Thursday, July 02, 2015


Dionysus was studying photography at the University.  He lived a couple of doors down from me in the historic Cooper Arms in downtown Long Beach.  One night after I finished working a late shift at the Shorehouse Café, waiting on obnoxious drunks coming out of the bars, Dion was in the lobby, sitting on the edge of the security guard’s desk debating the solidarity movement. 
  He brushed his long blonde hair away from his face
and behind his ears when he saw me walk in.  I had never talked to Dion before, just shared a friendly hello in the hallway. He spoke with a thick Polish accent.  He was beautiful, looked like a young Julian Sands. 

Dion  was slurring his words and the last thing I wanted to do was talk to another drunk.  Dion was relentless and intent on engaging me.  I did not want to be rude so I gave him my thoughts on the movement.  I was actually taking a course at UCLA that quarter where we were discussing the Prague spring.  So I offered a comparison for the discussion.  After 15 minutes of standing in the lobby debating, I suggested we move the conversation to my apartment. We walked up the stairs to the second floor.
We became lovers that night, an affair that lasted a long time.  I was such a serious student then that I told him  not to come by until after 11 as I would be studying. I was studying cultural and intellectual history and had as many as 33 books to read per quarter sometimes.  He always respected my wishes and came over shortly after 11 with a bottle of champagne. 

 I remember one night after too much champagne, I played the Polish composer Henryk Gorecki's Symphony Number 3. Tom Schnabel, a DJ at KCRW, was playing it on his world music show and the classical music station, KUSC, had it in heavy rotation at the time. Dion knew of Gorecki and became very animated; talking with his hands, moving to the floor in front of the stereo to listen closely. His eyes lit up when I handed him the CD cover.   Sitting across from each other cross-legged in front of my stereo, tears welled up in our eyes.   
 The symphony will make you cry.  It is in three movements and is about a mother, during Hitler's invasion of Poland, looking for her son she fears has been killed and is lying in a ditch somewhere. There are parts that just have to be listened to loud. The security guard came to the door during those parts and said neighbors were complaining. We turned it down. The name Dionysus was perfect for him, the god of wine, ritual and ecstasy. That was Dion.

Dion asked me to be his model for a school project.  He was working on shadows in black in white photography.  I reluctantly agreed.  I remember laughing and laughing when Dion wanted me to look serious.  I was a poor model, but we had so much fun that day I almost fell in love with him.


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