The Class of '73
29 February 1996
I have very sad news to report. ALAN HECHT died last month
after a long battle with AIDS. He spent the last years of his life as a
self-described "squeaky wheel, trying to irritate the powers that be
into confronting the health crisis looming ahead of us and into acknowledging
the social crisis that seems to prevent timid leaders from taking the actions
necessary to begin to find cures for the diseases of body and soul which,
if left untreated, will surely doom our pursuit of the fragile freedoms
of life, liberty and happiness."
From the day that Alan arrived at Cliff, the same day we all arrived, his closet door was opened to all who cared to look inside.
And what a treat it was for those who did; Alan defied the laws of nature
by always having enough closet space. There was room for poetry and physics,
James Brown and Brahms, three-piece suits and dashikis, deep-sea fishing
and the Tango, and always for a new addition to his most valuable collection--
people. One at a time or by the hundreds, even thousands, when he spoke
to people he connected with them; he made them forget that they hated, tolerated,
were curious about or afraid of "men like him" because he made
them realize that there were no other men quite like him. There was only
one Alan Hecht. If Alan had a mission in life, it was to restore the words
"gay", "dike" and "queer" to their proper
places in the English language. It's a shame he didn't have more time;
he might have pulled it off.
Maybe Alan's death has nothing to do with it, maybe it has, but I found
myself wondering last night... why don't women spit? Why don't women feel
the need to go around the channels at every commercial in search of something
better to watch than the program they (and their companions) have been involved
in for forty-five minutes? Why can't women understand that eggs and cereal
are breakfast foods and are unacceptable (no matter how much loved in the
morning) as dinner? Why can't women concentrate so completely on a television
program (any program, even one so terrible as to drive a person in search
of a better alternative at the first opportunity) that we can't hear a polite
question the first three times it is posed, concentrate so thoroughly that
we drive the person who loves us most to use a shrill, exasperated tone
in order to get our attention?
It's not that we could do these things and choose not to (as I have heard
suggested some evenings by guests on Montel Williams); it is that we simply
cannot. No more than we can not remember the name of someone who hurt our
feelings thirty years ago, the words to "Till There Was You",
the feeling in the pits of our stomachs the first time we read "Wuthering
Heights", or our best friend in seventh grade's phone number. We are
different. If I've learned nothing else from marriage and a son, it is
that. The male of the species wants to be loved and admired and successful
and generally in control of his environment-- all things that require other
people's cooperation, if only as an audience; the female, I think, just
wants to be happy, something that really only requires a decent old movie
and a pan of brownies. Maybe that's why history is filled with the accomplishments
of men-- religion, science, war, technology, the remote control. It's not
that women haven't done just as many great things, we just haven't felt
obliged to tell anybody about them, except maybe our best friends, late
at night, between spoonsful of ice cream, running up an enormous long-distance
From MARGARET LASLOW: "Being a single mother was never my ambition.
When I read ERIN (vonZIEGLAND)'s letter, I wondered if she had any idea
of what she was doing, taking on motherhood by herself. I guess she must
and that she will do fine. She always enjoyed doing things differently.
I never did. I never wanted to be noticed for anything except doing things
right. Now I'm trying to do divorce right. It was so propitious, the way
Daddy's doctor ordered him to take it easy just a few months after the final
decree, that I wonder if there really was any medical emergency. Daddy
set it up so that I was doing him and mother a favor by learning the business.
Of course, it's been my salvation. Financially and psychologically, I
have been saved by a used car lot. For people who tend to see the irony
of things-- you, Maggie, and Mars and Marla-- this must be quite a moment.
For me, it's just life. George has been a real shit (see what happens
when you spend your time with used-car salesmen?) about child support, so
Laslow's Cars & Trucks will, if I can keep it going, send yet another
generation through summer camp and college. Oliver is helping at the lot.
He's an aspiring filmmaker (or videomaker, I guess) and convinced me to
let him make a commercial. I'm the star. It was enormous fun doing it,
but I'm still embarrassed when someone sees me at the supermarket and, instead
of asking me about the Children's Hospital Thrift Shop (which I used to
run as a volunteer), hollers an enthusiastic greeting of: "Deals on
wheels!" It's the slogan Oliver and I came up with and it's working;
business is way up. In the vernacular of us slimy, low-class used car salesmen,
fuck you, George."
Well, Margaret, there are definitely some accomplishments even the most
demure woman must tell everyone about-- heartiest congratulations on a survival
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