A tilt of the head, the eyes spark in recognition and a nonchalant, yet sincere “Hey Dude” greeted me as I walked into the room. This followed by (in my mind) a stylised and complex greeting of tribal worth and ultimately coolness with a fist punch, over tap and wry smile. I over complicate the greetings that always result upon catching up, but that’s because I’ve always felt that I wasn’t cool enough to warrant such a welcome, mostly because no one else had ever seen fit to include me in such a ritual.
I first met Dave in 2004, at Crown Casino of all places, where Katie was surreptitiously introducing me to her friends in those first few weeks to put me up to the “screening” – that is to see if I passed muster and was a suitable candidate entitled to be “the boyfriend”.
Dave sidled up to me with a: “Hi, I’m Dave, nice to meet you.”
This followed up by a more earnest: “So, what makes you a suitable sort of guy to go out with Katie?”
Rather direct really. As I got to know Dave, I recognised how highly he regarded Katie and was on the look out for her – the mere fact I got a greeting upon first meeting was actually monumental.
Catching up with Dave as we did, in different circumstances was always entertaining, as it entailed a dialogue of witty comments, astute observations and “zesty” behaviour, as Katie and I like to refer to our interesting and treasured friends. Perhaps, most importantly from my viewpoint, Dave liked to share. In all aspects – opinion, ideas and with his treasured wife Melody at his side complimenting his viewpoint – these are the over riding memories I have of the guy.
As I got to know him, Dave distinguished himself as being further unique as the props with which he relied upon were that which can be considered from any angle, geeky. He liked comics, errr excuse me “graphic novels”. He loved movies of any genre, particularly if it covered controversial subject matter which charts the human condition and the ongoing struggle with identity with which people constantly question and grapple with. Given he was a media teacher at Melbourne High School and had a avid and stalwart following of students speaks to his influence, motivations and commitment to sharing. Such a passion for the big screen transcended across to the idiot box and I have much to my pleasure, the clearly impassioned “Oh Dude, you have to watch this!” firmly emblazoned on my memories. I see it a sign of our friendship having grown over the years that this decisive statement had evolved from “What?! You haven’t seen this?!”
Dave introduced me to Firefly/Serenity, Moon, District 9. His most recent observations and go to series were “The West Wing” and “The Wire” which are on our watch list for the near future.
Recently I had the inevitable circumstance whereby I had to attend the funeral of Dave. It’s not beating around the bush to say that he met his time too early, falling prey – Dave would like that description – to the modern nemesis, Cancer. However, unlike some who meet an untimely death due to misadventure or inevitable fate, Dave is one of the very few people who I can acknowledge clearly lived life full tilt and maximised every opportunity that was in front of him. There was nothing that wasn’t too outrageous, so long as it met his own noble hallmarks of conduct – he was enjoying himself, it involved his friends and he was learning something along the way, even if it was the validity and worthiness of Star Trek on this world.
Upon reflection a month goes by quite quickly if you aren’t paying attention. As I complete this post, it is with some sadness that I reminisce that it was almost a month ago that we said farewell to Dave. We all paid tribute and our everlasting love and respect for a guy that impacted in such a positive fashion upon all of us who knew him. Dave had this inimitable style of equally lambasting his friends yet being the first in line if something was going south. This was reinforced by the eulogies that were paid in his honour and is endorsed by the long list of memories I have. The way I catalogue them stand out because of the people involved, the inspiration they invoke, the fond memories they elicit and most of all the fact that Dave was the binding force which bought them all together.
“The Subaru”: Katie and I went holidaying for a few weeks and rather than leave my car home in the driveway as thief bait, I loant it to Dave & Melody, as I knew they would enjoy it for a driving holiday. If you know me, than you will also know that 1/ I love my cars and I love driving (fanatic is an apt term) 2/ I was very proud of my Subaru, given that it was representative of fond memories of my time working for them earlier in my career.
Dave’s report back when I asked was the car okay on their holiday, which they drove to Adelaide and back was charmingly succinct: “Dude, that is the BEST car I have ever driven and I want it now. Excuse me, I like you a lot, but if I stab you and stuff you into the wheelie bin out back, I can’t be held to blame. I want your car.”
