Only Ordinary Men
When time flies, as it has for this blog, you tend to not do the things that remind you of all the things you should say to your close friends. And then in a flash, the moment is lost forever.
Such is life in this valley, state, world. But nothing could possibly compare to the moment that I lost in the passing of Tom Dowdy.
Tom Dowdy at the Poubelle Summer Party 2003...(photo by wjc)
I met Tom during the first time I worked at Apple. Over the years I left for other opportunities but I always seemed to drift back to Apple, and Tom was always there. Apple is an interesting and sometimes fantastic place to work but it was the fact that he was "just down the hall in IL2" or "across the bridge in IL1" that always lifted my spirits when Apple was merely an "interesting" place to work.
When he invited me to one of his dinner parties, we found that we had a mutual appreciation for the same music (progressive rock and, most notably, the band Dream Theater) and food. For the latter, "appreciation" is understating it a bit. It was full-blown obsession. Eventually, I was cooking with Tom at a majority of his legendary parties, and in recent years as his "lead" sous-chef. His dinner parties exemplified the concept that "you always cook for the people you love".
For me, it went deeper than that. I have always given freely to those that I love by cooking (being from a primarily Italian family, if you didn't learn that, then you weren't paying attention...). However, with Tom, it was a master lesson in the power of two friends in the kitchen exploring and discovering new things both about the food and each other, and then turning that into something that he(we) freely gave of ourselves.
He was a mentor to me for techniques and other things that I either didn't know or only had a passing familiarity. And I'm positive that I was able to teach him some things as well. Whichever way, he was always gracious, helpful, encouraging and giving - in his kitchen *and* mine.
We developed a kind of psychic link when we were in the kitchen. A nod, a glance, a grunt...most of the time we could finish each other's sentences as true friends often can. It was uncanny...and deeply satisfying.
Things have been tough (for me) lately, on all fronts. The valley tends to temporarily chew people up at times, even the strong ones and I have had no real inspiration to write about food here in Two. Ate. Yet I cook on, using techniques that Tom taught me as well as my own, to feed anyone who happens to be in the house. I do it gladly because...well, that just how I do. I always understood "why", Tom showed me the meaning of "why".
Only ordinary men could be so loving and giving. It takes an extraordinary person to paint himself as "just an ordinary guy" and still do all the things, and touch all the lives that Tom touched. He touched mine right down to the bottom of my soul. It is something that I will never, ever forget.
Tom, I hope to see you again someday, my beautiful friend, then we can be the ordinary men that we always want to be.