I went to a funeral for an old high school friend yesterday, down where I grew up. There were a number of people I hadn't seen in a while, and some that I hadn't seen since high school.
One woman came up and said hi to me, and I initially thought she might have been someone's mom, but she was actually one of my friends from back then. Once I got over the shock, I realized we all look like it's been 44 years since we graduated. I had a bit of a crush on her back then, and I enjoyed getting a chance to talk with her without being all shy and nervous.
My friend who passed was a sheet metal worker, and his friends made him a pretty awesome sheet metal coffin. Instead of putting flowers on top, we slapped union stickers on it, and gave it a bang with a hammer. I thought that was a pretty cool way to send him off.
The Fnork Stick was also there, resting against the coffin.
The Fnork Stick was Gary's hiking stick. We all went camping up Lake Chabot one summer, in the regional park. Gary's brother worked in a liquor store, and brought along lots of beer and whiskey. We spent the night around the fire drinking. At one point Gary grabbed the Fnork Stick and wandered off into the woods.
Shortly thereafter, the park rangers arrived. They pointed out that we were all underage, and shouldn't have beer and whiskey, and started pouring it all out. At least the stuff that wasn't hidden in the bushes.
While the rangers were standing there deciding what to do with us, Gary came running out of the trees, down the hill toward the campsite, brandishing the stick and yelling, "FNORK, FNORK!" over and over.
The rangers started to pull their guns, but Gary stopped and gave them a Buddha-like smile, which effectively lowered the tension. One of the rangers asked him why he was yelling "FNORK", and Gary said, "It's my Fnork Stick!"
The rangers took the rest of our whiskey and beer (the stuff that wasn't hidden) and decided to let us go with a warning.
That was the story everyone remembered about Gary yesterday.
Rest in peace, old friend.