December 1998

On October 28, 1998, your author experienced a change of age. Yours truly turned 17. I figure 17 is the age at which the state "trial-tests" you for being 18. You know, porn, cigarettes, and the one EVERYONE remembers: voting. These major tests are more responsibilities. Now you cannot travel without ID, your driver's license, at least in California, is completely valid, and you get the privilege to do what this article is about: give blood.

Kipp has wanted to give blood ever since the blood van came to Thacher. He knew of several people very close to him who had been saved by blood transfusions, and wanted to take his part in the human experience of indirect aid, much like sending money to a foreign country recently struck by a natural disaster. The American mindset is amazingly convoluted on such matters. We put some dollars in an envelope, send it to God-knows-who, and feel better because we "know" our hard-earned money has gone to a good cause. Kipp being the typical American he is, jumped at the chance of having his blood sucked out of his body and put into a little bag.

On the day of the deed, I waited all day for school to get out so I could make my self-scheduled appointment with the big, white, purring van. The day crawled by at a pace that would make a snail laugh at its lackadaisicalness. Finally, when the Spanish teacher dismissed us with a warm "Adios," I was ready to face brief pain, dizziness, and general discomfort so I could contribute to a good cause. I must pause here to say that I haven't anything against helping people, and perhaps I am letting my ire with the situation color my perspective. What happened you say? Now I will tell you.

Imagine me, a little 5'10 160lbs kid sitting in front of the van, and then I hear my name called. My heart leaps to my throat, and a million questions run through my head. Can I make myself go through with this? I've always hated needles. What if I get sick or dizzy or faint or something like that? Will my blood go to a "good cause"? I climb the black, metal stairs one by one and suffer a salutation by an overly happily but semi-cute attendant, who proceeds to drill me on important information. Name? Age? Social Security Number? Are you doing well? Have you taken any drugs within the last 12 months? I answer the test, if it can be called that, with amazing precision despite the noise of the van and the accent of the attendant. Then the fateful question is asked: "Have you had sexual relations with a man even once since 1977." I must say that threw me for a loop. I paused, thinking, and for a moment I seriously considered lying. I considered betraying myself and saying, "Hell no! I ain't no goddamn queer!" However, I attend the Thacher school, and no matter how much I hate to admit it, this place installed a sense of honesty in me so great that I could not lie.

The look on the attendant's face was worth it.

I was told that I'm in a high-risk category, and because of this I was asked not to give blood. Ever. The little illusion I had set up to protect myself from this moment shattered. Good people doing good things don't always make it. I was thanked for my effort, but asked if I would please get the hell out now, we don't want any queer blood defiling our system. So it was that I was denied the opportunity to save the life of a dying car-wreck victim, however indirectly. Was I angry? HELL YES! It took me 2 hours of sparring to get back to my normal level of energy.

The lesson to the story: we're not through yet. There's still a lot of things that we can't do that, no matter how silly or trivial it may seem, heteros can do. I may be alone, but tends to instill in me a sense of inferiority and vileness that quite frankly I do not need in my life at any time. Perhaps tomorrow will be better, but not unless WE do something to make it that way.

Peace, Love, and Winter Sonnets,


Your opinion is? Write me at: Kiwilliams@thacher.org or Wishmonger@hotmail.com Happy solstice!

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