Losing important people in your life…

I’ve had 3 people in my life that I have considered my best friend. I’ve always held that term very near to my heart and never tossed around like a teen aged girl with all of their BFF’s etc… I mostly have acquaintances, you know the people who come and go out of your life, when they go… one day you think, Hey I wonder what happened to so and so? And might check facebook to see what they are up to.

Then you have friends. The people that you really care about. The people you try not to let slip out of your life. The people who are very important to you.

I had my childhood best friend, who I never EVER thought would be out of my life. We met in the 6th grade and were like brothers from then on. We grew up in a rough neighborhood and had each others backs. Got in fights defending each other, would do anything for each other.

We both moved out at 16 years old and were roommates for years. We were inseparable.

We both got married young, had kids young, got divorced young… Our parents were very good friends with each other. My Mom would go to church with his Mom. His Dad would come over to play pool with my Dad.

We both bought houses within a mile of each other. Our kids were very close in age and were friends and played together.

He was never very good at keeping in touch, so it was really up to me to keep in touch with him. Throughout all my travels and places I have lived, I’d call or take a photo and glue it on top of a postcard and send it to him. His life was always a lot more stable than mine, same job, same house, same relationship (for the most part anyhow) type of guy. He took life a lot more seriously than I did, he was a lot more responsible than I am.

We are still friends, but over time we drifted apart and aren’t very close anymore. We talk every once in a great while. I think his kids hit me up more on Facebook than we talk these days… just life, ya know.

My next best friend, I never even told him he was my best friend, and honestly I don’t even think I realized it until it was too late and he had died. Funny, both of them are/were named Mike. Anyhow, I met Mike #2 when I was managing a restaurant, he was hired as a cashier right out of the Marines, then promoted to waiter. This Mike was a lot more like me. We were both very wild. Drank a lot, did a shit ton of drugs together and separate, we partied our fucking asses off.

We worked together as waiters in a very high end restaurant… and both got fired the same day, lol. He introduced me to some people I became very close friends with. I am still very close with his widowed wife.

He was the kind of guy that would call you on a Sunday afternoon and invite you to a Japanese pagoda park with a huge Koi pond to go do mushrooms with him and some of his nut bag friends and of course I was up to the task, every time. We had a lot of fun together. But he was also the kind of guy that would drop everything to help you out if you were in a jam. A truly good friend. Mike was a guy that everyone liked, I didn’t know anyone who didn’t like him. He would find the good in any situation.

We were always there for each other. He was there the night my daughter was born. He drove me to the hospital. Never mind that we had been at a club drinking our asses off and doing mountains of coke during the night. When the DJ came over the microphone and announced Dick Donato, what the hell are you doing here, your wife is having a baby… he grabbed me, threw me in his car and did about 90 mph to the hospital and waited most of the night into the morning until my daughter was born.

Him and his wife came to visit when I moved to Maui. We went to see each other when the other was hospitalized. We were friends through and through, good times and bad. No matter what was going on in either of our crazy wild lives, we were there for each other.

We were both huge NFL fans, we both loved betting on football. Either he would bet through my bookie or I would bet through his, but one of us always had a bookie to bet on games. We’d talk 3-4 times a day about point spreads and which games were the best bets. We’d go to a sports bar on Sundays and would both be running back and forth, from TV to TV to check on the games we bet. We had such a good time together.

I wanted to go see the Jets play the 49ers, the first game of the season. I was working at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and was talking about the game/trip when my boss overheard me, my boss was Merv Griffin, you know… the guy who invented Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune etc… anyhow Merv overheard me and comp’d me a room at the Hilton Towers in San Francisco for the weekend, such a nice guy. So my buddy Mike, who could give a shit about the Jets, but loved football came up to see the game with me.

I’m not going to go into details here, but the long and short of it was that Mike OD’d that trip and died in the hotel room. I gave him CPR, called 911 to no avail. He died of an overdose with me on that trip. It was the most horrible day of my life, a day I will never forget. And to make it even worse, yes it got worse, was that I had to fly back to LA and go over to his house and tell his wife that her husband was dead. They had 2 little girls. It was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever had to do.

It took me years to get through the sorrow and sadness of losing him. I was just plain fucked up for at least a few years afterwards. For months after, I’d catch myself picking up the phone, mindlessly, just to call him. Then I would remember he was dead and this wash of sorrow would come over me and I would break down in tears.

That was 18 years ago and I still miss him dearly.

I never told him he was my best friend, I don’t really think I realized he was my best friend until he was gone. It still makes me sad.

This brings me to my 3rd best friend, Alan who is pictured in the picture at the top of this blog, he’s on the right.

