I cannot account for many of the Christmas Eves in the life of Bobby Brewer, but I can tell you where he was for about a half dozen of them a few decades past: The Rhodes Family Christmas Eve Parties, at 1206 Oakdale Road. Augusta, Georgia.
From 1966 through 1994 those parties were an annual “can’t miss” event for just about everyone I really loved in the whole wide world. The memories of those nights are more vivid in my mind today than most of the Christmas mornings that followed. And while I understand it is cliché, looking back, those long past days made me understand why the Christmas season is really built around the concept of sharing time with family and friends.
Bobby was the only person that I was not related to, or dating, that I ever personally invited to attend. He was a fixture at the Christmas Eve party just like my dad’s best friends Bob Abshire and Don Dearing, Cousin Dean’s best friend “the other Dean” Lewis, or Barnabas, the bigass white cat who allowed us all to throw a party in his house. Bobby was, for those years, one of us.
So many who enjoyed those parties, and that particular family tradition, still lament that they ever ended. Bobby did too.
One of the last times I was able to have a meaningful conversation with him was February 1, 2009. A date that I can only specifically recall because Bobby was calling me on the occasion of the Steelers’ Super Bowl appearance, set for that same afternoon. Just calling to wish them well, he said, but only because he knew I was such a big fan. Truth be known, he hated the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had to; it was a rule. You see, Bobby was a devoted, dedicated, dyed-in-the-wool Dallas Cowboys fan. Every bit as fervent for the Blue and White as I was for the Black and Gold. It was our eternal debate, and we were as obnoxious about it as two 13-year-olds could be. We devised insults and nicknames aimed at each other’s teams the way that little girls dream about what they are going to one day name their newborn babies. We could one-up each other from the bus ride to school, all the way to the final bell of the day, and no name was too insulting or profane. The only rule: the nasty names had to rhyme with the real names. In the interest of family reading, virtually none of those names can be repeated here, but I can say that I believe the karma from having to endure a decade of hearing “Fairy Bradshaw” finally paid off my direction when the Cowboys drafted Tony Romo.
Too bad we weren’t playing the name game any more; timing is everything.
In that conversation almost four years ago, we talked football, the recent election of President Obama and the pending birth of my new son. He was amazed to hear that my daughter was about to graduate from high school, and he beamed as he bragged about his own beautiful daughter, not quite yet in high school. He talked of seeing family at Christmas, and how rushed it was, and then out of the blue he told how much he always enjoyed being included in our Christmas Eve parties all those years ago. I did have a few very good-looking female cousins and family friends he enjoyed hanging around, but for the most part, he just liked the tradition of it all. I reminded him that all that came to a sad end when my parents divorced, and he got quiet for a second and then said how sad he was when he heard that had happened. It seems we were all his family, too.
Bobby had been moving around the country a bit, but he hoped to settle down soon, for a good long while. We promised to get together, but we never really did. For that, I will have eternal remorse.
On December 22, 2010, Bobby F. Brewer Jr. was crossing an Indianapolis street to attend a Christmas party. His arms were filled with groceries, which means he probably never saw the drunk driver with no headlights that was bearing down on him going about 50 miles an hour. The bastard that hit him never even stopped.
It was something of a miracle that Bobby didn’t die that night, but the devastation the violent collision did to his body was ultimately unsurvivable. He died three months later.
When I spoke at his funeral, I told those gathered that I did not believe any young man ever has a best friend like the best friend he has when he is 12 years old. Bobby was that friend, of course. He was the only one who knew how hung up I was on Myra Pirkle. I was the only one who knew that he was Kerry Micklewright’s long time, love letter writing, secret admirer.
Bobby always got a kick out of the fact that my many activities with the Tutt Jr. High Drama Club put me in regular, close proximity, to the school’s most beautiful and outgoing girls, and he wanted a piece of that pie. Probably the best thing I ever did for Bobby was to suggest him as the male lead for our fall 1979 production of “Our Town.” He was given the role of George Gibbs the instant he read for the part. That experience ended up being one of the happiest times of his life. It gave him a new purpose, it made him a better student and he got to do a love scene with Carolyn Bennett.
George Gibbs is a character that many have called the best “all-American boy-next-door” role in all of American theater. Bobby was George Gibbs, there is no better way to describe him to strangers.
I think of Bobby almost every day. Sadly, those great memories usually end with the reminder of the horrible way he left this world.
Bobby Brewer Jr.: Cowboy fan… great American… and too damn young to die. Celebrate responsibly. If you choose to drink and drive, you just may kill someone’s best friend. You Might Also Like:
Bobby F. Brewer Jr.: Cowboy Fan, Great American
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