Sunday, August 10, 2014

"the family" funeral part quatro: the champ

“You could never know
What it’s like!
Your blood, like winter? 
Freezes just like ice!

And there’s a cold, lonely light,
that shines from you;
You’ll wind up like the wreck you hide,
Behind that mask you use.

And did you think
This fool could never win?
Well look at me –
I’m coming back again!

I got a taste of love
In a simple way,
And if you need to know
Why I’m still standing?

Then you’ll just fade away!

Because I’m still standing!
Better than I ever did!
Looking like a true survivor!
Feeling like a little kid!

Don’t you know?  I’m still standing!
After all this time!
Picking up the pieces of my life
Without you on my mind!

I’m still standing!
(Yeah Yeah Yeah!)
I’m still standing!
(Yeah Yeah Yeah!) …


I met the dude I call “The Champ” twelve years ago.  The first time I met him, is included in this look back, at a (barest minimum level) decent listing, of my favorite moments with him.

To be honest, in composing this, I came up with at least twenty five others, I could have, and probably should have, used.  I felt like Oskar Schindler at some point – “I could have gotten more” regret, over what I left on the cutting room floor.


At some point, I might add those moments here.


As of this posting, I’m still too fucking angry, to even attempt, to sift through the memories, beyond what I have chosen to do.

The astute amongst you will notice, there is no filter, for this post.

Given what Dustin has proven to be over the last few years?

Even my mommy has no objections, to the filter being taken off.

In Dustin’s own words: “deal with it!”


Relationships die, when one side refuses, for whatever reason, to give a shit about the other anymore.  I’m not here in this series of posts to judge The Champ, The Chica, or The Ex, for what’s become of us.  I honestly am composing these so that I can accept reality, let go, and move on.

(Note that I said “judge”, not “blast away with my frustrations over”.  Although in the interest of fairness, I think I’ve been relatively restrained so far.)

But God bless it, when someone means as much to you as The Champ did to me, it’s hard to accept reality, let go, and move on.

Below, are the moments I choose to honor, by sharing with all of you – possibly for a second, third, or fiftieth time – the reasons why …


The Lines In The Overall Theme Song ("Goodbye Yellow Brick Road") That Apply To The Champ (Note: May Have Missed One):

* "When are you gonna come down?  When are you going to land?" -- applies to our time as roommates.

* "I didn't sign up with you!" -- should have applied to our time as roommates.

* "Where the dogs of society howl" -- definitely applied to our time as roommates.

* "Hunting the horny back toad" -- beyond applies to our time as roommates.

* "What do you think you'll do then?" -- asked by me on a night in March 2009, that The Champ has conveniently erased from anyone's perspective, of this fight.  The answer to that question?  Is why I'm so fucking angry.

* The whole "goodbye yellow brick road" thing seems to apply, given where The Champ lives, and works.

And of all "The Family":

* "Maybe you'll find a replacement; there's plenty like me to be found."  No, you won't; and no, there aren't, Champ.


Honorable Mention 6: (The Champ Voice) “We Need Brown Sugar.” 

From the day before tailgating (arguably) the best college football game we’ll ever see in this fine metropolitan area – KU vs MU, in the snow, at Arrowhead, on Thanksgiving weekend.  Epic.

If you have to ask what we needed brown sugar for?  Then you weren’t there that day. 

I will never regret, that I was.

Honorable Mention 5: (The Champ Voice) “Do You Think You Can Clear The Bar Out?”

This was the comment, that prompted my favorite moment, with The Chica.

The Champ was so scared to ask her to simply go to our company’s winter formal, he asked me to find a way to get everyone in the bar at the old King Louie lanes, out of said bar, so he could have the moment to just him and her.

As I am (still) sadly proud to say, probably not for the last time in this post:

You’re welcome dude.

Honorable Mention 4: Good Friday 2005.

What do you get when you get (a) a bunch of single -- and/or wish they were single -- dudes headed to (b) that little cornfield in unincorporated Douglas County, Kansas, with (c) a couple kegs in the back of the Jeep, to (d) help some “KU nursing students” through college by “tipping” them well at the “steakhouse” they work in?

