Letters to friends and family. Check.
Destination stickers placed on the few valuables I have managed to amass. Check.
Stereo with Bauhaus on repeat. Check.
Loud, obnoxious banging on my front door at 8 pm? WHAT THE F?
I slide the chain to the apartment expecting to see the local Mormons, tell them I sacrifice small children to an ancient demon with the face of Nancy Reagan and the body of Richard Simmons and then return to my exit stage right scene. No dice. My friend Billy stands in the doorway clutching a meat cleaver and holding a bottle of olive oil.
"How very Norman Bates meets Carmela Soprano" I whisper, already paddling gently down a stream of oxymorphone and Valium. In no mood to play either Dear Abby or big gay brother I strike my best state your case and get the hell out pose.
"I have a date!" Billy's voice could easily win first prize in a "How I figured out my son was a flaming queen" contest. Like many other men I know with such vocal intonations, his body is another story. If only he spent the same number of hours reading the books I lent him instead of parking his toned ass on a bench at the local gym I just might see a chance for us. Instead he supplies me with vicarious exploits while I play house mother to his escapades. Somehow it works for us.
"So, tell me about this date, Billy." I feign interest hoping he will quickly spit out the usual details: pecs, car, distasteful similarities with Mister Ed from TV....
"I'm cooking for him. Making carpaccio. Hopefully starters will suffice, if you know what I mean" He gives me the old Monty Python nudge nudge, wink wink look I found hilarious back before scientific notation was required to count the times I had heard the expression. As the pills have me feeling easier than a month of Sunday mornings, I let it slide that carpaccio is not exactly cooked.
"So where, pray tell, do I come into this little evening of raw beef and sofa gymnastics?" I ask, now getting one or two exits past "over" having a man with a cleaver standing in my doorway.
"You're making the carpaccio"
"I'm WHAT?" Billy takes a step back. His eyes seem to get the message--- maybe a razor sharp cooking implement is not the best thing to have while speaking to a man whose stereo plays a tune called Bela Lugosi's Dead.
We walk the two blocks over to his house. Along the way I start to notice how beautiful it is for an evening in Florida: cool, breezy, the perfume of a coming rainstorm hanging in the air. I think of how lucky I have been, notwithstanding the illness and the bad hair days. This is definitely not the pills talking. Hope has found a way back into my heart simply because a friend needs me to slice up some beef to get him laid. God moves in mysterious ways.
I make the carpaccio. We open some wine. The conversation hops across the spectrum from the banal to the heart melting: lovers lost, cars crashed, opportunities sacrificed to youthful shallowness, the mad belief that love could wait another year while we pursued the prettier person, the more impressive title.
Suddenly I realize it is past midnight.
"Where's the date?" I ask, worried my presence has somehow put a kink in his kinky plans.
"We just had it," Billy replies adding "I saw you the other day throwing away bags and bags of records, furniture and shit. I thought to myself Not on my Watch. I just wanted a chance to tell you how much you mean to this world. The choice is still yours. At least I got dinner out of it."
I haven't stopped crying yet.