I wish that nature would get the memo that there is such a thing as “too young to die”...
I had all these plans of making stupid, snarky tweets and status updates while pretending to pay attention in a weekly meeting, but instead I found out a friend of mine passed away last night. I am dumbfounded. I really thought that he was immortal. Seriously.
I moved to Rochester 5 years ago. The first bar to which I went was the Old Toad. The first person I met was Jules, and the first scary-looking bouncer I met was Tony. I didn’t really “meet” him so much as I decided not to f*** with him as I saw him physically eject a young man who thought he could start a fight in the Toad. My mama always told me not to f*** with a bald white man with a beard, because he might stab you or run you over with his Harley.
So a few weeks later, when I came in and he carded me, I was a little bit intimidated, but my credentials were legit, and he had a big smile on his face, so I thought perhaps my mama’s generalisation may have been a little bit off base. You can just get the vibe from him: this man is a mensch. When I came back a second, third, and fourth time when he was running the door, and he remembered my name, I felt like an ass for not even asking his. I think I think I asked one of the Toadies at the time what his name was so as not to feel like a complete ass in front of him. After a while, thanks to the size of Rochester, I would see Tony everywhere, and everywhere I saw him, he was the man who brightened up the room. You can’t be in a bad mood if Tony says, “Hi” to you. It is impossible. We’ve shared more than a few barbs at each other, more than a few jokes, and more than a few actual deep conversations, mostly about comic book heroes, but that s*** was real talk. Tony has successfully made an ale go up my nose as he made a wise crack at JUST the right time. I took for granted that he would always be around, because he’s immortal!...F***ing nature…
I only knew Tony through the weekly conversations we had over pints and food, about pints and food and ridiculously obscure conversations, but I knew that after my first encounter, this was a man who you can count as a friend, even if he barely knew you. He did good things just to do it. More Tonys need to roam the earth. I pity the people who never met him, because they just don’t know what they missed. I hope reincarnation exists, because I hope Tony is reborn and gets to touch even more people, perhaps across the globe this time. I’m really glad I didn’t pay attention to my mama’s advice, or I would have missed out.
So things I learned: 1) I CAN trust bald white men with long beards. 2) I should not listen to mt mother. 3) Friendship between some humans, like energy, is a thing that was always there. You just don't know it until you meet said human. 4) I CAN successfully brush off that a few tears as just "allergies" when I'm presenting at a meeting...so long as I get the f*** out of there within 15 minutes, before it really hits me. I would have made him proud.
Rest In Peace, Tony Gerardi. Your bar stool will never be filled.