I will never forget our last conversation. It was only a few days beyond six years ago. He called me up to see if I wanted to “hang out, have some brew, see some girls” in that sly way he regularly did. We had both worked for a time for the same employer and had become fast friends. I enjoyed his irreverent style and his unabashed fanboy advocacy of all things Macintosh. He even went so far as always keeping a weekend job selling Macs at a largely PC retailer. There was nothing he loved more than “converting sinners on the floor” by introducing those coming in looking to by yet another Compaq to the Macintosh, thus, he felt, changing the rest of their lives for the better.
I also loved his writing. As a freelancer, he wrote for a number of the Macintosh related web sites that I followed. I loved his confrontational style. He really enjoyed pushing peoples buttons. Not because he wanted to piss people off but because he knew it caused them to think. Perhaps, for even a second, they would be introduced to something they had thought themselves but never had the balls to say. I mean, this is the guy who had the balls to write an article called “Macintosh Is the ‘Nigger’ of the Computer Industry“. He took a lot of flack for simply using “The ‘N’ word” and he ate it up. I loved the passion that he poured into every word, thought and action. This was a guy who really wanted to suck the marrow from the bones of life and did so with a big impish smile on his face.
He also had problems, heck who doesn’t. He had long suffered from manic depression. I had as well. Yet another thing we had in common to make us such fast friends. We often shared our struggles with staying on medication. Medication that, in an effort to keep you from “feeling down” or “feeling crazy” mostly makes you not able to feel anything very deeply at all. Psychiatry in this area is a “true science” in that there are no right answers or perfect drug combinations. Everyone is different and even then things can change. It is all a matter of constant playing with dosage levels and trial and error until a person is lucky enough to stumble upon the right mix for them. The trip to not being crazy is a rollercoaster ride of emotions so severe and intense for so long that one feels… Crazy. He and I commiserated on these subjects often – usually while having some brew and seeing some girls at the local gentleman establishments. He seemed to be managing the ride as well as can be expected.
This time, when he called to hang out, I was too busy. Between trying to manage being a full time single dad, my consulting business, and way too many other seemingly important things, I had to decline. “Give me a call in a couple of weeks,” I said, “I’ll even buy.” Looking back, I still feel like that was the worst decision of my life.
Rodney O. Lain passed away a few days later on June 15th, 2002 – six years ago yesterday. He took his own life with a gun to the head sometime in the late night/early morning of the 15th and lived for one day more (I imagine just as a final “Fuck you” to the gun – He was that type of guy). There is rarely a day or two that goes by that I do not think of Rodney. He was my friend. I miss him. I miss being able to share my life as it is today with him. My beautiful wife, the strong lovely young men my sons are becoming, my beautiful baby girl… I often think about how much fun he would be having right now with Apple enjoying such great success (I can imagine him writing “The iPhone is the Whitey of the mobile phone industry”). Not to mention the strong possibility of having a “Brotha” in the White House. What kind of writing about it all we are missing. Words that might make us laugh, or piss us off or bother to think.
Those words are hard to find now. Six years on the internet is a long time. Some of the sites he wrote for are now gone and his writing along with them. I even tried to do my part by reviving his old site a few years back but many behind the scenes complications kept it from staying live. Do a search on Google for him and you will find a number of loving tributes and obituaries and even still find an article or two written by him…
As for me, I still grieve. There is a hole in the world now that will never be filled. A friend that will never be replaced.
**Update** – Many of Rodney’s articles can be found archived at Low End Mac.