I was staring at my feet. Beyond them, two men were giggling at me and beyond them, the white ceiling marked its territory. I became aware of things. For example, all of the blood in my body had settled in my frontal lobe and my ears. The men were taking pictures of me. My head was wedged in the corner where the wall and floor met and the bed that had been standing on four legs when I went to sleep was now on two legs. I was at the bottom end of a seesaw.

It wasn’t clear if the bed had been G’s doing or if I had simply eaten too much linguine the night before. Removing two legs of a bed under a sleeping person in the middle of the night would be the sort of joke he’d not only love, but facilitate.

“Say Sssssspritzer!” G said.

J and I screamed, “Sssspritzer!” for probably the 400th time in the previous twenty-four hours.


‘Ssssspritzer!’ had become the motto of our trip, an abbreviated version of the title of our trip, which was ‘ItaliaSpritzerFest2007: The Italian Adventures of two ferries and an Undersexed Straight Guy.’ Somehow, ‘Sssspritzer’ seemed more accessible.

In Sorrento, we drank Limoncello in the town square, which was decorated with hanging lanterns and streamers, as though it was perpetually on alert for a festival to break out. We talked about opening a sound studio, English language school and gynecological office, the combination of our three professions. All the while, occasionally throwing in ‘Ssssspritzers’ in lemon-flavored shouts. After two days in Sorrento, we boarded a train and headed south to Sicily.

G had been one of my bar regulars in Pittsburgh. He drank diet coke, ate tomato pizzas and counseled me on a number of, mostly imagined, medical issues. He was my gynecologist and he became my friend. He is an unusually funny man, meaning that his humor is so off the wall. Nudity is a theme, as is a wit dryer than a Prague winter. Every time I visit their house in Pittsburgh I am shown to my room, which has fresh sheets, fresh towels and a fresh speedo neatly piled on the bed.

He had been straight when I left Pittsburgh in 2004. And sometime in the next year or so (at least in the version in my head) he became so distraught over his bartender leaving the United States that his hair went partially gray and he immediately gave up women.

To celebrate his coming out, we had cake. But we also embarked upon Spritzerfest 2007, his European coming out trip. He, his partner J, and I ran around Italy eating pizza, drinking Limoncello, and driving scooters.

In Messina, we walked down streets lined with palms and sat in cafés where we tried to pick out the Mafioso, a difficult task since the cafés were full of large swarthy men in shiny suits. We took a train to my Great Grandmother’s hometown of Rometta, which was as charming as the plastic slips she used to keep over her couch and armchairs.

“Can’t believe she left all of this for the U.S.,” J said, pointing at a dried up pond in front of a hardware store.

“It is a mystery,” G included. We got a woman walking by to snap our picture.

“Ssssspritzer,” we shouted as the click came.

“Che?” she asked.

J and I bothered G with a thousand medical questions, at the end of each day his face was red from the effort of telling us that we were not dying. By the time we took a ferry over to Lipari Island he had stopped trying.

“Is it bad that I can’t poop?” J asked.

“It means you are going to die,” G said. He never took his eyes off his book. J, who rivals me in hypochondria, stared at me in terror.

“Arrivederci,” I said. I had pooped.

On Lipari we rented scooters and rode around the island making that high-pitched whine that sounds so cool when you’re on a scooter and so uncool when you’re near a scooter. We did not care. We mocked each other relentlessly. As J and I tried to get our scooters working, G zoomed past us and shouted “Smile, girls!” as he took a photo. We looked up in surprise, his legs were crossed as though he was in an armchair. We finished off the night drinking wine and eating overrated soup, getting lost near a creepy dock and watching European Superstar. It was awesome.

In Palermo, we took pictures of each other coming out of the closet, me as an honorary member of the Closetus Exodus Club. G assured me that my membership card and bedazzler were in the mail. We split up in Palermo, and ‘Spritzerfest 2007’ was over.

With the debate over gay marriage at full throttle, it’s important to remember that everybody is a person, even those that disagree with you. My friends aren’t any better or worse than anyone else because of their homosexuality. They are just my friends. They are just like my other friends, save for their better fashion sense and an advanced knowledge of quilting. They would be just as excellent and fun if they were straight.

In any event, my friends are on my mind today.

But I really can’t wait for ‘Spritzerfest: The Wedding!’

  1. #1 by fredi on March 28, 2013 - 4:31 pm

    Perfect, poignant and on the mark!

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