2006-12-13 - 12:02 a.m.

A dear friend of mine passed away over the weekend. I just found out last night.
If you didn't know Leslie Harpold, I wish you had. She was a capital-O Original, and that's not a word I throw around lightly. To tell you the truth, I was always more than a little intimidated by her -- by her writing (thousands of times better than mine), her attitude (big, brassy, take-no-bullshit East Coast, but with an underlying warmth and optimism and friendliness that betrayed her Midwestern roots), her work ethic, her wisdom, the bands she’d seen, the incredible people she surrounded herself with, the profoundly valuable lessons she'd learned. She had been through things that would have driven me to either catatonia or suicide, and she came out on the other side -- still here, still loving life, still asking me if I'd seen any good shows lately.
She had no idea how amazing she was, and of course that made her even more amazing.
When I was in the hospital this summer, Leslie sent me a big stack of CDs by her favorite artists. After hearing that she'd died, I spent last evening listening to all of them, one after the other. I finally drifted off to sleep with Johnny Cash singing in my ear. That was perfect, somehow.
There are eulogies much better than this one popping up all over the place -- like here, here and here, for starters -- so rather than pile on the sentimentality any further, I'll honor her with a story.
Years ago, Leslie, myself and a bunch of other people from all over the U.S. and Canada met up in Washington, D.C. It was one of those online geek gatherings that used to happen occasionally, back when the Internet was shiny and new and no one realized how full of psychotics it was. After getting off our respective planes and having lunch, we proceeded to our hotel, expecting nothing more but to hang out and talk about politics and movies and life and maybe do some sightseeing and definitely get shitfaced drunk and possibly laid as well.
At the hotel, though, we had a rude surprise. There was some sort of fuckup with the reservations, or so the manager said, and all our rooms (except for the wheelchair-accessible room I’d booked) had already been given away. We all suspected this was a crock of shit -- we had no idea why they'd decide not to serve us, but the whole thing just smelled bad. The manager offered to put us up in another hotel -- on the other side of town -- but that hotel didn’t have any gimp rooms, so in that case I’d be SOL.
Tensions started to escalate, and a few of the more high-strung people in our group started to freak out. At that point Leslie, cool as could be, raised her hand and said, "Let me handle this."
She stepped up to the desk, leaned over it, inserted herself inextricably in the manager’s personal space -- and spoke to him. Softly, barely even a whisper, almost subvocal. None of us could hear what she was saying to the guy -- but we could see him crumple right before our eyes. Seriously, if he’d been naked, we could have watched his testicles shrivel, retreat up into his body, climb up his spinal column and out his ears, and flee in terror out the back door of the hotel.
The manager slinked back into his office for a few minutes, then came back out, still pale and sweating and about a foot shorter than he’d been when we came in. "Um, OK, we're, uh, gonna give you your rooms. Actually, uh, we're gonna comp them for you. Is that OK with you?"
We still have no idea what Leslie said to him.
So yeah, Leslie could be the sweetest human being you've ever met, but she also refused to suffer bullshit gladly, and woe to anyone who tried to serve it to her.
Goodbye, Leslie. I still have that "W.W.L.D.?" bracelet you gave me. I wear it to shows sometimes -- people think the L stands for Lucifer.
Wherever we go after we die, it's good to know that you'll be watching my back there. If the gatekeeper won't let me in, I'll just let you have a word or two with him.


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The Day Leslie Made Me Cool - 7:32 p.m. , 2006-12-14

Goodbye, Leslie - 12:02 a.m. , 2006-12-13

In Which Miguelito Discovers the Origins of His Evel Knievel Complex - 12:45 p.m. , 2003-11-17

You know that your generation is fucked when ... - 9:54 p.m. , 2002-10-15

Pedestrian rant - 11:46 p.m. , 2002-10-02