Yesterday I found my way into Jesse's email account and was halfheartedly deleting all the junkmail, looking for possible posts from friends and former debate students who might have written him (I do this about once every six months). I stumbled on his "sent mail" file and found literally hundreds of little emails of his. It was a side of him I didn't often see: casual, relaxed, trading jokes with friends, and responding to requests for time, or asking for help finding a job, or for a referral from a professor or friend. Of course there was the occasional personal complaint about "Mom" too, but nothing terrible. What struck me was how much his personality reminded me of my closest childhood friend. The dry wit, the innate kindness underneath it all. And I began to think, had I unintentionally built another version of my friend? Right down to how he complained about me-- my friend has said the same kinds of things about his mom over the years. Of course I emailed him (we are still friends, 48 years later) and his response was: The lad was very smart, had a logical mind and little tolerance for bullshit. How could he avoid it?
I wish they had known each other better. Which is to say, I wish I had known him better, and he me. I have a feeling at some point, he might have found less to complain about.