As we imagined a world embracing the cute adventures of a disabled dog that just so happened to have two dads, Jeff would say the way our lives crossed paths was serendipitous. I happen to agree.
Jeff’s wife, Simone and I work together and formed a friendship beyond mundane work gossip, and one day whilst gas bagging over a cup of tea when we should have been working, she mentioned the children’s Interactive story BookApp he was working on. I told Simone about my idea for a series of children’s stories based on my disabled dog and his two dads. How great would it be for a child to have something like this to read that may one day make a difference to their coming out or help break down society’s prejudices for being gay.
Simone said “my husband Jeff would love that” and to my surprise he did. We met briefly one day, he told me to get something to him, he wanted to turn this idea into a children’s BookApp series. I had given a lot of thought to writing some children’s stories about Geoff, I had a few ideas but that was all it was. A few ideas. I had no idea where I would start. My lack of confidence and self doubt may surprise a lot of people, but it is a bastard, and strikes particularly hard when I’m venturing outside of my comfort zone, and I was about to leave the zone.
Jeff’s vision for the BookApp is one I could never have imagined. From our first chat to the many that would follow Jeff’s words would flow with such enthusiasm and hope for the project. He crafted such a beautiful product and he new from the very first instant how it would all take shape, a lovely throwback to an old mid century children’s book, soft and warm with beautiful illustrations, a Cole Porter inspired score with simple interactive qualities so as not to detract from the story.
By our second meeting I still didn’t have a story. Jeff’s reaction “if you don’t give me something I’ll write the fucking thing myself” I didn’t want to let him down and fearful reaction of “arghh that’s awful!” was fueling my procrastination. If I submitted something horrid I’d be crushed along with this little dream.
This thought process would normally evoke a secret meltdown that would paralyze any creativity and prevent the project from ever going anywhere, but with Jeff hounding me and demanding this story I put fingers to Mac and typed the first Geoff story. It was complete rubbish. Jeff responded with constructive feedback and encouragement, he believed in me and the project. I will always be grateful for this.
So, about to attempt another go, I confessed to really not knowing what I was doing and to finding it rather difficult. Remembering a conversation we had about my fondness for getting drunk and singing Karaoke he gave me some advice. He said “have a few drinks, relax and let go like you’re on stage singing that George Michael song. So I did.
Whilst traveling for work and surrounded by the 70’s wood paneling and gorgeous floral bread spread of a dodgy Port Macquarie hotel room, I bought a bottle of red, put my headphones on and started typing. Tomato Trouble sprouted and over a few more drafts and careful guidance from Jeff it ripened into the story it is now.
Jeff’s dreams for Geoff and his Two Dads were big! If he had his way we would conquer the world, be featured in the NY times, be the first Disney animated movie to feature gays and I’d probably be jumping on Ellen’s couch TC style. It was fun to dream with him.
Jeff is the charming heart of Geoff and his Two Dads. He brought a group of talented people into our world and they coloured it. Tanya’s beautiful illustration, Victors magical coding and Philips amazing score. He told me it was the most beautiful piece of work he had worked on. I hope he realizes that beauty came from him.
Jeff, I don’t think you know how much you changed our lives with the Geoff project. You will never know how you challenged my insecurities helping me find a voice and be comfortable with it. I enjoyed how your emails were more than just a question or a sentence, I enjoyed the landscape of your stories, big and sweeping, nothing sacred and full of foul language, I would often get off the phone with sore cheeks from laughing and smiling. I always thought it was hilarious how you’d end the conversation “OK baby, give me love to James” such a strange thing for an uptight Aussie guy to hear from another guy… Even if I am gay. You make me laugh.
It was great to randomly run into you on the streets of Surry Hills a few months ago and spend a few hours drinking red wine and listening to your stories, your vicious wit again making me laugh. We didn’t nearly spend enough time drinking or eating at nice restaurants.
Even though Jeff was parting ways with Geoff and his Two Dads he would have always been involved, it is just as much Jeff as it is Geoff, James and I. I’d like to think at some point in the future we will continue with Geoff’s adventures and who knows, perhaps we can turn it into the success Jeff had always dreamed it would be.
Thank you Jeff!
Forever GAHTDADS. WOOF!