So when I walked up onto Otis’ perfectly manicured lawn last summer, anxious about my first meeting with the people whose writing I read every day (workplace productivity at an all-time low), the first person I recognized out of the crowd milling around the bar was Al. I probably could have figured out who he was even blind as Helen Keller, listening for the dulcet sounds of Soco splashing into Solo cups, and some hippy bellowing for “double!” I found Al to be surprisingly charming, given his wild-ass writing style, and perfectly balanced by the uber-mellow exuded by his wheelman, BigMike.
Over the course of that day and night and the winter blogger gathering in Vegas, I got to spend more times with the mountain of cool that is BigMike, and have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the man. Not many other bloggers (and I use the term loosely, since I think he still holds the record for most comments on a non-post) would have their telephone even turned on at 4AM, much less answer it, crawl out of bed for a dial-a-shot and then sing a rousing chorus of Jo-an-a-da along with me, Iggy, Grubby and Maudie. BigMike is simply put, one of the coolest, most generous, kindhearted souls I’ve ever met. He’s a voluminous drinker, an enabler of drunkenness in others, a generous giver to those in need, and far, far, overeducated for the company he routinely keeps (just kidding, Al).
And today, he needs your thoughts and prayers. BigMike lost his mother last night, and I can’t even really imagine what that’s like. Al will have more details soon, go there to read about arrangements. It’s been a really rough year for so many of us, and this is the latest in a string of tough beats my friends, their colons and I have endured. So think of the big guy when you say your prayers tonight. And hug somebody, because we’re all seeing hard lessons this year about living in the moment and telling people you care about that they matter to you.