Our first conversation was something along the lines of “So, what kind of music do you enjoy?” He said that he liked New Age, modern jazz, dance tracks, and Space Music. I instantly knew then that Doug was a kindred spirit. I had been perusing the compact discs at one of the local music stores when he “accidentally” bumped against my right arm. We selected a couple of albums, paid for them, and walked through the shopping mall. During our stroll, we shared brief backstories about ourselves. For both of us, it was friendship at first sight.
Within a few weeks, Doug and I began to just hang out together at one or the other’s place. Our interests intersected in other areas, too. In addition to our music tastes, both of us were fascinated by meteorology, unexplained phenomenona, and the LGBT community. Eventually, Doug confessed that he “sort of” had been stalking me. He quickly explained the stalking was not done with criminal intent; it was more in line with the type of stalking that groupies do regarding their favorite singers. He was too shy to approach potential acquaintances in the conventional manner. Since I was well-known in the community as a media personality, this was a scenario I sometimes encountered.
Doug had initially approached me in the music store despite his fear of rejection after one of his siblings insisted that Doug should simply work up the courage to say something to me in public. To lurk in the shadows and not put himself “out there” could be construed as creepy behavior.
We eventually became inseparable best friends. We shared meals and took coffee shop outings together. I was his wingman whenever we went to discotheques and bars. He remained too shy to hit on anyone so we usually just ended up dancing together at dance clubs in Omaha or Lincoln. During our drives back home through eastern Nebraska, we liked to gossip and tell each other puns and lame jokes.
Then, just as suddenly as our friendship began, Doug announced that he had landed a new job in Arizona and would move to Phoenix within a month. Weeks later, I helped to load a U-Haul trailer with his belongings, then we hugged each other a tearful goodbye. We promised each other to keep in touch.
Both of us kept those promises. Between weekly phone calls and audio cassettes we sent to each other, we never lost track of our whereabouts. When the Internet became more entrenched in our lives, we exchanged frequent emails to supplement phone conversations. Instead of cassette tapes, we shared links to songs on the Web we enjoyed. We always remembered to send cards and small mementos on holidays and birthdays. He occasionally left comments on this blog.
Abruptly this January, his communications ended. Despite repeated attempts to reach Doug, there were no responses. Out of worry about Doug’s well-being I investigated. Then I discovered his short obituary in the local newspaper. It barely felt real, so I checked other sources. All of them confirmed Doug’s demise.
As of this post’s writing, the funeral mass to honor Doug has not taken place. He left his remains to science. When the research company is ready, they will ship his cremains home for burial in a local cemetary. Until then, I do not have closure. I wait patiently for his return.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes singer/songwriter, Andrew Ridgeley. “It’s very difficult to put it into words or really put your finger on exactly what it was that people found so attractive about Wham! But it was a lot to do with George and me, and our friendship.”