In the Modern Age of Entertainment, we have — so far — sustained Three Distinct Eras of performance preservation. The First Era was Film. The Second Era was Magnetic Tape. The Third, and current, Era is Digital. The most cursed of all the Eras, is the misbegotten second — Magnetic Audiotape and Videotape — where performances were not actually preserved, they were only perpetuated to die!
The other day, an old graduate school friend and I got together to rehash our old lives and new experiences, and one of the first things he said when he saw me was, “Those red marks on your face remind me of Kaposi’s Sarcoma.” I was instantly stopped — “Kaposi’s Sarcoma” was a phrase I hadn’t heard in over a decade — and when I quickly explained the marks on my face were actually pinches of frostbite from the dermatologist to remove some overactive sebaceous gland residue, he smiled with relief. As an older Gay man, my friend knew lesions that look like that have traditionally indicated a dire diagnosis.
Although it is always a possibility to become Pope and CEO of one of the world’s largest churches once one enters the Catholic priesthood, I can only imagine the enormity of the tasks that await Pope Francis I, who at the age of 76 and with only one lung is already at a considerable disadvantage compared to some of the younger and fitter Cardinals. I thought it might be interesting on the day of his inauguration to take a look at his “To Do” list.
I don’t know about you, but when I read most of the news today, I get a bit bummed at the direction that humanity seems to be taking. Whether it is schol budgets being slashed for reasons of insufficient monies or defense budgets getting increased by massive amounts because unnecessary wars need to be fought to kill not the people who decide to go into the wars or the children of those people but the people whose jobs get exported, many of whom ultimately somehow end up voting for the people that sent them to war and that would send them to war. Then I get to see a nice bit of good news and it gives me a bit of hope — no giggles — as was the case when I read about the Walgreens store as well as others that made plans to offer free HIV testing on HIV awareness day.
One of the store clerks in our neighborhood — let’s call him “Eddie” — went missing for over a month. Janna and I always loved seeing Eddie during our weekend shopping outings and he was always warm and friendly and talkative. We also knew Eddie was Gay because of the personal stories he openly shared with us as we shopped.
Greying and testing middle age, we also knew Eddie, a proud Latino, had dedicated the last twenty years of his life to living with, and taking care of, his unwell mother. His daily routine was to wake up, work in the store, and go home to her. He had no social life. He life was “job and mom.”
When Eddie disappeared six weeks ago, we knew something terrible happened and last Sunday our worst fears were confirmed when we finally saw Eddie again, behind his cash register, looking wan and uncomfortably thin. He told us the horrible news with a calm resignation: At 50-years-old, he wasn’t just HIV positive, he had full-blown Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Eddie had AIDS.