started talking in a high pitched, nellie voice, all fantasy disappeared and reality raised it's ugly effeminate head and my erection would collapse into doughy flaccidity. I much preferred going to the baths where dialog didn't interfere with the fantasy.
Robert: I really preferred 8th and Howard.
Henry: I'm surprised they let a nellie thing like you in!
Robert: You know it isn't politically correct for your cock to go soft when your with an effeminate gay men.
Henry: I'm sorry. My dick has a mind of it's own and it is just not as politically correct as the rest of me.
Robert: There was a lot of racism in the gay community, too, back then.
Henry: I remember the policy about cologne at the baths. They banned it. I'm surprised YOU didn't go to Boot Camp.
Robert: Oh, I remember going to Boot Camp and seeing this guy in a tub getting pee'd on. It was pretty dark. Was that you in the tub?
Henry: Yea, right. I remember going there one night and this troll sucking my dick and me trying to get away and he attached himself to my leg and I was dragging him across the room. He just wouldn't let go!!
Robert: But Boot Camp really wasn't a bathhouse. I don't remember there being any amenities like running water where you could clean up.
Henry: That's right. I think there WAS a shower or maybe just a sink. I think most guys just washed their dicks in a sink. There were also facilities for douching.. The only amenities were bathtubs for water sports, slings and bunk beds for fucking on. There was a pool table too. Sometimes guys were playing pool on it and other times, guys were fucking on it. I remember watching guys getting gang-banged on that pool table with a group of men standing around watching. The place reeked of an intoxicating mixture of leather, man sweat, poppers, stale Crisco, cum and peanuts.
Henry: Yea. They had those barrels of peanuts. You could bring your own beer. They didn't have a liquor license but they had refrigerators and you could stash some beer there and the bartender would give you a token with which you could redeem your beer between sexcapades. Did you ever go to The Jaguar in the Castro? I think it initially cost a quarter or fifty cents or something. Very cheap anyway.
Robert: I never went there.
Henry: And The Barracks. Stanley was there the night it burned down and he was out on the street in a towel. I never went there but he used to tell me about it. Leather seemed kind of scary to me back then. I never made it to the Black and Blue , The Cauldron, Hot House or The Handball Express either.
Robert: You missed your opportunity. I guess I did, too. When I hear the name “Handball Express,” I think it must be about fisting.
Henry: Yea, I would have thought that would have been your favorite place!
Robert: Yea, right.
Henry: What I would give for such opportunities like those again!!
Robert: I know you would. Those days are long gone. All gone. Now it's all about monogamy and heterosexual type marriage... and adopting some kids.
Henry: Yea. I miss being a whore.
Robert: Your still a whore. You will always be a whore, my dear.
Henry: I was always much more of a whore than you… why did you get HIV and I didn’t?
Robert: Yes, you were a bigger whore than me… I don’t know.
Henry: As I look through these pictures and see all these faces of the dead, I just don’t understand it.
Robert: Just be thankful.
Henry: Oh, I am. I am definitely thankful. I have had a great life. I have had a great lover for 25 years. I experienced the hippie sixties and God on mescaline. I danced through the gay seventies and had sex with thousands of beautiful men! If I got hit by a truck tomorrow, you be sure and tell everybody how thankful I was! I have had a great life. It has not always been easy but it has been full of adventure and full of hot men. (he picks up a photo and holds it for a moment contemplating it) And then there are those pictures of people that used to be friends but who no longer speak to me… like Sherry here (he picks up another picture).
Robert: The pity whore?
Henry: Well she was. I think I heard that phrase on t.v..
Robert: I don’t think she liked being called a pity whore.
Henry: Well that’s what she was. She had one to one therapy twice a week and her group three times a week and after a while, it seemed like all of my interactions with her were about her and her neurosis. She was a therapy junkie. She would never call me to get together for a movie or dinner or anything fun… no... she had other people to do the fun stuff with… but I would be the first one she would call when she needed a shoulder to cry on.
Robert: I remember.
Henry: She had so many issues with men! I wonder how she is doing with that son she adopted… that poor child… he was probably better off in the orphanage… what would he have known about her issues with men? I hate to think of it but I bet she even fusses at him about putting the toilet seat down after he pees! Some women can be so castrating! He probably just sits to pee and wipes where his balls used to be as if he has a pussy.
Robert: Do men sit to pee when they have been castrated?
Henry: I think they must?
Robert: So sitting to pee is a sign of castration?
Henry: Or being too fucked up to stand (laughs). Men need to pee standing up to feel like men. They need to be free to pee on the toilet seat or the floor or in the back yard for that matter. Women are so hard to live with. It is much easier to live with men.
Robert: Is it really? Who cleans up all the pee on the toilet seat and on the floor if there are no women in the house?
Henry: We clean it ourselves.
Robert: Not in this house, Henry. I do of course, but just go look at your bathroom. It is disgusting.
Henry: Yea, but it really doesn’t matter because there’s no women here to bitch about it -except for you! Stay out of my bathroom. (thinks for a moment… laughs): I guess some men are not so easy to live with. I have had a few like that.
Robert (changing the subject): You are one like that but I love you anyway. Are you staying in this evening?
Henry: I am trying to lose five pounds and the only way I can do that is to sweat it out so I thought I would go to the City and dance at Badlands.
Robert: Aren’t you the oldest one there?
