Presentation Completed / Final ’05 Signing / KU Mentor

We finished our presentation yesterday for the corporation I’ve alluded to before. Got back rather late. How many hours did my assistants and I put into preparation? About 80. Did it go well? Quite. Do we have the job? Don’t know. The thing I dig about it the most, if I get the gig, is this company is actively involved in their community, meaning I’ll get to structure an outreach program for teenage artists in the inner city of the town where the company is based. Yeah I want to assemble one fine collection. I want that thing to shine, hum and inspire. But making a difference in a bunch of kids’ lives? I want that even more.

Gave my final signing of the year in Lawrence last night. The Art Guild. Good crowd. About 50. It was great going back, since I’m a KU alum, and certainly an alum of all the bars down on Mass Street.

To that end, an old friend of mine–Steve Dickey–met me for dinner after the signing. We both had the same mentor at the University of Kansas, Sam Anderson. A renaissance man, Sam spoke five languages, could read in four others, played violin, could recite Elizabethan poetry or recent limericks, was a globe-trotter, art collector, harmless chaser of university boys (predictably we met in the university sauna, 1979, one of his favorite hangouts), and linguist par excellence. His boy-chasing was all in the most amusing innocence; he never touched or offended anyone. Too well-behaved for that. He simply enjoyed his fantasies.

He never really forgave me for being irrevocably straight. Consequently he was very tough on me about language; would not tolerate American laziness when it came to grammar, history, musical discourse, or diet. Tutored me in Latin and French, joined me on journeys to Colorado, Czechoslovakia and Germany. He also taught German and Russian up on the hill. A native Kansan like Steve and I, he loved his state, but also loved getting away from it, hence many summers in Europe. I’ll write a book about him someday. He died in ’95, and god how I still miss him. Had it not been for that man, I wouldn’t be the writer I am now, or the art consultant.

Anyway Steve met me after the signing. He teaches Serbo-Croatian up on the hill now, is married, has a great kid, and has an office across from where Sam’s once was. I remarked on how I felt Sam with us, and how proud he would be of Steve: fluent in German and Russian, well-traveled in Eastern Europe, sophisticated beyond his years. Steve said he could feel the old man with us sometimes too. Would Sam be proud of me, what with the books and gallery and all? Oh sure. In a way, Steve and I were the sons he never had–since most gay men don’t have sons.

The upshot? I fear we will never see his like again. Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

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