Bored of the typical NYC martini-crowd, I’d convinced my boss Mike to join Barrett and me in Soho for the U2 tribute band, “You Also.”
When you saw Barrett strolling down the street, you’d say to yourself, “Watch out for hot Buddy Holly’s errant swinging Tumi bag.”
When you saw Mike lumbering down the street, you’d say to yourself: “Lock up the women and children, here’s one tough guy.” And we used that perception to our advantage. His size and fierce verbal jabs often helped us get to the front of lines – if for no other reason than the bouncers were too afraid to say, “No.”
This night was no different.
Barrett, Mike, and I pushed through the sold-out crowd to find a spot in the back of the bar.
“I’m not sure about this one,” Mike said in a gruff voice, watching Barrett’s head nod off-beat to fake-Bono belting out a passionate version of Desire.
(Mike wasn’t talking about the band.)
Mike and I worked 14-hour days together, unraveling the story behind the mortgage-backed security scene that led the crash of the real estate market starting in 2005. Mike’s indomitable faith, personal integrity, capacity for hard work, and ability to string curse words together into wicked good prose made him a person whose opinion I valued – especially if it was about my new boyfriend.
“I know,” I said. “But I’m amused and a bit befuddled by him.”
“We all make mistakes,” Mike grumbled. “We believe we have a thirteen-year-old boys’ metabolism. We say inappropriate things in front of the wrong people.” Mike watched as Bono walked over to the microphone when Edge’s guitar intro reached its peak. “We buy leather pants, like our friend Bono. And we date the wrong person.”
“You bought leather pants?”
“Once under the spell of a woman whom I believed to have a taste.”
Barrett turned from the show to wave at us. I waved back and smiled.
“I like this one, Mike,” I said.
Mike shook his head and took a long drink from his Grey Goose and soda.
The spotlight, as the only source of light, flashed on the crowd and then onto Bono. He jumped off the stage and strutted through the crowd, breaking into a soulful performance of “Bullet the Blue Sky.” As he passed several beauties in the crowd, Bono pointed the mic their direction, giving them an opportunity to sing the lyrics – and fake Bono the opportunity to get close.
Then Bono got to Barrett.
Mike and I watched with interest as Bono held the microphone up to Barrett. I watched in shock as Barrett attempted to hijack the performance with his over the top off-key singing, not letting go of the mic. A storm of laughter and horror stirred inside me as I watched the struggle between Barrett and the 5’3” faux-Irishman, the crowd responding in astonishment, and the bouncers shaking the mic free from my psychotic fan.
Bono hated Barrett – a fact neither sunglasses nor leather pants could hide.
As the bouncers hightailed Barrett to the door, the crowd cheered, and Barrett pumped his fists in triumph.
Mike and I stood unflinching as Bono apologized to the crowd. Seconds felt like hours as I pondered the fallout from Barrett’s overenthusiasm.
With a big sigh, Mike put down his drink and motioned to the door. “Well, we better go,” he said.
“I like this one.”
We lost Mike last week, and I’m still coming to terms with it. Other than my parents, there has only been a small handful of people that have impacted my life more than Mike.
Despite his tough exterior, he’d sit down beside you, and you’d find an intelligent, articulate human being who smiled easily and laughed a lot, a guy who loved his wife, Robin, three boys, Nick, Tony, and Vinny, and entire family beyond measure.
He had faith in me when he hired me. He worked with my writing – because he believed it was a lost art of communication. He forced me to expect more from myself but never without providing me with the training and tools to fulfill those expectations. He listened to all my misadventures and always supported my development – career and self.
I was very lucky to have had him in my life. I will miss him, but he will remain with me every day, because he helped shape and mold me into – me.
As for Barrett and me, tonight we’ll put on a little U2 and raise a Grey Goose and soda to heaven.
We love you, Mike. Always.
In the howling wind comes a stinging rain
See it driving nails
Into the souls in the tree of pain
From a firefly, a red orange glow
See the face of fear
Running scared on the valley below
Bullet the blue sky
In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum
Jacob wrestled the angel
And the angel was overcome