You get Good Friday 2005.

Man that was one wild night.

And in the words of Ronnie Milsap: “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”

Honorable Mention 3: (The Crush Voice) “I’m Going As The Office Slut!”

I’ve rarely laughed as hard, or as long, as The Champ and The Crush emerging from his bedroom, dressed out in their Halloween outfits, for, uuh, Halloween 2007. 

All I will say, in order to protect the (ridiculously sexy) guilty … is that that?

Was THE greatest impromptu, “oh sh*t, I need a costume, I need a costume … hey, I got an idea” Halloween costume, real life could ever grant you, if you’re of the female sex.

Good God.

Hang on, I didn’t do that one justice.  (good ol’ jr voice) Good God Almighty!  As God is my witness, (she) is broken in half!

I so owe 2007 a “Decade That Was” recap …

Honorable Mention 2: (The Champ’s Mom’s Voice) “You Can Drive a Stick? / (Stevo Voice) Sure!”

From the 2008 Fike Family Picnic.  Let’s just say, we both hit the mini-wine bottles a lil’ too hard.  And (as this will come as a surprise to noone), one of us could handle it.  And (again, cue the “no sh*t, Sherlock response), I was the one who could handle it.

Only one problem.

The Eclipse?  Was a stick shift.

And I am openly mocked – and deservedly so – for my utter inability, to drive a stick shift**.
So to convince The Champ’s mom, “sure we got this!”, on the basis of me driving a stick?  Just makes this hilarious.


(*: this is sadly not only so true … there is one time, when “bts” left his car in the driveway at the ol’ homestead on 56th Terrace … where I went next door, to get our neighbor to back his car out, so I could get out.  That’s how utterly inept I am, at driving a stick shift mobile.)


In which the First Official Theme, is still “shut up, and no!”

(If you were there that night, you’ll get it.  If not, trust me – you missed out, royally.)


And with the Honorable Mentions over with … the Actual Eleven:

11. (The Champ Voice) “Why Don’t We Meet Up at Hooters?”

I could choose from one of two quotations of that phrase for this moment, and The Champ knows it.

I choose the first, from August 2006. 

I know it was a Wednesday evening late in August, because of moment six to come.  I got a call a little after seven from The Champ, asking if I could provide some help, and I agreed to do it, but we needed to meet up for me to help him out.

His suggestion?  “Well I have this coupon for wings, so why don’t we meet up at Hooters?  It’s about halfway for each of us.”

So, we met.  And as we sat down, the waitress asked us if we were there for Trivia Night.

Trivia Night?  Really?

Two hours later, I was hooked … and so was The Champ.

Within two months, we had ten people showing up every week to dominate South OP.

I miss Trivia Night.

10. (Stevo Voice) “Hey, Are The Royals Playing Today?”

It was a Thursday in mid-May 2007.  (Again, too damned lazy to Google search the date.)  I had moved in maybe three weeks earlier with The Champ, and I had no desire to be at work that day.  He had no desire to show up either, at “former employer”. 

So, standing there in the kitchen, debating whether or not to shower up and show up, or crack open a cold one at pushing 7am, I ask a simple question:

“Hey?  Are the Royals playing today?”

Sure as sh*t, they were!  At home!  At 1pm!  Against the A’s!

(For the record, that was the first “call in sick” day I had, at “current employer”, and incredibly enough, it’s one of the few bullsh*t “call in sick” days, I’ve ever had.  And to those who don’t believe me, I should put my PTO schedule for the remainder of the year up on this site.  Let’s just say, there are three Mondays from Labor Day on, I am scheduled to work … and two of them, are approved “work from home” days.  The only one I have to show up in the office for?  Is after the bye week.  I don’t call in drunk; I prep drunk, thank you very much.)

And not just that … we wound up parking next to Phil and Lacey, who also blew off the day at work, for a day of baseball!

