Just Best Friends: Me & EvB

Posted on August 22nd, 2014 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz

Erich Obit

There are many thoughts and stories swimming in my head as I prepare to share my reflections at the memorial for my friend, Erich, tomorrow. 

It amazes me how much of my life was influenced and shaped in my high school days. I must admit having lost touch with Erich in recent years and being so focused on my own family, I wondered if it was the same for him. I suppose it is the same for everyone.

“EvB – Cottage cheese, Sargent Bob, JBF’s, I love you Jerk!” That is what I wrote in my Senior Notes in the Class of ’86 yearbook. References to things that only he would understand. In his notes, he wrote, “ML – Just best frenz.” That meant a lot to me.

The more I think about him, the more I miss him, I miss his friendship and I am sad that I will never get to catch up with him. I hope being with our old friends, Erich’s parents, Carole and Florenzo, his sister, Ingrid, and his wife, Stacey, will give me that chance to learn about Erich, the man. Because he will always be my high school best friend and in my mind he remains that punk kid with spiked hair and music blaring, driving in his little sports car….

EVB_0004_NEW

I asked Carole about this in an email when she asked me to give my reflections at his memorial service. Her reply painted a soft picture in my mind of how Erich was later in his life:

“He had his own way of looking at the world and when people got to really know him they really loved his ways and respected his honest views.  He always did his “best” and worked hard.  His integrity was always so important to him.  He was proud of his ancestry.  He had a good heart and listened to others and tried to help them.  He still loved his music and drove a sports car. Stacey and Erich learned to be gourmet cooks.  And they read books and watched unusual movies.  They truly loved each other.” ~Carole von Berger

It doesn’t surprise me at all that Erich became a gourmet cook. He always enjoyed the finer things. At a very young age, he knew about fine restaurants and resort travel destinations. He was so worldly to me. He loved his Italian heritage and always talked about his uncle who could get him amazing Italian leather shoes. He had a family ring with the family crest on it. He was very proud of that ring. He was very proud of his lineage. He loved the song, How Soon is Now, by the Smiths, which speaks of being the son, and the heir. Of course, when we listened to it I always thought it was about the sun and air and that’s why I liked it. I was so naive!

EVB_0005_NEW

If I take a deep breath and close my eyes, I can smell the scent of his Sebastian cologne.

Thinking back, I remember all the fun times we had. We weren’t rebels, we were the “good” kids, but we were spoiled and we thought we could do whatever we wanted. I remember…smoking cloves cigarettes, drinking wine coolers, driving fast, listening to loud music.

We thought we were so grown up and acted like we knew everything. We were only 16-17 years old when we were best friends. It was junior year, mainly. We hung out together a lot. We lived near each other. We drove to school together for meetings in Campus Ministry or drama rehearsals. We had a lot of classes together. We were both on the L.I.F.E. team. I can’t remember when I first met Erich. I just always knew him. I picture him wearing his “Frankie Say Relax” t-shirt.

EVB 86

He gave the best hugs.

He would stretch out his arms and say, “Big hugs!” Beckoning me (and anyone he wanted to cheer up) over to him for a hug. He also had great shoulders, on which I cried many times. He always listened to me and gave his perspective when I had “boy trouble.” He knew everything about me. He gave great advice! Even after I was married, I remember having a conversation with him on the phone once and I was telling him about the antics of our two cats. He explained that we were practicing to care for our future children. I had not looked at it quite that way, and I don’t know how my kids will feel about that – but it was true. We were discovering our ability to care for our children and experiencing our capacity for love. He was wise about things that he never experienced himself. He understood people. He understood me.

We were very affectionate, all of us were. We hugged, kissed and held hands. We walked with arms around each other. Some of this was because we became so close, like family, on retreats like T.E.C., Kairos, and L.I.F.E. We were peer ministers and we were also in Drama class and in productions together. We spent so much time together, at school and away from school. Now and then people thought Erich and I were dating. We went to all the parties together. We drove everywhere together. Yet, we never did date. We never even went to a dance together. Erich didn’t mind that his parents thought we were dating. If we were going to the movies, a concert or Disneyland – they always gave him money to pay for me as well. Which he pocketed and used to buy music, clothes and shoes. But I didn’t mind. Sometimes he did “rat” things like that, and I called him a jerk now and then, but he was my best friend. I always defended him.

Evb and MB

To make sure that our friends knew that we weren’t dating each other, Erich coined a special term for us. He loved words and acronyms. This was long before texting or hashtags, but he had his own words for lots of things. We were JBFs. Just best friends. It was way better than telling people we were “just friends.” He valued our special relationship as much as I did. This was always evident to me.

We had a lot of friends. We were both very social. We had a core group of friends that we called “The Elitists.” We were snobs from snobinade after all, but we felt like no one else understood us. Boy were we dumb!

EvB car wash

We loved going to clubs and dancing.

