Saturday, February 13, 2010


One sunny afternoon when I was in 4th or 5th grade my mother decided it was time for my haircut. She had a giant professional vibrating clipper set. I remember looking out into the gangway from the second floor window between our 4 family flats in the Shaw neighborhood.

I remember a vibrating buzz at my temple, everything went yellow and I fainted.

Years later, when I was 16 or 17, my buddy Dominic and I hitch hiked to New York. While we were there we visited his sister Monica in her tiny Village apartment.

We were having a great time. I remember something struck us as incredibly funny. I felt a little woozy and had to get water. She had the classic NY apartment with a tiny sink over a really tiny refrigerator.

The next thing I remember is Monica hovering over me saying. “Don’t move, there’s broken glass everywhere.” My upper row of teeth ached.

The people in the room said they watched my face turn expressionless; my body folded slumping into the sink. My upper row of teeth pulled the sink and all its dishes crashing onto the floor.

Monica said, “Wouldn’t it be strange if you just discovered you were epileptic?” This was the beginning of a series of seizures that lasted into my mid twenties. Then, almost unnoticed by me, they stopped.

Some of them were quite spectacular and they were all brought on by something that got me really excited.

There was a series of art films in the late 70s at Washing University. This was where I saw all the early John Waters films. I saw Pink Flamingos and Female Troubles there. They had one called Flicker that was just black and white frames strobing at different rates. My seizures were well enough known by then that my buddies Tony Patti and George Crider advised me not to go.

I was originally going to post a story about my dear friend Theo Johnson but I remembered one of my seizures he was a part of. I’ll get back to Theo later.

One night Theo, Dominic (I think) and I were coming back to my West End apartment after a night of partying. The ground was covered with a deep blanket of snow. My body decided it was a perfect time for a seizure.

I remember Theo wrestling me to the ground and eventually carrying me by himself up to my second floor apartment.

He threw me on my roommate Marge’s bed. As I lay there staring at the square patterns of acoustical ceiling tiling, they began to undulate. It was beautiful! This was when I learned first hand that reality had to be constantly reinforced chemically to exist.

One beautiful sunny afternoon my buddy Benet and I decided to drive out to the country. He had a VW Microbus. I remember a long line of cars behind us honking because we couldn’t take hills very fast. We visited a sports field of the school I went to my brief time living in the country with my dad.

Somehow we ended up at Washington State park. As the sun began to set we found ourselves surrounded by several bats. It seemed like there were hundreds of them. I actually felt the onset of a seizure. I was aware enough to lie on the ground to meet it. It passed over and through me very calmly and quietly. I’ll always remember this as my favorite attack.

The very last one I remember was when my friend Sharon and I were at Faces “East Side” in Illinois. The combination of a small vial of isobutyl nitrite and strobe lights had me writhing and twitching on the dance floor. I gave everyone a better show than the drag show that was happening upstairs.

I was probably 25 then and haven’t even had a hint of one since. Good thing considering how fully I would throw my life into skydiving a few years later.

The only way I can describe seizures is to imagine your brain is a computer that has an electrical short circuit.

Seizure Buddies circa............

Theo and Me at an attic rehearsal, disco Sharon and me at a Canadian lake 100 miles north of Montreal, and lifeguard Benet.

1 comment:

...Sharon said...

'Disco Sharon' says she's soooo glad she didn't see you go into seizure mode!

I don't know if I would have been any help. I was buying us drinks when I looked over and saw a circle formed on the edge of the dance floor. The boys took good care of you. As I walked over, they were helping you up and outside. I had missed the entire episode. (Man, I love the Gay Bars!!!)

Once you had given me clear instructions while we tended bar as to how to respond if you went down. I don't know if either of us would have survived a seizure behind that bar.

I do love ya soooo!

(Hey, I never saw this pic of us before. What a beautiful place that was.)