I met Pat during the autumn of 1992 on the first morning of a video production job. We were both 24. In the middle of the cooking program we were making, Pat caught my attention with a bow and arrow set he had fashioned out of chopsticks he had swiped from the set. I followed the trajectory of the arrow and discovered that he already had a dozen or more stuck in the ceiling tiles above his desk. This guy clearly demanded some more investigation.
We struck up a friendship that day. Lovably eccentric as he was intelligent and talented, Pat introduced me to a whole new world, where: loud Hawaiian shirts were appropriate business attire; a rebuilt Volvo named Spot needed petted like a dog; a Rubik's Cube was a mandatory item for parties when things got boring; and an appropriate response to a question that couldn't be answered was "I like cheese" (accompanied by a goofy expression).
I was so uptight back then, but Pat helped me realize that it was OK to be myself. The world wouldn't end because a little personality or an honest opinion was expressed. He put this theory to the test in some hilarious exchanges in staff meetings-the earth kept spinning. One time I found his employee review behind a filing cabinet I was moving for his boss. In answer to the question "How could we make your employment here a more pleasant experience" he wrote PAY ME MORE DAMN MONEY. This world could do with some more of this kind of authenticity.
Pat also taught me not to do things halfway. If you have a passion, go all out for it. For instance, he used to put on quite the Christmas light show at his mother's little house. Every year the display got a little more elaborate and the number of lights increased exponentially. In (I think) 1999 he managed to put 10,000 lights on the house. It looked like Las Vegas and could probably have been seen from space. The same principle applied to his Halloween pumpkins, which he called Grumpkins. The grumpkins kept getting bigger until he was carving some over 1,000 pounds. He was hired to do demonstrations in Hong Kong and was even featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. Think of what life would be like if everyone displayed this kind of joyful abandon.
There are a million funny stories I could write about Pat, but I don't feel much like laughing right now. Pat died last Saturday morning. He was only 42.
Pat, I can't even begin to express how much your friendship meant to me. So many memories-the Electric Pickle, Pizza Night at the Bielawski's, endless cult movie marathons, and cruising around in Spot. Thanks for being my friend.
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that provides counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups.