A decade later, still no time machines

June 28 marks the 10th anniversary of the death of my friend Andrew James Lere. He was a record-breaking swimmer, a three-year member of the National Honor Society, and an awesome guy. He died in a drunken driving accident.

I still think about Lere too much, probably, yet specific memories of him are fading in my mind. A few still stick out, though:

  • I didn’t really have much planned for a graduation party at the end of my high school career. Whether Lere knew that or not, I don’t know, but he ended up suggesting we join forces for a celebration. Naturally, we got pretty excited and used my mom’s digital camera to take the photos for the above Photoshopped sumo-wrestling-match promo. Lere is the wrestler on the right. I’m on the left. I’m pretty sure this image ended up on our cake. (It’s not technically a doodle, but too bad!)
  • In high school, my group of friends loved to make movies. One film, an action-packed portrayal of the Vietnam War for a history class, hit the skids when we almost blew somebody’s face off. Lere wasn’t in the class, but he helped us finish the movie anyway. We found more success later while making a Saturday-Night-Live-esque compilation. The film included Adam leading a workout video while wearing a grocery bag for a shirt, to the tune of fake flatulence provided by Kyle; a surreal parade of costumed characters walking through an imaginary door, to the tune of “Been Caught Stealing” by Jane’s Addiction; and the centerpiece, a blue-paint covered Lere lip-syncing and dancing to “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65. Most of the footage has been lost to time, but enjoy a screen grab of Lere’s performance to the right.
  • Lere and I entertained many a person with our science-fiction-dork act. One person would ask an obviously correct question, and the other would reply “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaffirmative” in a nerdy voice. It was funny, I swear!

My favorite memory was from one time when I had to pick up Lere at his house for some reason. When I arrived, he was down in the basement, sitting on a new futon he had just acquired from Kmart.

“Dude, you’ve gotta try this thing out,” he said.

I was resistant. We were already late for whatever we had to get to, and we still had to drive back into town. But Lere was convincing. He looked like he was in futon paradise.

I sat down and soon discovered that, wow, that futon was comfortable. We just sat there for at least another 5-10 minutes, trying to figure out a way to escape its grip.

After Lere died, his family gave me that futon. It served me a lot of years.

Andrew James Lere, third from the left in the black sweater, was awesome.

A decade later, it still sucks that Lere is dead. It is fun to imagine that he will walk through the door one day when our group of high school friends is hanging out, having faked his death this whole time, but that is looking more and more like a long shot. There’s always the chance that someone will invent a time machine before we die so we can go back and save him, but science isn’t progressing as quickly as I had planned.

I hope I’ll see him again, one way or another.

Have a great story about Lere or some other awesome dead person? Share it below.

8 Responses to “A decade later, still no time machines”

  • seamus Says:

    First off, my sympathy to the doodler for his loss. Even 10 years later, I am certain it is a source of pain and disappointment. But the value of friendship is the lasting impact it has on you. I have, alas, lost a number of dear friends over the years. I find that the pain of the loss does not diminish, but I also find that my appreciation for that person’s contribution to my life grows richer. Perhaps the best friend I ever had in this world died 24 years ago. I can honestly say I miss her every day, but I am comforted by her legacy of patience, kindness and her willingness to listen. Those gifts made me a richer person. As the doodler might say, “friendship is awesome.”

  • Brechler Says:

    I too have found myself thinking of Lere throughout the years. I’ve asked myself, why do I think of him more than lets say other friends or family members who have passed(whom I have have had a closer relationship with) and I’ve come to conclude it is because Lere was going to be someone, he was going places. The kid had a inner light and dashing good looks that could stop a high school girl dead in her giddy tracks, but beyond that you could tell he was destined for better and bigger things than what SW Wisconsin had to offer. I feel like I grieve more for what could have been for him, in stead of his passing…
    One of my favorite Lere memories is sitting in detention after school in Mr. Jonas’ classroom. I’m uncertain why Lere was there, but I’m nearly sure I was there because Mr. Bridge had a fascination for writing me late slips for 1st hour class because VH1 was playing some catchy little late 90’s tune I couldn’t pull myself from watching in the AM… Anywho, Lere proceeded to lick his upper forearm and insist that I smell it. Naturally, I did – and it smelt like pool chlorine. Not a vague smell, but an extreme intense chlorine smell. There was something that was funny, light hearted, gross, and honest about that memory that I think sums up Lere for me.

    10 years. Damn.

    • Andy Says:

      Same here about the dwelling on Lere’s death. I owe my ancestors more and have been without them for longer, but they also weren’t 18 when they died.

      And I can totally see Andy licking his arm in detention. He brought so many great, random ideas with him from Colorado.

  • Chelsea Says:

    There is not a day that goes by I don’t think of Andy. He was the most amazing person. We loved going to movies together. He was a great “gamer”. I loved hearing about his swimming and golf stories. He loved his cool apartment where he could sit on the roof and look at Kwik Trip. I’ll never forget the last few days we spent together before he passed. They were wonderful. I can’t say we did anything too exciting- just enjoyed spending time together and having such deep conversations.

    I miss Andy just as much today as I did ten years ago. The pain never really goes away, but we just learn to “deal with it” and keep moving. I often play the “what-if” game. I too, keep waiting for Andy to jump around the corner playing the world’s best/worst joke ever. I know that Andy is in heaven, watching over all of us and enjoying each of the milestones we are reaching. I have felt his presence often over the last 10 years. When we were all visiting Colorado, in his honor, shortly after his passing, I felt such a strong presence there too. I miss him, but I am forever thankful of having the chance to know such an incredible person in such a personal and unique way.

    • Andy Says:

      It definitely was great to have known him. And he was right to be excited about that apartment! That place was pretty much fun central when he was there.

  • Jasmine Singh Says:

    Lere must’ve been a very awesome guy! From the memories you’re reminiscing, people can really tell that you miss him very much.

  • Dennis Dargains Says:

    I think we’re looking at more and more years before this will actually happen. So let’s keep our fingers crossed until then.

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