Eric and the Little Dog

When I gave up taking cocaine and drinking I remember that friends would call at 3 in the morning on my house phone. I’d say, “Why the hell are you calling so late?” They’d mumble back that they were ‘drunk’. At 9 the following morning I would return their call. They’d say, “What the hell you calling so early?” I’d reply, “I’m sober.”

These people were my ‘lower companions’ and my house was always full of them. They were a tough crowd to convince that I was going to stay sober. Slowly but surely they all vanished, off to different parties or on some occasions dying alone in their rooms, needles in their arms. Lower companions are neither your social or intellectual or financial equals. They are people you only indulge within the context of your addiction.

The halcyon days of early sobriety. Clean sheets and brushed teeth. I got sober October 1st 1996. How I loved that first autumn and winter of my sobriety in London. Flying around town in that cute little green Porsche those other men said I drove like a handbag, living in that glorious house in Kensington and wearing wonderful clothes. Within two years that would all be gone. Those were the tough lessons of early sobriety.

Lesson one: Whatever I have right now is ENOUGH and enough is all I need.

My last but one blog before I pack up my twitter bag and change my blog direction.

Sex Rehab finale airs on Sunday and not a day too soon. Oh you ungrateful gay! How can you be so ungrateful? Nobody knew who you were before Sex Rehab! Now people know who you are. The stinking wind of semi-fame, fame for no good reason, fame for fame’s sake blows over me at night and wakes me gasping for air. Duncan the obscure. Could you have sunk much lower than reality TV!

Oh yes I could. I have. Much lower-but on who’s scale? People seem to think that those of my ‘co-stars’ who made pornography are pretty low on the unfathomable scale. Nah, they are just performers, wandering minstrels who offer vagina rather than lute. Their acting skills have kept me calm when the demons are upon me.

According to some, when one agrees to appear in reality TV, one surrenders any claim one might have had to integrity or dignity. Is that true? Even an obvious aesthete like me? I am a fucking dilatant! I am on life’s grand tour sampling what culture a country has to offer and this is America’s cultural phenomenon. Reality TV! How could I NOT have been a part of it? I commissioned a great portrait of myself by the artist VH1.

Back to today’s theme: Lower Companions.

I tried yesterday and the day before to reach out to Jennie but she ignored my calls and emails. I wanted to avoid the scorched earth policy I usually enact in these situations. I did not/do not want to lose my temper; I did not want to disguise my pain with anger. I did not want to hurt myself. So, I wrote a blog.

Joe

Yesterday’s blog caused my usual commentators some consternation. ‘I will never read another word you ever write!’ One woman scrawled. ‘Poor Jennie! Poor Eric.’ They bawled. Let me tell you something blog readers/commentators. I enjoyed deleting those pathetic comments.

That’s how far I sank. Hankering to be let into the Jenny and Eric club? Are you fucking kidding? Their shrill laughter and bad skin. Over lit kitchens and badly cooked food. That’s how far I sank. Swimming in the sewer with Jenny and Eric. Come on pornsters-bring it on!

I turned and said to Anthony Rendlesham, “Get behind me, Henry Higgins! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

So that was the state of my scrambled mind yesterday. That and dog issues to deal with and lawyers late at night and the reckoning-which is Polish for cheque please!

Can you remember a time when all your closest friend began to die all at once?

I had breakfast with John and whilst we were eating Benoit emailed me and I was flush with pride. Then, in the afternoon, after a long walk on Runyon with Isaiah who wore tight brown boots and a pompadour Joe stopped by. Beautiful, sweet adorable, bright-eyed Joe.

Joe asks me the most exacting questions. He was asking me what I was like when I was his age. I told him that by the age of 24 I had become a nihilist. That in 1984 we were four years into an AIDS epidemic that would go on to kill millions and millions of people but at that time just seemed to be killing my friends.

Nihilism is sometimes used to explain the general mood of despair at the perceived pointlessness of existence that one may develop upon realizing there are no necessary norms, rules, or laws.

I realized what had happened when I first met Joe and his gang of friendly friends. The revulsion I felt. These beautiful young men gathered around me talking and having fun and I felt nauseous. I called my therapist Jill and she said, “How old did you feel?” And I said, “Not like I was a child..more like in my early twenties.” And I saw that I had never ever talked about being left behind by my tribe who had all died and I had not. That there were so many funerals and tearful farewells with boys just like Joe. With friends who one felt abandoned by-even though they had died and I had not!

HIV

One day you faint when the gardener cuts his finger the next you’re wrapping the dead, emaciated body of a young man in a turning cloth because nobody else will do it.

Do you remember Danny and Evan? Do you remember how much they loved each other? How they couldn’t bear to be apart? How kind Evan was and how beautiful it was to hear Danny tell Even how much he loved him. Evan looked just like Joe and was just as full of hope. They both lay screaming in separate hospital beds surrounded by nurses dressed in body suits. Danny was screaming because he didn’t want to die. He was too young. ‘I’m too young.’

I asked Joe to imagine a world where he watched all his young friends die of AIDS. Every beautiful man he knew and loved dying in the most harrowing, ugly way. Regardless of income. Plagued by shame.

I don’t want to hear ONE criticism of me or my life. I lived through a fucking plague that killed all my friends and I survived! I survived. Survive to be excluded by people like Jenny and Eric? Fuck that.

And I never talk about it because I can’t. It’s not my tragedy-it’s ours.

Black people write to me and tell me that I will never know what it is like to be black. We all hold onto to our own experience and in moments of peril hold it out in front of us like a shield. And I whisper to myself that the blows may stop falling if I say: I am a black man, a gay man, a woman, an abused child, that I saw my friends, a generation of fine young men die of the most disgusting disease.