In the early '90s, I dated a guy who had a really neat group of friends. They were musicians, artists, readers and philosophers, and we used to gather at each others' homes to discuss the books and topics of the day over merlot and zinfandel. There were parties and outings for Vietamese food. There were gatherings at bars big and small when the guitarist in our clique had a show. We discussed the affairs of the world over drinks at the pub, and there was even a wedding--the coolest, hippest one I ever attended.
A few years after I broke up with the guy and lost my honorary membership in this eclectic group, I went back to school and took a restaurant job at a nicely upscale place so I could schedule my work around my classes. One of our bar regulars was an acquaintance from the old gang, philosophy professsor Leslie Marenchin. He would sit at the bar nursing a single glass of wine and when I had a few spare minutes I would chat with him about the state of the world and the nature of humanity. Or just the weather. It never mattered with him. He was a gentle soul who was always happy to see a friend, even if there was really nothing to say.
Today I found out he died over the weekend in a fall at his home. He was only 54. Apparently he fell down a flight of stairs and hit his head on a tile floor. Friends coming for a book club meeting found him.
I didn't know Leslie well, but he was always kind to me, even in my harum-scarum days when I probably didn't deserve it. I'm saddened that he won't be around any more to share his thoughtful intelligence with friends and students, and that such a silly, pointless accident claimed his life.
Be careful out there, friends.