It was a bright beautiful Saturday. I was to meet Pete for brunch and, as was customary, I walked the handful of miles to our usual diner. This time, though, as I walked through the parking lot, he called me over to where he was parked and asked if I had time to take a ride with him to the car dealer. Someone had smashed one of the car's outside mirrors and he had to get it fixed. As far as I was concerned, the only time constraint that afternoon was that he had a radio show to do up in the Bronx, so off we went.

The car ride was like our walks, except it rolled along at a much faster clip and it covered a longer distance. Pete had an unusual way of walking. He walked in a way that I've seen only a few people walk. He walked with a "bop". It was characteristic of him, his gait was like a Pete Fornatale grin -- it had a smile to it. And just like our walks, there was rarely any silence in the car. He spoke and told stories, much like he did on-the-air except the topics were just slightly different. We laughed the gamut of laughter, from short guffaws to outright belly laughs. And somewhere along the way, in the back of my consciousness, I wondered just where the heck this car dealership was; I knew there was none in town. The road he took brought us into town and then quickly out of it. We traveled north, then east, then south, east again and then north yet again. Where the heck was this dealership? Did he even know? It didn't matter, really. As long as the stories kept coming, and come they did. Along the way, we passed the location of "My Father's Place". Every time I pass that spot now, I flash back to this particular Saturday. 

Yes, this particular Saturday contained a lot of memories.

It took about an hour or so to get to the dealership and now that I knew where we were, once he mirror was fixed, I got us back to the diner in less than fifteen minutes. I only wish now we had taken that same long road back; it's an opportunity that is forever lost to me. But I was hungry and Pete had to get to the Bronx to do Mixed Bag in a little while [he had proudly shown me the canvas tote bag filled with CDs for the show that day].

Over lunch our conversation took a different tone, a somewhat more serious tone. It was peppered with a few "just between us" prefaces and a couple of "not for broadcast" reminders. Looking back, I now realize that was the day Pete chose me to be his friend. He gave me a glimpse of the private side of Pete and, of course, it changed nothing of the image I had of the public side of him. But all the more now, I regret not having made myself more available and more open, regret not having taken more walks or given into more late night phone conversations with him.

"Much as I'd love to, I can't live in the past," Tom Paxton once said. "It's all right to look back as long as you don't stare."

I tend to follow that quote. Much of my past is just that, in the past and since it has passed, I let it go. I rarely "stare". But the memories of this Saturday with Pete is an exception I allow. I miss him. A lot. I miss his posts on the old Mixed Bag Board. I miss his themes on Mixed Bag. I miss his book tours and the dog and pony shows.

I miss my friend.
 


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