Aspergers Memory, and the Grief of the Pre-Cocktail 1990s...

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DavesRadioWorld
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30 Mar 2011, 5:30 am

Because of my photographic visual-memory, I carry with me the memories of AIDS...and the faces of those who didn't make it out of the 90s. But even more importantly, I live with the shame of how undiagnosed Aspergers affected my behavior during that time; I was a frightened alcoholic, searching the bars for someone to connect with. That time was ugly:

"Way back in 93’, I met a man named Michael. I met him while cruising a bar of course, on one of my first trips to the real city. Michael & I clicked immediately; he had my Imagination, and our senses of humor were so much the same, he’d finish my sentences before I did. He actually made a game of it. He knew exactly what I was from the very start.
I never really dated Michael, but I saw him many times. I loved just sitting and listening to him talk; his words were perfect, almost scripted. My favorite “Michael story” involved the time he owned a bar and hosted one of the area’s first Rocky Horror Picture Show parties. He described in detail having to throw out a drunk while dressed as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, chasing the man into the parking lot, yelling like a taxi driver. After the drunk was gone, Michael realized he was left standing outside the club wearing nothing but a teddy, fishnets, and woman’s stilettos. Passerby from the straight bars stared, pointed, and laughed, but Michael didn’t give a shit-
He gave them the finger instead.
We eventually spent the night together, but there wasn’t any sex. And I guess that’s why I fell for him as hard as I did…we connected through words, and that’s where I’m most comfortable.
But though I was young, I wasn’t an idiot; there was something inconsistent with Michael, a gap between his over-the-top zest for life, and the Spartan way he kept his apartment. There was something “broken” about him, a sadness behind his voice, but when I pressed the issue, our friendship hit a wall and pretty much ended after that. Yeah, there were a few phone calls here & there, but the Michael on the phone had become a completely different character. Michael died within the year, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, his death had affected me greatly.
You know, now that I think about it, maybe THAT was the first time I used the elevator.
I really can’t be certain, though-
At the time, I was too drunk to remember…"



Last edited by DavesRadioWorld on 30 Mar 2011, 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DavesRadioWorld
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30 Mar 2011, 5:32 am

"About eight years ago, I met a man named Don.
I met him while cruising a bar, of course, but do I even need to say that anymore?
I met Don in Phoenix, after leaving Chicago in 1999, and though we didn’t click right away, we started talking because he played Depeche Mode’s “Master and Servant” on the jukebox, catching my interest. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, we were discussing the leather scene.
Don was an experienced “bottom;” he got off on being a slave. Though my own experience was limited to bondage-games, we had enough in common sexually to stay together for two years. But we weren’t a healthy couple, and Don’s alcoholism made ME look sober. When it came time to break up, Don was devastated to learn that I never really loved him. He went on a three-year drinking binge, damaging his already-frail health.
Though I claimed it was for experience, the cold-honest truth is that I dated Don because he had HIV. I knew this from the moment I met him, and it provided the perfect reason to keep sex “unemotional,” and limited to role-playing. At the time, I didn’t think twice about using him; I wanted to know if I had the guts, to actually commit to a positive.
I guess it was a success, though the gravity of what I did didn’t hit me until many years later. I used Don. Destroyed him, even.
And for what purpose-
(My God.)
How did I become such a MONSTER?"



DavesRadioWorld
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30 Mar 2011, 5:35 am

"Do you realize that every child born after 1982 has never known a world without AIDS? Think about that: every kid raised in the past twenty years has been taught about HIV in health class. Back in 1980, it didn’t matter if you were straight or gay; with the ease the virus spread, everyone was sure to be infected by the time Regan left office.
The early days of AIDS were a particularly awful time, especially when Rock Hudson made the cover of Newsweek, and the Cocktail was still a good ten years away. From 82’-87,’ the disease ravaged big-city gay scenes, with stories of horrible deaths that started on the coasts before moving to small town Midwest. In isolated gay communities like Peoria, Illinois, the epidemic’s news was impossible to avoid. Gay men liked to travel, and it only took a year before the first HIV cases were recorded at the local Health Department. By 1988, the cases had grown exponentially.
With today’s powerful drugs, it’s easy to forget how many died twenty years ago. A generation has passed now, and modern gays have the knowledge of those who lived before them. Forgotten are the memories of the men who suffered lonely deaths, when medicine had yet to learn what the virus entailed. And for a small-town fa***t who was already afraid of the scene, it was all so sad, so incredibly sad…
(Pause.)
So when he told me he was positive, it’s no wonder he had to tell me twice."



