Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Losing my Mikey

My friend Mikey died today.  Died.  I've never known someone my age who died, I don't think.  But Mikey wasn't just anybody - he was in my inner circle. One of my "bridesmaids," in fact. One of the persons who has known me better and longer than most people in my life.

He called himself my "token gay" bridal attendant.  That made both of us laugh, in part because after 9 years of friendship, there was nothing "token" about him.  I can't think of Mary Poppins without remembering his wedding toast to me, saying he thought I was "practically perfect in every way."  You hang on to a friend who thinks that about you, even when they know you well enough to see the flaws. :)  

I have been friends with him since ninth grade.  Ebbed and flowed in closeness as the distance stretched between us.  But we could always pick up exactly where we left off.  Every college break. Freakishly long phone calls.  Email messages and then later, facebook updates and messages. We were going to visit him in California this summer. 

When he "came out" to me, the summer after freshman year of college, he had been sleeping over at my parents' house with me.  We were on couches facing each other and he said with a weighty seriousness: "Scottie, I'm gay."  I nodded and said: "I know."  And we went on from there.  He said he'd been practicing in his mind all night about what he was going to say, and then it was a non-event. I asked him in the next breath if he wanted more popcorn.  

He loved that story.

Mikey and me, circa 1997
I could always, always count on him for a laugh.  He was brilliant and quick-witted.  I could bring him a problem, and he'd have me doubled over in hysterical laughter...sides splitting...within minutes.  In the middle of the laughter would be wise, spot-on suggestions...but oh my goodness, the laughter.  I will miss that so much.

But not just funny:  He was so kind.  So so kind.  I loved how I felt when I was with him.  He made me feel accepted and beautiful and could bring out the funniest sides of myself.  When he complimented, he was authentic but exuberant.  I sent him my haircuts for review and he gave me counsel on skin creams.  

One of his last notes to me, just this last month, was so "Mikey" that I could practically frame it:  "I just have to say that I LOVE your profile pic--you look great. Outfit, skin, amazing cheek bones, perfect smile and I love the color of your hair. Miss you!"

That was Michael.  So kind and complimentary that he could make your entire day.

That side of us, though...his clothing and hair advice, was just part of it.  You could look in on him and just see the superficial sides, I suppose, ignoring the rest of him.  You could see him just as the costume designer for soap operas or the Barney's stylist.  But that wasn't who he was.  He had so much depth and character and love to him. 

I could fill this blog with stories about him that I'll remember forever.  When he decided my dog Emerson was gay, for one.  In complete seriousness:  "I have never gotten this vibe from another animal in my life, but I think your dog might be gay."  

How he demanded (demanded!) that I buy those black pants in my senior year of high school.  And they are one of the few pairs that I still own today.  His style was impeccable. 

When he did my make-up for me on my wedding day, and how he had me laughing so hard I couldn't stand still for him. 

But in all the snapshots of memories of Mikey, there is an overarching affection for a truly great man.  He will be missed for more than just those moments; he'll be missed for the person he was in life, and the person he helped me become.