Today I would like to share a true story that took place during the early morning hours of April
1, 1984. I call this story The Best Thing I Ever Said, but to set it up I need to begin in the summer
of 1979 when I worked nights as an armed security guard in one of those high rise buildings in
downtown Denver. (Yes, the let untrained 21 year-olds carry firearms).
This was a great job because I got paid to read all night and the most exciting thing I ever had to
do was call a cab for a drunk stockbroker. But one thing I remembered from that summer was the
haggard faces of the tired young lawyers leaving the building with their heavy briefcases in the
late hours of the evening.
After finishing law school in 1983, I remembered those poor young over-worked lawyers leaving
the building late at night, and I knew that was not for me. So, not wanting to get a real job, I had
joined the Air Force “to see the world” and was temporarily living in Montgomery, Alabama
attending something called the Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course. My brother Roy was
serving in the Coast Guard in Gulfport, Mississippi. (The location of military bases is not
determined by the pleasantness of the surroundings, but by the power of the local congressional
representatives and senators).
We had arranged to get together for a very long weekend. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I
know we spent one night drinking in a flea bag motel in a predominantly black area of Mobile,
Alabama. Being predominantly white, we chose to stay in our room that night and didn’t sleep
Now, many of you know Roy and you know we like to engage in witty banter with each other.
Always have, always will. (When your dad is Jewish and your mom came from a family of poor
Alabama dirt farmers, you develop a strange sense of humor).
One night during this adventure we were driving through rural Mississippi for some reason I
don’t remember, but I think we had decided to visit the Ozarks and were driving in my Ford
Bronco back to Gulfport. We were taking turns driving while the other slept.
I was driving and listening to music on an AM radio station. The station broadcast a news report
every hour on the hour, and I was driving when I heard that famed musician Marvin Gaye had
died. I continued driving for a while, but found myself fading, so I pulled off to the side of the
road and asked Roy to drive.
We switched places and Roy drove while I enjoyed the peaceful sleep that comes from snoozing
in a moving vehicle. After a few hours I woke up, sat up in my seat, and stared out at the dark
Roy had evidently been listening to the radio while I slept because the first thing he said to me
was, “Did you hear that Marvin Gaye died?” (Talk about the perfect setup! Can you guess how I
I said, “Yeah, I heard it through the grapevine.” And we both laughed very hard because we
realized something very special had taken place. It was the best thing I ever said.