Dammit Dave – Remembering my Cousin


Dammit David this isn’t how any of this was supposed to go, but here we are. I remember growing up you were always late to family dinners. After a while we all started telling you dinner was at 5 if it really started at 6. This is one of those times I wish you were late, instead of being terribly early. My mom is the youngest of four, with a pretty significant age gap between her and her siblings. That meant growing up my cousins were all teenagers who my brother and I idolized. Of all of my cousins though, Dave and Lisa were the King and Queen of cool. Last night I had several people mistake me for Lisa. I politely explained that I was her cousin, but I was flattered. She’s skinny and beautiful – I’ll gladly be mistaken for her any day. Andy and I wanted so desperately to be as cool as they were, Dave especially. You would think that we would have annoyed him, constantly underfoot, hanging on his every word. I noticed looking at the photos last night that I am literally pulling his hair while he blows out birthday candles in one of the pictures. Somehow he never seemed to mind. Dave was laid back, funny and cool as hell (sorry everyone but that’s the only way to describe him). We wanted to be him. My earliest memories of Dave were set in the Eighties. What a time to be alive. His long hair with the perfectly feathered bangs, shredded stone washed jeans, pencil tie with the shirt NOT TUCKED IN, collar popped, blazer with the rolled up sleeves, fancy glasses that looked like sunglasses ALL THE TIME, and, of course…. his Chuck Taylors. He was a badass and the shoes became iconic for my brother and I. There was no way we could reach the pinnacle of cool that Dave embodied but we could totally rock the Chucks in tribute. But you didn’t just wear the Chuck’s straight up like the rest of the world. Nope. Dave was an individual. To make a statement he would wear two different colors at the same time. Mind. Blown. And so, as any good adoring fans would, we followed his lead. We begged our Mom to get us Chucks in as many colors as we could. We were always so eager to show him what combinations we came up with. Dave, today I’m rocking the Chucks in your honor. I forgot how good it feels to slip these on. And I even found some Hawaiian Socks (who knew those were a thing?) I stopped at the shoe store yesterday to pick out, not one, but TWO colors, so I could pay you the proper tribute you’re due. I started to tear up at the register and the woman asked if I was ok. I explained that I don’t typically cry in shoe stores (unless it’s really a killer sale), but I was buying these in memory of my cousin who had passed. She stopped and looked at me, “Was your cousin Dave Smith?”. I burst into tears. She had gone to high school with Dave and assured me he would like the ones I had chosen. I hope she was right. Long hair was a thing in the eighties, but for Dave it wasn’t a fad, it was a lifestyle. The dude doubled down on the long hair trend and kept those locks despite the constant teasing of family members trying to compel him to give the clippers their due. As a little girl I loved to play with David’s hair, and he let me do it. I put every hair bow, scrunchie, banana clip (got one of those kinda stuck once but we got it out eventually), and hair clip I owned in his hair…..at the same time. Repeatedly. And he still loved me anyway. In retrospect, I was a total pain, but David never treated me that way. He made my brother and I feel like we were as cool as he was, even though we knew we weren’t even close to being in the same league. He was the best babysitter. Why? Because David didn’t know a rule he didn’t want to break. Bedtime? Nah. No candy? Says who? No Soda? Drink the whole two-liter! He’d never tell. When he’d see Mom’s headlights pull up he’d give the signal and my brother and I would jump into our beds and play possum. He OWNED the Muppets Take Manhattan on VHS and brought it over for us to watch as many times as we wanted. I have a bunch of other awesome Dave babysitting stories but you’ll have to see me afterward for some of those. Dave’s sense of style continued to be unique as we all grew up. He transitioned from big hair bands, to Jimmy Buffet and Bob Seger, and so the Hawaiian Shirt entered into the mix, and man did it suit him. He was a third generation Hawaiian Shirt lover, following in the footsteps of his Dad, and his Grandpa. He loved to have a good time, and perhaps, in retrospect, he wasn’t really late all the time, he was just meant to be on “island time”. He loved music. He played the guitar, adding further to his legendary status in the eyes of my brother and I. I’m not sure he could possibly understand the impact his passion for guitar had on my brother. Andy would tell you that Dave had a big hand in him being where he is today. He introduced us to the music of Henry Lee Summer and knew all the words. He liked his music loud, much like Grandpa Smith. I remember one family dinner at Grandma’s where several of the cousins ended up in the driveway with Dave blasting music from his car. Mr. Cool, once again, holding court while the rest of us only dreamt of being on his level. He was an artist. I have such sweet memories of him doodling with me at Grandma’s dining room table while we waited for the homemade pizza to come out of the oven on Christmas. (Or in Dave’s case “Polish Mistakes” because he was picky and Grandma was all about catering to the whim of her grandchildren) He could draw anything. As a young artist myself I always wanted to share my work with David. If he liked it, then I knew I had something. He showed me that is was cool to be an individual and to express your self creatively through art or music. As an adult I was always taken aback by how genuinely interested he was to catch up with me and hear about what I was doing with my life. He wasn’t interested in small talk; he wanted to know all of the details. He called me darlin’ and always greeted me with a hug and a kiss. When we would leave he would tell me how proud he was of me. I wish I had told him how much that meant. Mr. Cool was proud of me? Maybe I’ve made something of myself after all. He loved to cook and would always invite us over to his house to hang out. Dave was a good hang. He had a way of putting you at ease and a laugh that was contagious. He never took himself too seriously and was always ready to tell you a joke, or spin a story that was wildly engaging and usually hilarious. He was wicked smart. He loved politics and the constitution. We may not have always agreed, but you had to respect that he was passionate about his position. Named for my Uncle Dave, who gave his life in Vietnam, it always seemed fitting to me that Dave was so proud of our country. Patriotism was literally spoken over him the moment he was given his name, and now he will rest next to his namesake. A bittersweet twist of fate, but I like to think that Uncle Dave was at the pearly gates ready to show cousin Dave around. My brother and I always felt a special bond with David and Lisa because we too are very close. Dave always called Lisa “Sissy” and she called him “Brother”. My brother certainly has some pet names for me too, but they’re weird and somehow not as endearing ☺. The two of them loved to have a good time. Even as an adult, if Lisa posted a picture of them hanging out in the Basement Bar, I’d find myself wishing I were there. When you were with them you knew you were going to have a good time. I remember when they each got their driver’s licenses. It was a huge right of passage to get to go for a ride with them WITHOUT ANY GROWNUPS. Hell yes! Dave played the music louder, but Lisa definitely drove faster. Don’t worry – they both made me wear a seatbelt. Dave was an entrepreneur. Every time I saw him he was up to something new. I still remember him giving me a magnet he made that looked like a crab. He was pumped about selling them at an upcoming Jimmy Buffet concert. It read “I got crabs at Jimmy Buffet”. Super classy, and as always, hilarious. Most recently he was working on a youtube show, Dave and Joe’s Liberty Stand, where he discussed politics and current events. In honor of his Liberty Stand I propose a lemonade toast to the man of the hour. You each should have received lemonade on your way in. Dave always had a smile, a joke, and a drink in hand. So today Dave, cheers to you! I can’t believe that out of all the little girls in all the world, I got to call THE David Alan Smith, MY COUSIN. It’s been an honor and a privilege. Save me a seat at the cool kids table. I love you and I’m gonna miss you as long as I live. One of your biggest fans – Harmony



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