I met Jet in 1982 or so. Jet used to work in the mailroom in the New York office of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ) a book publisher. It was my job to drive back and forth from Saddle Brook NJ to 47th and 3rd Ave in Manhattan. One day while I was delivering interoffice mail in NY, I heard a song from King Crimson’s Discipline. I had gotten into that album. Very much a Talking Heads influence and I loved Talking Heads.
I asked him, ‘Is that the new King Crimson?’ It was of course, just breaking the ice. I needed a friendly face in NY and hoped it would be him. We became fast friends. Having lunch, and smoking a lot of weed.
One night while doing the suburban thing of driving around aimlessly (gas was cheap then), smoking weed and listening to music, I came out to my best friend, Perry Didovetch. My way of coming out wasn’t so good. Something like this, “Are you high? Because I’m not straight.” I explained to him as he freaked out. I wasn’t making overtures, just coming out.
Hopefully he’d be understanding. He wasn’t. He had me drop him off at his house, and I begged him, that if he couldn’t handle it, fine. Just don’t tell anyone. Well he told his girlfriend, and she told two friends, and so on. Perry, his girlfriend and I all worked in the same warehouse for HBJ. My mother worked in the office. No one knew, especially Mom.
I came back to work and found out that half the people that were my friends, weren’t anymore. Very distressing. I went on doing my job, driving to the city. AT lunch, Jet and I sat in the park by Tudor City. Jet asked what was wrong, and I told him.
“I don’t see what the big deal is. I’m gay.” Jet was gay. I really had no idea. Basically Jet spent the rest of lunch talking me in off that ledge. We really became tight then. We hung out quite a bit, I even brought him to Lodi to meet my family for some reason. I think after my family found out I was gay, they thought we were lovers. We weren’t. I would drive him back to Inwood and go through Central Park, getting high all the time, playing B-52’s records and Jet singing Kate’s parts, and me, singing Cindy’s.
We even had gotten so close that I accompanied him to his mother’s apartment in Harlem, where he grew up to help clean it out while his mother was wasting away in the mental hospital on Ward’s Island.
Jet would regale me with tales of going to the Bathhouses. We did go to the occasional gay bar together, and it was there that I figured out that if you go to a gay bar with a friend, most everyone will think you’re a couple. I was this twenty something kid from the suburbs. Jet was more worldly. I just wandered around the bar by myself, Jet was off doing his thing. After a while I got tired of the disco music, and wanted something with balls. I also wanted someone with balls and neither was going to happen there.
So I drove back to Lodi, content with reruns of Eric Estrada, probably stopped off at the Vince Lombardi Rest Area where I more than likely scored.
Jet eventually moved to DC. I visited once or twice, tripped on LSD across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. I met his good friend, his sistah, Billie. Billie wound up babysitting me when Jet had to work in Georgetown.
I moved to Hoboken in 1984. I convinced Jet to move to Hoboken in a four room railroad apartment. It turned out to be a big mistake, due to the lack of privacy. Jet flounced from relationship to relationship. I started working at McSwells.
Jet and I lived together for a year. His ex lover Lee, had AIDS and Jet moved to Broadway Terrace in Inwood to care for him. Though there was nothing going on between them for years there was still a great bond. Jet loved him and Lee loved Jet. The stigma of AIDS was terrible and Jet was the only one Lee could count on.
Lee passed away and Jet stayed in Inwood. I visited him several times. He looked on me as a little brother, though more like a sistah, Cindy. Eventually Jet became sick. It was devastating. It wasn’t like now where HIV is manageable. It was a death sentence. He hung in there, he was working at BMG Records. A dream come true for him. He made it into the music business.
When AIDS became fully blown, Jet was placed into Lenox Hill Hospital. I visited whenever I could. I didn’t care, I wasn’t afraid. I loved him. He saved my life.
He told me that at night the hospital staff would make fun of him, calling him names, and cursing him at night. One time I visited him and he was filthy, lying in his own shit. No nurse would come and change him. So I did. I lifted his now 100 pound body and moved the diaper from underneath him and replaced it with a new one after cleaning him up.
Billie was coming up from DC whenever he could to help out. There was a health care worker that didn’t do much. So it was up to us, with Billie taking a lot of time off to stay with Jet. He didn’t have much longer to live. We all knew it, though I always held out some belief that he would get better.
Then came the phone call. It was Billie. ‘Hey Gurl. Jet’s gone.’ Of course I couldn’t believe it. “He was in my arms, and I told him it was okay to go. I felt his sprit pass through me, and he was gone.”
I was numb, in shock. About a week later there was a memorial service. Jet’s brother finally made an appearance. Jet’s friends from work, from his life were there and Billie and myself. Everything was going well until the service started. I never before felt such a primal cry well up from inside my bowels and release itself in deep heaving sobs. I couldn’t stop. Billie was providing me comfort by rubbing my back, as I bordered on hysteria.
I came home to Hoboken alone. It wasn’t the same apartment that I lived in with Jet. It wasn’t even the same world I lived in with Jet.
I miss you baby. Wish you were here. I love you. You were one of the best people I had ever met in my life. Thank you for everything.