Thursday, December 09, 2004

One of My Memories of Jesse/emmo2

Yesterday I received the only Christmas card that I will keep this year. It was from my dear friend Patty who lost her husband in August of this year. I'm sure you'll remember my very first entry which was about Jesse and how we had just found out that he was leaving the hospital and told he probably had a week. It ended up that he had less than 36 hours.

The Christmas card is a homemade computer card for which P&J are famous. When I had my cervical diskectomy four years ago I received a lot of these cards from them wishing me well and hoping I'd get well soon. They are so sweet. Patty included a pic of Jesse standing next to the ocean (I'm betting down at DisneyWorld) in my favorite Lotus t-shirt and a pic of the two of them with him in his CART polo shirt and Patty in her Dale Earnhardt t-shirt. And if the pics weren't enough to make me cry, the message from Patty would have done it.

"Jesse passed away in August this year but his spirit will always be with us. As you celebrate the joys of Christmas please take a few moments to recall a memory you had with Jesse. Your memory will keep him alive in our hearts forever."

So, per Patty's request, I'm going to tell you about the most fun Christmas party cyberly-spent and one of my favorite memories of Jesse.

Back in May 1995, ESPN started their on-line entity, and with it a number of chats: baseball, football, hockey, boxing and auto racing (if I remember correctly). It was early May, as I know we had been there at least a week or so before we Indy fans (as we were then known) had to explain to the NASCAR people how the Indy 500 qualifying worked. Paula returned the favor by explaining NASCAR to us open-wheelers. It was a wonderful chat full of people trying to learn from others, and having spirited discussions about why our form of racing was better or not. We had to deal with the regular jackasses who thought they were so clever, "RACING IS STUPID. YOUR [sic] STUPID."* And shit like that. Very clever of stuff. Anyway, Jesse was on there in the beginning and his chatname was emmo2 as he was a big Emerson Fittipaldi fan and was the same age as Emmo.

Background information: That first year of the Chat there were no official race gatherings, but people going to the same races would make plans to meet up. I met one chatter in Detroit that year, but the first race where there was actually a group was Toronto 1995. We met Friday night at a restaurant and it was easy to spot Brian aka Toronto because he was wearing his Spam Blimp t-shirt (which was a chat inside joke, and it made easy to find relative strangers). Everybody in the chat, of course, had requested a pic of the Toronto ESPN Chat Group, so one got taken and as Mom worked at photo developing Hallmark store at the time, I got about a million copies made up and sent them around the world (literally). Jesse got one and always after that he would call me Cutie in the chat, and since I thought that was sweet of him, I always called him Sweetie. Now we shall return to the regularly scheduled story.

When Christmastime came around that year, we scheduled a Christmas Office Party in the chat. I think it was for a Friday afternoon. It was the best cyber party ever. I mean it really felt like we were all together and celebrating our friendships. Sappy, I know, deal with it. Anyway, someone suggested that we have a desk chair race (we were race fans after all) and people teamed up, one person sitting in the chair, the other pushing the chair around the course. And we had to come up with a name for our teams too. Nine years later I can only remember the name of Jesse and my team. We were the Sweetie-Cutie team which made everybody else gag so badly that we creamed their butts – although I'm sure Paula would argue that her team (can't remember with whom she teamed up) won. The race itself was crazy wild. Chairs and people banging off file cabinets and walls as they careened around the race track. We had champagne punch and beer and God knows what else at this party and it was so fun. But for me the most memorable part of the "party" was the Desk Chair Race with Jesse and me winning the grand prize (no prize and no real bragging rights, even, since other people thought they had won). It was just silly fun and I really miss those days in the chat.

And I miss Jesse. It makes me sad to think that I won't see him next year at the races. Cleveland will always be a little sad for me, as I'm sure it will be for Patty since Cleveland is what brought them together – that and our goofball friend who figured that Hammond, IN was near Chicago and Waterford, IL was somewhat near Chicago, so therefore it would make perfect sense for Jesse to drive from Hammond to Waterford to pick Patty up for the Cleveland race in 1997. LOL!!! If you know anything of Chicago geography you know that this is not in the least bit convenient, but Jesse was the type not to say anything and think "Why not? She needs a ride. Who cares that I have to drive (at least) an hour and a half in the wrong direction?" And he didn't care. It was all about getting Patty to the race and give us a chance to meet her, after chatting with her for so long.

And that, dear people, is one of my favorite memories of Jesse. Well, that and the fact that he was sweet enough to burn the negative of a pic he took of me at Cleveland in 1996 which was just about the worst picture of me ever taken! He sent me the only prints and burned the negative and I ripped those suckers up very fast. The badness of that picture was breath-taking!!! ;-)

* After enough visits by these complete freaking losers I developed the perfect way to get rid of them. Ignoring them didn't work, we found out, so as soon as one of them would show up and say something like "YOUR STUPID! YOUR A REDNECK." etc., I would address them directly with the following comment or some variation thereof (as I can't remember exactly – it was nine years ago), although I would call them by their chosen chat name, not Asshole.

Asshole – If you feel the need to insult, I would appreciate it if you would, at the very least, use correct grammar. Here's a little grammar lesson to help you look not like a total idiot while insulting us:

YOUR indicates possession, i.e., your car, your house, etc.
YOU'RE is a contraction used when you really want to say YOU ARE STUPID.

For some reason, this always scared them off. Always!!! I got to the point where I just shortened it to the grammar lesson and it still did the trick.


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