I got the call that my friend had died on Wednesday evening. I was in a theater, writing lighting cues for Les Misérables. Of course that’s when I’d hear. Richard and I met in a theater, and over the years we attended or worked on hundreds of productions together.
Paul Osterman, a great accompanist and humanist, holds the distinction of being the top commenter on this web site by a huge margin. What I appreciate about Paul’s comments is that he clearly read and understood what had been written, then contributed to the conversation. That’s the kind of person I tried to be on social media, before I decided I wasn’t up to the task.
For my 50th birthday, I bought a bottle of Balvenie Portwood 21 year-old Scotch and sought out the people who’ve been important in my life to offer a toast of thanks. Some weren’t close enough to clink a glass, so I started writing virtual toasts. That’s where this piece came from – the easiest, most pleasurable writing I’ve ever done.
I decided I needed a hiking partner – I wanted the moral encouragement a well-matched companion might provide. In high school, Champ had been on the football team, while I was a decidedly unathletic music geek…In 2012 we hiked Algonquin, followed that up with Marcy in 2014, then we hiked Esther and Whiteface in 2018. I proposed the Traverse shortly thereafter.
Jim had been concerned about bears as the trip approached; he’d read about several close encounters on the message boards he followed. I wasn’t too worried, because I’d never actually seen a bear in 35 years of hiking in the Adirondacks. I’d camped before in areas where the NYS DEC warned visitors to be cautious, and I followed their rules, printed on bright yellow signs at most trailheads.
This week, I’m preparing for my sixth musical at New Hartford High School, the third one entirely designed and run by a student crew. This is an abridged version of the letter I gave the crew, as they begin attending rehearsals.
We said our job was to raise a self-sufficient, contributing member of society; mission accomplished.
Recently, a friend ran into an old classmate, who said she remembered me from school. I looked her up on Facebook, and although the recent profile shot rang a bell, I couldn’t place her. That sent me back to a much earlier facebook, the 1987 FHS (Fairport, NY) Hourglass.
He awoke in the dark, instantly alert. Curious, he sat up and listened. The pale glow from the bedside clock blinked 3:48 am. The house was still; the neighborhood was quiet except for the rustle and last drips of rain through the trees and on the roof. Nothing else moved, but anticipation sparked the edges of his consciousness. What had called him?
There’s good in most people, wisdom even in a ballsy weasel. My father said shit that I remember every day; his bon mots comprise a not-inconsiderable legacy that I’ve passed on to my own kids over the years.