To Beat AIDS, the Unbeatable Foe
She had long been divorced when she attended an EST seminar in 1983 and met a new man—"Six-foot-two, silvery hair, a very nice-looking guy. We sat and we talked for a half hour and then he said, ‘Can I call you?’” His name was Bill Geremesz, he managed the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, and he never tried to get her clothes off. “He doesn’t like sex? I really like this guy; heck, this is perfect,” she laughs, remembering. After six months, when he asked her to marry him, Sharon thought, "This is God-sent—thank you, thank you."
The couple was on their way to walk down the “aisle” at the Rose Bowl when he turned to her in the car and said, “You know what? You’re ugly. I don’t know why I’m marrying you.” All dressed up in her wedding gown, she sat there shocked, marooned, and in tears. “Don’t you start crying at me,” he snapped. So Sharon gathered herself and, almost in a trance, made her way onto the field with him. “As I’m walking out, it was like a thousand voices shouted out, 'Don’t marry him,'" she recalls. “And I got to the 50-yard line and I said, ‘I do.’”
That night would be their first time in bed together. “When we get to the hotel, I go into the bathroom and I put on a negligee,” she says. “It was lavender satin and the V came down to my belly button so it exposed my breasts. And I come out and he’s sleeping. I wake him up with kisses, and he looks at me and says, ‘What are you, some kind of a whore? You look like a tramp. Get the hell out of here.’ I just lost it. I was crying and crying and crying.”
After spending most of the night in the hotel lobby, she says, “the next morning we went home, and he acted like everything was normal. From then on, I could not do anything right.”
Sharon left after four months and went to Hawaii, where her parents were living. “He called me every day and he said, ‘I’m sorry; we’ll go to therapy.’ 'Hey,' I thought, ‘"therapy"—that’s a good word. We’ll make it work.' So I said, ‘Okay, okay, I’ll come home.’ I got to the airport, and he wasn’t there. And I called him and said into the message machine, ‘Bill’—he didn’t pick up. Call him again—'Bill, Bill’—he finally picks up the phone and says, ‘Don’t bother coming home.’ I said, ‘What do you mean? I’m at the airport.’ He said, ‘Don’t bother coming home.’”
It turned out that Pat, his ex-wife—the woman on the AIDS special—had moved back in.
In December 1986, when Sharon saw the special, she and Bill had been divorced for two and a half years. On the phone that night, he flatly denied that he was the man on the show. But her instincts told her otherwise. She went to an anonymous test site, and the results were positive. She and Bill had sex only three times. (As he was dying in 1989, he called to admit he’d infected her. He hadn’t told her about his HIV status, he explained, because he’d needed to marry her in order to get custody of his kids.)