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The book of me, by a friend

August 14, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

I know I have talked to you guys about my dear best friend Jacques who is now sadly deceased. I grew up with him in Cleveland and I later lived with him in New York City. See, from an early age, we both had fame for ourselves in our futures. We started out in high-school theater and after we graduated, moved on to "community theater."

I have wonderful loving memories of my friend Jacques and Herman just last week pulled out the book that Jacques had written about me. I have to confess to you that I totally had forgotten about this book, which is written like a children's book, because there are very few words and colorful, hand-drawn pictures.

You have to understand this is actually a sketch book with a hard binder and its size is 11-inches wide by 8- and 1/2-inches long.

Article Photos

A drawing by the late Jaques Lorenzo of New York City.
Photo submitted

He starts the book by simply writing "Once there was a girl, by a friend." That was page one.

The next page says copyrighted 1988 in his same cartoon print.

I'm not going to go page by page with you guys because this column would be way too long.

I knew Jacques since we were both 12 and we shared many experiences as well as personal secrets. I think it was when we were 15 that he said to me, "You know how you like boys? Well, so do I. And that's all you need to know about what being gay is."

The recent passage of gaymarriage rights in New York makes me think how differently Jacques might think about his love of New York City, which is where he lived for years. In fact, before I moved to California I had been living with him in NYC - at 72 Barrow St. to be exact. It was in the heart of the West Village.

Some of the great things about having a gay friend for an apartmentmate were he kept things neat, festively decorated and kind of made for a built-in shield from unwanted male suitors (who he was sure weren't good for me.)

I think the thing that was a sore point in our relationship is when I chose to move to California with my then-boyfriend, Brad, who he didn't like and didn't think would be good for me. Turns out he was right.

But that's a different story. The book he made for me was a labor of love and chronicles my boy-chasing ways as well as the boys who chased back. Ultimately, he knew I would find peace somewhere at the beach and made that clear in the last line of the book. I enclose a sample to show how dear his creation was to me.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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