San Francisco skyline by Mario Savioni

I got news that a friend died last Saturday, not from COVID. He died from Parkinson’s.

At a point some years ago, I had forgotten that he was coming to San Francisco and he had kept a night open for our visit. This was after I fell off my bike and onto my head and spent three days in ICU apparently repeating the phrase: “I think I broke my shoulder…”

My sister said it was funny and she said that I was awake, but I don’t remember anything. It’s the time I use to explain to people why I don’t believe in an after life.

I was literally blank during those three days. I woke and looked over at the nurses behind the glass or plexiglass enclosure, and I was still in my shorts and wife beater T-shirt, of course I was not married. I had been wearing those clothes for three days, and after a mad bike ride to 24-hour fitness. I pitied the nurse, but she didn’t seem to mind.

The point is, it was because of that that I forgot my friend’s visit. I apologized over the phone. I tried to explain that appointments are soft, almost non-existent memories, that even if I write them down, I still forget to consult my reminder list.

I was at a loss, but I think it hurt him and I never heard from him again.

His husband called me. I recognized his husband’s voice. His husband was kind to spend time talking about the life they had together, which was odd, because it was true, D and I were always hanging out and his husband was never there. D was independent and funny.

He was a principal at one of the toughest schools on Oahu. He was a skinny white man in a pair of nerdy glasses interjecting himself in gang brawls and murders. His husband said that he wore a shirt that called him the “Lockdown Man.” Apparently, he used to lock the school down whenever something violent took place. He spoke many languages. That’s how I met him. He was getting his Master’s in Spanish Literature. He was a member of a group of Master’s Degree Candidates, who were also teachers at the University.

I would later meet my wife there. She was also getting her Master’s Degree in Spanish Literature. I got a “D” and and “F” the first time I took Spanish 1 and 2, respectively. Then, I took the classes again and got an “A” and “B.” My instructors the first round were Gerald Uyeda and some guy whose name I can’t remember, but I hated the second class.

Gerald and I became very close friends and that’s where I met Dale. We would sit around Gerald’s apartment near the University track and drink wine and talk.

When I retook the class, one of the instructors had a party and my ex-wife walked in. I had memorized two or three books worth of jokes. She and I sat together on a small bench, low to the ground, and barely big enough to house a side of our butts; our arm hairs enmeshed. She must have thought I was funny, I am usually not. She went out with me the next day. But, I had to ask the instructor if my ex-wife was interested, because I didn’t know. But, I was smitten, absolutely smitten. Anyway, that’s another story.

Dale and I were close friends. He knew how to save and make money. He was witty. He listened to Opera. Languages were easy for him. He was successful. I was a complainer. I have never known what to do for a living. Anyway, the point I want to make about the friendship, is that it went on for years, at least 25 years. His death saddens me. I wish he had gotten back to me, but he must have written me off. Friendships seem to have a life-expectancy. There is a logic to them. If you aren’t geographically close, they seem to disappear.

I work in photography, poetry, fiction, criticism, oils, drawing, music, condo remodeling and design. I am interested in catharsis. Savioni@astound.net.