Thanksgiving Eve & Other Reminders Of A Great Friend

23 Nov

A fall break trip to Michaels in 2008.

November 9, 2011 hit Jeff’s close friends really hard. We gathered at an upscale sports bar in the city (it seemed it appropriate venue, as it was clearly a place Jeff would’ve loved to visit) and we toasted a few rounds of drinks to our good friend as we remembered some of the good times.

With Thanksgiving now upon us, it almost seems as if the dreaded anniversary is hitting us all over again. If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely you already know that Thanksgiving Eve is a big going out night in and around Chappaqua, and for situations like this, Jeff was the go-to guy. Undoubtedly, he would be one of the first people I would call or text on the holiday to see what his plans were. More importantly, he would be one of the few people I wouldn’t think twice about planning my night around, so we could be certain to be hanging with him for some portion of the evening.

As difficult as it is to think of it like this, it’s become increasingly clear to me this week that there will probably never be a Thanksgiving eve where I don’t feel the intensity of Jeff’s absence. Now just over a year since his death, I can say with certainty there are more than a couple of things that will never fail to remind me of him. They are small reminders, things that creep up on me unexpectedly on a daily basis, and will out of the blue bring Jeff back to the forefront of my mind at any given moment. These are a few of them:

 – The New York Knicks: November 2, 2010 was a Tuesday. It was election day in New York City, and I was super excited to meet up with Jeff, Brooke and Dan for a Knicks game at MSG after a day at work. By now, most everyone in our group of friends knows how this story goes. When there turned out to be asbestos scare at the Garden that day, the Knicks-Magic matchup was postponed – the first non-weather related NBA game postponement since 1965, according to Mr. Klein.

I called Jeff when I heard the news, of course unaware that it would be the last time I’d be chatting with him. We caught up for a few minutes, decided that the game would likely be rescheduled for the coming week, and that we’d see each other soon. We all know too well that this isn’t how it happened, and that exactly a week later, Jeff was gone. For the rest of my life, I’ll never think of the New York Knicks without thinking of him.

— Whenever I hear the term “egregious.” Jeff used the term frequently in everyday conversation, oftentimes in a phrase like, “Man, that’s pretty egregious” in describing the drunken behavior of one of our friends, or a seemingly bad call on the part of a sports official. A year since his death, and I still can’t hear the word without it conjuring up thoughts of my good friend Klein.

— Everytime the underdog wins. We all know that Jeff loved a good upset, and I’ve written previously about how I always appreciated Jeff’s support of my team, seemingly permanent underdogs, the Providence Friars. From now on, I will forever be convinced that every major upset in the sports world has something to do with Jeff looking down from above.

—  Michael’s Tavern. Jeff and I weren’t close friends before high school graduation (despite having lockers next to each other in 6th grade). In fact, I don’t recall conversing with him much during our Chappaqua years. It wasn’t until one summer night prior to senior year of college that Brooke and I ran into Jeff and Ryan at Michael’s and quickly became fast friends. Jeff was living in Boston that summer and I was living in Providence, so we exchanged numbers with plans to meet up once we were settled in New England. This never happened. Instead, we both ventured home to Chappaqua many weekends that summer, where we met up at Michael’s for late nights, and many tequila shots. The Michael’s trips continued again at Thanksgiving break, and again over Christmas. The summer after graduation was marked with many more  excursions to the tavern. I have the Pleasantville establishment to thank for igniting such a powerful friendship in my life with such a fabulous friend.

The Phrase “Your Silence Is Deafening”  After a late summer night at the aforementioned Michael’s Tavern, Brooke and I parted ways with Jeff and crew. I can’t remember if we had plans to meet up again after the bar closed or what, but somewhere towards the end of the night (well, probably the early morning), Jeff left me a hysterical “drunk dial” which I saved for about 2 years after he left it. “Hi Julie, this is Jeff Klein,” it said. After a 5 or 6 second pause, he goes “Um, yeah, your silence is deafening right now.” I can’t remember the specifics of the rest of the voicemail It doesn’t have the same effect when you type it out, but hearing him address my voicemail as a live person was nothing short of outrageously funny. Brooke and I replayed this message countless times, laughing hysterically with each replay. It pains me to know that I only finally deleted it from my voicemail just months before Jeff’s death.

______________

Jeff’s absence will undoubtedly be felt this Thanksgiving eve, just as it is every time he’s not around for a group gathering. But, just as we have every time since November 9th, 2010, we’ll be sure to raise a toast in his honor, to good times with a great friend.

— Julie

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