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In today’s #RandyTales, our hero attempts to write a bittersweet, evocative post… that doesn’t remind us of Musetta’s Waltz…

I like to point out that I, like onions and ogres, have layers.  Some of these layers are apparent upon viewing, serving as both decoration and structure for this chaos engine.  Some of the layers are comical – like my obsession with Bob Ross & little people.  But amongst those layers is a truth – I enjoy a good Broadway show, especially when that show is RENT.

I was first exposed to RENT in the late 90s, but not in the usual way.  My first wife (that I rarely talk about) was a theater kid, but of the “old” Broadway.  Broadway jumped the shark when Andrew Lloyd Weber came on the scene.  She was on a tirade one time about the “new” style of show and used RENT as an example of what was wrong with Broadway.  Because of our antagonistic relationship – anything she disliked, I automatically liked. 

Much like onions, ogres, and snarky mythical beings,  RENT has a lot of layers.  It is a story about friendship.  It is multiple love stories.  It is about overcoming and living with adversity.  It shows the cycle of life.  This play wasn’t fucking West Side Story – it was something more.  It was new, but had a history behind it that spoke to me.

I became sexually active in the late 80s when AIDS made the jump from being a “gay” problem to affecting everyone.  The specter of death was waiting to pounce on anyone not being safe.  Always wear a condom!  I was 16 when I met my first friend with HIV.   Sex got very, very serious… which in hindsight probably contributed to me getting married at 19.

Every so often, RENT would come back up in my life.  I remember watching “Team America” on a date and laughing at the RENT parody within… not sure my date thought that was appropriate.  I would occasionally throw out quotes like “I’m just looking for baggage that goes with mine.”  That line helped land me the second wife.  And I took great joy when a group of Las Vegas miscreants – many whom I was still a few months away from falling in love with – did a flash mob of “La Vie Boehme” and posted it to YouTube. 

RENT has shaped a lot of who I am.   It showed me how to put passion into everything I do.  There are no ordinary moments in this life, and there is no day but today.  Bohemia will never die, so long as we keep it alive with wine, beer, & song.  And these friends – my Degenerates – they are all worthy of all the love that I can generate and I will cling to them for as long as I can.

This weekend I am taking the Art Director to see RENT at the local LGBTQA+ center.   She hasn’t seen the play or the movie.  She is new to this thing that has been with me for so long.  She will finally get some of the lines that our Broadway Babies throw out.  And I get to expose her to something that has helped to make me the man that she loves. 

And that is something to moo for.