Archive for the ‘Doug’ category

Remembering Doug Bastianelli, five years on

September 16th, 2015

Five years, Doug.

This is supposed to be where you look down on me from the Great Big Pub in the Sky and smile wisely and see I’ve done well, right? I think that’s how this works.

So why isn’t it working? Five years. Tara’s off in Australia, giving Realtors the kind of speeches you get to deliver through a little ear-microphone. Jenny Calligan is beautiful as ever, but I only see her through Facebook photos. Stacey left Chicago for Colorado, and again, Facebook is keeping us in contact, but she seems to be doing well. Joe is a divorce lawyer somewhere; somehow I got on his e-mail newsletter list. Hell, even the Dark Horse got sold to new folks.

Ev’s doing great. I call him Evvie Doug pretty much all the time, which I know would get out of you one of those loud, head-thrown-back guffaws. He’s incredibly intelligent, incredibly verbose. Plays with Lego all the time. Creates his own mighty machines. I wish you’d had a chance to play with him. I just know you’d be down on the floor in his toy area, laughing while he showed off his creations.

I got lost somewhere in there. I go to work, I come home 12 hours later, I play with the boy, I maybe have 30 minutes to myself after bedtime, and then I fall asleep. I don’t have friends. I don’t have a bar that I can walk to, that I can use as a launching point for our adventures.

Maybe that’s okay. Maybe I had my time, and now I can just let go and be a wallet and a chauffeur and work on your namesake instead of myself.

I don’t know. It’s lonely, you know? I miss your friendship, and your perspective, and your laugh.

Another loss for Doug’s family

February 6th, 2015

Some of my newer friends won’t recognize the name Mary Bastianelli; she is the mother to my dear departed friend Doug and, I’m sad to say, passed away earlier this week.

I never met her, but I did reach out to Mary and her husband after Doug’s death. Evan’s middle name is Douglas, and so for the first couple of years of his life I would send Mary and Al photos and notes about my little boy’s harrowing early days and then his bloom into full health. Mary always wrote very sweet letters back, and sent a copy of “Goodnight Moon” that we read to this day.

I don’t know the circumstances behind Mary’s passing, but I do know that somewhere, Doug welcomed her with a bear hug and that wide, mischievous grin. I’m glad they’ve been reunited.

Remembering Doug, four years on

September 19th, 2014
Andy and Doug

Of course we'd been drinking.

I don’t do a lot of callbacks here, but it’s Sept. 19, four years and a day after Doug Bastianelli – one of my best friends and a constant fixture during my Chicago days – suffered a massive heart attack and died almost immediately. You can read my more immediate reaction, posted just a couple of days ago.

It’s funny; we still talk about Doug all the time in my family. Maybe it’s because Evan’s middle name is Douglas, in the big man’s honor, or maybe it’s just because he was so big, larger-than-life big, that Doug managed to associate himself with… I don’t know, with everything. I don’t want him to become some sort of mythic creature, which is why I’m glad four years ago I wrote partly about how flawed he was (and, even so, how he made me a better person).

I miss Chicago sometimes — well, a lot of the time — and part of it is that I remember it as a cloudy, sometimes rainy, sometimes snowy place where I would be pulled from going full-on introvert by Doug and his laugh and his encouragements to get out and drink and meet people and enjoy life. Through him, I met Tara, whose heart (maybe even love?) got me through an immensely difficult time. I made friends with Cher (not the singer) and Jenny Calligan (whose heart I should have pursued, something Doug never let me forget) and Jimmy Z and all manner of new friends.

I learned (somewhat) how to dress to impress.

I cried on a couch — we cried — over lost relationships as Annie Lennox wailed “Why?”

I stumbled into work bleary-eyed many a day after one of his epic Wine Nights.

I lived, I guess. He made me live a life over the course of a few years.

Really, go read the other post. I’m sore-hearted today from missing my friend.

In Remembrance: Doug Bastianelli

September 20th, 2010

The last thing I said to Doug Bastianelli was blasphemous.

That was okay by Doug. We’d been friends for six years, more than half my time in Chicago. Almost all of my time in Chicago. When there’s Chicago, there’s Doug. I was comfortable being blasphemous around him. He still labeled himself as Catholic. “Lapsed,” sometimes, but all the better to appreciate my blasphemy.

Doug was not a saint. He was petty, and he was often grumpy, and he was sometimes annoying, and he had a penchant for — just as the day was getting good — drinking so much that the rest of us had to stop and take care of him. I talked with our mutual friend Jenny last night, and she talked about his love for life and his constant goodness, and while I agreed at the time, that wasn’t all of Doug. He was human. That made him better than a saint.

Still, Doug was better than me. For all the days I just wanted to hunch in self-pity at the end of the Dark Horse bar, he would walk in — huge grin splitting his goatee — envelop me in a bear hug and forcibly make me laugh. For all the times I would whine about some girl being too good for me, he would tell me, “You are a handsome, amazing man.” Then he’d cast an eye toward my wardrobe and tell me what might make me more handsome. I’d have gotten sick of it after the second time, snapped at the person annoying me, changed the subject. He was too patient for that. Too giving.

I used Doug a lot. A lot of times, I needed that boost to my self-esteem. Sometimes, I just didn’t want to drink alone. It was rare when he wouldn’t make time for me.

There’s so much more to say. All morning, I’ve been thinking about my Chicago stories and realizing almost all of them involve Doug. Every Pride parade. Most days at the Dark Horse. Football at the Union. Wine nights. Cubs games. Thanksgivings for those of us stuck in Chicago without family. The time he used unwitting me as man-bait, the time he introduced me to one of life’s great loves, the time he made me an amazing going-away brunch.

I missed him when I left Chicago, and I hear he missed me, but man, was I wrapped up in my new life. See where this is going? He called a lot. I would shoot back a quick text. I finally wised up, and we made plans to have Thanksgiving at my parents’ place. He was giddy. Literally clapping while we talked.

Doug passed the night of Sept. 18. He wasn’t ill; he certainly wasn’t frail. He just… passed on.

Earlier Saturday, he texted to say he and a mutual friend were going to the Dark Horse. What did I want him to drink in my honor?

I called back, for once, but got his voicemail. I told him the name of my regular beer. “But,” I said, “for each glass, you have to say, ‘Take and drink; do this in remembrance of me.’” A Communion joke. I never heard back, but I bet he did it, and I bet he laughed.