World AIDS Day 2006

A portrait of Scotty Neaill, the first boy I had a crush on, the last boy I knew who got drafted for Viet Nam, and the first friend to die of AIDS.

Scotty was a year older than me, and I just adored him. He had this one eyebrow that sort of curled up on one side, very devilish and twinkly eyes with long dark lashes. He wasn't a blonde surfer, and he wasn't an athelete (like that would have driven me wild, even in those days) and he wasn't the most popular boy in school. He was just Scotty and I wanted to go out with him. Instead, I was his friend, the girl he told about all the other girls that had crushes on him that he didn't like. We'd go to the beach together.

Once I went to visit him when I was out horseback riding with another friend. We just trotted up to his house and hung around for a while. When we left, he told his mother, "she's sort of weird, but I like her." She told me that when I made my condolence call after he died.

He took me sailing on his Hobie Cat, and once we were becalmed on the St. Lucie River for several hours until we were able to tack back to the dock at the Sunrise Inn. When I finally made it home, my mother was furious, her mind filled with the horrid possibilities of what a young girl and a young man could do for three hours on the canvas deck of a Hobie in the middle of the river. Nothing much, I assure you, but Mummy was not so easily dissuaded from believing that.

Scotty gave me a strand of love beads, the summer of 1970 or 71. I still have them.

Scotty was drafted into the United States Army, the last of the Nam draftees, but he served his term in Japan, where he fell in love with Japanese landscaping and gardening. When he got out of the service, he tried to enroll in a school in Japan, but there was no room for a US citizen. So Scotty came back to America and moved to San Francisco, where he worked at Horchow, and tried to find local Japanese landscaping classes.

Scotty died in 1988, the first of way too many friends to die of AIDS. He left behind no garden to bear witness to his passion. His younger brother Richard became a landscape architect, perhaps in Scotty's memory, perhaps because he too loved plants and flowers and making them take on the vision you hold in your head. Richard died of AIDS, too, maybe eight years after Scotty.

Remember your friends, and those who are living, tell them you love them. Make a donation today to your local AIDS service organization or national research group, like AMFAR. Light a candle. Say a prayer.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/01 at 02:04 PM in Maudlin Crap

(2) Comments
#1. Posted by Gigi on December 01, 2006

I am SO sorry!  He sounds like a wonderful friend.  I will light a candle.  We’ve lost too many to this dreadful disease.

#2. Posted by mm on December 01, 2006

Thank you dear buddy o’ mine. For remembrance of the times and friends gone by…I haven’t snoped this, but I liked the candle and I would like to think that the donation is true (it could easily be more it They choose (chose)). It came from another good friend.

“I thought you might be interested in lighting a candle on the 3rd Annual Light to Unite website. For every candle lit, Bristol-Myers Squibb will donate $1 up to $100,000 to the National AIDS fund. You can find more information and light a candle at

In peace,

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