I just found out about Phil's passing this afternoon when I went in to renew my membership at the Chelsea Rec this afternoon... needless to say, I was devastated.
Phil and I had become rather close in the last few years... or I suppose as close as two fellow lifeguards could be that only see one another seasonally... but we actually had spent a few evenings together eating lobster and sharing stories about work and women. He called these get-togethers the "Night of Champions"... we'd indulge in wine and food and he'd embarrass me with stories of his sexual conquests and daily travails. We'd commiserate about life,family, and relationships together... and I actually started to consider the man a friend... a real friend, not merely a workmate with a colorful past.
I can still remember him encouraging me to ask out a young gal he found attractive... and the ensuing date afterwards. I guess I kinda gave him a vicarious thrill by following through, even though nothing came of it. We were both older guys and I enjoyed listening to him talking about the incoming female guards like he was a horny teen youngster. It was all in fun... Phil was always respectful and a gentleman... but it was enjoyable for us both to play around and pretend we were on the prowl again like in our youth!
I missed out on our last "Night of Champions" because I had a date that evening... and after that, we both got busy and lost touch. That phone call was the last I ever spoke to him.
I hope that he could feel the regret in my voice when I said I couldn't make it... and the enthusiasm in my promise to make it up to him the next time we met.
I am so damned sorry that I couldn't follow up, Phil...
I hope that you still thought well of me in the end.
He was one of the best human beings I knew.
There are those that knew him better than I ... but I am just grateful for the time I had with him.
I miss him.
Keep surveying the scene, Phil...