Apr 14, 2015

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Eleven: Drinks, Dinner, ME? (whatever happened to the Tonton Macoute)

Our trip to Haiti (my first of two) included Voodoo rituals 
His name was Ron.  Ron was married and finishing up a Masters program at San Jose State.  We worked together in the Men's Furnishings department at L.Hart and Son, part time student employees, both.  Ron was a very enjoyable person - intelligent, handsome and he made friends easily and most people found him extremely appealing in every way.  I liked him as a friend.  He and his wife lived at the Spartan City which was a special community of bungalos for married students. Spartan City was away from campus and near the stadium.  His wife was getting her Masters too, they were both finishing up their time at San Jose State.  They would soon head out for training and then Peru . They were among the first volunteers accepted for the Peace Corps.  President Kennedy's Peace Corps. Everyone loved our President and First Lady Jackie.  Ask anyone.  

One of Ron/Wife family members owned a cabin in the moutains between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz, and one weekend, after working on Saturday, Ron invited me to go to Santa Cruz for dinner.  Dinner and then stay overnight at the cabin as his wife was working and out of town on a field trip.  ¨Sure¨ it sounded fun...off we went.  First dinner with lots of drinks and then my car weaved our-much-lost way to the cabin for sleep/pass-out.  That's what I thought was happening. I was wrong.  This *situation* was about to become the first time in my life that I was actually in a very awkward sexual exchange that I didn't expect (or want) to happen.  I was drunk.  I was in the middle of the woods in a little cabin somewhere and I didn't want what was staggering my way.  I was genuinely shocked. There was strong insistance and some weak resistance.  I didn't like it at all.  Not at all.  It was over fast. I was embarrassed. I was not stimulated but that could be blamed on the booze? Yes, no? Never happened before! Yes! I blamed it on the booze and that was the one and only time my friend and I engaged in sex and we never discussed *it* again...Ron soon graduated and off they went. Hasta la Vista.  (I self-apologized but felt shame for doing something that I thought I ought not to have done...was I a quirky homosexual prude or a gay guy with good sense? Who knew? Not me) 

Two years later (lots of overseas air-mail tissue thin/four fold back and forth letters) we would become friends, in person, again. After Peru, after his divorce, Ron returned to San Jose, worked at Hart's again while applying for overseas NGO directorships and we rented a big old house on 4th Street...we had lots of after-hour parties there and that was during the time I met Richard (more later, but he often left boquets of flowers on my front porch during the night - handsome/tall, too) my first, mutual, love blossomed...¨Oh, Sweet Pea, Won't You Dance With Me¨ (often dedicated to me as a song-of-endearment but it made me cringe and I loathed it). 

Ron received a very big job offer in the Dominican Republic and off he went after his nine month layover in San Jose.  I visited him the following Summer for a month. We partied hard and met lots of great people (and a famous young playright from New York who is still famous, more famous, but now exciting in a olderman way) in Puerto Rico and then we traveled back to his lovely/rented/paid-for home in Santo Domingo via Prinair (memorable only because the hostess served huge trays of sandwiches during heavy turbulence without a crumb lost).  It's in the hips

A week later we went to Haiti. Nobody was in  Port-au-Prince but Papa ¨Doc Duvalier¨  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Duvalier and the Tonton Macoute http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonton_Macoute (one of the Tontons was to become our driver from airport arrival to departure) and slept in the car in front of our Hotel Castle Haiti.  We were the only guests. Our Tonton driver knew lots of colorful stuff and took us to places that I still have nightmares thinking about...he had a wrapped/bloody bandage on his upper right arm the whole time (I didn't ask and he didn't tell).  Every night we visited the patio and home (accross the street from the Main Cemetery/Zombies) of Papa Doc's official photographer and drank lots and lots of Rum and chipped ice off a block (like the olden daze)...we ate Conche meat snacks on white bread.  The photographers wife and daughters (presented the last night) were charming and fun and they were great hosts even in the dark as sometimes the city lights were blacked out....I think I'll have one more drink or two. 

Ron and I were to live together a few years later in Scottsdale, Arizona. He became a Probation Officer for Maricopa County, I was already a Buyer at Goldwater's Department Store (a division of Associated Dry Goods).  We were never lovers...we were good friends. As we Gay people say, we were ¨running partners.¨  Ron thought we were a pair of Sebastian Dangerfield charactors out of¨The Ginger Man novel he prized...I didn't agree. However, there was, in fact,  a allnight party we hosted in the middle of Summer for a young, handsome and non-fictional Marquis from Spain (Ron met him on an earlier trip to Europe)...it, that party, was as bazarre and decadent as any wild party would ever be.   A sort of desert studio 54 right there on our leased acre out  among the Saguaros.  I think Fellini ought have directed it. I passed out early/went to my bed at 3:00 A.M., afterall,  I had to leave on buying trip the next day...oy vey. A young woman ran through our arcadia glass sliding door around 4:00 in the morning and they rushed her to the hospital and reattached part of her nose. I didn't know. 

Our friends Richard (yes, Mr. true love-flowers-on-my-porch) and Albee were visiting from San Jose. Richard was my first lover and all previous ¨love¨ for one another ended that night behind the Camelback mountain when I encountered Richard with a handsome young guest of a guest of mine. The dried-up arroyo ran behind our house seemed like a good place to say adios to Richard for betraying me (again). There was lots more  on the free love (make love not war)  front in those days/daze. It was still the sixties and Janis Jopin/Jimi Hendrix still survived .,why ought not we? Some did, some didn't, more later.  Ron didn´t a few years later. One interesting, to me today, party detail, is that one of my beloved longterm friends and coworker from Goldwater´s was at the party that night/morning with her husband...I remember we had a great time dancing the night-into morning away. 

(Today she is a facebook friend whom I still adore...she probably could tell you more)

I´ve jumped ahead.   

One morning I woke up in my lower bunk in my bunk bed at Ana's Non-Greek All-Greek Boarding House.  I was hung over and late for class.  My clock radio had gone off and I was fighting to stay in bed.  I heard the radio ¨The President has been shot¨...over and over again.  I didn't know what they were talking about and was wondering ¨President of what¨?  It was President Kennedy and he was in Dallas and I leaped out of bed as I heard ¨The President is dead.¨  The world became silent and all the classes were cancelled at school.  We wandered around staring into space.  No one said much.  Maybe nothing at all...the television had updates showing Vice President Johnson being sworn in and Jackie standing in her blood drenched suit.  We, every person I met, were silent.  That evening I went downtown to the ¨Crystal Bar¨. ...there were a few scattered customers seated down the long bar.  Craig the bartender was on duty and gave us free drinks.  The guy I was sitting next to turned and said, ¨I feel like I lost my best friend..¨  That was it. I said nothing, I walked home.  The world and our hearts had stopped and it/they remained that way for a while. (I can still feel the pain if I pay attention to the innermost spirit inside of me).

to be continued