That’s all I have to say. Oops. Just…oops.
Those of you who know me personally know that I’m pretty cavalier when it comes to serious matters. I will joke about anything and everything in lieu of actually processing emotions and/or dealing with feelings. It’s just what I do. After years of honing this skill I’ve come to be able to read a room and gauge what the response to an off-color joke might be. One would assume that a man making jokes about the Holocaust and Jesus Christ as a sexual partner would be open to anything. One would be wrong. Very wrong.
I was out at the usual spot for a public debut of the fearsome twosome that is my new roomie and me. We joined some of our mutual friends and a few people we hadn’t yet met. We looked fabulous (even though we both got ready in less than 10 minutes) and we were all having a good time, joking and singing along to the 90s mix that was so fortuitously playing. The gay man I had just met (the one with the Jew jokes) had said something about the word “contracted” (I think it was in reference to an actual contract…?) and I turned to him and said, “Contracted what? AIDS?” It got a huge laugh and even a high-five. He wasn’t amused. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “No you f*cking b*tch, I’m positive.” I begged him to be joking but he wasn’t. He has AIDS.
Now, before any of you get offended, keep in mind that the fact that I didn’t assume he had AIDS was a good sign of our times. This is not the 90s, despite what the music may have suggested. I never thought that a young gay man would have the RENT disease. I mean…I just didn’t. I felt terrible but at the same time I was a little pissed off. I obviously didn’t know that he was HIV positive or AIDS positive, and if I did I wouldn’t have made an AIDS joke (in front of him). To prove a point, he asked me, “would you make a joke about cancer?” To which I replied, “YES!” I mean, if someone is sitting in front of me, bald from chemotherapy and radiation and literally dying of cancer, then no. I wouldn’t make a joke to them. That’s in poor taste. I understand that these things are serious and cause people to lose loved ones and I’m not belittling that. I’m just processing it in the only way I know. Jokes.
We made amends and I apologized for offending him. He admitted that he probably shouldn’t have reacted so strongly and we agreed to start over. We ended the spat by singing in unison to the Spice Girls. “Slam your body down and zig a zag ahh” can build bridges. It really can.
Moral of the story? If you have AIDS or cancer and would prefer I didn’t pun them out…let me know at the beginning of the night. Just hand me a list of off-limits topics and I’ll do what I can to adhere to it.
I still feel bad that he has AIDS, but I don’t necessarily feel bad for throwing it out in joke form. I’m chalking it up to terrible timing and a ridiculous coincidence.