Saturday, August 25, 2012

In the Court of the Latin King

It has been my pleasure and my privilege to call Dave Lackland my friend for most of our lives.  One of my favorite artifacts of a bygone age is a Polaroid picture that my sister Jill took right after 7th grade graduation - a steamy June night in 1980.  Truth be told I remember not a damn thing at all about the weather but since it was June in Jersey I am playing the percentages here.  Dave and I are 40% of the Fab Five in that photo.  He is to the far left of the frame - looking across the rest of the group.  I am the wide as I am short fireplug on the far right, either having just received or getting ready to receive an "atomic elbow" from Mike Koplowitz.  Our quintet suffered a grievious loss just five years later.  Brian Clare, a 20%er all by himself, died in the Summer of '85, which was the summer after we all graduated from high school. 

By the time we made it through high school we had headed off different directions.  Steve Keller (the mysterious 5th member of the group), Mike and I all graduated from W-H together.  Dave and Brian had headed off for greener academic pastures by then.   One of the things I actually enjoy about the manner in which social media has shrunk the world around all of us is that it has enabled me to reconnect with old (sorry "long time") friends such as Dave.  That is most assuredly a good thing.

Mediocre human beings are lucky when they are befriended by truly good human beings.  I have written in this space previously about Dave's efforts to protect and preserve the community of iguanas that calls - as he does - the Florida Keys "home".   He has done more to promote the general welfare of reptiles than I have ever done on behalf of humans.  It delighted me to no end when he created his own place out here on Prince Albert of the Valley's virtual highway to share his adventures with them.  I wish he had more time in which to write.  While the updates are infrequent they are always extraordinary.  

I suspect (although I have not asked because while it is clearly his business it is also clearly none of mine) that Dave's time these days is spent doing something far more important than keeping those of us above the Mason-Dixon Line abreast of life in the Keys.  Today is far from his first birthday but it is the first one on which he has been not simply the Birthday Boy but a Birthday Dad.   Indy arrived in early December last year.  If his presence does not ensure that this year's edition of his daddy's birthday is his best birthday ever, then at the very least it has guaranteed it a spot on the medal podium. 

Shortly after Indy was born last year I sent Dave and his Missus a "Congratulations!" card.  I stuck Jill's three and one half-decade old Polaroid inside of it.  At this late date that picture has already outlived its life expectancy.  But I figured entrusting its continued existence to the one man I know who knows more about preservation than anyone else I know was as sure a bet as I could make.  I hope that it hangs in there long enough for Indy to be able to ask his old man one day, "Which one of these characters is Carl, Dad?"  

Today is your birthday Dave.  Here is to hoping it is a happy one....

....or as my old man might have said to you a lifetime ago in 7th grade Latin class, "Felicem Diem Natalem!"  You have certainly earned it. 


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