I realized while going through the remnants of my old blog that it’s been ten years since Chris passed away. I’ve outlived a great many friends and loved ones, and some people leave more of a mark on you than others. Chris was like that- he definitely made an impression.
I first met him in the very early 1990s on an accidental double date. It wasn’t supposed to be a date- Jade, one of my best friends at the time, wanted me to meet her friend Amy and arranged a meet-up at a local pool room. Amy brought Chris along, and we got on brilliantly. After we all left the pool hall, we drove to the Lake Worth Pier. Chris wanted to talk to Jade on the drive over, so when we reached a stoplight, he got out of his car and knocked on my window. A brief car switcheroo commenced, and we each drove the rest of the way to the pier in the other’s car. This was the first of many shenanigans over the span of our friendship.
If you called Chris by his full name, he would say “the Topher is silent.” After Chris died December 28th, 2009, from complications of pneumonia, that sentiment is truer than ever.
Chris and I were thick as thieves through most of the 1990s. We took classes together at PBCC, before it evolved into its current form. In 1994, we got an apartment in Boynton Beach and spent a year as roommates. We worked at Motorola together making the circuit boards for pagers. He stayed on at Motorola when I left to finish my bachelor’s degree in Orlando.
A lot of who I am today was the direct result of my time with him. Being around Chris shaped parts of my personality. Chris is one of the few people I have ever known with a music collection that was larger than mine- we became fiercely competitive about the size of our CD collections. It was all in fun, though- there’s a ton of music in my regular rotation even now that I might never have been exposed to if not for him.
To this day, there are certain things that are indelibly linked to Chris in my mind. There are certain songs, certain places, certain concepts that will always remain linked to him in my mind. Whenever I see a Volkswagen Golf, or drive to South Beach near the former location of his favorite pizza restaurant in Key Biscayne, my mind drifts back to the past.
The memorial service was a traditional funeral mass, and I think Chris would have been terribly amused at how much the British reverend sounded like Rowan Atkinson. I kept waiting for him to say “…and the Holy Spigot.” The only people I knew at the church were his mom, his widow, and my good and dear friend Lorrie. I’ve known Lorrie since middle school, but this was the first time that I’ve seen her in person in over a decade. I noted a few days later how much it bothered me that it took the death of one friend to bring me back into the life of another friend. Lorrie and I never fell out of touch again after that. Even now, she’s a frequent concert-and-convention buddy.
But then, Chris was always a catalyst in my universe. The people from his world and the people from my world tended to get to know one another. And quite a few of them miss him even now.