Thursday, September 07, 2017

Good night, sweet Prince. I wish you were still eating that sandwich.

Earl Rich died 20 years ago in a motorcycle crash. I've written about Earl several other times on this blog.

He used to joke about being a Republican but we both despised Newt Gingrich. Who is still here, while Earl is gone. 

I wonder what Earl would say if he was told that Donald Trump - who of course was famous even 20 years ago - had become president.

His family had a memorial service for Earl, and I was late arriving thanks to one of Earl's friends giving me the wrong time. So by the time I showed up, the church was packed and it was SRO and the service was winding down. I stood in the back as various people shared their memories of Earl. And the last person who shared memories before the end of the service was a woman named Lisa who had been been a supervisor to both of us when I worked at the company where I met Earl, PTS. And I knew Earl despised her, so I couldn't let that stand, with her being the last one to remember him aloud. So I walked down the church aisle and handed the minister an email that Earl had written to me a year and a half earlier. The minister read it to the gathered mourners:

"I like that phrase "reality sandwich". I think I understand where your coming from. 
Everyone has to take a bite of that sandwich once in a while. Although the sandwich may taste like shit, it's sometimes necessary medicine for those who are stuck with eating it (sorta like cough syrup).
And it doesn't ALWAYS taste bad. In fact, sometimes it can taste downright good. Many of us take those good moments for granted. We both have to take the good with the bad, just like everyone else. But at least we're eating the sandwich!
Of course that bite of sandwich can get stuck in your throat if you don't chew thoroughly; thats when it can make you blue. I'm a pretty fast eater and I'm always looking for something to act as a chaser (an admittedly BAD habit). In fact, I had a pretty-damned big chunk of that sandwich stuck in my throat this morning, and I was feeling somewhat discolored. And without any serious pharmaceuticals. But then a pretty cool thing happened. 
I had taken a double-dosage of some cold remedy that's been sitting in our medicine cabinet for quite some time (I do have a cold). I went out for a drive. The sun was out, the snow was everywhere, and Pluto was in the passenger seat. I had a mild buzz going (much to my surprise) either from the medicine, or from my cold. WWDB's Sunday With Sinatra show was churning out some of Franks greatest stuff. The next thing you know - lifes problems seemed kinda distant. Its like for some weird instant you can tune into life. It always seems to happen in different places, at different times, and for different reasons. But its still pretty cool when it does happen. So no matter how fucked over things can get, good moments can still happen. The fact that they don't last, and the fact that there ARE bad moments, are what make the good times worth living for. If those perfect moments lasted, we would all take them for granted. Like that poem by that guy, I think its called "Nothing Gold Can Stay" but I'm not sure. 
Hey, I never claimed to much of a spiritual guy. Thats why I like republicans. 
Well, Monday morning is right around the corner so I have some serious relaxing to take care of. I hope you saved some of that work for me. 

I was really glad I did that. Earl got the last word at his own funeral.

Someone reworked his old web site - I assume his widow Michelle - moving it from a sub-folder on Voicenet to his very own domain, But the content is quite different - Earl's original "CUBE" contained his resume and links to computer-related sites and photos of his friends surfing. I don't think the picture there now of the guy with a surfboard is him, I think that's a stock photo. The web site doesn't have any photos of Earl which is a damn shame, he was such a beautiful man. Although photography barely did justice to his beauty.

The site's home page is named 9/7/97 which is the date he died. 

Here is his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He would have been 32 in another month. 

I told him not to get a motorcycle. They are too dangerous. *sigh*

I feel like Earl should be more famous. I am in touch now with only three people who knew him, two former PTS co-workers who are Facebook friends (and I barely ever talk to them there) and my friend Rosemary - Earl helped us become friends - who lives in Austria.

Earl was so beautiful and so beloved and he made such a big impact on my life in the brief time I knew him - only three years. But he inserted himself into my life in a few other ways besides the email. In the summer of 1995 he took a vacation in Key West, where my ex-husband was living at the time and he actually found my ex-husband there and spoke to him a little. My ex-husband was easy to find then he would ride around town on a three-wheeler with his young son in a side-car. 

Then there was the time he pretended to be interested in my sister Eileen (which I never actually believed as Earl was married.)  He sang the song "Come On Eileen" at me and so I think of him - that and several songs by the Beach Boys - whenever I hear it. And he came to my desk at the office and picked up the phone and actually called Eileen to complete the charade. She took it pretty well when I explained it was Earl's bizarre idea of a joke.

