She lied about being on the pill for reasons that later became clear. She had bad hair, hair stuck in the 80s, but we were starting the 90s. And then she was diagnosed with a fatal disease, a disease I couldn’t spell or look up because we didn’t have the Internet yet.
We were in theater together, and the theater was a barn. That’s where actors belong, with the straw and the hay.
The school was in the boondocks of Pennsylvania not far from the New York state border, the cloud cover low enough to press on your neck.
I already had a girlfriend back home, but she had the nerve to say she didn’t care, she wouldn’t find out or even know, and that excited me.
Phil was our director and he had a girlfriend too, a girlfriend his age. But Phil was sleeping with this girl before she came onto me, which he confided during a long drive across the state to Philadelphia, to see my girlfriend.
Phil lied when he said she gave him Chlamydia, a disease I didn’t know anything about but got checked for, a procedure that was really crude, in the early 90s.
And I didn’t have it because she didn’t have it either, he just lied so I would stop sleeping with her, but I didn’t.
There was no part of Phil that was gay, but Phil liked hanging around with me and my two intellectual friends, Dan and Richard.
Dan was convinced Richard’s new, younger friend was a lover, and upset that Richard didn’t confide in us; he thought we were closer than that.
When Dan and I talked about being gay, he said he didn’t think he could sleep with a man, but he might be able to kiss a man, which I thought was even gayer than sleeping with a man, and then just felt weird even thinking about it, and stopped.
The three of us were friends because of a T-shirt I was wearing at a fraternity party, the night we met. They said they didn’t expect anyone to be wearing a PiL shirt (not at a fraternity party), and said We should hang out.
She had a disease called Lupus but we’d already broken up. Some part of her changed and it felt like she was using the disease as an excuse to pin me down, to get me back, like lying about the pill.
She had really bad family problems with her dad and her mom and wasn’t ready to talk about it, and I wasn’t ready to listen. She said her mom would stay up late scrubbing things in the kitchen to deal with whatever it was her dad was doing to her.
When I was on stage, after we’d broken up, there were times I would see her from the sound booth with the dull light of the board on her, looking down at me. I started worrying she would do something to me or herself.
She and Phil got married. He ditched his girlfriend and they moved off to London or something. There was no anger for anyone, in the theater. Cast members left wives and husbands to fool around with each other all the time. One stole Phil’s check book and ran up thousands of dollars in debt, then got convicted. We learned he was a repeat offender.
As an actor, you access different parts of yourself to become someone else on stage. And as a writer I did things and went places I would never go, so I could access them later too. It’s like serving the art so the art will serve you. And it’s not clear at the time why you’re doing it. I’m not even sure she had Lupus now, come to think of it.