I had planned to write a post today about the folks I met after the fireworks in D.C. and the knuckleheads who I had to deal with. It would have been hilarious.
But I observed a couple of kids doing stunts on rollerblade skates, and I thought about a guy I knew a while back named Aidan Charles; and I decided to Google Aidan and find out what if anything he might be up to. I was stunned to find out that he died at his home on Christmas Eve of 2011 at the way-too-young age of 28.
I have not found out the cause of his passing, and the remarks from some of his friends and admirers speculate that he might have committed suicide. I rather doubt this. Aidan was full of life, and his spirit overflowed and infected everyone I know of who ever met him. If I had to speculate I'd guess that either he died while practicing his rollerblade tricks - I have seen him do things that made me cringe - or else mixed lots of Christmas celebratory recreational substances and overdid it to the point of dying. I don't know, but that's just my best guess.
Aidan and I quite literally ran into each other in the early summer of 1996. I was walking out of a 7-11 in the Westover section of Arlington County, Virginia with a 20 ounce cup of much-needed coffee in my hand when I was blindsided by what turned out to be Aidan, who had been doing skater stunts and jumped a two-foot brick wall and slammed into me, knocking us both to the ground. The first thing I saw after I had shaken off the shock was his goofy, freindly 13-year-old grin. I couldn't have possibly been angry - although I was fixing to be before I saw that grin - especially since I had been able to break my fall and save my coffee.
I saw and spoke with Aidan and his pals many times in the next three years. I came to call him "little brother". He was highly intelligent - I estimate his IQ to have been in the 125 - 150 range - and quickly found out that he and I had two things in common: we loved freedom and hated "funsuckers". (When I told him about that term "funsuckers" (coined by P.J. O'Rourke and referring to the assholes who suck the fun out of everything for the pettiest and most ridiculous reasons) he cracked up and agreed that "funsuckers" were a huge problem).
If I were to express Aidan's character in breif, I would say that he was "cheerfully defiant and fearless". He so longed to be independent. He never ever said it - whatever it was - couldn't be done. Just sometimes he thought it might be a lame idea.
Once I pitched the idea to Aidan of making a video of him doing a skater's interpretation of the flamenco guitar styles of "siguriyas" and "soleares". He rejected it as being "figure skating" and (of course) "lame". But the truth is, Aidan himself was the very embodiment of the translation-defying flamenco quality of "duende"
(The best definition of duende I can come up with is "fuck it", in all of its forms; from "I know the bills are due but it's time to party so fuck it" down to "Fuck it, there's no hope left." and all the gradiations between the two).
Some time around January of 1998 I wrote a poem in Aidan's honor. He never saw it, I've looked for my original text but it's temporarily lost in this pigpen of a studio I live in. The poem is one of a very few works of mine that I have declared to be in the public domain - meaning it can be copied and used for any reason and/or purpose by anybody.
It is a series of four Haiku style verses. The original title was "Four Haiku for a Skater" but I have repressed my gag reflexes and re-titled it as follows:
4 HAIKU 4 A SK8TER
(written 1999 by F. Allen Norman, Jr. - copyright waived, public domain. In Memory of Aidan C. Charles)
Skater in Summer,
By using Laws of Physics
Seems to defy them.
Like leaf in Autumn
Falls and whirls so gracefully,
Lightly touches down.
Expression of Spring,
So full of life and fearless
Moves as he pleases
Winter has no claim
On him. Loudly he declares:
"We need never die!"
I am immensely distressed to have learned of your passing, Little Brother.