A while back, I used to ride with a friend named Darren. He was a good man. He was great at bass guitar and is one of the best I’ve played with over the years. He was older than most of the rest of us and had experience in the merchant marine before joining a band.
Now, you may be wondering why I’m referring to him in the past tense. It’s because Darren’s dead. He died on the road, surrounded by his bandmates. The asbestos that was on the ship he was on got to him at last.
Today, I wanted to remember him. And not just because he taught me a valuable lesson about how important asbestos removal Perth is.
Darren was a man who loved his family but couldn’t bring himself to be around them for very long. There were some issues, but he never elaborated on them. All I know is he and his son weren’t on the best of terms during the one time I saw them interact.
He had a knack for finding the right thing to say to make people laugh. He could have been a comedian if he wanted, but he never really understood the appeal of being on stage alone.
Darren did not like ham. It was the only thing he wouldn’t eat. He liked to tell stories about strange foods he’d eaten while he was at sea. Goat’s eyes, raw duck eggs, and all sorts of unusual local delicacies. He would never touch ham. “Something about the texture,” he explained once.
Throughout the time I knew him, he held on to only three prized possessions. One was a pair of old boots that had seen better days. He never wore them, but he’d keep them close. One time, I saw him talking to them. I never did get that story out of him.
Another was a well-worn copy of a compilation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. He had little notes in the margins, and it was a pretty beat-up book. He’d read it every so often.
He was a huge fan of music and didn’t much care for following particular artists or genres. If he liked a song, he liked it. It didn’t matter if he didn’t like anything else the band or singer did. It’s why he would be playing Elvis one moment and the next he’s jamming to Rage Against the Machine.
He was a gentleman. Not once did I ever see him act in a manner that was impolite to a woman, even if she was rude herself. He minded his manners more than I ever saw anyone else, but he never pressed it on the rest of us.
No, us being polite and minding our etiquette came all by itself. We followed his example. I like to think he was proud of us.
On his last day among the living, Darren left us his last prized possession. A small velvet pouch full of coins. All the coins were from foreign countries, collected during his years at sea. Each one, he said, was a reminder of a moment he felt “alive.”