By Donna Rankin
I met Deb first, a million years ago when we worked together. She threw herself into the lives of kids, developed their hurt, loss, hope, talent into stage performances that loosened your humanity. I liked kids, too, but from the safer distance of writing about them. Deb didn’t like goal attainment scales, office hours, meetings. Me neither. We formed an instant sisterhood.
Sisterhoods can be wrecked in a heartbeat by bringing in unbrotherly mates, but a few months in we took that nervous-making step of introducing the husbands. From the first day Tom and I met Bob Dorn, there was never a day we didn’t love him.
For me, he was easier to love in his own territory, but then there was no place Bob inhabited that didn’t become his own territory. So I loved him when he dribbled duck grease all over my kitchen and used every pot and pan I never even knew I had.
I loved him at 6 a.m., when Tom and Deb were smart enough to stay in their beds, but I had to follow my routine of two hours of muteness with coffee and crossword, while Bob had to comment on every inch of ink that irritated him in the newspaper. Which was every inch written. Including ads.
I even loved him when he came out of my bathroom wearing my much-treasured, lit, Xmas chili pepper wreath on his head shouting Hail Caesar!
You had to. Because Bob devoured life like a finger-licking, lip-smacking feast. Because he had an infinite-tracked mind that was bound to snag your heart on one track or another: hard-boiled journalist, little boy with hurt feelings, social justice-seeking warrior, lotus-eating hedonist, wise old hipster, philosopher, teacher, wannabe stonemason, trumpet-blaring stage hog, purveyor of wondrous stories that unearthed the most unexpected nuggets of human kindness.
It’s hard to know how to thank a man who gave us so many different pieces of himself. Maybe just by carrying on, sharing the pieces.