Archive for September 22nd, 2011
On my walk home from work, I called my new Grindr friend to see if we were still on for drinks that evening. Sadly, however, he told me he wasn’t sure he would be able to make it. He still had to walk his two dogs and had a few things he needed to take care of. I was very anxious to meet him that night because it was the last opportunity I would have before heading to Martha’s Vineyard for a week. I know when momentum breaks, enthusiasm also wanes. I told him, “Well, go take care of what you need to do, and if you still think you can do it later, let me know.” He was worried I was missing out on other plans waiting around for him, but I assured him I had nothing planned for the evening. He wasn’t keeping me from anything. Such a gentleman.
As time passed, I had the idea to just invite him to my apartment to share a bottle of wine. It was a very nice night, and I have a comfortable balcony we could sit and chat on. I texted him the idea, and he happily agreed. An hour passed, and I heard nothing from him. I cut up different cheeses and laid them out on a nice platter with grapes, crackers, and chocolate covered espresso beans. Just as I was about to call him, I heard a buzz at my door. I buzzed him in and told him to come to the second floor. I opened the door to find exactly what I expected to see. He threw his arms open and gave me a big hug, exclaiming, “I made it!” I’m a big fan of hugs and feel people don’t hug enough theses days. After a sweet embrace, he sat and I poured him a glass of wine. He commented on how nice my apartment was and told me how easy it was to get there.
I asked if he wanted to sit on the balcony and he graciously obliged. We grabbed the cheese platter and wine and made our way outside.
He began by asking my family background. I told him my father’s side is German and my mother’s side is Polish, Irish and Welsh. I am a European mutt. He told me his grandfather was a Nazi who escaped Germany once he realized what was going on and that he was in over his head. He came to the US and started a famous steakhouse. His grandmother was a Native American bootlegger from who made moonshine. I’ll let you figure out how the two met. They then divorced when she ran away with a man in a terrorizing biker gang
The previous night, he told me he was a cowboy at one point in high school in another county. He explained how similar this was to Brokeback Mountain (minus the sex), as men were paired up. Like all the other pairs, he developed an extremely close bond with the man he was paired up with much akin to a brotherhood. When the time came for “Indiana Jones” to move back to the states to go to college, he had to say goodbye to this close friend. They stayed up all night reminiscing and crying about how much they would miss each other. I was so very touched by this story. I asked where his friend is now, and I was shocked and disappointed to find they haven’t been in touch since he left. I scolded him and told him to rebuild that connection.
When he came back to the states, he went to art school. He was always fascinated by art, anthropology and archeology. After he graduated, he traveled to India and fell in love with the culture. He told me about how ingrained in the local society he became. He wasn’t simply a tourist.
When he came back to the states, he was setting up his studio. He was cleaning things up and came across a windfall possibly worth millions. Instead of taking this money and living a high life, squandering it on a lavish lifestyle, he did the unthinkable. He took the money and built a hospital in the remote areas of India. When I learned of this, I was truly amazed. It was an ultimate act of selflessness. I was sitting next to one of the greatest men of my generation. After building the hospital, he decided to start a charity. I watched multiple videos on YouTube describing the work he is doing. He has built schools and hospitals and set up women’s centers. Someone even followed him around for five years and made a film about his life and his work.
The previous night, I was watching Labyrinth. The subject of David Bowie came up. Indiana Jones not only worked with him, but knew him on a more personal level. He worked with many celebrities beyond Bowie. Through his charity, he has worked with people from Bono to the Dalai Lama. Through his work and art, he has worked on many movie sets, such as Beloved and Chicago. He’s actually close enough friends with Renee Zellweger that she texted him when she started dating Bradley Cooper. When I asked him who his favorite person to work with was, he replied, “No one’s ever asked me that before. Hmmm. Mother Theresa. She has this sexiness about her. And, not in the typical sense obviously.” I retorted, “No. I completely understand. She’d have to have a certain charisma about her to produce such a following. She has to be persuasive. I see that same charisma in you. I can see why you are so successful.”
I’m not a celebrity whore. They are people just like you and me. I treat them as such. I definitely respect their work, but I’m not going to go crazy just because they scribbled on a piece of paper for me. This man is a worldwide celebrity, but I don’t think he knows it. I made it a point to tell him. He’s known by people all over the world from the most remote corners of India to the Himalayas to Africa to the U.S. People greet him with warmth and respect. He truly is doing good all over the world.
I, of course, asked about the Oprah thing. He was very humble about the experience and tried to downplay the whole thing. I am most impressed by the media impressions something like that generates. His story reached so many people. I can’t imagine what it did for his organization. He was also in O magazine. When he was telling me about the movie about his life and the need for distribution or a venue, I simply suggested he contact Oprah’s people and get it on her new OWN network. He thought it was a brilliant idea and said he would make a point to mention it to the director/producer.
I asked him about his charity and how much overhead he had. He explained that a majority of it is simply him. I asked, “Well, who answers the phone?” He detailed a small staff, but it really all boiled down to him and his board of directors. We talked about his need to find someone who could take over the reins when he was no longer able to do so. It would be a shame for all that hard work to just stop because the driving force behind it disappeared. He needed to find a protegé.
He took the time to tell me not only about all the good works his charity is involved with, but also about his personal life too. We talked about his partner and he showed me some pictures of him, his dogs, his house in Vermont he tries to escape to, etc. It was nice to get to know him on a personal level.
When we finished the bottle of wine and the entire cheese plate, it was time for him to head home. He had to pack for his upcoming trip to India. As he stood up, he said, “We spent so much time talking about me, next time I want to hear all about you!” I joked, “You’re life is slightly more interesting than mine!” I walked him to the door, and we exchanged another embrace.
As I walked to my room, I had a smile from ear to ear. Who would have thought I was capable of finding such an amazing friend on Grindr? But, I did. This would be the start of a beautiful friendship, and I looked forward to every minute of it!