The first one of those calls I remember was when I was about thirteen. It came in the middle of the night, and I’m not sure if it was the phone or my mother’s scream that woke me up. M., the son of family friends, had been killed in a car wreck. The next one of those calls came through to me on the ladies’ dresses checkout desk at Burdines department store. I was working there over the summer after my sophomore year in college, saving up money for a fall semester abroad. It was my friend D., calling to tell me our friend A. had been murdered. Then there was the call on Monday night. I didn’t answer the phone when it rang because I was washing dishes. When I was done I checked the phone and saw there was a message from S. I figured she was calling about our planned upcoming weekend visit and called her back without listening to the message first, which is why it was even more of a shock when she told me that DDB was dead, shot himself on Friday.
I’ve written about DDB on this blog before, most recently about his instruction in making dry and extra dry martinis. He was one of the characters from English central casting — posh, mustachioed, and seeming to belong to a bygone empire era even though he was too young (sixty-ish) for that to be possible — that we met at the Boylestone village pub. He drank too much, but I never thought much about it because he never seemed drunk. Rather he seemed perpetually charming, always armed with a story like the one about the time he took a business trip to Texas and got such a kick out of the way the locals pronounced “Hereford” (as in cattle).
I was only an acquaintance of DDB’s and I have no idea why he committed suicide; as far as I know there was no concern amongst those closest to him, no note of explanation. The only conclusion I have is the obvious one — these were the actions of a man in despair. And I feel a little bit ashamed at how I fell for his charismatic public front hook, line, and sinker. It was such a perfect fit with my romanticized version of the English countryside that I had no motivation to see anything deeper in him.
Wednesday morning I watched as the first of the Chilean miners was rescued live on the morning news. It made me a little teary and before I knew it I was heaving full blown sobs for DDB.
I’ll miss him, and his yellow socks.