Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Affected or infected

It's World AIDS Day. Any mention of HIV make me think of my friend Tony. Tony and I worked together on the early morning news back in the mid-1990s. We bonded in the way that only morning people that go to work at 4 a.m. can do. The son of a Harlem-raised WWII G.I. and his Italian war bride, Tony told some hysterical cross-cultural stories. I still remember him demonstrating his mother's pasta puttanesca for a cooking segment, relishing the idea of proper southern women making a Neapolitan streetwalker's supper. Tony himself was a former Navy man, had been stationed at Guatanamo, and he was one of the best reporters in our region. When I started working at this school, I caught him on the morning show on my way to work. My husband teased me that Tony was my favorite reporter.

The last time I saw Tony was at a Nappy Roots concert in 2004. Only two months later, I was out of town when my husband gave me the news that Tony had died. "Of what?" I was flabbergasted. Tony made no bones about being "that way," as we say in the south, and it seems that, at the radio station where he worked, his declining health was an open secret. To me, the saddest part was that so many of his friends didn't know he was sick. But I understood his reticence. I lived throught he AIDS scare of the 1980s. Remember Alice Hoffman, the realist, with At Risk? I thought we were past that.

As Kanye says, Magic Johnson's got the cure for AIDS. I'm still sad Tony didn't find it.

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