The Complete and Total Loser spent four years in college -- just one fourteenth of his life, now -- but when the alumni quarterly comes he reads it with more attention than he does medical prescriptions.
Especially the obituaries of people he knew.
In the fall issue he got yesterday, there were two.
Broad shoulders, pail skin. Dutch heritage. He was a year ahead of the Loser, class of '80. A psych major. The Loser met him through his girlfriend, Susan. All three had radio shows on the college's station, a 10-watter but in the days before even the Sony Walkman it got listeners. Susan was a year behind the Loser. She had a happy, gurgling laugh and enough hair for three women; it actually kept her head and neck warm in winter. Rob stayed around the campus and got a job and an apartment after graduation as the two were headed for marriage. The apartment was between the two ends of the campus, a thirty-second walk from where the Loser lived his senior year. It was a haven for the Loser. A laugh, a smile, a beer, and they had a great dog who loved to fetch.
The Loser missed their wedding because he was living overseas when they held it. (Did he send a present? Not sure. He meant to.) The marriage lasted until Rob's death and produced two daughters. They lived in Vermont. Rob died age 53 of myelogenous leukemia in March.
Not really a friend of the Loser. A jock (soccer), very smart. David lived in the Loser's dorm freshman year and was a boyfriend, for awhile, of Pan a friend of the Loser's. The Loser liked photography and joined the college's photo club, which wasn't really a club but gave members access to a black and white darkroom for a small fee that covered chemicals. (The art department had one, but you had to be taking a course in photography to use it.)
One day David asked the Loser if he'd print some photos for him. It was rare when a jock talked to the Loser and of course he said yes. The negatives David gave the Loser were color, which you can print black and white photos with, and were of David's high school graduation. David's father was absent from the photos because, the Loser learned, one night while he and his wife, both living in Caracas, Venezuela, were preparing to go out seven men broke in, bound the wife and the maid with tape, and injected him with a sedative before carrying him off. He was held hostage for three years, at the time a near record, and escaped on his own. Something about printing the photos made the Loser feel a little closer to David than he would have ordinarily, and the two were always cordial and polite throughout their college years.
David died age 52 in February. There was no mention of a wife or children, and no cause of death was given. Like his father, he'd become an international businessman. The obituary described him as a voracious reader who spoke four languages and had a talent for mimicry.