My friend Gus

My blog is very new so I don’t expect to have a lot of followers or likes or visitors or views or fans sending me nude pictures of themselves.  I’m excited to have my 2 followers and 29 views and 9 visitors and 7 likes.  I’m sure the nude pictures will start rolling in any day now.  And if my real life FRIENDS who know about my blog would follow it then I’d have, well, 4 followers.

But this isn’t about the followers or the likes.  This is about me expressing myself through the written word. This is about me having an outlet for the thoughts and emotions that would otherwise ricochet about in my head until I lose my mind.  This is about the nude photos.

The interesting thing I found in the blog stats was that I had two views from someone in India.  I wonder what someone in India googled that gave them my blog?  Perhaps someone here in America read my post about how I’m not a fan of the accent of people from India and sent it to a cousin in India who then read it.  Or maybe someone in India is a fan of skeleton models with lime asses.  Whatever the case, I think it’s cool that someone in India read something I wrote.  Honestly, I ‘d be happy if a guy in jail for pinching kittens would read my stuff.  He can keep his nude photos though.

So I recently found out that someone I knew 20 years ago is dead.  I found this out because I googled him, curious to find out what he was up to these days, and I found his obituary.  There was no mention of how he died.  He was only 54 and was in good health as far as I know so his death was surprising to me.  I’m guessing that it was either accidental or suicide.  I did a lot more googling but couldn’t find any other articles about his death.  It said he would be missed by his two sons and his friend Jim.  So in honor of Gus I’m going to write about my experiences with him.  Luckily, they were mostly odd experiences so it should be some good reading no matter what country you’re reading from  Weird is universal that way.

I met Gus in 1996 when I was in Culinary School.  He was 40 years old and was an Episcopal priest. Gus and his friend Jim (mentioned in the obituary) started culinary school at the same time.  Jim was around 20 at the time I would guess and was none too smart.  I don’t mean that to be unkind to Jim, but it’s important to know that Gus, who had 5 degrees, and Jim were on very different planes intellectually.  Jim only lasted about 5 days in culinary school.  The material was too hard for him and he dropped out.  At the time I assumed that Jim was a young man that Gus was trying to help out.  He was a priest after all so I figured he was a member of Gus’s church.  But he wasn’t.  I suspected that Gus might be gay, but he had an ex-wife and two sons so I assumed that he was just a bit effeminate.

I never did anything with my culinary school classmates outside of school, but Gus was the closest thing I had to a friend there.  I think we were the only two in our class that had college degrees and we were two of the oldest in the class even though I was only 24 at the time.  A lot of the students were right out of high school. Neither Gus or I ever finished culinary school.  We both made it about two thirds of the way through and decided we’d had enough.  Gus went on to get a job as a line cook at a restaurant.  I never chose to have any sort of career in the culinary field.  As I tell anyone who I asks why, chefs are assholes.  Of course, this isn’t universally true, but it was my experience at that time so I chose to go another direction.

Gus and I stayed in touch by occasional email. A few months later Gus got a job at a church in Plymouth Massachusetts.  At that time I was living with my fiance and was questioning whether being engaged to her was such a great idea..  I was trying to write a novel which wasn’t going very well.  My best friend had died while I was in culinary school. In other words, I wasn’t very happy with my life and wasn’t sure what to do about it.  Gus was about the closest thing I had to a friend at the time and Plymouth sounded like a great place to be in the fall.  So I asked Gus what he thought of me paying him a visit.  I told him I was feeling confused about life and needed to get away for a bit.  He thought that was a great idea.  So off I went to Plymouth.

I arrived after dark — maybe around 9:00.  Gus had some wine and we’d finished a bottle before I knew it.  Before long Gus told me he gay, or at least bi-sexual.  I told him I suspected.  It wasn’t long after that that Gus told me that I was welcome to stay if I wanted to.  He said he’d clear out the other bedroom for me.  He said he thought it would be a great place for me to write.  It wasn’t long after that that Gus told me he loved me.

Well, I hadn’t suspected that.  All of a sudden Plymouth was a very awkward place for me to be.  I made it clear to Gus that I didn’t feel the same about him.  I made it clear that I wasn’t gay or bi-sexual.  But my sleep that night was still uneasy.  I kept imagining a mostly disrobed Gus coming into my room during the night and spooning with me.  I wondered if I might wake to find him lying next to me.  These thoughts were not appealing to me, but eventually I slept and none of those scenarios occured.

Gus had work at the church the next day so I was on my own.  I spent the day walking around Plymouth.  The more I walked the surer I became that I couldn’t spend another night in Gus’s house.  I was young and naive and easily made uncomfortable.  I was also a bit cowardly so I decided to leave while Gus was at work.  I walked back to his house and found that I was trapped, or at least my car was.  Gus had parked behind me so there was no way to leave without asking him to move his car.  Well that sucked.  I couldn’t take the sissy way out.  So I went inside and waited for him to come home.  When he arrived we sat back down in the room where he’d told me the night before that he loved me.  I didn’t waste any time.  I told him that I didn’t feel comfortable staying there and that I would be going home.  Gus cried.  More accurately, he wept.  I felt awful, but I wasn’t going to relent and stay.  I’d made my decision and I wasn’t changing it.  After talking for what seemed like forever, Gus moved his car and I went home.

I emailed Gus a few days later and told him I was sorry for over reacting.  He said it was okay but we lost communication for a few years after that.  The next I heard from him he had moved back and was living about a half hour from me. Jim, the young man from culinary school, was living with him.  Gus said he was his little sous chef.  Now I have no problem with heterosexuals, bi-sexuals, homosexuals, etc, but there was something off about that relationship.  The difference in age and intelligence made it seem sketchy.  Gus asked me to visit but I never did and we never talked again.

A few months ago I was telling someone the story of Gus.  That’s when I got curious and googled him. The first thing I found was that a woman had brought a lawsuit against Gus in 2001 — about 4 years after I visited him.  The gist of the lawsuit was that Gus had abused his power as a priest who was supposed to be advising the woman during her difficult marriage.  Her and Gus had a sexual relationship.  Eventually Gus started behaving in a creepy way toward her and she broke it off and started the lawsuit.  That’s when Gus moved back and emailed me.  He never mentioned the reason he moved back.

Suffice it to say, Gus was an odd dude.  At heart, I think he just wanted to love and be loved but for whatever reason couldn’t find a way to do that in a healthy way.  So he did it the only way he could — in unhealthy ways. I wish I knew what happened in the end, but I probably never will. I don’t think there’s really anything to learn from this other than that people aren’t always what they seem.  But I’ve learned that lesson many times by now.  So I guess all that’s left to say is that I hope Gus had found the peace that he could never find in life.

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