I’m at a popular karaoke bar in San Francisco - the Mint. Every few minutes, another person gets up, hoping in their heart of hearts that they will somehow have that “Susan Boyle moment” – no one does. And yet they come back again and again and try. There’s something simultaneously beautiful and tragic about that. Love is much the same way, we reach for the stars, yet often fall flat on our faces. There is no great love without risk of great humiliation.
I try to avoid karaoke because my mother was America’s first (non-asian) karaoke hostess and I grew up in something of a karaoke dynasty. The episode “Christmas in Baltimore” (which had to be cut for festival performances due to time limits – “LHK - firmed, tightened and toned”) goes into this history in greater detail.
When I first moved to San Francisco, I met a very interesting older man named Byron Bentley - he had an enormous collection of snakes - very unlike anyone I’d ever met before. We weren't best friends, we worked at the same place for a few years and then saw one another every few weeks afterward, but he had an enormous impact on my life. He had met his lover in rural California during high school, they’d moved to SF in the 70s, were still together in their mid-40s, had always been monogamous, and still had sex constantly. This pretty much challenged every belief I had about relationships (particularly same sex relationships) on so many levels; beliefs I didn’t even know I had. And though I didn’t necessarily want what they had, it certainly expanded what I thought was possible – not just in relationships, but in life. I thought I was protecting myself with my non-negotiables – my “lists” of what worked and didn’t work. Instead of protecting myself all I was doing was crushing my own dreams. When I faced how I was quietly sabotaging those very things I longed for; only then did things start to change.
Byron died very suddenly in 2003 of an aneurism – and my own life had changed so much as a result of knowing him I basically started writing to get through that terrible grief. LHK is the result - a series of extremely funny, and somewhat tragic episodes from my life, each set in a different city. I have not a single answer to life’s great questions, but my wish is that my blind hope through these experiences might at least entertain, if not leave audiences with a sense of hope about what more might be possible in their own lives.