Little Joe Micale was a friend of mine. He was a hair stylist and a writer, an awesome combination. I saw Joe last Tuesday. I had a haircut in the morning and following it we went to lunch.
We left his shop together and he asked if he could ride with me in my car to go to lunch. He pointed to his Harley-Davidson motorcycle nearby and said it would be more convenient for us to ride together.
During lunch we made plans to have dinner the following Saturday evening with our wives and another couple who we were both friendly with.
Joe said he would make the arrangements since my wife and I were heading to Boca Raton for a few days over Thanksgiving. I got an email from him on Saturday morning advising me that he had made arrangements for the six of us to have dinner that evening at a restaurant in Fort Myers. He asked me to call him on Saturday to confirm that I had gotten his message.
I called Joe at noon from one of the rest stops on Alligator Alley on my way back to Sanibel from Boca Raton. I spoke with him and told him that I had gotten his message and was looking forward to a great evening. He said the same.
Joe was killed within 30 minutes of our phone conversation.
He was heading home from his hair salon in Fort Myers to Cape Coral on his Harley-Davidson and was sideswiped by a car when its driver made a sudden left turn directly in his path. His motorcycle plunged into the passenger side of the car throwing Joe into the air and killing him instantly.
I was still unaware of all this until I was about to jump into the shower at 5 p.m. to get ready for the dinner. That's when the phone rang and it was the other guy calling who was to be joining us at the dinner with his wife.
I thought he was calling to change the time of the dinner but he came to the point immediately. He said that he had some tragic news, that Joe Micale had been killed a few hours earlier in a crash in Fort Myers.
Has anyone ever called you an hour before a scheduled dinner in a restaurant and told you that dinner was off because one of the expected attendees had been killed a few hours earlier? Well, nothing like that had ever happened to me before in my life and, as you would expect, it was surreal.
I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I literally couldn't believe it. I even had the irrational thought that the caller was playing a cruel and vicious joke on me. I was grasping at anything I could even telling myself that the message I had just received was a figment of my imagination. Once I realized that the message was real and that I couldn't turn the clock back my world, as I knew it, had collapsed and taken me into an alternate universe. I was powerless to rewind time, as you can a movie, so that our plans for the day could take place.
But it happened. The guy I had just talked to hours earlier and who looked forward to seeing me at dinner was now a memory. Although I had talked to him on the phone a half hour before he was killed I will never see him again, at least in this lifetime.
Because of the way this tragedy unfolded I feel horribly cheated. I feel cheated because such an accident should never have happened and I should have had that dinner with him. I feel cheated because I'm certain that one second before his life ended he was thinking about the great time he was going to have that evening with good friends.
And the very last conscious thought he had when he was flying through the air to his death was probably how stupid and unnecessary this collision was and why was it happening to him of all people? And as he was flying through the air he was undoubtedly thinking that he was letting his wife, family, friends and pets down. And that it wasn't looking good for the dinner that evening.
As you can probably surmise, I am really angry. I'm not going to get into religion, God, fate, circumstance and the like. I'm not ready to wax philosophical about the cosmic implications of all this.
No, I'm just angry that a good friend met his end in a five-second event that changed the world for all who knew him.
Joe was excited about all the writing projects he was working on, especially his very first novel. He had regular book signing events for "Confessions of a Hollywood Hair Stylist," which is currently on the shelves of Barnes & Noble in Fort Myers.
Joe had a rich life and could regale you with stories about his many experiences with celebrities, his life in Beverly Hills before he moved to Cape Coral, and his boyhood in Cleveland. How could such a vital life like his be snuffed out in five seconds by someone making a left turn on McGregor?
I've lost a good friend through a tragic turn of events. And I'm really angry.