Whitman Seymour Harrison

I was the first, surprisingly enough, to call him “Whit” for short — after which I was casuistically knighted “Sage” — and as we all know, this was apt, if not downright precognitive. Within the hallowed walls of Damian Preparatory High School on Orange Grove Avenue, Pasadena, California, these names “Whit” and “Sage” echoed, bellowed, even, in a manner that many still consider legendary. I’m one of the few who can say I knew him since high school, and there is, of course, a good reason for that. Whit didn’t socialize much. It was so odd to watch him go on to become a huge star because — well, you know. We knew him. And we never did stop knowing him because he knew how to keep in touch. I don’t mean that he took us to the Hamptons and worked us up to levels of debauchery that couldn’t otherwise be contained by the suburbs we lived in. I don’t mean that he visited and talked to us about our quiet drinking problem and negotiated with our wives to stop disciplining the kids and start disciplining us. I talked to him late at night all these years — something that speaks to the inner adolescent in a way that moves you, really moves you, have you forgotten what that feels like? Your inner adolescent? We all have one, and Whit maintained a straight line to my inner adolescent by calling me late at night. He called me once Margie was asleep and I could hear my own heartbeat again. He called me, uncannily, within eleven minutes of Margie’s descent into slumber, which reminded me of how much I loved him for his timing, that goes all the way back to our Damian days when I was accustomed to calling him a four-letter word that was the space between his gut and his — well, I thought I was clever back then — I won’t repeat the word now but I guarantee you, I once dated a foul-mouthed Welsh ballerina, years before I met Margie, God rest her soul, who taught me the word in the first place, which certainly means that you, as the elegant crowd standing before me today, can make a solid inference when called upon.