Earl lent me one of his old surfboards which I used to try to surf although never got the hang of it. But that was a lovely gesture on his part.

Earl Rich c. 1995 by Nancy McClernan
We communicated via email more than I've communicated with almost anybody I've ever known  - and certainly more than I've ever communicated with anybody else by email. I still have a big binder of print-outs of many of our back-and-forth emails. Most of them are just silly and as I review them now I see that I wrote more often to him, and at much greater length each time than vice-versa but he would occasionally confide in me with some fairly personal stuff, especially about the aforementioned Lisa our supervisor, who was basically sexually harassing him. 

One time when I drew Earl's portrait - see image on the right - which Earl sat for quite willingly and which was certainly not erotic in any way. Lisa told HR I was harassing Earl, the shameless hypocrite that she was.

Lisa was a pretty unattractive woman (one of our co-workers referred to her as "a troll") and in any case Earl was married and she was his supervisor so it was just wrong on many levels and it was quite upsetting to Earl although he tried to be cool about it as you can see here:

BETWEEN YOU AND ME: I've been getting AOL mail from Lisa. Have you? She's asked me twice what my hidden talents are, and I told her they were listed to the repetitive re-booting of my PC. I hope I didn't sound too cold. I try to keep my responses to her E-Mail down to two or three lines, if possible. And I desperately avoid anything the tray even com minutely near to resembling a semblance of being flirtatious. Her last E-Mail was definitely hinting at something (or am I being paranoid)? I haven't thought of a way to answer it yet. I hope she never becomes our official manager. Don't get me wrong, I know she'd be good at it, but as it is I sometimes fee like I have to tiptoe around her. Like this picture thing. If it was anybody else, I'd just say "Hey what're you doing with my picture? Why didn't you ask me for one?" But I can't say that to her. It kind of irks me. Not that you gave them to her, or even that she has them, but rather that she has them and I'm not supposed to know about it. She could've asked me for them, but I guess that would've been strange too. I can't believe how fucking strange the whole situation is. Oh well, we've all been in weird situations before. I just wonder how it'll pan out. 
Lisa's been saying some interesting things to Patrick also, between you and I. He handles it very well, that well-balanced Spartacus that he is. But her sexual comments don't bother me that much. It's more like her quest for power, her domineering nature. And you're not the only person she sends bad vibes to. She seems to have it in for certain others, but interestingly enough, they are mostly women. I can be uncomfortable around a group costing entirely of women but then again I'd rather not be hanging out with 12 guys. I think everybody is the most comfortable in mixed company. I doubt that I'm the only one who feels this way. I know that if I'm with a bunch of guys and no women are around, the guys may have a tendency to say things and act a certain way. Once a woman is present, a noticeable change (in a lot of cases, but now all) can be seen. Wouldn't it suck to be the person responsible for changing a group's behavior? I'm just a paranoid nutcase: I fit right in here at PTS (Paranoid Towers of Schizophrenia). 
I didn't let Patrick know how I felt about Lisa because they are pretty tight. They have tea together twice a day, and they walk in the park a lot. (sometimes I go with them, but L's been irritating me so I've been getting out of it as of late) Do you think he'll tell her?? I hope not, or else things are gonna get nasty. Yesterday (thurs) Patrick came into our office, looked at me, and asked "How's Earl doing today?" and before I could say anything Lisa said "He's a little better than yesterday, but we'll see" or something long those lines and I just snapped and said, "keep your nose out of it". But then I felt so bad, because she seemed to take it kinda hard, so I took your advice and spoke with her. I basically smoothed things over - I think these things move in cycles. Although I don't like the way she enjoys talking about other people, the way in which she manipulates ted, and her quest for power (yesterday she was actually getting loud with someone on the phone - I tried not to listen, but couldn't help it - She was going off about how somebody on her Worship Committee didn't get her approval to do something), I do think she's intelligent, and I'm gonna have to live with her for a while. She loves it at PTS, and I'm staying until something better comes along. So I'm going to make myself get along with her - it's not always that hard, sometimes we get along OK without either of us trying. No big deal, until the next explosion. But what's the deal with a worship committee? Why do people need to be told about how to worship? OKOkokok. For now, everything is back to peachy keen, and its gonna stay that way, if I can help it.
Now that you've listened to me spill my guts for the last few days, hows things on your end?

What a sweet and sensitive man. And of course he never did get out of there. He died on the weekend, on his way to enjoy surfing at the Jersey shore.

He would be 52 years old now. I wish he was still eating that sandwich.