DavesRadioWorld
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30 Mar 2011, 5:37 am

"What’s the saddest you’ve ever been?
And if you’re really able to answer that question, tell me this: how did you face it? Did you lean on other people or tough it out yourself? Did you cry? Hold it together? Take a drink? A pill? A cocktail with a cocktail?
Did you ever use, then throw away a trick?
All of us cope with sadness in very different ways. How we cope depends on our character, and most importantly, our own individual stories. Sadness drives us covertly, often forcing us to react with violent emotion we’ve kept inside for years. At some point though, we ALL must react the same, and that starts by finding a way to share our story with another.
But that’s not always easy.
Some things are so sad, we dance around the truth; we fear upsetting our confidants, and as most sadness comes from loss, losing an audience compounds the situation. We find ourselves in a Catch-22, where we’ll be left alone no matter what we do. So we compromise the story. Create others to excuse the blame. We dilute the issue with so many spinning plates, even the observer gets injured when it all crashes down. But that crash is inevitable. The truth, unavoidable. And the relief we feel when the truth is in the open can be a double-edged sword, leaving only the strongest standing in the aftermath.
We might not like what’s left behind-
But we ALL must learn to live with it.
"



DavesRadioWorld
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30 Mar 2011, 5:39 am

"In 1996, I met a man who awoke my imagination.
He woke it accidentally, but my drinking & immaturity ruined even the slightest chance of friendship with him. Eleven years have passed since the last time that we spoke. Not a day goes by when he doesn’t cross my mind, but as I never got to really know him, it’s selfish of me to imagine how he’s changed. I haven’t the right. It’s not my business to even go there.
It would take a solid decade before I finally saw the mirror with clarity. I realized I had been searching for that man for years; NOT the man himself, but the moments of inspiration I felt when I was with him. He was my muse, but like so many others-
I threw him away.
It was with him where this story began, and with its end, his memory must follow. No matter how intense a moment of creative impact, inspiration can’t continue on the memory of a muse alone. Creativity is promiscuous. It will find another host. And though my own muse is lost, his words will be with me always, speaking in the background with every word that I write, every story that I tell-
(Silence.)
I remember he used to pause when he talked-
I remember that each sentence was followed by silence-
…And the moments of silence in between what is spoken often carry more impact than the importance of words, themselves.
"



DavesRadioWorld
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30 Mar 2011, 6:15 am

If any of this touches a nerve, please take a few moments and search out my other posts; they've been scattered like signposts since I joined this site a few days ago, and they all point towards a much larger story...

There's one post in particular - "Switching Time: Aspergers Style," in the Arts/Writing/Music section - that contains my personal story in brutally-honest bullet-points.

Fair warning: it's long, but if you view only one, please make it that. Everything I write is connected to everything else; it's how my Aspergers works...it's how I cope with life, and keep my world in perspective.

Thanks for reading.


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visagrunt
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30 Mar 2011, 10:41 am

We are of the same generation. To this day I remember precisely where I was (my parents' living room floor) and what I was doing (reading The Gazette) when I heard the radio story about the first five cases. I was two days shy of my fourteenth birthday, and I was already self-identified as gay (though well and truly in the closet!).

The development of my sexuality took place entirely within the context of AIDS (and only later, HIV). During my medical training it continued to be a spectre hanging over not only the gay community, but over the medical profession as well. There was considerable fear and a considerable dearth of knowledge.

I have been privileged to watch HIV become normalized. While it continues to be a significant public health threat, our ability to exercise control means that--in the industrialized world--we have now reached a point where HIV positive people are as likely to die from other causes as they are from AIDS, and this number is improving.


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DavesRadioWorld
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30 Mar 2011, 12:20 pm

I don't remember the exact "moment" I learned about AIDS, but I always see a montage of various nightly news stories whenever I think of that time. What I remember most though, is a moment that happened about 2 weeks before AIDS hit the media: a Jr High bully (while mocking myself and a male buddy at the time) said something like, "They're so clueless, they probably use condoms when they have sex." Dark irony, for sure.


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