I met Alan when I was 22 years old, I’ll be 54 next month. Alan was my restaurant manager, I was a waiter at a restaurant/club called The Mardi Gras in downtown Long Beach, California. When I met Alan, I hated him. I really hated him… He was a dick. As the years of us working together went on, we weren’t really friends, but were friendly, or got along. I’m not sure when our relationship changed and I have really thought about it, but can’t really figure it out, but it did, somehow. I moved on and started working as a waiter at The Ritz Calton Hotel in Laguna Nigel, he was a bar manager at The Hop in Lake Forest and I would drop by to see him, have a drink, shoot the shit after I was finished working, but his shift was still going on. Maybe that is when we became friends.

And as the years passed we got closer and became better friends all the time. I even ran his nightclub for a while. We were roommates on a few occasions. My X wife bartended for him for years at his club. When she quit, she was drunk as hell and told him to suck her fucking dick… We laughed about that for years, even recently we had a good laugh over that. We got close, we were very close friends.

I remember one time when I was living with him, he had a great house in Huntington Beach, CA. I brought a couple girls home from a night out in Hollywood. Me and the two girls were in the jacuzzi doing a bunch of coke, having a great time, we were all naked in the jacuzzi.. and we must have woke Alan up, his bedroom (sliding glass door) opened right in front of the jacuzzi. He pulled the curtain back and lightly knocked on the glass door to get my attention, when I looked at him (mind you, both girls were naked and standing up in the jacuzzi, not sitting down) so I look at him to see what the fuck, lol… He mouths to me “Are you OK?” I looked at him, looked at both naked girls and said “Am I ok… what the fuck do you think?” He started laughing his ass off and closed the curtain. Alan always had an odd sense of humor, lol.

Whenever I would be living somewhere else, when I went back to California, I would stay with Alan. When I went out to LA for 2 months when my Mother was dying, I stayed with Alan. He was always there for me.

Alan is a guy I shared everything with. When I was diagnosed HIV+, I told 3 people in the first 3 years. My Mother, my girlfriend and Alan. Alan was always so supportive of me and my situation. We were on the phone and I was bitching that if I was to try and buy health insurance it would cost me over $4,000 a month. His response… He told me now that gay marriage was legal, he offered to marry me so I could get on his insurance plan, since he had a really good insurance plan through his job. He said, he had no plans to ever get married again and if anyone was gonna talk shit, fuck’em. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever offered to do for me, ever. I was really touched by his offer. We didn’t end up getting married, but it was such a great gesture. A true friend.

Alan had a heart attack a couple years ago along with kidney failure. I was living in Florida, but we talked on the phone at least every other day. Then again when he had the 6 way bypass, we talked almost every day while he was in the hospital.

I think the heart attack really scared him, as it would most people. Every time after that when we talked on the phone, he would ask me to move back to California and move in with him. It would always be something like, well you know I have a room here for you anytime you’re ready to come back, it’s always there for you. And I was really considering it. I just about had my mind made up to move after the first of the year, but hadn’t told him because I wasn’t 100% yet.

Then a week ago, I got a call from his daughter. The only other time she had called me was to tell me he had the heart attack. When I picked up the phone, I just said “what happened”, I knew it wasn’t a Hey, how are you call… She told me she had spent the night at his house and when she woke up she found him dead on the bathroom floor. I was/still am absolutely crushed. I spent the next few days in bed crying off and on.

I had known Alan almost 35 years. A really long fucking time. We have seen each other at our best and at our worst. We were friends through it all.

Fuck, this guy listened to all my stupid, funny answers on my Big Brother application and was so proud of me when I won. He would always tell me how much fun he had watching me on that show. He supported me when my head was fucked up after my HIV diagnosis. He supported my decision to go on the VH1 show and reveal I was HIV+. Alan was the guy who cut stitches out of the back of my head. He let my wife live with him when we split up, till she could find a place of her own. He was one of my partners in a business we started promoting concerts. He was the guy I stepped in front of Tank Abbot so he could run out of the back of his club (Tank wanted to kill him, lol.) Alan loved living vicariously through my wild and crazy life and was always there for me when I fell flat on my face, which was more than once. He was there for me when my Father died and again when my Mother died. I was there for him when his sister died. We were there for each other through our divorces and crazy X wife stories afterwards.

Almost 35 years is a very, very long time. You go through a lot of life in that time. To be able to be friends with someone that long is pretty amazing, especially in LA where people move so often and friendships just end up by the way side.

Alan was a true friend to me, my best friend. He was my brother.

Losing a best friend over time, just because… life, is one thing. Having 2 best friends taken from you suddenly is quite another. It leaves scars, deep scars. You will never be the same person you were, but you are so much of a better person for being able to have them in your life for the time you had together.

I will always miss you Alan

Fuck, this has been a very rough couple years for me. I’ve lost the 2 closest people to me in Alan and my Mother. I’ve lost 2 X girlfriends who I was very close to. I could really use a break.

I know it sounds so cliché, but take a minute every now and again to tell the people you love how much they mean to you. Because life isn’t always kind enough to let you say goodbye.



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