I found out earlier this week that an old friend of the family had died. For various and sundry reasons that are none of your damn business, I haven’t seen or talked to him in at least a decade. I would’ve thought that, given the lack of contact, this news would be a mild curiosity to me at best. Hell, I knew him mostly as my parents’ drinking buddy. Instead, I’m finding myself incredibly affected.
Then I began to think about it more.
Dave bought me my first bike back when I was seven or eight. It was cobbled together from bits found at the trash dump, rusted all to hell and waaay to big for my size at the time. Just getting onto the damn thing was an accomplishment and pedaling was practically Herculean in scope. But, it was my first bike and I loved the damn thing.
Then there was the Halloween he dressed up as Frankenstein. Already a tall bastard, he nailed a couple inches of wood onto the bottom of his boots to add that nice, clompy gait. He also squared off his head with a nice chunk of putty (sometimes, being bald has it’s advantages). As I said, he was naturally a big guy, but in that getup, he loomed. Yes, there are people out there who have done much more extravagant costumes, but to my young eyes, he was practically a god for that day.
Remember the old Bud Light “Ladies’ Night” commercials, the ones with balding, fat, hairy men dressed up in drag to get cheap beer? He did that at a couple bars, even though he seemed to have an almost preternatural ability to miss each bar’s respective Ladies’ Night. I wish we still had the picture of him and a local radio Sports DJ during one of those outings.
None of this should mean anything to any of you, but his fearlessness in the face of fun, especially given the crap that he put up with over the course of his life, has profoundly effected the way I live mine.
The world is a poorer place without him and I really wish I had picked up on that sometime when it could have mattered more.