I am going to miss, random “screw work, let’s chuck some washers for a couple hours while enjoying a few frosty cold ones!” days in the summer, tremendously.

9. (Matt Saracen Voice) “My Eyes Were Open Coach!  They Were Wide Open!”

Sunday, September 28, 2008.

The first Chiefs win, in 345 days.  Against the dirty denver donkeys.

And one of my favorite memories of The Champ, is me headed up the sidewalk on the north side of Lot G, t-shirt draped John Thompson Sr. style, bite marks and spit stains everywhere from gnawing on that thing the entire second half, and I was still a solid fifty, sixty feet from The Bus, when I look up, and I see The Champ, standing on the sidewalk fifty, sixty feet away, openly taunting every donkeys fan passing him by, culminating with the classic “how’d your boy do today, huh?  How’d your boy do today!” blast to a denver fan wearing a darrent williams jersey.

I couldn’t help it.  I had to pause.  I’d passed on, at least for one day, an unbridled, irrational, indefensible, yet beyond pleasurable, hatred of all things denver broncos, to the dude I considered to be my best friend.

I was proud.  I was damned proud.

And I offer no apologies for the massive man-hug that followed, when I finally made the final sixty some odd yard walk, up to The Bus.

Dancin’ on the Ceiling, never felt so right.

And God d*mmit, am I going to miss those postgame celebrations.

8. (Mary Felix Voice) “You Have To Hire Him!”

Again, don’t recall the exact date, other than (a) it was before Labor Day 2003, and (b) it was after FJ-Day (Fire Josh Day), which was July 21st.  (To this day, my former boss and I still send happy, warm congratulations to each other, on FJ-Day.  Let’s just say, we didn’t care for him.)

So, my former boss – who is the voice quoted above – wanders randomly by our boss Stan’s office one random day (I’m guessing in early August 2003), and she sees Stan is interviewing some guy.  He’s young – probably just out of college.  I still remember (and this will make sense in a moment, I swear to Christ it will) the outfit this guy had on – green shirt, no collar, untucked, with tan slacks – and Mary strolls by, heads over to our corner of the department, and instead of heading to her desk, she heads back to mine in the corner.  Where this conversation occurs:

(mary) Oh!  My!  God!  Have you seen who Stan has in his office!
(stevo) No.  Some of us actually work while we’re on the clock.
(mary) Oh please.  You call what you do work?
(stevo) Good point. So who’s in there?
(mary) I don’t know, but Oh My God, is he hot!
(stevo) Oh Jesus, it’s McRae all over again.
(mary) (completely serious) No!  He’s actually hotter than Justin was!
(stevo) (completely serious) Whoa!  So it’s me all over again!
(mary) (loses it in laughter …)
(stevo) What’s so funny?

So, Mary stakes out her “I can see everything that happens in his office” position, and once this mysterious dude leaves the office, she stands up and says “follow me”.  Oh boy.

She walks into Stan’s office and asks who the guy he just interviewed was.  Stan says it’s a guy that (if I remember right) was an intern in claims, and was looking for a full time job now that he’s done with school.

Mary’s exact response: “you have to hire him!”

When asked why, her exact response?  “Because he’s … he’s … he’s hot!”

Stan looked at me, I looked at him, and we both just started laughing.  Because if anything was true in our department back in the day?  Mary got, what Mary wanted.

And what Mary wanted?  Was Dustin to join our department, to be the new “eye candy” to look at, since McRae had left a few months earlier, and I guess she just never appreciated what she had sitting five feet from her.  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Oh come on!  I’m not going to do that on myself!  (Pause).  Fine.

“I guess she never appreciated, what she had sitting five feet from her.  (Rimshot!)”

There?  You happy?

That, readers and friends?  Was the first time I met The Champ. 

It might have been the first time either Mary or I risked our “professional reputation”, to get The Champ a job, because we just wanted the dude in our presence.  It wouldn’t be the last.

That’s still to come.

