Gerard Sarnat

Way back in the early Eighties when HIV's still thought to be Haiti-related and San Francisco's Public Health Department did not track case contacts given concerns for confidentiality, I worked part-time as a physician-executive in Monterey County.

Because my family's house was hours north in what subsequently's nicknamed Silicon Valley, I often spent nights in a raunchy motel where bodacious toga parties not infrequently kept me from getting enough sleep to function well as a health plan's Medical Director next mornings.

After a few months, with some trepidation since he hadn't volunteered despite hearing abovestories, I asked my older boss, who had a small place in Carmel (and I had a little man-crush on), if I could stay with him perhaps once a week?

He said Okay though I had some intuition he really didn't mean it. Nevertheless, I slept on his couch maybe twice — and went to a local market for food then cooked dinner — before deciding unilaterally without discussion that my presence isn't appreciated, now's the moment to move on.

Few weeks later, offered a job much closer to home, I quit. But the CEO and I remained on good terms, kept in contact through lunch every couple of months, and considered ourselves friends as well as colleagues. At some point, however, we lost touch.

Two years later, I got a call saying, Let's get together soon, which we did. He volunteered, I have end-stage AIDS, am gay, my partner whom you knew from Stanford lived with me except the nights you stayed over, and my wife and kids back in Berkeley didn't know until very recently.

Both of us hugged and kissed (not on the lips) and cried about our various awkwardnesses. I apologized for naive missteps intruding. He expressed sorrow for appearing cold and hiding the truth. When Joni Mitchell's Circle Game's played at the funeral, we all bawled.