Friday, December 25, 2009

“Hey Doll!”

BruceI got an email last night from my friend Bruce...except it wasn't from him. It was from his email address, but it was a friend of his informing me and others on Bruce's email list that Bruce had passed away on December 12.

I was shocked and dismayed to read of this. I even wondered if someone had hacked into Bruce's email account and sent this out as a sick joke. I went to Keep to the Code, the site that Bruce designed for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and the message board mentioned his death of liver and kidney failure. It wasn't a joke.

Such unexpected news always takes a little while to process. After my initial shock and sadness, I decided that the best thing I could do would be to remember my friend here, and talk about the fun things I remember about him.

I met Bruce when we worked at the same hospital in Indianapolis—I was a microbiologist, and he was a surgical technician. We both smoked, and started talking when we'd see each other outside for a smoke. He was just an incredibly likable and sweet guy—but with a little bit of an edge and a wicked sense of humor. He was also gay, and it was a refreshing change to hang out with a guy who didn't want to get into my pants. Sorry if that sounded crude, but it's the truth. There was another surgical tech named Bruce who was also gay and also smoked (not kidding!) and he was much more flamboyant than the original Bruce. Another good friend was Shelley the housekeeper, and then there was Ruth the clerk. We had some fun times talking (and smoking!), believe me, and we were quite the little gang!

wolf_on_the_set Bruce lived with his husband Terry (that’s Bruce on the far right, and Terry is next to him) in a big old mansion in kind of a rough section of Indy, on McCarty Street. I think it has seen a bit of a renaissance since I left the city, so Bruce and Terry were ahead of the curve. They had me over for dinner one night, and their place was so eclectic and gorgeous. Those big high ceilings...I remember lounging around in the parlor drinking wine, talking and laughing, and feeling very bohemian. Terry was an accomplished artist, and I got to see several of his pieces throughout the house. I got to see their "retirement room," which was packed full of Disney collectibles, Barbie dolls in their original packaging, and various and sundry pop culture memorabilia. I wonder what they did with all that stuff?

You see, Terry died a few years ago of complications due to diabetes. Bruce stuck with him through it all...the increasing circulation problems, the amputations, becoming wheelchair-bound, and worst of all for an artist, the loss of sight. I know that Terry loved Bruce very much, but he could be difficult at times. Bruce stayed until the end, and it hit him hard, because he also loved Terry very much.

Bruce and I stayed in sporadic touch...Christmas cards every year, the occasional email, and a while back, a phone call after an email exchange in which he said he was really having a hard time coping. When he called me up, he greeted me the way he always did, "Hey Doll!", and I could tell he was sloshed. We had a sappy, fun, and tear-filled conversation, and ended up laughing. I got an email from him a while after that, and he said that he was doing better, and was starting to date again, although he still missed Terry.

Bruce was also a fine writer, and wrote a few pieces for a gay mag in Indy. He sent me all his columns, and I still have them in a binder downstairs. My favorite—and my favorite story about Bruce—involved the death of a coworker's (Ruth, mentioned above) cousin, and Bruce titled it "The Great Dumpster Dive." This cousin happened to be gay and had died of AIDS, and Ruth found out that much of the family condemned him for that, and were throwing out most of his possessions...and that the cousin had a huge collection of gay porn videos.

Dumpster dive Well, the two Bruces were on the case! They picked up Ruth and Shelley late at night and located the dumpsters into which the cousin's possessions had been tossed (just as his family tossed him into the virtual dumpster because of his orientation), and Bruce and Bruce proceeded to get into the dumpster and toss stuff out to Ruth and Shelley. It wasn't just videos his family had was antiques, posters, photographs, china. All because the cousin was gay and had died of AIDS.

The two Bruces ended up with about ten dozen videos between the two of them, and some of the treasured possessions of the cousin were salvaged. (If I were still living in Indy when this took place, would I have participated in this? Oh, hell yeah!) When Ruth went to the funeral, she knew that she had helped her cousin's legacy live on through her late-night, felonious escapade, and had honored him and cared for him much more than most of the rest of his family had.

As did Bruce. A fine mind, a wicked wit, a sweetheart of a friend. I am so sorry he's gone, and it hurts. Not just for me, but for all the other people I know he touched in his life. It was a pleasure to know him, and I will miss him. It also reminds me that life is fleeting—Bruce wasn't that much older than me—and we need to love each other and care for each other while we can. The poor cousin's family cared nothing about who he was, or what his interests were, or what he had accomplished in life. They focused on his orientation and hated him for that.

In this holiday season, I choose to focus on love. It's a lot more fun than any alternative. Peaceful rest, Bruce. I will miss you, my friend. And I’ll miss hearing “Hey Doll!”


  1. You can tell the size of a person by the hole of hurt they leave behind, and I am sorry to hear about the passing of your friend.

  2. By writing such a touching remembrance you have shared a little bit of Bruce with all of us. Thank you for that.


  3. The first part of the entry made me think of the Bob and Tom "Smoking In Front of The Building".

    Sorry about Bruce, it is always hard to lose a good friend :o(

  4. What a fitting remembrance of your fun, loving and slightly evil pal. I can see why you two were friends! :-)

  5. What a wonderful and touching tribute to a dear friend. The warmth and vibrancy of the memories is proof of how much you cared. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  6. It sure hurts when we loose someone we have known for such a time and had such fun and friendship with. Thank you for sharing Bruce with us, he will never die whilst having friends remember him
    Love Sybil x

  7. great entry,and a lovely tribute beth. tc love mort xxxx

  8. Beth, how sad to hear about your friends death. He sounded like a great guy. Dumpster diving.. lol that was my brother's specialty. He found some great things in dumpsters!

  9. Sad to hear that your friend died.

  10. I'm so sorry for you loss Beth.

  11. (((hugs)))

    i am sorry for the loss of your friend


  12. I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. Coincidentally, some very good friends of mine were a couple also named Bruce and Terry. Terry died last year and is very much missed. From your description, their long-term relationship was very similar to that of your friends.

  13. Hi Beth,
    So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Your post was a nice tribute to him.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?