7. The Last Moment I Believed “The Family” Was Capable Of Being Saved, The Champ Edition.

Well, it certainly wasn’t at Katie’s reception, like The Chica’s version of this moment was.  I’ll just leave it at that.

The Champ’s last moment I thought we were salvageable, was from our second “why don’t we meet at Hooters” moment, last June.  That day, was not a good one, and I choose to keep every detail about it – the reasons for it, the outcomes from it, the conversation during it – private as I promised, save for this one.

When The Champ admitted, he told The Chica to not come over on Easter Sunday (her moment numero ten), and confront me about the lies at Lew’s.

Because as he admitted: “the only way she could have known you lied, was if you knew, we lied to you (about never again bringing up any of this crap from prior to walking out the door).  I told her not to do this.  I told her how you’d react.  I wish she’d listened (to me).”

I’ll be the first to admit; I played the Hamas role, in blowing up whatever peace deal was possible, after that second meeting at Hooters.  I can’t blame Dusty for reacting as he did, to Mount Stevo erupting as I did.

He did give it a chance.  On his terms … but he did give it a chance.

I just wish, and I truly am sad, he is simply incapable of seeing, the damage every other thing he’s done, had done to this friendship, that I can’t give him the benefit of the doubt, over that chance.

6. (Stevo Voice) “So, What Are You Doing Friday Night?”

The aftermath of number eleven on this list.  My brother emailed me the next morning to let me know he had to back out of going to the Ben Harper concert the following night at Starlight, and could I find someone to use his ticket.  (We were going with our buddies Ryan and Neeck.) 

Gee, find a friend to attend Ben Harper on 24 hours notice? 

Cannot possibly imagine who to ask.

To this day, it’s somehow still in the top five concerts I’ve ever been to.  We stood in a freaking monsoon for over two hours, just enjoying the hell out of one of my favorite artists, and I’m guessing The Champ didn’t mind it, based on his reaction.  It wasn’t as “life altering” as number four on this list was … but that was one damned fun Friday night in August, of 2006.

And I am really going to miss, the fact that a night like that, is never going to happen again.

5. (The Champ Voice) “So It Says To Freeze Overnight, Then On Your Drive In, To Crank the Defroster Until the Temperature Reaches …”

Oh sweet merciful Jesus.

Of ALL the moments with “The Champ”?

This one, might be the one, that stunned me the most, in hindsight.

And by “stunned”, I mean in a good, “you have GOT to be kitten me!” kind of way.

(Thank you, Mousy McDermott.)

I was approached sometime in November 2007 by a former big-shot manager in “company I work for”, asking if I knew of anyone with some IT experience, to work as our troubleshooter for our insurance system we use.  (I guess it spoke highly of me, that I’d gotten enough TA refugees hired that worked out, that not even a year and a half after I started, long-time employees of “current employer” are seeking me out, for referral advice.)

I suggested The Champ.

I honestly didn’t think he’d hear from “company I work for”.

Next thing I know, he’s gotta pass a piss test.

Cue the quote above.

Champ?  I risked my professional career, to get you an interview I knew you couldn’t pass a test for without cheating. 

Because that, sir?

Is what a friend does?

For a friend.

You have no idea how much I hate the fact, that you’re either too ignorant or f*cking retarded to realize that … or too arrogant and selfish, to care, what that risk meant, to me … and quite frankly, to you, too.

4. Projekt Revolution.

This one, I don’t have to search.  Tuesday, August 24, 2004.

The second best concert I’ve ever attended … although to be honest, after McCartney at the Sprint Centre a couple weeks ago, it’s in jeopardy of dropping to third.

(The best?  Nothing will ever top it, McCartney at Arrowhead in 1991 in the “Off The Ground” tour.  Me, my mom, and 75,000 plus of our closest friends, enjoying one hell of a three hour ride, on The Magical Mystery Tour.)

Semi-recaps are available at the links, uuh, linked here, and linked here

I despise the fact, we’ll never again have a day, like that one was, dude.

