I want to talk to you about an acquaintance of mine and a strange experience I have had with him. His is Donald Ramsey and we went to college together. He’s a very talented artist and a good guy to boot. We’ve worked together a little, but mostly I know him through his many collaborations with close friends of mine.
One of those friends, a guy named Astro, visited me in India back in 2003, shortly after we had graduated from college. We traveled through the once upon a socialist state of Kerala together, spending time in crowded trains and on black sand beaches. One night we decided to catch a private overnight river boat, on which we stayed up late playing songs and swapping stories. At some point, Donald’s name came up.
“Hey Astro, do you ever talk to Donald Ramsey?”
“Yeah. We stay in touch.”
“How is he? I’ve always liked that guy, though, truth be told, it always seemed like he didn’t like me. I’m probably just being paranoid. I have no basis for thinking that.”
“Right about what?”
“That he doesn’t like you.”
“Your name came up and he said, ‘I don’t really like that guy.'”
Now, I’m not so narcissistic that I feel like everybody should like me, but it’s a little weird to me that he offered his unsolicited opinion of me to one of my close friends. I was equal parts dumbfounded, intrigued, irked and even impressed. Despite my general feeling of “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” I still felt a little respect for his chutzpah. I mean that’s some moxie he showed there. Real cojones. Okay, I’ll stop now.
I saw him one time after learning this, unexpectedly, and I avoided pulling a Larry David (confronting him, dragging Astro into it, making a messy public scene , declaring some kind of rivalry, having encounter after encounter escalate, making common friends choose sides, organize feats of strength and endurance in an attempt to air our differences through competition, etc.) on him. I played it cool and haven’t seen him since.
For some reason, though, I was reminded of the story last week when I was having dinner in Brooklyn with Sam and our friend Cam Neely (no relation).
I finished the story and we all agreed that the whole thing was a little weird. Cam interjected, though: “I wasn’t going to say anything, but he actually told me the same thing.”