A couple of weeks back I got a call from a long-time friend that a college buddy of ours was in critical condition and things looked grim; by the time I was able to pull the pieces together he was already gone. He was just slightly older than me, an age young enough that a death is still a shocking event, but that was chronological years. Dave lead a raucous and hard life and not only burned the candle at both ends but lit yours as well. As he got older this caused more serious consequences; hangovers and apologies became damaged relationships, damaged health and lots of pain, both mental and physical.
When I knew him in our younger days, often hanging with him was like a joyride in a stolen car – you knew it wasn’t going to end well, and you had a moment of clarity that said “I should leave”…but you went along for the ride. Other times it would be late night discussions about…well, just about anything, deep emotional and intellectual discussions that would end at daybreak with a man-hug and a cup of coffee in the cafeteria before you both slept through your 8:00 philosophy class. Hell, why not? You had just philosophised all night long!
There were a bunch of us in college who hung out like a pack of wolves (nice wolves, mind you) but after graduation, efforts to keep in touch generally faded as we moved, got married, got jobs, had kids. Without the wonder of cell phones and email it took more of an effort to stay in touch, and over time friendships became mostly warm memories. Several years back, when one of us was at death’s door, word spread and people reconnected – albeit ultimately for a sad occasion. Reflecting on it soon afterwards we realized that one of Rich’s legacies was bringing us all back together; most of us have remained in touch since and have made several trips to get together.
It was through some of this networking that I would hear the occasional story about Dave over the years – another marriage, another binge, another moment of madness that was both hilarious and disconcerting. A man who was completely charming and gregarious with a big heart and a kind soul, yet if someone described him as “the biggest asshole I ever met” you would not bat an eye (obviously they met his dark side). His meter went from zero to one hundred and back like a pendulum. I’m sure there were others who thought he was the greatest guy they ever met, but you don’t hear that as much because those stories just aren’t as funny to tell.
And now he’s gone. No more demons. No more pain or hurt, just peace. That picture above captures Dave perfectly – Buddha with a bad-ass halo.
These two are for you, Dige. You’ll know why.
The Band: “Don’t Do It”
Steely Dan: “My Old School”
Look out, God – you have your hands full now.