3. The Best Weekend Of My Life, That Didn’t Involve a Member Of The Opposite Sex.

AKA “Stevo and Dusty Do Indy For the 500”.

This one, stays between us.

2. The Blackout.

The Blackout, as I call it, was sometime in February 2008. 

I know it was a Friday.  The Champ and I got back to the Stubbs house, and all the power was out.  It was freaking freezing outside, and colder on the inside. 

The Champ tried calling The Crush, only she didn’t answer at first, so we decided to make, in the words of The Dave Matthews Band, “The Best of What’s Around”.

Namely, we fired up my “Live From Red Rocks” DVD I have of Incubus in concert, did what we tended to do best on the couch at the time, and finally The Crush called, and welcomed us over, to spend the night with her.

So let me say this, since the fun filled evening the three of us shared that night hit me so hard and so properly, there’s only one moment with you sir, that’s ever hit me better.

If you ever again desire to be the person, the friend, you were on that night?

This fight ends yesterday.

Because if you ever again desire to be the person – and more specifically – the incredible friend, you asked me to match in kind, at the final moment to come?

This fight would have never happened.

1. Friday, November 20. 2009.

This is a day, in fairness to The Champ, he probably doesn’t recall.  And there’s no way The Chica could recall it – she was passed out drunk in my backseat, when it occurred, in a left turn lane at 103rd and Metcalf, pushing midnight, that last Friday before Thanksgiving.

But if he was (or is) The Champ, I believe(d) him to be, he’ll know the seven words that made this night, my favorite memory of him, the second he reads them.


That evening was spent out at Gregg and Ashley’s place, watching a BuKCs game.  Kellie enjoyed herself quite well, to the point of passing out in my backseat, before we left The Voice of Reason’s subdivision.

The next thirty minutes back to The Champ’s apartment, were utter and total silence in my car.

He kept staring out the window.  I knew he wanted to say something.

I just didn’t know what.


I’m not going to get into significant detail, of all that went down at Stubbs, at all I had to forgive Dustin for.  And I’m not doing it in the final eulogy either.  I have no desire to turn any of you against them.  I simply desire to attempt to express, as poorly as I can, why this fight has reached the destruction level it has, and why I don’t feel I’m to blame for 92.14% of it.

Because I will simply say this: I blindly forgave Dustin, for a helluva lot more, than 49 out of 50 of you reading this, would ever forgive someone for.

Let alone a person, who claims to be your friend.


I got in that left turn lane, and it was still silent.  Watched most of the light cycle go by, and then finally, The Champ opened his mouth, and spoke.

“Dude?  I fucked up.  And I’m sorry.”

In that one moment, in those seven words, eight months of disgust, contempt, and (quite frankly) outright hatred I’d felt towards him, disappeared.  Two and a half years of frustrations, of being lied to constantly, of being deceived constantly, of being defrauded and stolen from constantly, no longer mattered to me.

I blindly forgave the unforgivable out of DJ.

And he couldn't care less.


Which is why this series of posts, is slowly being, uuh, posted.  

Because even if God himself convinced Dusty and Kellie to humble themselves, admit they didn't do right by me, and ask or even beg for my forgiveness?

This time, I can't do it.

And that's what I feel sorriest about for you, Champ.  You've lost the one friend you had, who you could literally steal into having to scramble to find a new place to live on a few moments notice (hello, Stubbs!), and he not only didn't hold it against you?

He forgave you unconditionally, in moment uno above.

Without a cent of restitution, for all you stole.

That's what you've lost.

How sad, pathetic, and embarrassing of a "man" you have to be, to be proud of the fact, that you've lost that, and to be proud of the fact, that you've lost me.


Still at least three four to go: (a) the two days -- two weeks apart -- that ensured the friendship's downfall, (b) the eulogy to The Ex, and (c) the eulogy to The Champ and the Chica.

(editors note: and (d): the eleven greatest moment of "The Family", together as one.)

(Pause ... and sighing in disgust over what we've become ...)

I guess it beats running the schedules for the NFL picks posts ... although I'll be damned if I know how ...

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