It was in July of 1986 when I developed freeway terror. It was the night my friend Gilbert died and I drove to his house in San Francisco to "straighten up" (throw away the gay) before his straight-laced family from Oklahoma arrived. It was late at night, I was obviously distraught and it terrified me being on the freeway.
That night I "knew" that I would die by a big truck rolling over on me. I knew it. To this day I am terrified of driving past a big truck. For many years I was so afraid of just driving on the freeway that if I was alone, I would always, always choose the frontage road as far as it would go before getting back on the freeway. An hour trip could take an hour and a half, but I avoided trucks.
Things are a bit better now. I still "know" I will die in some terrible truck accident and I am still nervous just riding on the freeway, especially on a holiday weekend, when the accident rates are higher and I know whenever we leave the house that I will not make it back home again alive.
It ain't a fun way to live, but I compensate by either reading my kindle or sleeping to avoid looking out the front window where I know that my inevitable end is coming.
Today, Memorial Day, we had our annual Paul Picnic. This is an event that Paul's best friend Kag started the year after Paul died and has continued every year since. It is a gathering of as many of his friends who can make it in a park near Berkeley. There is a big barbeque, lots of food, always music, sometimes games. We have watched the kids in the group grow up, year after year. The kid who wasn't even born when Paul died is now driving. He is the oldest in the group and there are lots more (I never kept count). It is Ned's version of the Piñata group and I love being around them.
It being the Paul picnic, I dressed in my FTS t-shirt that Kag, a graphic designer, gave to each of us the Christmas after Paul died. It stands, of course, for "fuck this shit," which is what Paul told his wife once he wanted on his tombstone and which we decided to do, but to abbreviate it so that only those "in the know" knew what it meant.
So Walt and I got in the car for the ride that I knew would be my last on earth and as we were driving along I realized that if I actually were to die, it was appropriate that I was wearing the FTS shirt, but the irony of my shirt would be lost to the world, so I took a selfie to post on Facebook so that after I died everyone would know I died wearing the shirt.
But, of course, I did not die -- again -- and so I am able to talk about the picnic, which, as usual, was enjoyable.
When we got there Kag was busy at the barbeque, while all the little kids were off at the playground.
KC was sitting on a table with a bunch of others singing.
When the food was ready, Kag's wife was cutting up spare ribs and Ned's dog, Bouncer was very interested (though she never steals food off the table).
People wandered around eating and the singing continued. I looked over at a table and there was my favorite moment of the day, Ned and Kag's youngest son, Henry, playing the guitar together.
Ned was giving Henry some lessons and I got all verklempt at how perfect this "torch is passed" moment was.
Later, when the sun came out, there was relaxing in the sun.
At around 4 p.m. we were packing up and Bart, the wonderful man who drives a golf cart and ferries people around the park to various campsites so they don't have to walk uphill came to get me and take me to the front gate, while Walt and Ned walked there together (the golf cart only holds one passenger).
Then we were back in the car for the trip home and, so I wouldn't see it coming when that truck rolled over one me, I slept most of the way home. We arrived safely.
Walt, exhausted, collapsed on the new couch we brought from my mother's, and fell asleep instantly. Lizzie was confused about why he was just sleeping and not getting up to feed her.
I have defeated death one more time and lived to write another Funny the World entry.