I've been straining my brain trying to figure out exactly when I met Glenn Banfield...certainly it was at Bitters, the grad pub on MUN campus. It was either in 1996, before I went to South Korea, or later in 1997 when I came back. But the one thing that is for certain is that it was during a trivia night, and I wasn't in a good mood.
The mid-to-late 90s were not a great time for me, for a host of reasons. I was in a pretty negative head space and my normally sarcastic and bitter personality was amplified. But doing trivia night at the grad pub was a chance to get out and socialize. And one of the night's I went there, Glenn was tending bar.
I honestly don't know if Glenn was good for bar sales. He was sarcastic and quick witted and more than once there was a mocking of alcohol selection, if not with words, then with a look. Glenn as a master of the mocking look. And in him, I saw someone not entirely unlike me. I recall, when going to the bar and ordering a soft drink (I didn't drink back then), getting a look. I think I complimented him on his superior sarcasm and mocking abilities. And with that, a bond was sealed. It was not that he wouldn't mock me from then on. He did...frequently and often (I showed up at his apartment last October wearing wearing a kangaroo leather hat. I swear, his eyes got bigger when he saw it. It was entirely too easy). But I think he knew that I respected the ability and I understood the craft involved with being that particular kind of funny.
But here's the thing...when you're that type of personality - sarcastic and bitter, cynical and grumpy - you reach an age where you have two choices. You can stay that way and deal with the consequences, which often results in being more alone, and driving away friends. Some find it charming and amusing when you're younger, but as people get older it can wear on them. Or you can change. The hard edges wear away. The core lurks there and can come out...Glenn could still freeze people with a mocking glare. But I think he got softer, less grumpy.
I am fairly certain if he heard me say that, by the way, he would cheerfully tell me to go fuck myself.
Unsurprisingly, I think this entirely coincides with the appearance of Susy in his life. Full of energy, a bright smile, huge heart and simply one of the best laughs around. I know a lot of people didn't get it when they first started going out. Glenn was the grumpy one, Susy the one who seemed to glow when she laughed (a favourite Susy memory: the opening cartoon for Monsters Inc which involves birds being silly. Susy lost her shit, laughing so hard that the rest of the audience start laughing because she was. It was also my first date with Cathy). But here's the thing...it doesn't matter how or why something works, just that it does. And it did with the two of them.
Besides, sometimes we also dig too hard looking for stuff. He made her laugh. I'm not sure how much more complicated it was - or needs to be.
Glenn hadn't been well the last couple of years. Every time I saw them Glenn was doing his best to carry on as normal, but you got the feeling normal was becoming an increasingly rare commodity. Still the raised eyebrow was there if you said that he felt was particularly foolish. Although new, to me at any rate, was the genuine affection that he spoke of Claire and Sam, their niece and nephew. He was in awe of every little thing they did. I hung out with them in October, and he was showing me YouTube videos of people test firing guns (Glenn loved guns, but in a very respectful and historical way). Things weren't going great then, but they still thought he would get better.
Cancer took my friend at an offensively young age last week, depriving us all of a man never afraid to speak his mind, who was sometimes sarcastic and grumpy, but never for a second did I think his heart wasn't in the right place. And depriving my Susy of many years of laugher far, far too soon.
Rest in peace, my friend...