Last night I attended a wake for a fellow atheist. The service was at a Ukrainian Funeral Home in the East Village.
Barney and I had met in 1978. He was my boss at Hurrah, a punk disco on West 62nd Street. He survived the era of errors to be a proudly gay man with beautiful boyish locks into his 60s. I would have killed for his colorist.
I was shocked to see him lying in the coffin.
Not because he was dead.
Dead happens to us all in the Here-Before and to those in the Here-Now and the Here Beyond.
More I was aghast at how the funeral beautician had swept his hair off his forehead.
Fucking no way.
But it was not my place to say anything.
Barney was a good-looking gay man dead or alive.
More disturbing was the Cyrillic Priest moaning about god and the after-life.
Barney was more into after-hours than the after life.
I had to flee the viewing room to grouse with my fellow non-believers.
3 out of 100, because the rest of the atheists were respecting the family’s faith.
I was giving homage to Barney’s devout non-belief.
After the homilies and tearful good-byes I said fuck it and walked to the coffin.
“This man is Barney Johnson. He loved his family, his daughter, and his friends. We met at Hurrah. Barney loved the nightlife and he is loving it in the demi-eternity of the Here-Before.” I related how Barney was still alive back then and alive in our hearts of the Here Now and will exist thanks to that love in the Here Beyond.” I told a story about tracking him down. Barney was a recluse. I didn’t mention that I was trying to score some blow from his dealer. It didn’t seem the place or time. I ended my eulogy, but saying, “Barney was a gentleman and a gentleman is someone who makes everyone comfortable.”
I will miss him forever.
ps Barney is the one on the left