I love Parker. Let me say that again; I LOVE Parker. His full name is really Matthew Robinson Parker, but I’ve always called him Parker. We met for the first time at the age of four; it was a play date. Apparently, I loved the sound of his last name and would sing Parker, Parker, Parker until I drove everyone crazy. He is hands down the best friend I’ve ever had or ever will have. He’s the only person who knows exactly who I am and loves me in spite of it. He lived through every minute of the bad years with me, and was the one constant I could cling to in the middle of the storm. I tied myself to him and trusted that the rope would allow me to find my way home through the blizzard of emotions separating me from reality, sometimes for weeks on end. He even did my homework for me during the dark days that always followed the visits to my grandfather’s house. He did it because he didn’t want me to fall behind in school. He made sure my life looked as normal as possible from the outside, so that when I was ready, I could step back into it with barely a ripple. I don’t know how I could have made it through those years without him. There are so many blank spots in my memory during that time, but no matter how big the gap, his face is always there, my own personal Gibraltar. He’s my hero, but I think of him as my brother.
I couldn’t be who I am or do what I do without Parker. I’m 25 years old, and he’s still watching my back and keeping me out of trouble. It doesn’t matter where he is, what he’s doing, or who he’s with. If I call or send a text saying I need his help right away, he responds immediately. How many friends or family members can you say that about? Not many I’d venture. He lives in Palm Springs and owns a business there, and yes, he’s gay. The fact that he’s gay makes our relationship even stronger, because there has never been and never will be any of that awkward boy/girl sexual tension between us. It reinforces the feeling that we’re siblings.
From the stories he tells, and I’ve heard a lot of them, he is quite the fixture in the Palm Springs nightlife scene. That probably has something to do with his sparkling personality, boyish good looks, tanned, fit physique, and financial stability (because nobody likes a deadbeat who can’t pay for his own drinks). He’s a regular at the Toucans Tiki Lounge because it’s only two blocks from his house in one direction, and three blocks from his place of business in the other. If he gets too drunk, he can always walk home, and retrieving his car in the morning is a snap because it’s on the way to work. Everybody knows him there…seriously. I can call the bar and ask for Parker, and they’ll have him on the line in about 30 seconds, unless he’s on the dance floor. If he’s on the dance floor, forget it. You’ll have to hold until the song is over. If there is one thing that boy loves to do, it’s dance. He takes Gloria Estefan’s urging to shake your body very seriously. He’s won the go-go competition twice, and is the reigning Jungle Boogie queen. He keeps the trophy in a place of honor in the foyer of his house. It sits on a pedestal in a pink spot-lighted niche. He shines it so often, I can’t believe the finish hasn’t worn off.
He also knows the routine of every drag queen act on the bill. He loves to stand at the back of the bar, facing the stage, and mimic every move, every swish of the performing act, but in a ridiculously exaggerated manner. (And yes, I know that the very nature of a drag queen is to do everything in an exaggerated manner, but Parker takes it to a whole new level.) His goal is to make the performers crack up and break character. He has a running bet with each of them. The loser must buy drinks all night for the winner. So far, he has about a 50/50 success rate.
It’s difficult for most people to reconcile what Parker does for a living with the passionately enthusiastic party boy they all know and love. You see, Parker is the owner of the most successful mortuary and crematorium in the Palm Springs/Cathedral City area. The day-time Parker and the night-time Parker are polar opposites. If you met him in his place of business, you would never suspect what lies beneath his professional, somber and gracious exterior. Unless, of course, you noticed the finely tailored suit he wears with such style. There’s not many morticians who strut their stuff in a $1,000 suit, let alone one with a tie color chosen expressly for its ability to draw attention to the blue in his eyes.
As much as I love and enjoy the party boy version of Parker, it’s the professional Parker I turn to most often these days. Having a brother who owns a cremation business is very handy when you have trash you need to dispose of. He keeps an old beat up station wagon in a storage garage at the back of his property. I paid cash for it, and he called in a few favors with a hacker ex-boyfriend of his to wipe the registration clean and re-register it under a false name and address. We don’t take it out on the road very often, but when we do, we can’t have any problems. Things could spin out of control very quickly if we were ever pulled over. I don’t want to give the police any reason to look at it twice, so it always has current tags. Hiding in plain sight is something I’ve gotten very good at.