Believe it or not, I had every intention of writing a post on the artistry of Paul Giamati today, but then I got the news that an old friend had passed away and Paul got placed on the backburner. I bring up Giamati because friend, Jeff Dillon, was very much like the characters Giamati has become famous for playing. A little sad. Funny. Sometimes trying to hard. But generally a good egg to be around and someone who will be missed.
Jeff (or Dill as we called him) was a guy I met in Boy Scouts back when I was in 5th Grade. We got along fine back then, but it was in high school that we became friends. And then, after high school, while working on the NOHS summer paint crew, Jeff and I became compadres. The two of us could really get under the other's skin. Probably because we had similar sensibilities, but I remember many occasions when he or I would storm away from each other, ready to kill each other. It would only take 15-20 minutes before we realized how damn stupid we were being and plans for drinking that night were underway.
When Steve and I cemented our bond of brotherhood with a drunken stroll through the NO park during the 1985 Homecoming, Jeff was pretty much responsible for providing the alcohol that night. I recall some ridiculous drives through the valley with Jeff behind the wheel of his folks whale of a Suburban. He was on of the Painters three with Steve and me. And he was pretty damn funny during so many lunches and extended breaks during those long summer days.
I can't fully describe events in my life that Jeff was there for because not all of them were these HUGE momentous happenings. But during those three summers when I figured out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, Jeff was ever present and quick to offer support and guidance.
The last time I saw Dil was in Ohio during a Christmas visit. He had just been divorced and seemed to be reliving some of his bachelor days. I recall not being able to keep up with him as he pounded drinks and wanted to party harder into the night. Back then, I thought, "Man, he'll grow out of this, soon enough." Sadly, it was only a couple years later that I learned he was ill and fighting for his life. He lost that battle last week and I'm saddened by it.
When I told Steve of this news, he said he'd just been thinking of Dill because he was painting his house. Whenever I brink out a can of paint and a brush, I think of those summer days and those guys I spent so much time with, as well. The Painters three is now a duo. Sad.