Highschool with Greg

It’s hard to overstate how exciting it was when Greg moved into our Bethesda neighborhood. There weren’t a ton of kids in our immediate vicinity, so the arrival of anyone new would have been an event. But Greg wasn’t just anyone. He was another baseball-obsessed geeky Jew. What could be better?

Plus Greg was exotic. Being from Bethesda, I knew diplomats’ kids and NIH scientist’s kids from all corners of the Earth. But I had never met anyone from the Midwest – let alone from Iowa. One of my earliest memories of Greg was on a baseball field (I think at Walter Johnson HS). It was hot. I was headed over to the store to get some refreshments. I asked Greg if he wanted anything. He said, “Yeah, get me a pop.” So I brought him a popsicle. He looked very confused. We ultimately figured it out and I learned an important lesson about communicating with people from another culture.

For the next four years, I hung out with Greg all the time – almost always with some combination of other boys from the hood – Jon, Bennett and Tom – and then (eventually) with girls. There was a lot that united us. While baseball fanatics, we both were not particularly good as players. We shared the catching duties for the Whitman JV baseball team, but our best games were played with dice and stack of Strat-o-matic cards. Over the course of our highschool years, Greg, Jon, Tom and I played well over 1,000 games using the set of 1975 Strat-o-matic cards that we must have gotten at garage sale somewhere. We played in the basement. We played at the beach. We played everywhere. And we kept score. Every game. Generating box scores as complete as if we’d actually been there – even marking great plays and naming a “player of the game”. We innovated with our lineups – implementing things we learned from early copies of Bill James’ Baseball Abstract, which Greg must have gotten through his Midwest connections. We went to lots of Orioles games together, where we mostly talked about how bad the various managers’ strategic decisions were.

As if our baseball obsession was not enough, somewhere along the line we acquired an obsession with the movie Diner. I don’t think we ever saw it in the theater, but we got a copy of it on Beta, beginning a tradition of watching it every day after school – sometimes twice – in our basement. I think we watched it at least 300, maybe as many as 500, times. We knew every line in the whole movie, and used them liberally in the rest of our lives, especially when we were hanging out at our own Diner – The Tastee.

The real thing is that when I think back to highschool, Greg was just always there. In the morning when we went to school (he would come over to our house most days before the bus came), in the afternoon when we watched Diner or played Strat-o-matic or real baseball, hanging out at the pool, at night when we went to the real Diner or played trivial pursuit with the shiksas. Whatever. He was just always there – always smiling, always smart, always funny.

Then, we went to college on opposite sides of the country and we gradually fell out of touch. But say what you will about Facebook, it got me back in touch with Greg. And it was like the intervening 20 years never happened. All of a sudden he was part of my life again – talking baseball, politics and whatever. I never met Melissa, and never saw Benjamin, but I feel like I know them and I’m heartbroken that they won’t have Greg around anymore.

A night at the tables

It’s with a heavy heart I write this but it’s a great story and memory that deserves to be shared.

Greg was a colleague of mine at Verizon and we met when he was seconded to Hong Kong to cover his counterparts maternity leave. After working on one of our larger projects and a pretty stressful as well as lengthy negotiation we were successful in closing the deal which took most of the time Greg was based in HK.

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Being in the Present

Dear Ben and Melissa,

Boxes. We needed boxes to move out of the dorm. The hunt took place each spring. No one had money, and it always seemed stupid to buy boxes. So Greg and I went dumpster diving in Rice Village, hunting for boxes in the backs of the stores.

We found boxes. And something even better. . . . . because wandering with Greg was always an adventure.
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Random Thoughts

Here are some of my many Greg memories and thoughts. Bullet style for those of you with places to be and things to do.

1) Greg bringing home a mannequin, taping a screwdriver in its hand to look like a weapon, and setting it up in the living room of our house off campus at Rice. It scared me every time I came downstairs for two months straight.

2) “Bring it on”

3) Driving with him in his VW rabbit from Houston to DC and back for various holidays and summer. I recall that we heard the George Michael song “Faith” about 437 times during one of those trips. I think of 24-hr road tripping with Greg any time I hear that song, which is not often these days, mercifully.

4) Calling random people “coach” for no apparent reason.

5) Naming our house cat (not sure who decided we should get a cat or why) Rosalita after the Bruce song of the same name. That cat was a bit of nightmare, but the name was cool.

6) Greg sneaking into my room and playing “Load Runner” on my Macintosh computer, which is about 1,000,000 times less powerful than an iPod Nano these days, late at night in college. I think at least once I woke up confusedly with him huddled at the computer looking sheepish.

7) Greg posting Anita Bose’s “Water Dissolving” poem at our house in Houston. Wow. Beautiful and sensual. Sometimes one of us would just stop and read it again silently. When the other one of us walked by all that was said was “Dude…”.

8) Greg meeting my high school friends after I moved back to DC and all of them finding him to be as engaging and funny as I did after about 2 minutes. He had that kind of “aw shucks” magnetism. It was genuine and you saw it right away in him.

9) Look at the photo gallery on this site. Greg could look happy and natural and fun in any picture without trying, because he was all of those things. When I take a picture I look like I am still confused about how to properly smile. And I consider myself a fun and funny guy. Greg had it mastered and couldn’t hide it if he wanted to from you or a camera. And let’s be honest, women loved it.

10) Greg’s writing. He shared some of older and newer (at the time) stories/pieces, and I was grateful for it. There were many and all were interesting reads. I remember Ba…Boom from his HS years and the one with the perfectly cracked computer screen that got published while we were still in college. There were many more.

11) I dare you to find someone from our days at Rice who disliked Greg. His personality and freedom of thought made him instantly likeable by all, regardless of background or interests or anything else that makes people different from each other. Greg was real and anyone who met him knew it.

Late Nights and Laughter at the College Paper

Dear Ben and Melissa –

I met your dad in college, after I had transferred to Rice and joined the staff of the Rice Thresher while Greg was editor. I have many fond memories of Greg from those college years — as so many people have written, he was such a memorable presence at Rice — but the ones that stick in my mind most strongly happened during the weekly all-night sessions we often had to pull before the paper went to press.
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