I remember back to a winter in the early 1980s. My friend Shera had an older brother. Paul was a friend of Shera’s older brother. I met Paul a few times during the 1980s, but never got beyond the usual nod of acknowledgment and an occasional “hey man”.
Paul was 8 months older than me, yet I was in the grade below him (my parents traveled a lot and forced me to change schools every few years – thus I was left back one grade by the time I returned to the USA). This single fact would explain why it took us ten years to really start being friends.
My best friend in High School moved away just a month after graduation. I started college in Boston and maniacally embraced the seeds of my my own discontent, which had been sown…since around 1973.
One fabulous “crash and burn” in Boston later found me back in Westchester, living with my parents (think “Little Lord Fauntleroy” crossed with “Deliverance.”)
It was during this period that I vacillated between the despair of failure and loss and trying to sort myself out and finish college.
Paul was working at a computer store in Mt. Kisco – Software City. Legend has it that my father bought a Pentium box from him way back in 1990 and called him every few days to complain about something or other. Anyway, during one of my father’s in-person appearances at the store, Paul asked where I was was and my father told him I was back in New York.
The rest is history.
Paul was an extremely annoying guy. He could irritate you no end with his constant warbling about shit that literally only 5 other people on the planet cared about. He could be slothful, boastful to the point of psychosis and all-around E.V.I.L. when the mixture of alcohol to drugs ratio was correctly balanced.
Who else could leave this voicemail at 4 AM for me from Amsterdam after being awake 3 days in a row doing things few could survive? It is a perfect melange of humor, Godzilla movie homage and a healthy dose of “Second City” under 72 hour observation.
Paul was also extremely loyal. During a few very dark periods of my life, he made it clear he was there for me – and he backed those words up with action.
Paul Hrisko was one of my best friends. I often wrestle with the question of me being as good a friend to him as he was to me. Only he could answer that, so I am left wondering.
I had not spoken to Paul for two years at the time of his death. I had warned him not to go to the Philippines & the “Far East” where men can drink deeply from the fountain of excess with seemingly no limitations. After all, he was just a kid from Ossining…
He went and was dead soon thereafter. Alcoholism and being disconnected from the people who had known him the longest did him in, in my opinion (which I admit is not worth much in this connection).
And there were his demons…Like mine, but I was able to pull back from the precipice before it was too late. His consumed him.
Shera and I paid for a good portion of his cremation costs as as a final “thank you” to Paul – although that gesture had more to do with us than it did with him. He told me many times he had no desire for a funeral or any other kind of “expected” funerary ceremony.
I will always remember Paul ready to go out on the town and ready to have a good time – the innocent optimist stuck in the body of the the ultimate pessimist. This is why we were so similar and why I miss him.
Arigatou Gozaimasu Mista Oshira…
New York City 2013