Henry: Ask me if I care. Actually there are usually a few guys my age there. It doesn’t really matter to me because I am just there to dance. If I don’t have my contacts in, I can’t really see anybody anyway.
Robert: So if they are looking at you like you are some pathetic creature…
Henry: …(shrugs his shoulders) I don’t see it so I don’t care. I do wish there were more dance clubs, though.
Robert: What about The Stud. Don't they still have a dance floor?
Henry: Yea. I guess so. I haven't been there for a while. I liked the old Stud on Folsom Street better. I miss all the old dance palaces of the '70's: Toad Hall on Castro and then The Phoenix. The City in North Beach. Remember The City?
Robert: I think that was closed by the time I moved to San Francisco.
Henry: Downstairs, they had The Cabaret. Sylvester played there quite a bit when he was in his torch song phase. I really miss the old I-Beam and The Trocadero.
Robert: Yea, the I-Beam was my favorite. Have you had dinner?
Henry: I am trying not to eat.. It wouldn’t do to survive the AIDS epidemic and then drop dead from a heart attack. I can eat again when I get my cholesterol under 200.
Robert: Everyone has to die of something.
Henry: I have got to lose a few pounds. It is difficult enough to be a whore in your forties but it is another thing altogether to be a FAT whore in your fifties!! I already spent forty minutes on the stairmaster this morning and if I don’t eat anything the rest of the evening and go out dancing tonight and work up another sweat, I am bound to lose at least a pound. If I can just keep that up for a few weeks… It might be mostly water but a couple of those pounds will actually stay off.
Robert: It sounds like you have your method. I just don’t want to hear you in the bathroom throwing up so you can lose more weight.
Henry: Which is worse for your health: being obese or throwing up now and then? If it’s about the same, I think I would rather take my chances with throwing up since, at the very least, I would look better when I die. I just can’t stand the idea of throwing up though.
Robert: Maybe you should just take up smoking crack?
Henry: I would if I could stop when I got to the weight I wanted to be… or amphetamines…I used to steal my sisters diet pills back in the sixties and stay up all weekend with my friend Ron, going through a carton of Marlboro’s while we played gin rummy over and over again, drank koolaid to wet our drug dried mouths while we discussed at length those things that were important at the time.
Robert: I guess the down side to not getting hiv is that you have to struggle with your weight all the time… I guess I am lucky not to have that problem. (he exits to kitchen)
Henry continues to look through photographs. He lets out a brief sob and a tear rolls down his cheek. Robert returns.
Robert: Are you alright?
Henry: Looking at these pictures of the dead makes me a little sad. Maybe it is just part of coming to terms with being in my fifties. These old photos got me going. Remembering so many that died. I want to get them organized into an album before I die. What will you do with it then?
Robert: What will I do with what?
Henry: The photo albums I organize.
Robert: What will I do with them once you are dead?
Robert: First of all, I will probably be dead long before you. What do you want me to do with them?
Henry: See, that’s the thing isn’t it? When you think about it, after we are gone, there are a few photo albums and mementos left that someone has to deal with. Some of the photos are passed on but much of what a man is, ends up being put away in a cardboard box… a cardboard box that holds the remnants and souvenirs of a lifetime… and then inevitably that box is thrown away on the junk pile and all remnants of your life are gone.
Robert: What are your talking about?… boxes? “representing a lifetime” ?… what are you talking about?
Henry: As gay men without children, who will take our boxes when we are gone?… our photo albums containing the significant events of our lives? When my mother died, I got a box of her photos and letters. Who will take mine or even her’s after I am gone? Will somebody ultimately come along and put it all out on the trash heap?
Robert: That is why everybody should have a will.
Henry: I’m not talking about wills- those are all about money. There are always those that will want money if there is money to be had but I’m talking about personal affects.
Robert: The dildos, lube and poppers? (they both laugh)
Henry: No... I’m talking about the diaries, the home movies, and the photo albums of memories that no one else will remember or care about?
Robert: You are so morbid today.
Henry (laughs): I don’t mean to be morbid. That is what truth does to you. That is why denial is such a better place to be. Those people that want to “feel the pain,” can have it. I want to avoid pain as much as possible. (pause)... I have had such strange dreams in the last few weeks.
Henry: I had a dream I was in some Tenderloin hotel and this white guy was going to fuck me. It was so weird.
Robert: It was weird that you were going to have sex with a white guy?
Henry: No, that wasn’t it..
Robert: Well we sure know it wasn’t anything unusual for you to be getting fucked so what was it that was so weird, dear?
Henry: Dr. Blum was there reading his newspaper.
Robert: Who is Dr. Blum?
Henry: My psychiatrist back in the eighties.
Robert: Your psychiatrist is reading the paper in the room where you are about to get fucked by a white guy?
Henry: Yes. It was very strange.
Robert: What would your psychiatrist say about such a dream?
Henry: I don’t know... I’ve had others just as strange though. I guess my brain chemistry is going through some changes. I always sleep better on pot but I don’t like the side effects.
Robert: What side effects?
Henry: I don’t always like the getting high part of it or the munchies that make me want to eat too much or the laziness or the cotton headed feeling. But it is the best sleep I have ever had. When they take whatever it is in pot that makes me sleep so good and get rid of all the other side effects, then I want some.
Robert: For someone that says that pot makes them paranoid and that they don't like getting high, having munchies or a cotton headed feeling, you sure do smoke a lot of pot!!
Henry: Yea, life is complicated lke that.