Excerpt from August Farewell
It was a busy Pride the last weekend in June. Bill was tired during much of the month and in quite a bit of discomfort. Under normal circumstances, I would have suggested that we should cancel our Pride Party this year. I am sure he would have agreed without hesitation. But I don’t even raise the possibility. I want to go ahead with it. I have the unsettling suspicion that it might be Bill’s last. I want our friends to be able to see him one more time in a festive context. I know that I am pushing but I think it is worth it. I think that he and they will appreciate it if my premonitions bear out.
We usually had our Pride weekend open house party on the Saturday afternoon. That way it didn’t interfere with our attending the big parade on Sunday. It also meant that I could go out to one of the big dances on Saturday night without worrying that I had to avoid a hangover and be in good enough shape to host legions of party boys the next day.
We always had a theme with corresponding food. One of the years that we were in the condo at RadioCity, Bill made twenty quiches. Not-so-subtly, the parody was of course ‘real men don’t eat quiche’. Our unit at RadioCity was a small one bedroom. I think the official size was 557 sq. ft. That worked well enough for the two of us on our nights in the city. At that time, we were spending a lot of time at the Stratford house. But it was a bit cosy when you have thirty gay men over for brunch. We were on the 25th floor and our balcony looked down on the sound stage at the corner of Church St. and Wood St. so at least half of the guests could crowd out onto the balcony, eat, drink and listen to the entertainment down below. Another year, at RadioCity, we went Mexican. One of our neighbours owned a small Mexican restaurant a few blocks away and we had him cater it. We bought the cerveza.
This being our first Pride weekend in the new Verve condo, I was anxious to show it off to as many of our gay friends as possible. Plus, I really wanted them to have a chance to see Bill once more. So I invited lots of people. I distributed invitations to gay friends in the building and sent email versions far and wide including to some of our PV friends who I knew wouldn’t be able to make it but would enjoy being invited anyways. The invitations read “PANZY PRIDE PIZZA PARTY – You are invited to Bill and David’s Toronto Pride Open House for Gay Boys, Saturday June 27 2009 12noon to 3pm” and were adorned with a gay flag and a picture of a cluster of pansies, what Bill always referred to as “our national flower”. We had around fifty people show up this year. Again it was a sunny day so many of them congregated on the balcony which in this apartment looks directly down Wellesley St toward the hub of Pride activity at Church and Wellesley. Disco music bounced off the walls. We hired a cute young man to keep everyone supplied with drinks and the table replete with fresh warm pizza which I had arranged to be delivered in batches on a regular basis during the course of the party.
Bill sat regally in the big arm chair in the living room receiving obeisance from his friends and admirers, joking, admonishing and generally maintaining his reputation as the life of the party. Almost invariably though most of our guests came to me at some point before they left and asked the same question, “Is Bill okay? He doesn’t look well.” The detail of my response depended on whether they were close friends or more just acquaintances. At that point, at the end of June all of us were still over a month away from knowing the real answer to the question.
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August Farewell is available from http://amazon.com and other on-line book retailers.
For more information, including a short YouTube video about August Farewell, see my website at http://DavidGHallman.com