From: email@example.com (Peggy Currid)
Subject: Eulogy for a Friend
User-Agent: slrn/0.9.5.6 (UNIX)
Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 18:33:18 GMT
X-Trace: vixen.cso.uiuc.edu 1004207598 220.127.116.11 (Sat, 27 Oct 200113:33:18 CDT)
NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2001 13:33:18 CDT
Organization: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Xref: vixen.cso.uiuc.edu alt.peeves:250568
In April 2001, I visited the Bay Area and, during some time I spentwithVinnie, talk turned to matters of death -- not his in particular,just in general. During that conversation, Vinnie asked if I wouldwritesomething up when he died ("Not that I'm planning on shuffling offtoosoon, Red; don't worry"). So, Vin, here it is. Sooner than I expectedtodo it, but you always did have a way of messing up my well-orderedlife,you crazy son-of-a-bitch.
Vinnie Jordan was a man with much anger and little impulse control --anoften dangerous combination. For the most part, the danger was to himself,although I'm certain there are plenty of people with the scars to proveotherwise.
He was sincere, though. If he loved you, he truly loved you. If he hatedyou, make no mistake -- you were well and truly hated. If you lenthimmoney, he was sincere in his promise to pay you back -- if not a littleunrealistic about his ability to do so.
Vinnie lived in the moment. He didn't reflect on his past and herarely considered the future. His past was too dark, and his futuretoobleak. The only dream he had was reconciling with Ginny, but heknew it might not happen and had gradually come to terms with thatpossibility.
What little I know about Vinnie's past was discovered in bits and piecesgleaned from our conversations over the years. He grew up in St. Louis--in the bad part of town. His mother and father divorced eventually.Vinnieonce commented about some fatherly advice he once received: "My oldmantold me to hit first and hit fast -- and never let an opponent copa sneakon ya. I bet he never expected me to use that advice against him, whenIkicked his ass for smacking my little [half]-brother around one timetoo many."
I'm sketchy on the details of his siblings, but in addition to hishalf-brother, I'm aware of one sister and one half-sister.
In his teens, Vinnie and his three best friends turned to knocking overdrug stores for a source of quick cash and pharmaceutical supplies.When Isaw Vinnie last month, he spoke of those three friends and anguishedoverthe fact that he was the only one still walking around a free man:one wasdead, one was paralyzed from the neck down, and one was serving majortime. After he finished recounting the details, he put his head inhishands and said, "Why them and not me?"
In his early 20s (I guess; I never asked for details), Vinnie servedayear of county time for assault with a deadly weapon. His cousin'sboyfriend had been beating her, and Vinnie decided to perform a littledomestic intervention. He accosted the boyfriend outside a public buildingand knocked him over the head with an ashtray. Not the little kindinpeople's houses -- the big, metal ones that sit outside offices andsuch.Vinnie didn't like to talk about his time in jail, but one time I askedhim what it was like. "If yer asking if somebody fucked me up the ass,theanswer is no." Actually, I told him, I was simply interested in findingout how you spent your days -- reading, studying, working out -- butthatI appreciated his sharing that additional information.
A long time ago -- I can't remember the year, but I know he told me--Vinnie moved to Santa Cruz and eventually settled into a relativelynormal(or as normal as things could be for him) life: job, two marriages,onedaughter, the usual. He was with Ginny for ten years, although theynevermarried. When I heard they were breaking up, I told him I would worry.Ginny kept him grounded, and without her, I feared for his well-being.
But back to recent events: Last month, during our most recent visit,Vinnie learned that his mother died unexpectedly. In spite of hisestrangement with his mother ("She was easy to love but not easy tolike)", Vinnie was torn up over the news of her death. I was standingnextto him when he got the news via phone. When he hung up, I held himwhilehe had a quick cry, then we broke out the booze (bourbon for me; vodkaforhim) and drank a toast to her memory.
The point of much of this is to shed some light on a side of Vinniethathe didn't share with the world. Anyone who met him in real life, orexchanged e-mails with him, knew that there was Vinnie, and then therewas Pigface -- different manifestations of a complicated man: Pigfacewasthe man who hated you for posting worthless crap; Vinnie was the manwholoved you for being his friend. Pigface was crude and said the thingsweall wished we could say; Vinnie was a gentleman, usually. Pigface oftentried to yank people's chains in a newsgroup; Vinnie often sent thosesamepeople cordial e-mails. I laugh because of Pigface; I cry because ofVinnie.
Sometimes, though, Pigface came out in real life. Everything from barfights to smart-ass remarks to strangers. Driving around Santa Cruzonetime, trying to listen to Vinnie's less-than-helpful navigation tips,Ifound myself needing to make a right turn while in the far left lane.Signaling to change lanes, I checked for a hole in traffic and veeredright -- but a car approaching in my intended lane decided to speedup toprevent my moving over. Pigface rolled down the window, gestured totheother driver to roll down his window, and yelled, "Hey, you fuckin'geekslope! Can't you see the lady's trying to get in here? Fuck you andfuckyour dead mother!"
Driving with Vinnie was always an adventure. He rarely knew how to getanywhere, having always relied on the bus and friends for transportationand feeling no particular need to pay attention to travel routes. Overthecourse of my past two or three visits, Vinnie had gotten me lost drivingin La Selva Beach, in Aptos, in Capitola, and most recently inMonterey,where I drove around aimlessly as he attempted to give me directionstosome place he couldn't even remember the name of. After 30 minutesof nosuccess, and with no map, I asked Vinnie if he even knew where we were."No, I don't," he cheerfully admitted, "but I do know this: We be fucked,Pegs!"
During our September visit, Vinnie was drinking a lot and he didn'tlookvery well. I attributed those things to his depression about the endofhis relationship with Ginny and the news of his mother's death. I didn'tknow he was so close to the end, and I don't think I would have wantedtoknow. I don't know if he knew, but I suspect he did.
We rarely know what our last words to someone will be. I certainly didn'tknow, when talking to Vinnie two days before he died, that the wordsIsaid to him as I hung up the phone would be the last ones he heardfromme. But no matter. Even if I had known, they would have been the same.
"I love you, Vinnie."