To say I was chuffed that Dave & Melody had a great break is an understatement of the highest order.
“The Bookshelves”: So the story goes thus. Dave & Melody have a beautiful house with which they have slowly been renovating, even to the extent of polishing their own floorboards (madness in my parlance – we paid someone). Melody had headed away for a few days with her work and Dave had decided to be enterprising and build floor to ceiling bookshelves to house their extensive DVD collection, movie memorabilia and every single book that each of them owned. Considering that the room he built this in has 15 foot high ceilings, it’s the type of book shelf that is so vast in size that you enter the room by walking through the structure and only upon turning around do you freak out at the sheer scale of his achievement.
Not to be outdone in his craftsmanship, Dave invited an audience of people to hang out, sink some beers and chat to him and keep him company whilst he had this bout of industriousnous. I’m envious of his carpentry skills. And commitment. And vision.
I wasn’t part of the audience to the building phase of the project, but got the full blown sensory shock & awe experience a few days later when over for dinner and Dave has done the whole smoke and mirrors “Col, check this out”. Following him like a sheep into his study, the epithets that escaped my lips when I did a 360 degree swivel are not fit for this G rated Blog. I was impressed.
“The TV”: Man it was big. Dave had a 52″ Plasma, which is fitting considering he is a movie critic and all. And adhering to his geeky roots, he had a fully specced out media centre connected, the trickest mouse/keyboard combo I’ve ever seen – no mean feat considering I’m somewhat geeky too – and his desktop background was of different Conan the Barbarian in game screen captures. I was a particular fan of the close up boob shots he would occasionally have scroll across on slide show. Classy.
When we finally caught up and got our own LCD TV at our place, Dave was over like a shot at our house 2 days later for dinner and baby sitting our infant son Noah getting right into Ice Road Truckers on Foxtel.
Because of his love of the big screen, the running joke that always met when Melody came over to visit – she is very dear friends to my wife Katie – and Dave had stayed home to do some, pick one: editing/marking/reports was his deadpan response: “I’m watching porn”. Yep and we know you were enjoying it too Dave.
“My mate Benny”: I remember meeting Ben for the first time some 8 months ago at a Christmas in July dinner, and I recall stepping back and proclaiming “BENNY! OMG I Want to shake your hand, I am honoured to meet you”. Whilst tongue in cheek to some extent, the laughter with which this was greeted by all present was a reflection of Dave’s enduring capacity to involve all his friends and the respect and thoughtfulness for those around him. Dave always spoke highly of Benny and the regard they had for each other as long term, steadfast mates is aspirational. This was reflected in my greeting as Benny’s legendary status and myth had been shamelessly fueled by the pranks and hi-jinks which Dave relished in the execution and the retelling. Dave hacking Benny’s Facebook comes to mind….
“Man Hugs”: an interesting phenomenon I’ve noted as I’ve gone through my 30′s – men start hugging each other upon greeting. Given that I had always felt unworthy of Dave’s codified spy like secret handshake manoeuvre, I spontaneously one day just hugged him. He was startled than reciprocated with the rider: “Col, I like you alot. If you would have been anyone else, you wouldn’t be standing”. From that point on, he approached hugs with gusto, and Noah got into the act too.
“Our son Noah”: Dave loved Noah. I’m not ashamed to admit that it brings tears to my eyes and makes me quite upset to recall how much Dave enjoyed Noah’s Jekyll and Hyde persona and spending time with him on numerous occasions baby sitting him. It is to my eternal regret that Noah won’t get to know Dave properly given that he is only 18 months old. I truly hope that Noah surrounds himself with people of Dave’s calibre in his future.
Dave, this post is in tribute to yourself – we have often (whilst drinking too much) conjectured on the notion of being immortalized and remembered for our achievements and what we mean to those around us. My way of tribute is to emblazon you on the web – it’s what I know and I can’t think of a more fitting person in yourself that deserves to be remembered for being one of the most fantastic guys anyone could have the privilege of knowing.
Your legacy of living life and sharing and being there for your friends will be well remembered and honoured.
Thank-you for everything you gave to everyone you knew.
Rest In Peace.