Its Wednesday night - I should be in the pub happy with a couple of pints and laughing at how badly we've done at pub quiz. But Wednesday nights are not going to be the same any more. Instead I'm sitting and home looking at pictures of a good friend who I will never see again. So I decided it was a good time to write down some memories.
I met Steve Lacey in 1998ish - his girlfriend (now wife) had moved to the USA with the same company that imported me and I had been chatting to her in email about the move, houses and lots of other things. When we finally meet at a party - she brings along this dude with a pony tail. Before I can dismiss him as some sort of hippy I find out that he was a) a nice guy b) a smart guy and (most importantly) c) a GAME PROGRAMMER. As a lowly IT guy with 20 year dreams of making games this was wonderful. I probably bent his ear off that night - you know like when you meet a doctor at a party and everyone wants to show him the boil on their butt!
As the years ticked by we bumped into each other at events until Nabila and he bought their house and it was in the same town as me - walking distance (for Brits) even - and we hung out a little more. I found out he played guitar in a band - seriously how cool is this guy! - and went to some gigs, we watched England get kicked out of the world cup at Smokey Joe's at 2 in the morning, many good times. Soon enough he got married and started making babies but we all still managed to get together occasionally. He dog sat my dogs several times - including carrying one of them up and down a flight of stairs 3 times a day because she had surgery - I (thankfully) only had to dog sit his crazy but lovable dog once!
Around 2005 in the middle of a breakup I started going to the pub quiz with a group of my running friends. It was a new pub in town and apparently we started going on the 2nd time they had pub quiz. We became regulars - eventually getting our own booth, waitresses that knew our names and drinks and a good time was had by all. And at some point Steve was there. I know he wasn't there at the beginning and I don't remember how it happened but Steve liked pubs - he probably just smelled the beer, heard my voice and sat himself down. From that point on he's been a regular too. The runners all stopped coming apart from the one who decided to move in with me rather than drive to pub quiz each week. Steve started bringing along folks from his neighborhood, from Google, from his murky past at Smokey Joe's... We've been doing the same thing on Wednesdays for 6 years now and Steve's been there for over 5 of them.
All the other blog posts you will read about Steve are going to tell you quite correctly how brilliant he was. But let me tell you this - when it comes to topics such as cross stitching techniques of the native Hungarians, one legged golfers and US presidents with beards he was as dumb as the rest of us :-)
After many changes in team name we settled on "striving for mediocrity" because that’s where we placed every week. When you tell people that you do a pub quiz they always ask if you win. We place in the money (top 5-6 spots) 2-3 times a year. I don't remember the last time we won. I can tell you the last time Steve won - he deserted us for a table of ex Flight Sim people who clearly cheated! But he always came back to the fun table - it’s never been about the winning. We talked about families, what we've been up to - you know the sort of things friends do when they hang out. Steve always bought his new gadgets to show us - you didn't need to read reviews when Steve is around he was the proverbial early adopter.
Our team has, for the majority of the time been very unbalanced - mostly male computer programmers and often Brit heavy - so sports, literature and topics that we rely on our computers for are pretty weak. We got video games once in 6 years and still only managed 9 out of 10 (which pacman ghost is replaced in Ms Pacman?).
Which brings me to my first Steve story: The round was spelling - the word was truncheon and Steve disagreed with everyone. But he played his joker card with the irrefutable point that his grandfather was a policeman so we used his spelling. It was wrong and we never let him forget it!
One of the other funny moments I will always remember involved the previously mentioned pony tail. Steve often told us that having a pony tail is drug addict code for dealer. We didn't believe him until one day a very drunk guy seemed to accidentally sit at our table after the quiz was over. We tried to make small talk but it was clear that he didn't know any of us nor did he really want to talk. So we started to ignore him and then as quickly as he had arrived he was gone. When we asked Steve if he knew him he smiled and told us that as soon as we looked away he had asked for 'the stuff' and left when he didn't get any. The only drug on the table was Steve's Stella and he wasn't sharing that with anyone.
Steve - in a few weeks we'll be back at the pub. We'll miss you and your cheery 'hellooooooo' when you arrive and we'll even miss your bad spelling. We'll likely drink a Stella or 2 in your honour. We'll strive to be more than mediocre but we'll remember that pub quiz isn't about the pub or the quiz at all - it’s about good friendship, good times and good memories. Thanks for those things.