March 18, 2014
My favorite aspect of being a newspaper columnist is the people I meet. In the last decade, I have forged countless relationships merely by someone saying, "Hey, you're the girl from the paper."
At my age, people can call me girl all they want.
While Glenwood Springs has been voted one of the most fun cities in the U.S. for attractions such as the world's largest hot springs pool and the nation's highest elevation roller coaster, I think it wins because of the people. At around 10,000 residents, the city has a small-town familiarity among the locals that makes it feel more like 1,000.
And that's coming from a girl who literally lived the lyrics of John Mellencamp's Indiana ballad "Pink Houses."
I find it nearly impossible to go anywhere in Glenwood without seeing someone I know. So much for sneaking to the store in sweatpants with a ratty bed head and dark circles under my eyes without a sighting.
That's never happened.
Whether flying in a World War II-era B-17 bomber or finally meeting my spunky 102-year-old snowboarder friend Julian Vogt because we share a birthday, life's moments that have been brought about by writing for the paper have been fabulous. I do not use that adjective lightly. By definition, fabulous means extraordinary, exceptional and incredible. Both of the former experiences certainly fit that bill. There are only 46 B-17s left out of the 12,731 originally built. I don't often meet 102-year-old snowboarders, either.
Especially who were born on April 20.
Being the girl from the paper has brought me more happiness than I could ever measure in a column of this size. One of those life moments I hope I will be able to look back on in my elderly days is fabulous in scale, for me. That was the time in my life, in my mid-30s, when my friendship with Eddie Fralick was born. Appropriately, his nickname is Eddie Fabulous, or Eddie Fab for short.
A truly extraordinary personality, that one.
When Eddie and I first met, he was working the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company bar. Many locals, and droves of tourists who come through Glenwood Springs, discover that the Brewpub is a happening place. I've often frequented it to relax with an IPA after work with friends or to watch a football game. There are many friendly faces at the Brewpub, and Eddie's was always one of them. He first recognized me as the girl from the paper. He loved to try and entice me to write about him in this column with his wit and crazy stories.
He has to be loving this.
Eddie was fabulous not just because he was outgoing and sassy like no other man I had ever met. It's true Eddie was one of my first close friends who also happened to be gay. He was damn proud of it. But he was also fabulous because he was not timid to express how he felt about life. If he thought I was making a bad dating move, he would tell me. If I was wearing a terrible color combination, I would hear about it. He did it with that sly smirk and sweet Southern accent of his. He always said he was the first in Glenwood to call me April E, since I use my initial in my writing.
That nickname immediately stuck.
In the early years of our friendship, there were many late nights out in Glenwood Springs that would have us all ending up at the old Roxie (where the Pullman is today). We always called it "The Club" and laughed our way through silly moves on the dance floor or awkward encounters with strangers trying to dance with us.
Eddie was definitely a chick magnet.
He was always up for fun and brunch at Rivers. There, we would waste away our Sundays sipping mimosas and laughing at my dating life. There were always friends surrounding Eddie. He was well-loved and an attraction, in his own right, in our town.
I might go as far as calling him a legend.
I still can hear his bellowing laugh at my expense. I hope someone has a recording of it somewhere. It's one of those laughs you wish you could always hear, even after a person is gone. I never want to forget it.
A week ago today, the world lost Eddie, who passed away unexpectedly at home. He was just 34. He was a fabulous fixture to our town and in my life. I would give anything to hear him call me April E or tease me about my love life. I would love to have one of his big hugs or kisses on each cheek. No one was like Eddie. There will never be another Eddie. The love he had in his heart was extraordinary. The number of people he befriended in his life, all around the U.S., might even be considered incredible.
And he will always be fabulous. There's no question of that.
— April E. Clark hopes Eddie is playing with her dogs Jake and Elwood (he called him Melmo) somewhere near a mountain. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.