Ode to BozoSt. Patrick's Day 2004

We buried my friend and charter member of Club Ned, Mike Rogers, last Monday.  It is through my friendship and association with Mike that the qualifying parameters of membership in Club Ned were established.  

He was a guy who never let life's challenges get him down.  He found something to chuckle about even in his last days.  Always laughing and enjoying each minute, he leaves us a quieter, less exciting existence.

The following words were given in eulogy:

 

Bozo, we call him.  

Because the name is synonymous with mirth and fun, it’s a good fit.  No greasepaint or costume, in street clothes Mike was jester to our court.

Never one to dwell on sorrow, Mike overshadowed despair with laughter, and quelled sadness with his clever repartee.  He could turn up the lights with his charm.

We’ve had a lot of fun together, and sometimes shared a little heartbreak, but all in all, Mike had a pretty hot run.

 

He never missed a chance to enjoy life.  True to his Irish heritage, moderation never won his attention.  He filled his glass to the top.   He courted Lady Luck in all her moods.  He seized every moment.  

You have seen a horse race, with the thoroughbred charging ahead, nostrils flared, reaching out to his very limits with each stride; no let-up, slowing only at the point of exhaustion.  

This is life as Mike lived it.

 

Although assertive and self-confident, Mike avoided arrogance, and was no stranger to humility.  He could laugh at himself with ease.  

 

Not all rules were meant for him.  He parked in restricted spaces and smoked where it was forbidden.  He laughed when others remained silent.

 

If Mike was your friend, as he was mine, you had a loyal friend and an enduring defender.  

 

He was a paradox.

A good man, he was sometimes a bad boy.

He would seem brash and crusty, but he harbored a big heart and a soft underbelly.

He had a bear-trap mind, but it sometimes rendered questionable decisions.

He did not suffer fools, but he occasionally joined in their folly.

He was simply complex.

 

An innovator and motivator, Mike had an innate ability to jump in and take charge.  He made things happen.

We used to gather at my apartment every Friday evening for libation and story-telling.  One night we ordered pizza.  When the pizza arrived, Mike told the deliveryman that he needed cigarettes.

The deliveryman replied, “I got pizza.  I don’t have cigarettes.”

“Well, I don’t either,” said Mike, “so here’s what we do…”

Mike pulled a ten and a twenty from his wallet.  He handed Pizza Man the twenty.

“This is for cigarettes,” He said.

He took the $10 bill and tore it in half, handing one half of the bill to Pizza Man, holding the other half.

He said, “When you bring the cigarettes back here, you get the other half of this ten.  You got it?”

Pizza Man got it.

It was Bozo at his best.  He got cigs delivered right to our doorstep, and an entrepreneur was born.  Enlightened and inspired by the master, Pizza Man saw his career offer grand new promise.

 

This is a cute story, but only one of thousands.  Mike’s life was a collage of little episodes like this one.  Each day set a new stage.  He squeezed fun and excitement out of every available opportunity. He was fun just to be around.

There is less to chuckle about now.  

Mike has moved on, but he hasn’t really gone away.  Much that he has given us will linger.  In the times ahead when we reflect upon these moments, we’ll get to share another laugh with Bozo.