Word comes fast these days. Almost immediately. Whose turn is next? Yours? Your nemesis? Mine?

Last month, I learned that an acquaintance from long ago died in his sleep. No cause given, at least not in any circles I could connect to. Given the nature of the mutual connection among myself, the deceased, and the individual who informed me, it was appropriate to make this salubrious comment: He had an 18-inch penis. It was the stuff of legend and lore, of saga and song (maybe not song, but drunks will be drunks).

Among our peers, I was first to encounter that monster in a painfully awkward series of encounters at a swimming pool. I told that tale many times, sheepishly at first, but always to great laughter and even tears of joy. It was a centerpiece of my storytelling, but I had to keep it relatively under the radar. Until I did not have to keep it under the radar. As the years passed, this individual, who seemed contritely embarrassed about our swimming pool encounters, began opening up to others about his problematic tumescence.

I should add that many people who heard my account, as amusing as they found it, also expressed some disbelief. This was understandable. This was a very thin man I was talking about, and his bulge belied nothing. But as he opened up to others, he unwittingly found himself talking to some of the same people I’d regaled with my account. Vindication was mine, and I did not even mind knowing that people associated this person’s penis with me as much with its possessor.

I was not present when the big reveal occurred, but at some year-end, pre-graduation hoopla event, this man decided it was time to answer the questions, appease the masses, let the truth be told. He whipped it out before a hundred or so people, generating a mix of amazement, disgust, joy, and I don’t know what other emotions might arise upon seeing a man whose cock almost reached his face.

I only know from others present at this Penis Reveal that there were some blushéd whispers to the effect that “Mark Thomas was not lying.” I take pride in that.

I am sorry to learn of his passing. My memory of the man is mostly limited to that one day at the swimming pool. We had other conversations, mostly about his penis, until either he got bored or I got bored or he got board and I didn’t need to hear board more.

More troubling, even concerning to me, is the passing of an acquaintance and former bartender at the pub I used to practically live at. We would have conversations that extended seemingly into eternity, then we would not speak again for a year. One time, we crossed paths in the basement of a JCPenney in Manhattan. She was always happy to chat, but this time in particular I remember her growing expression of something approaching disbelief that we were still talking 25-30 minutes later. It was not impatiance or discomfort, just acknowledgment that hey, we barely know each other, but here we are talking like best friends.

In more recent years, our encounters were entirely online. Something about her had changed. Her videos and comments sounded like another voice from another human. She looked about the same, skinny and cute, but her comments wandered off into conspiracy-sounding thoughts about the NYPD, and one particular officer she said had been fucking her for 10 years. It ended badly, it seems. She often looked drugged and addled. I liked a few of her videos but never commented, opting to send signals instead of substance. The signals were received. She started following my TikTok. But that could mean nothing.

She was about 35. I want to know what happened, but it’s been long enough that I don’t remember for certain who our mutual peers were, and those I can remember being mutual friends are not people I want to connect with again. I will watch the intertubes, I guess.

I am expecting to see an old friend from school on Sunday. He is coming to New York “just for the fuck of it” and staying somewhere in Midtown. I suggested we make it over to Staten Island, if only to take the iconic Ferry. There is actually some stuff to do around the St. George Terminal now, but it’s not the most touristy scene. I, of course, want to check on the payphones again.