This is the story of how I met and married Michael.
I was 21 years old and I needed a job. Really badly. So badly that of all the applications I sent, one was to dispatch for a phone sex number. Another job I applied for was at AIDS Project Los Angeles. I was pretty certain that I was more likely to get the phone sex job.
Anyway, I got a call to come in for an interview and in my brand new olive green double breasted suit from the Bullock's Men's department, I impressed the head of HR enough that he hired me. I started working in human resources. The big benefit of which was that I had the inside scoop on who put their mother down as a life insurance beneficiary and who put their lover. This was very valuable information.
Human resources shared our office with volunteer resources. Of about 150 employees, Volunteer Resources were the cool kids. Kristin, Joe, Larry, Shane, Shawn and Jamie. Everyone wanted to be around them. They smoked in their offices. They dressed up in drag on a random Tuesday morning for the hell of it. When Kristin got engaged they made her a full length wedding dress out of Velon (also known as "convention taffeta") and we ran around the building singing the wedding march and throwing rice. Joe, when he wasn't getting exactly what he wanted, would fall to the floor dramatically (having cut his claws at Studio 54) and croak, "Get me my AZT! Please, someone get my my AZT!"
I was a little intimidated.
Ultimately, everyone passed through Volunteer Resources, if just to see what was going on. About a week after I started, Michael came through Volunteer Resources to show off the little kitten perched in his shirt pocket. The kitten was found in the underground garage and would be named Billie. Billie would go home with Michael and the other cat, one Hillary Rodham Landsman. This was prior to the 1992 election. This is the first time I met Michael.
Over the many years we worked at APLA, I stuck to Michael like a parasite. He was catty and did drag and was friends with porn stars which, at my tender age, I thought was terribly urbane. Everyone had HIV, or so it seemed, and I thought I would spend a few years doling out chicken soup from the ample trunk of my Pontiac Parisienne until all of my friends had died. That is pretty much what we all thought in the early 90's.
As the years dragged on, Michael and I were spending weekends together and lunch breaks on the patio. Co-workers would satirically ask when we were going to get married.
In 1999, Michael and I decided to move in together. We wanted to get out of debt, Michael wasn't dying nearly as quickly as the doctors had predicted and he needed to find something new to do with his life as this "whole AIDS thing" was getting old. The same year, on July 1st, Michael's lover of 10 years, an intractable and beautiful man named Jeff, died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma related to HIV. He was 28 years old.
After Jeff died, I made sure Michael had food and a safe place to come home to (or at least I tried) and Michael worked his ass off at two jobs paying off his debt and to have something other than his grief.
Soon after, Michael decided to start a business of his own and I threw my support behind him. I'm pretty sure I brought up the marriage thing. I told him that he would be able to use my health insurance at UCLA if we got married.
Over the next few months we joked about it, talked about it and debated the pros and cons. Since Jeff had died, we were, in fact, each other's family and there was no better way to make that official than to tie the knot. Somewhere around December, Michael poked his head out from behind the kitchen wall and said "So, will you marry me?" and I said "Yes".
On February 6, 2000, Michael and I were married in Las Vegas by the County Commissioner. Michael and I stood looking at each other in a small office with a large wooden desk. We didn't go in for the Elvis impersonator. We have no photos or video. The whole thing cost $70. I wore jeans and a t-shirt. He did too. It was more somber than it was joyous. It was about 25 minutes of one day. It was perfect.
At dinner that night, Michael asked me whether I would change my name. I changed it almost immediately.
Over the last 7 years, Michael and I have had many of the traditional ups and downs. We also have some not-so-traditional ones. I get mad, he gets frustrated. I blow straw wrappers at him. He pretends that he's too old for that. We don't get makeup sex but as for friends with benefits, I'm not sure how it could be better.
Now I'm going to lay down. I get dizzy when I blow my nose.
Labels: Happy homemaker