Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Geoff and Terry

In this submission I plan to write about two men who became close friends (of mine and of each other) over a period of about ten years.

Geoff had a university degree in Environmental Sciences and he was a part of the crew which studied the possible environmental impact of Trans-Canada pipelines - from the Prairies out to B.C., and eastward to Ontario and Quebec. He was a gay man and identified with the leather/levi community and he was an integral member of the Zodiacs mentioned in a previous blog.

He was a great guy but with one trait which bugged me - he was quite predatory. If he saw a new and interesting face in the Gay Community he would set off in pursuit whether the other man was attached to somebody else or not.

He was a pretty good cook, though - he baked his own bread and, for a number of years, he invited folks to partake of his Christmas dinner. Always it was so very English and quite delicious.

It was during the 1980s when pipeline construction was at its height that he flew East on Sunday evening returning to Vancouver on Friday evening. I was the one designated to drive out to the airport to pick him up and, sometimes, he had one or two others in tow - especially politicians who were returning from Ottawa for the weekend. One evening my passenger in the front seat beside me was the Honorable Pat Carney who was a Cabinet Minister in a Tory government. While both Geoff and I lived in the West End, Ms. Carney lived just around English Bay in Kitsilano.

Geoff wrote and published a book titled "The Urban Aboriginal" which is a study of the 'Leather/Levi' sub-culture within the Gay Community. Near the beginning of the book I found a quote from myself and, upon reading it, I felt flattered!
Geoff  Mains and myself standing in front of the ruins of St Johns United Church in the West End which had been destroyed in a fire.

In the mid-1980s Geoff moved to San Francisco to be beside the perceived center of the leather/levi sub-culture in North America. I stayed at Geoff's place on at least one visit to San Francisco.

He passed away from an AIDS-related condition towards the end of the 1980s.

Terry and I met in an unusual way - I was in San Francisco to attend a leather/levi function and those functions attracted large crowds always. I was making my way from one part of the venue to another when something - or somebody - distracted me so I wasn't watching where I was going - and walked right into Terry. I stopped to apologize and our friendship began right there.

Terry Kotas standing on the Seawall (Stanley Park) with the suburb of West Vancouver in the background.

Terry was the only child of a couple who lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin where they managed a small company which distributed packaged condiments and spices to stores in that area.

After a few visits with me - and with Geoff - Terry decided to send his parents on a tour of the Canadian Rockies ending up in Vancouver. He asked if I would meet them and take them touring around the city? I agreed.

They were an absolutely delightful couple. I took them on a circular tour (on a very rainy November Saturday afternoon) around Vancouver. We went west through Kitsilano out to the University of British Columbia, where I pointed out some notable buildings, around Point Grey and along Southwest Marine Drive to Marpole and then back downtown via Little Mountain and the exquisite sunken gardens in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Mrs Kotas had told me - near the beginning of the drive - that she and her husband would take me out to dinner to my favorite restaurant. There was one excellent Gay-owned and operated restaurant near the downtown core so I drove them there.

When we entered the restaurant I neglected to ask if my favorite French-Canadian waiter was working and if we could have a table in his section. We lucked out - he was working and we were in his section.

When the meal ended Mr Kotas paid the tab and left a generous tip. As his business had to do with restaurant supplies, he stopped to 'talk shop' with the manager. In the meantime our waiter passed by and Mrs. Kotas stopped him to say, "Marcel - you are the most wonderful waiter!". Without batting an eye he grabbed her hand, kissed the back of it and said, "Madame, with customers as lovely as you are it is easy!"

Mrs Kotas was a short dumpy lady in late middle-age and I thought that she was about to swoon!

A year or so later Terry went on a visit to Spain where he contracted meningitis and died.

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