Ruby’s Rap by Ruby Comer
What a journey! In 2001, German comedian and entertainer Hape Kerkeling, trekked 500 miles on foot through the Pyrenees of northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. Legend has it that apostle St. James walked the same route and is buried in the ancient town. The trek is a thousand-year-old tradition. Hape (a derivation of his birth name, Hans Peter) documented his travels in the delightfully engaging book, I’m Off Then. He also recalls his visits to an AIDS ward in the early days of the epidemic to perform his standup routine for the patients.
Today, though, I’m on my own journey. Back from Europe, I’m on the road once again here in picturesque Solvang, California, just up the coast from my pad in L.A. What a relief to be away from that addictive computer keyboard for a few days! Here to participate in an AIDS Walk tomorrow, I’m camped out at the friendly Hadsten House, a stylish inn that includes the Haven Day Spa and a grand swimming pool.
Hape and I decide to meet at the Inn’s restaurant, which resembles a cathedral: hanging glass lights from a steeple ceiling with shimmering white candles on the tables. There’s almost an ambiance of reverence—but stuffy it ain’t, as the contemporary Danish décor is so alluring. Arriving a few minutes late, I’m ushered to the table by the restaurant’s lively hostess, Stephanie, where a smiling Hape greets me. She then introduces us to Jeffrey, our cutie affable waiter.
Ruby Comer: [Low bossa nova music plays in the background.] Such a cozy place, huh? Hape, in a nutshell, how did walking the Camino de Santiago affect you?
Hape Kerkeling: It made me understand that there’s a special pace and rhythm hidden in each one of us, which we simply have to discover and obey.
I loved the pilgrimage, but for others, gardening or just staring out of the window might do just as well.
It was in the early eighties and I read a little newspaper article that talked about a strange and enigmatic form of “gay cancer.” I was scared to death.
What a lineup. You interviewed I Dream of Jeannie herself! She’s magical in many ways, isn’t she? [He nods.] As you know HIV infection is on the rise, especially in the younger generation. Any idea what line of ammunition we can use to enforce safer sex?
You cannot force someone to practice safer sex. It’s all about education and it has to start when people are kids! [Dessert arrives and we both spoon into the scrumptious, moist flourless chocolate cake made with pecans—yum! Hape flashes those sexy baby blues at me.] But in the end, Ruby, we’re all just human beings…and humans fail. That’s part of our nature. We struggle, but we move on. And I hope this shit is over soon. Help us God!
Photos © Thomas Rodriguez. All rights reserved.