The plan for me was to check into the hotel around midnight and then crash ‘til the morning funeral. But Rog was sharing the suite with me and Geney Boy. And since we haven’t seen the guy in almost a month, we caught up. Friday was the last day of his promotional duties for “Better Luck,” which means no more flying to a different time zone each day and getting mobbed by lustful Asian Studies majors.
But Rog happens to be one of those people who crave massive amounts of attention – hence his choice of profession – and yet abhor it at the same time. So he actually didn’t relish his recent taste of minor celebrity: the two-hour autograph signing sessions, the cooing club chicks with the ample boobage (damn you, Rog!), the friends posting half-naked photos of him on their livejournal.
But I already knew that about the guy. What I didn’t know is that he’s a frigid little bastard. Dude put three sweaters on before going to bed. 4% body fat is so overrated I tell you – so go ahead and eat that lard pudding.
Gary’s was the fourth funeral I’ve been to in the past five years, and probably the most emotional. I suppose that’s to be expected of any funeral when the person died too soon and without warning. But he truly was a good person, that guy. And that made the anguish even more raw for those who deeply cared about him.
When it was finally Chin’s turn to speak, the collective sorrow inside the chapel almost burst. Because when a person dies too soon and without warning, the people who loved him desperately try find to some meaning in his death. And no matter how hard they try to convince themselves, deep down inside they can’t escape that stench of meaninglessness, of feeling horribly cheated. And when it’s someone you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with, it’s as if God came down and stole all your happiness from you. Simply because he could.
When we got back to LA later that day, Rog asked me what I got out of it all.
I told him, “People.”
Back in high school, while attempting to fill out my Princeton application, I realized that life was too short and I had to make the most of it. It’s not only a cliché but a soft drink commercial. Yet nevertheless it’s true.
So I came to the conclusion that the key to true happiness wasn’t about money and material possessions, but life experiences. Things you can tell your grandkids about, while a hot Icelandic nurse spoon-fed you creamed corn.
And to that end I’d been seeking experiences. I forsook a highly lucrative career for a creative one. I traveled as much as I possibly could. I tried to go out as much as my biological clock and liver would let me. I strove to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Grey Goose-guzzling Korean boy had gone before.
But since my baby sister’s cancer and now Gary’s death, I’ve realized that I was wrong. More than experiences, the key to happiness is people. Not just your family. But your friends as well. And I don’t mean people who are fun to party with or who are pretty and witty and bright. But people who’ll be there for you no matter what, just as you'll be there for them. People who care about you as you do about them. The very people whom I always end up taking for granted.
Lord knows where I go from here. As I told Rog right afterward, as soon as all the emotions fade away, I could go back to my old, cynical self again.
Because harder than becoming a rich man, a talented man or a powerful man, is becoming a good man.
But I’ll do my best. For Gary’s sake.