Bill Hicks would have been 52 years-old today.
For those of you who don’t know, he was a stand-up comic and gifted writer who passed away on February 26th, 1994 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32.
And, he was my boyfriend.
I don’t talk of our intimate relationship very often though I’ve written about him in the past…see Falling Star…but to be quite honest, Bill was the love of my life.
When he left the planet, rather suddenly, he took my innocence along with him…swiped it like a favorite scarf or sweater never to be seen again. Gone was the happy, perky gal from Connecticut with her hope chest filled with dreams and dish towels, silver that came in detergent boxes and stemware her mother had stolen, just for her, from only the best restaurants. Did I mention my shrimp fork collection for seventy-five?
I had taken this big, 12 ply cardboard storage box I harbored for years leaving it out on the curb in the pouring rain the night of Bill’s funeral. With tears streaming down my face, I knew I wouldn’t be needing it anytime soon.
I no longer cared about cutlery and Pyrex casserole containers dreaming of making delicious dishes in, for my beloved who loved when I did.
It was one of the nicest traits Bill had having no problem accepting gifts or care that came especially in way of food. I’d always bring a big box of Dunkin Donuts whenever I flew to see him. It was why he’d pick me up with coffee for two, so we could get right down to the glazed nitty-gritty, his favorite, right there in the Avis rent-a-car.
Some men don’t cotton well to presents. It’s as if we’re trying to bribe them into love…manipulate their affection. Bill’s attitude was always, bribe on bay-ba.
He was from Texas so he had that sexy twang a Texan never makes excuses for. It’s embedded deep in their DNA like the heels on their boots and the way their jeans, without apology, hug their hips and hindquarters.
Hicks wasn’t a handsome man by any means, but was he hot, as they say. Girls, to my chagrin, would line up like half-naked geishas cooing their wares hoping to catch his eye. He’d always, like any good showman, reward them with a mere wink and smile, at least when I was there. My jealousy would rear its ugly head many a night causing fireworks followed by some of the best make-up sex any thirty-eight year old could ever set claim to.
My explanation was simple.
I loved him.
To this day, twenty-one years later, I still can’t bring myself to watch him or even see a photo of that famous face I so want to add to this essay. That means when I Google him, he’ll show up in spades…picture after picture gracing every stage many when I was proudly perched in the audience preening for my guy. Can I do that? Finally be a grown-up and face him after all this time? The jury’s still out.
When I wrote Falling Star back in 2011, my friend Amy added a snippet of him I’ve never seen. It’s still there like a phantom film clip holding its little cinematic ground.
There’s the box of love letters way in back of the closet with the last rose he gave me solemnly gracing its lid. I tell myself, if I go near it, it will turn to dust so best I leave it be, and what it graciously guards like a grave no one bothers to visit anymore.
But the truth is…he, nor it, is even remotely forgotten. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of him; see something I know he’d love hearing him chuckle alongside me.
What people don’t realize about the tough Texan was how absolutely ridiculous how he could sometimes be. He was so revered by his peers and public, they never bothered to glimpse that side of him. He was a clown first and foremost, clad in leather and cowboy boots I’ll admit, but as he so aptly put it, “I’m a comedienne bay-ba…first…it’s who I am…and don’t you fur-get it.”
How could I?
All the other stuff…the bad boy persona…the long, laconic strut onto the stage. The way a mere look could go right through you making you feel naked and shy like never before.
I always say, I never felt quite as girlie as when I was with Hicks, his manners flush treating me as if I needed to be protected at all costs. He’d take my hand when crossing a street and my arm as we strolled. The smell of him, the coolness of his worn leather jacket against my cheek shielding me from the wind.
“Like the sound of them high heels lay-da,” he’d croon as they happily tap-danced on the pavement.
Yes…I was so, so happy back then.
One can’t help to wonder where a force like Bill Hicks ends up when he departs the planet for another realm yet to conquer. I remember a few days after he died having a dream seeing him beyond the clouds in concert with a big sign that said…SOLD OUT.
I felt so much better upon awakening, knowing he was working…entertaining the saints, if you will…because he was never so happy as when he graced a stage.
On this day Bill, the 16th of December, 2013, we’re all thinking of you…and wherever you are, always know, you’ll live in my heart forever.