We also went to the movies, to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show, to parties, to the beach, to the drive-in, Tommy’s, Hollywood, Disneyland, the Rose Parade, and concerts…

Erich loved his music! We went to Moby Disc all the time to buy records. He loved to go to Tower Records and get the most obscure, hard to get versions and extended remixes of the artists that he liked. He was the “go to person” for 80’s music throughout our lives, and Lito would call him now and then to talk about some of their favorites. Erich always knew everything about the artists.

Soft Cell, The Pet Shop Boys, Bauhaus, Bow Wow Wow, The Cult, Gene Loves Jezebel, Flesh For Lulu, The Clash, The Cramps, Tears for Fears, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, Violent Femmes, Soiuxsie and the Banshees, X, XTC, Prince, New Order, PIL, Psychedelic Furs, The Smiths, Morissey, Suicidal Tendencies, Tones on Tail, …so many bands, so many concerts, so many records. Music filled his life.

Erich loved L.A. He loved to shop on Melrose. We loved going to “the city” and we knew our way around very well. Erich made friends very easily and he introduced his friends to our group over the years. We became very close and some of my best friends once dated him or were also best friends of his. I know this sounds strange, but if you think of us as family or “small town” it isn’t that unusual.

Erich loved his car. I loved my car, too. We both had the same exact car and we got them around the same time. The ever so popular, Nissan Pulsar NX. Mine was white. His was red. This was very amusing to us. We liked to follow each other (or race each other) to school and get parking spaces next to one another. We tried to park at the top of the stairs above the field, it was the best place to park. Between classes everyone hung out there. We liked to be the center of attention. I still do. 

Erich was innovative! He invented hair product. We didn’t have the kind of hair gel they have now. He used egg whites to spike his hair. I have no idea what he used to bleach it. Probably bleach! He had his own style and his own identity.

flyer

Erich was opinionated. He had very strong beliefs. I didn’t always agree with him and frankly, I didn’t always understand where he was coming from. He was far beyond our time and he understood politics and world views long before I did. Erich was a very proud person. He put a lot of pressure on himself to be the best. I remember, as we were always discussing the things we wanted to be when we grew up, I wanted to “be in fashion,” I wanted to be a designer, an artist, a career woman. Erich wanted to be a psychologist. He wanted to be an author. He wanted to travel. He wanted to have his doctorate degree, I thought it was so we would have to call him Dr. von Berger. Erich went to UCSD and so did Lito, so I saw him quite frequently those first few years of college. We supported each other through the first years of marriage. After that, it was reunions, gatherings with old friends, some parties. As most people experience, the friendships from our formative years slip away. We focus on our families and on our significant relationships, work and other interests take precedence. But, I always knew I could count on Erich, and Mike, and the rest of our friends from Chaminade and from the high school days.

EVB_0004

 

I think my world is colored with love, life, fun, serious talk, big hugs, and lots of wonderful memories thanks to my JBF, Erich Franz von Berger.

“All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.”

How Soon Is Now? Lyrics

from Hatful Of Hollow

The Smiths - lyrics
 I am the son and the heir

Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and heir
Of the nothing in particular

You shut your mouth, how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

I am the son and the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and the heir
Of nothing in particular

You shut your mouth, how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

There’s a club
If you’d like to go
You could meet somebody
Who really loves you

So you go and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home
And you cry and you want to die

When you say it’s gonna happen now
Well, when exactly do you mean?
See, I’ve already waited too long
And all my hope is gone

You shut your mouth, how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

Songwriters
MORRISSEY, STEVEN PATRICK/MARR, JOHNNY

Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

 

Read more: The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

 

These are not our actual cars…although I am sure there are pictures of them out there somewhere. However, these are the exact make, model, and color of our Nissan Pulsars that we had Junior year of high school. I crashed mine and totaled it the beginning of senior year and drove my mom’s car the rest of the year. But, I still got to go out with Erich in his.

Pulsar Erichs pulsar mine

 

 

 

 

4 responses to “Just Best Friends: Me & EvB”

  1. Sharon Lai says:

    Oh, jeez–I knew Erich at UCSD. We both worked at Assorted Vinyl. He was a great guy who was amazingly knowledgeable and passionate about so many things, especially music. He’s the one who turned me on to Frank Zappa and David Bowie. I’d been wanting to get back in touch with him for a while and only just now learned that he had passed away.

    Thanks so much for posting this rememberance. I wish I’d known him better and stayed in touch. Deepest condolences to you and Erich’s family and friends.

  2. Paget says:

    On a lark, I decided to google Erich’s name yesterday evening and was very surprised to find he had passed away. He and I dated when we were at UCSD – from ’91-92.
    I was 19 at the time (Erich was 23 I believe)

    I would love to know a bit more about what happened and would love to be in touch with his parents and offer my condolence.

    I would love to hear from you.

    warmly,
    Paget

  3. Ann says:

    It’s so nice to be able to go back to those memories; especially when we lose our friends who helped make them. As I was reading this, it made me remember a similar friend whom I lost several years ago.
    The memories always make me smile, in spite of the pain from loss; don’t you agree?

    • mizmeliz says:

      Yes, Ann – the memories live on forever and the impact that our beloved friends and family have on us go on in our actions and live on through us.

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