MY FUNNY VALENTINES…
The best, the brightest, the most beautiful child on earth – on the cusp of becoming the best man on earth. There aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to my perfect son. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Will or who has a bad thing to say about him. (They’d damnned well better not do it within earshot of me, anyway.) My son is the best thing to ever happen to me. Period.
I’ve known Butler since I was nine years old – he’s closer to me than my own brother. As his sister, Beth, so aptly put it, Butler is “surrounded by an aura of wonderful Butlerness.” For those readers who don’t know him personally, I’m truly sorry for you. See this picture? It’s no accident that I chose Butler’s face to put on the sun – a benevolent Butler-Sun beaming down on us all. Hey…in a perfect world.
MICHAEL MOSS Where do I begin and where do I end with this one? For those of you who haven’t had the privilege to witness and be a part of the the journey of this magnificent man, you’ve missed a true odyssey. Our intense (I think it’s a 25 on the Richter scale) and sometimes rocky friendship of over 30 years is something akin to driving down I-75 and sighting a unicorn…or a centaur. Rare. Inexplicable. The very stuff of myth.
TOM DECHMAN Arguably the finest teacher, certainly the finest public school teacher I’ve ever had. Tom taught me things when I was sixteen and seventeen years old – and I don’t mean lessons from books – that I have literally used for the rest of my life. The man was such a genius that the first time I asked him a question and he replied that he didn’t know the answer, I thought he was lying. Tom passed away in 2003, and I still think about him and miss him…and probably always will.
TOM LAKE Just when my former teacher named Tom died – this new one named Tom stepped up to the plate for me. (And for those of you who’ve ever tried to teach ME anything, you know that it really does require stepping up to the plate.) Tom Lake is the American/Western equivalent of the Dalai Lama as far as I can tell. He’s a kind and compassionate friend and incredibly gifted shaman (also a taskmaster, when necessary) who travels all over the world to share his limitless talents with his students. A true healer and a constant source of inspiration to me and all those lucky enough to know him.
COMMANDER GEORGE W. “KIM” KIMMONS I think of this man as the one who should have been my father – in the best of all possible worlds. I met Kim when I was about eleven years old. I thought the moon and stars revolved around him – and maybe they did. I was just getting interested in playing the piano during those same years, and Kim only knew four chords. He could play virtually anything with just those four, and decided to teach me some songs. (Okay, they were mostly dirty Navy ditties, but still.) His nickname for me as long as we knew each other was “Leeter.” Believe you me, he’s the only person in the world who could get away with calling me that. Don’t any of the rest of you even think about it. Kim passed away in 2002, and I miss him terribly. He was simply one of the finest men to have ever walked the planet. Ever.
ALLAN KOLLAR I’ve known Allan since I was in high school – he’s the former ringleader of Midnight Auto Supply turned rock star of the theater world in his neck of the woods. Makes me laugh harder than anyone I know. Allan is a funky combination of Southern gentleman, boy-next-door, Dennis the Menace… and Denis Leary. His crisp, candy-coated exterior hides a molten center of…what? Lava? Nitroglycerin? Kryptonite? The world may never know.
JOE TALLANT My favorite uncle – always has been – always will be. The true genius in my family. Could doubtless figure out how to take apart a nuclear reactor and put it back together again. (Could also tear up a crowbar.) One of the only people in my family whose brain is frequently on the same weird wavelength as mine. I guess that’s not necessarily a quality most would aspire to, but it certainly makes communication easier between me and Joe. I truly don’t know what I’d do without him to explain to me how shit works. And I mean everything from an electric toothbrush to a rocket ship and all things in between. There’s only the singular Joe Tallant, but really, it’s too bad everybody can’t have one.
DAN LAWSON Husband of one of my dearest friends, and father to their sons, Tom and Warren. This is the guy who uncomplainingly packs all our stuff into the van every summer when it’s time to go to Hunting Island. Who patiently explains to us, over and over and over, how to work the remote. Moves furniture around for parties, makes ice runs, ferries his kids all over God’s green earth (and God’s green golf courses), and I could go on and on. Dan’s another one who makes me laugh so hard I almost start to snort. He has always been unfailingly good to me and as far as I know – has never asked for a single thing in return.
My completely unsolicited advice for Valentine’s Day? Take good care of the good men in your lives. Love them and let them know that you do. Lyta has spoken.