Tonight I got an email from an old friend from Iowa City.
She told me that she had received word that one of our common friends, Jeff Doyle, had died this week of colon cancer.
It was one of those "getting hit by a ton of bricks" moments.
Jeff and I got to know each other through the Iowa City-Coralville Jaycees, and we quickly found ways to get into trouble together.
There was the night we planned to hit the bars in Iowa City. I had to call my then wife and explain to her that I was still at the bar at 3 a.m. "The bars close at 2!" she replied in a sharp tone. "Not in Illinois, they don't," was my reply.
Then there was the time he hosted a Super Bowl party and bought a pony keg. He didn't bother to tell me that there were only 3 of us attending. That was the same Super Bowl party he had champagne chilling on ice so we could pop it and toast Tim Dwight when he scored a touchdown. Sure enough, that bottle got popped. Only. Time. I. Missed. Work. The. Day. After. The. Superbowl.
I also remember many nights turned into morning, sitting on my patio, enjoying cheap cigars and cheaper beer, and solving all the world's problems.
And now that Jeff is gone, I think it is safe to tell one of the most awesome secrets I've kept for over 15 years.
Jeff, a devout Hawkeye fan, made a habit out of stealing football helmets from Kinnick Stadium. He had seats behind the visitor's bench, and he wanted to collect as many helmets from the opposing teams as possible. He was a master at it. Even after having newspaper articles written up about the mysterious helmet thefts, he was never caught. The best newspaper article details a time when the starting QB for the opposing team went to grab his helmet from the bench only to find it gone. Yep, Jeff had it.
He had them all tucked away in a special display case that only his close friends got to see.
Jeff could be a pissy mood bastard, and he could be the life of the party. You never knew which Jeff you might get, but one thing you always knew with Jeff. You had someone who would give you the shirt off his back, and then make sure it fit right.
I'll miss you, buddy. I'll sing "In Heaven There is no Beer" in your honor, and pour out a 40 ouncer for you.