Not everyone can say this, but I loved high school. It was a place where I made many new friends and had lots of new opportunities. I liked my teachers, liked most of my classes and loved all the after school activities that were typical for a high school. I got involved with many clubs and student government and doing that just allowed me to make more friends. But my experience in the theatre department was the most satisfying and the most fun.

In my senior year, we did MY FAIR LADY and I was cast as Mrs. Higgins—the mother of Professor Henry Higgins. Higgins was played by G, and it was his biggest role so far. He and I had known each other all through high school and were good school friends. We were not best friends and we really did not see each other outside of school, but we clicked in school. We had lots of laughs in each of the shows we did and MY FAIR LADY was going to be our last show before graduation. It was a big hit and was loads of fun.

I was also on the decorating committee for the senior prom. Our job was to transform the gym into the theme of “Knights In White Satin”. I worked for hours with colored tissue paper and heard friends talking about going the prom. I personally never thought of going, but the more I worked on it, the more I wanted to go. I viewed it as this big party and not so much a night for couples. One night I was talking to G on the phone and the prom came up. I said that it would be much better to go with someone who was a friend where there were no other expectations or pressures. Knowing how subtle that was NOT, G said that if there was anyone he would go with, it would be me. But, he said, I just cannot do it. I cannot be someone that I am not, and going to the prom would be really weird for me. I did not push this idea further and it turned out that I went to the prom with someone else and had a great time.

G and I were two of the three graduation speakers. I remember that his speech was filled with his dry humor and mine was pretty serious. That was the last time I saw him….that graduation night. I don’t remember what he told me his plans were or if he had any. He was very bright and funny, and I assumed he went to college, but now I don’t know. I went away to school and then moved from California to Massachusetts. I never even heard a thing about him until one day I heard from my mother that G’s obituary was in the local paper, this was the early 1980’s.

G died of AIDS. He was an activist for HIV and AIDS and apparently he had continued to live in the same town. There are so many things that I don’t know about his life or his death. I am writing about him because I just saw the film DALLAS BUYERS CLUB and I thought of the friends that I had lost to AIDS and G was the first. The film is based on a true story about one man who had AIDS and who fought the medical community and government to get the medications he needed to live.

My memories of G are of him wearing his costume and looking so handsome while singing on stage. Of him making me laugh in class or of him standing up in front of hundreds of people to say goodbye to high school. I do not know what pain he went through in the years to come. I do not know how he was treated by his neighbors or friends. But to know that he was fighting to help people makes me know that his heart was still the same. He was a boy when I knew him, just a teenager. I never knew him as a grown man facing the biggest battle of his life.

One final memory…in our junior year, G and I were in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. In the wedding scene, he and I danced together. Between us, we had four left feet, but we giggled and never gave up. Whenever we finished rehearsing that scene, we would stand there and just grin. We knew we looked silly, but we didn’t care. Less than ten years later, he was gone.

Recommended reading: THE GOLDEN EGG by Donna Leon. How I love this mystery series!

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  • krunn7  On January 15, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    What a poignant story. When Rock Hudson died my cousin said, “I predict that within 10 years we will all know someone who died of AIDS.” It startled me at the time living in a small northern Canadian hamlet but it turned out to be true.

  • LadyGregory  On January 15, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    This story is an excellent memorial to G. From your description of that time and place, I somehow got a wonderful mental picture of both of you, back then.

  • Sandra  On January 16, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Thanks for this dear story. Good to honor high school and G and you.

  • Leslie  On January 16, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Beautiful remembrance Jane. When we think of all the people who have touched our lives we realize how amazing the journey has been. But we do need to take the time to remember. Your memories of G will enrich your life.

  • Shers Gallagher  On January 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Interesting you mentioning this because I just finished watching a two part BBC documentary on AIDS by Stephen Fry, who commented about many thinking of this is as a disease spelling out homosexuality when really anyone with a promiscuous lifestyle is at risk. It does make one think, especially those of us coming out of the ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’ era who’ve dodged a bullet. Good blog, Jane, but such sad news about your childhood friend.

  • janeduttonutrecht  On January 16, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Shers, this is a great film by Stephen Fry. It was very disturbing and ridiculous, some of the comments that were made. It still is amazing that we are still talking about AIDS after all these years.

    • Buck  On January 1, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Great aritcle, thank you again for writing.

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