Judi Ehrlich in memory of Richie Alcock
Today I happened to find myself at Riverside Drive, just off the freeway at Laurel Canyon. I was remembering that I spent my wedding night there. Lance used to have an apartment on Riverside Drive, right there, and I met up with him and Alan there the evening of the day I got married. I remember we watched Sonny and Cher doing some reunion thing on one of the talk shows that was on TV. Arsenio Hall, maybe, or Letterman. I remember thinking, this is not how a girl should spend her wedding night, a girl should be with her husband in some romantic place. But I had to get Richie home right after our nondescript little civil ceremony at the courthouse and put him in bed. He was just recovering from another bout of pneumonia and he was still really weak. So I got him tucked away and then I went over to hang out with Lance and Alan. I think it was October.
The first time he got PCP, he ended up at the AIDS ward over at USC. this was back in 1987, and AIDS was still brand new and being treated like the Plague. I remember Richie saying it wasn’t so easy to contract AIDS, but apparently, it was easier than he thought. Those guys in that ward were cared for like lepers, and it really broke my heart for that wonderful man. We had Open Enrollment for new health insurance at work, and a lightbulb went off in my head. I wasn’t sure if it would even work, but I dragged him down to the courthouse that day thinking maybe it just might.
There’s a coffee shop on Laurel Canyon called Four and Twenty that’s still there, even though the rest of the area is somewhat changed. It was 24 years ago after all. But I remember that coffee shop and having dinner there with Alan a lot. Him asking me tens of thousands of times, how could Richie be gay? Finally, I had to just tell him to shut the hell up, I did not know, I would never know. But he had the good sense not to ask me on the night we got married again.
I remember randomly crying a lot that night. My eyes would fill up, and the tears would just run down my face, and I would just pretend that it was some kind of tear duct malfunction. Definitely not how a girl should spend her wedding night. But those guys were pretty cool. They just hung out with me and we got high . At least that’s how I remember it. I might have even slept there on the couch, because being alone on my wedding night was about the saddest thing I could imagine.