I first first met Jeremay Melvin Buol in the 8th grade. I thought he was big and scary and he punched me a lot, but he had good taste in music and wore kickass t-shirts. Over the years we drove way too fast, partied way too hard and had way too much fun.
Shitty beer, warm tequila, and years worth of legally questionable behavior, our friendship spanned the gamut. He was my first roommate and he poured my first – and last – shot of Everclear. I got my only tattoo out of boredom while waiting for his to be finished. We fought over girls, fought over money and fought over who had better taste in the things that really mattered: music and movies. We worked together at the cheese factory, the golf course and Pizza Hut and we spent more time horsing around at all three than anything else. For the record, I got him fired from only one of those jobs.
Aside from all the times we tried to tip the golf carts, one day really stands out at the golf course. T’was the day we’d received a huge shipment of stackable dining chairs. From his office window, our boss, Jay, who’d instructed us to unload said chairs on the front lawn and carry them into the dining room, instead saw me tell Buol to climb into the giant cardboard box they’d arrived in. I then proceeded to run full speed at him and tackle the box, which, with Buol inside, went FLYING. We were sure it was the funniest thing we’d ever done. The boss, unfortunately, did not agree.
Another adventure had us heading up to a soiree in Hillpoint. Buol was able to get us air-born in his Toyota Supra and his head actually went out of the moon-roof. On another occasion, on the way home from the golf course one night, he spun us into the ditch off that one big hill just west of the chalet. One time we ditched the boss’s Neon on the way to get extra dough in a thunderstorm. It was sometimes a bit scary in his passenger seat but he was always more than happy to drive.
We once made a video in high school where all we did was walk around the school. That’s it. I think we kicked a couple cars in the parking lot, tossed a couple of rolls of TP at the baskets in the old gym and peeked into the girls bathroom. Sure, we weren’t high class, but we knew how to have a good time.
Speaking of, it should be mentioned that Buol threw the best parties. Field, bonfire, quarry, basement….it didn’t matter. They’d have a multitude of meats, delicious cheeses and tasty foaming beverages. Everyone would leave gleeful and satisfied from the food as well as the company. A big smiling face and a toast to life, every joyful celebration seemed to be the point of it all. Truly, the host with the most. His amazing parents really rubbed off on the guy.
Born and bred in the rolling hills south of Belleville, his view from the Buol Farm on Buol Road stretched for days and miles and years and he’d do anything for his family, that land, and that farm. Lizz, the boys, and I recently made it down there and he and Nicole (and his folks) were more than happy to share their love of the American farm with my kids and o, how I loved them all for it. The boys’ eyes aglow with earth and food and land. He was the sweet, fun, approachable Jeremay to them and to us all; he’d always have time to crouch down and discuss the world with them, or to stop and happily shoot the shit with us.
Some years ago I was living with him in terribly smelly little apartment in Belleville and it was during that period that I first met Elizabeth. Several years later, he was the best man at our wedding and he picked me up in a goddamned convertible he’d rented just for Lizz and I, saying he thought we deserved to leave the ceremony in style. I couldn’t thank him enough.
Whenever I needed anything, he’d be there in an instant. Whenever ANYONE needed anything, he was always available to lend a hand. He was almost annoying that way. I mean, I SO wanted to be more like him; to be so fucking selfless and caring that it just poured from me naturally, as it did from him; but I couldn’t come close. We was there for us all, all of the time.
When I worked at the bowling ally in Verona, he’d stop in on lonely Thursday nights to keep me company. He’d belly up the shoe counter and we’d chain-smoke Swisher Sweets and talk about the future. Looking back, those were really great nights.
Last year many of us had the pleasure of seeing him marry his dream girl. I’d never seen him so happy. All that he’d worked so hard for, the life he’d always dreamed of….his, at last. We partied late into the night; wine, beer, and celebration flowing freely in that terrific 24-hour hotel pool area. We cheered as they bowed out and said goodnight and toasted them until we could no longer raise our glasses.
I’m not sure any of us who knew and loved that man will ever to be able to adequately express his or her gratitude for the pleasure of that gift. Our lives were truly enriched by his presence and his loss will echo ad infinitum. So many aspects of him remain goals for myself; benchmarks carved via admiration and respect and the way one wishes more of the world to be. I learned so much about myself and the world while I knew him, and he’ll continue to shape who I am and who I wish to be from here on out.
We once had a contest. We’d see who could go the longest without cutting his hair. In the end, we ended in a sort of a draw, shunned from society and appearing to be hairy hippies at best, homeless weirdos at worst. Either way, a fantastic victory for a couple of hippie weirdos like Buol and I.
Buol’s was the the biggest grin, the strongest hand, and the kindest heart. He was my first roommate, my best man, my oldest best friend. I’m really gonna miss him.