I had this friend, Steve, that I used to work with many years ago when I was still living in Southern Cal. We met in our mid-to-late 20s working together at PacBell and became close pals – he was gay so entirely platonic friendship, but he was like a brother to me. I have so many hilarious stories of the mischief and shenanigans we got up to together. I think I laughed harder with him than with anyone else, ever.
One of my favorite hilarious memories involves the time we went to Palm Springs for a long weekend and stayed at his folks townhouse. At one point we were outside relaxing on the patio after nightfall (and after a day of sun and beer) and he decided to take off every stitch of clothing he had on, with just a towel across his hips. At one point he needed to go inside and go to the restroom/grab another beer. Thereupon commenced a 10 minute discussion about whether or not I would try to look at his butt. After finally managing to convince him I wouldn’t look at his butt, he ran inside the house, hit the light, and hollered to me asking me if I wanted a beer, too. While standing there, magnificently illuminated and naked in all his glory.
Or the time we were at his house getting high, and we decided what he REALLY needed to do was put a blue light bulb in his ceiling fan light globe, then attach his inflatable Enterprise model (from Star Trek) to one of the vanes so it would orbit the planet, so to speak, represented by the light globe. Except that the fan spun much faster than a hypothetical orbiting starship would, and we ended up laughing so hard we could barely breathe.
He used to jokingly refer to himself as “Mr. Steve”. It just fit him somehow.
Not long before I moved to Connecticut he connected with a woman who was a few years older than us (we were the same age). They ended up married – she knew he was gay, I don’t know all the details of their marriage and honestly it was none of my business but she was good people, she made him happy, and she was good for him. He wanted to get into the Coast Guard – this was before DADT when you just didn’t talk about it in any branch of the service, though I doubt that was the sole reason. I do know he seemed to genuinely love being in the CG.
He visited Buddy and I in CT at one point when he was in port for something or other, since we lived very close to the CG academy (and thus, a CG installation). We didn’t have the internet yet and at some point we just kind of lost touch. I missed him.
Not long after we moved to NC I decided I really wanted to find him. I tried sort of half-assed for a number of years but after we bought this house in 2010 I really started to put effort into finding him. I would occasionally turn up info on him and I’d try to contact him via whatever I had dug up, but it never panned out.
Recently (in the past week) I found some email addresses for him and his wife. I emailed the one for him and it came back undeliverable. It was a work type address so I figured well ok, he didn’t work there anymore. So I tried the email for his wife.
She replied and told me that yes, I had found the right person. However … Steve passed away in 2008.
I think sometimes about finding various old friends, even though I’m getting old enough now that a nonzero number of them are likely to have passed away. Once in awhile I’ll find one. I think there was one where we rekindled a friendship but most of the time we just don’t know what to say to each other anymore. This is the first time, though, that one of them had passed away by the time I found them.
I’m deeply sad. I hadn’t talked to him in about 20 years or so, so it’s not an immediate and painful grief but I feel a deep sadness. I had hoped to reconnect and perhaps reminisce about some of the hysterical times and memories we had. I guess I’ll have to remember them on my own now.