Note: this was originally written on february 9, 2004 by me for my friend lance’s website: theregalbeagle.com. i am trying to consolidate my greatest hits on this site. without further ado, another true story by me…
It’s funny how memories come back to you. Sometimes they come from so far away that you don’t know if they actually happened or if you dreamed them. Sometimes you wish you dreamed it, until you find the memory recorded on video tape, and it is right on.
I was a younger Creaby then, in 8th grade to be precise. I went to a private school, and as a class trip, we were invited to go to the taping of a very special Phil Donahue show in New York City. We were told beforehand that the guest would be Ryan White. He was a boy about our age who had contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion. He took it upon himself to spread awareness about the disease, and to live every day to it’s fullest. I was excited for the opportunity to miss school.
When we arrived in front of the studio, we were escorted in through doors that led right to the stage. There was a group of about 30 of us, all dressed in our nice little uniforms, and we all turned to find seats in the audience area. That was when we were told to find places on the stage. We were all quite puzzled, but did as we were told. The stage was empty except for a big stool in the center. I decided to claim my spot right there next to the stool. We all filled in the stage, and anxiously awaited the start of the show.
It wasn’t too much later that Donahue himself came out, and the cameras began to roll in front of a packed audience filled only with kids. Phil, as I feel I can call him now, introduced Ryan White, and out he came and sat in the stool right next to me. I remember the first thing I saw when he sat down was his pant leg rising just a little, exposing his ankle. There was a little cut on it, and I wondered what would happen if he bled on me… Silly thoughts from the mind of a thirteen year old.
Ryan White told his story, and then the format of the show transitioned into a question and answer session. Donahue walked around the audience handing the mic to different kids. Most people weren’t listening to a word that was said, but were busily thinking of what they should ask Ryan White next. Early on in the questioning, the mic was handed to me, and I ripped off a stellar question that quite possibly was the smartest question ever asked on that stage. I was given high fives and pats on the back for my genius. Ryan answered it, and we all were that much better off. It seemed my choice of seats was perfect, since I was now the star of the show!
I was on top of the world. I just showed my brilliance on national T.V.! I immediately began to think of another question, just in case they came back to me for some more excellence. That was when it hit me. I wanted to know if this boy with AIDS would ever be able to experience sex. I started imagining ways that he could, and all I could come up with is if he had sex with someone else who had AIDS, cause after all, they couldn’t get it again, right? Now was the tough part: how to phrase my question without being offensive and without betraying my young, innocent age. I began with an idea, and I retooled it and reworded it over and over, never being fully satisfied. The T.V. audience at home must have been mesmerized by the amazing concentration playing across my face. I could no longer see the lights, nor hear the high-pitched, pre-pubescent voices as I wrestled with the thoughts racing through my brain.
And that’s when it happened, the mic was once again in my hand. To this day I am not sure why or how it got there, but there it was. And I had no idea what I was going to say.
I panicked, and said the first thing that my rattled brain would produce. I also said quite possibly the worst question ever to be uttered on daytime TV. I asked this, “Can you get AIDS again?”
The auditorium went silent. Ryan White was silent. Donahue was silent. They all looked at me as if I had AIDS… Brain AIDS. Ryan White, puzzled at this dumb ass sitting at his feet, looked at me and finally tried to put me out of my misery. He answered something, although it was far off and distant, as all I wanted at that moment was my mommy.
We left the filming, and took the long road home. When we got back, we were informed that the show wouldn’t air for a few weeks. They even gave us a date, but I wished for the world to end. Maybe after editing, my stupidity would wind up on the cutting room floor.
Unfortunately, it didn’t. Rather than showcase my brilliance, they decided to display the few minutes of dead air following my retardedness. This is why to this very day I despise Phil Donahue.