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Thursday, August 4, 2005

Eulogy for Digby Tanner, rebel

As I look out onto this sea of faces, I see a great many friends of our dear Digby Tanner. Many of us can recall his constant need to rebel against any form of authority. His desire to separate himself from the pack…to be an individual, not merely one of the herd.

I think it all started when he first read "1984" in our freshman year of high school. The idea of a completely authoritarian government scared the hell out of him.

That same week he watched every episode of The Prisoner, which may have exacerbated the issue.

I remember once when we all stayed the night at Timmy Bradford's house….you all remember Timmy, right? We used to crash there often so we could all sneak out and rent porno films from the all-night video store down on Vincent St.

In any case, this one night, I remember Digby waking up in a cold sweat mumbling, "I am not a number. I am not a number" like a sacred mantra. I think he took that nightmare to heart.

The first act of rebellion that I can recall was smaller scale. It was when he decided that since everyone else wore clothing, he would do no such thing. That led to many afternoons in the principal's office. He spent hours in there being punished. Come to think of it, he spent an extraordinary amount of time in that office. We always did wonder why it took so long. No matter.

From there, his one-man rebellion grew larger and more intricate. At one point, he decided that since everyone else ate food, he would do no such thing. That lasted two days culminating in a glorious collapse during gym class. He always did beat himself up over that, claiming he was disappointed in his own lack of fortitude. He felt it was a failure on his own part to have collapsed. Digby was always a perfectionist.

Remember the leg thing? Digby didn't want to be like anyone else. He didn't even want to look like other people. Some kids rebel by dyeing their hair funny colors. Digby took it further. He figured that since humans were bipeds, he would then be a triped. Sure, he didn't actually have a third leg, but it was the concept that was important. I remember the many afternoons he would spend in clothing stores yelling at the managers for not stocking triple legged pants. He called them all bigots. Digby sure could be passionate about his beliefs.

I think we can all remember the day when, at age 18, Digby decided that he must, as he put it, "take it up another notch". He felt that breaking regular laws had become too commonplace. He wanted to go for some of the bigger laws. His first target...the law of gravity.

Digby spent weeks in his father's garage working on that giant ramp. That led to his 43rd visit to the hospital, this time he wheeled away with two broken legs, a fractured ulna, and 16 stitches on his forehead. Till his dying day, he believed that it was simply a matter of not having enough speed before reaching the end of the ramp. God bless his perfectionism.

Poor Digby. He watched as most of his grand schemes ended in failure accompanied by an emergency visit to the hospital.

But he did pull one off. One he saw through all the way to the finish. That's why we are all here today.

Two days ago, Digby decided that since all other humans breathed Oxygen to live, he would survive solely on Argon.

He made it 20 minutes. 20 glorious minutes of the perfect rebellion. Digby, we salute you.

In memory of Digby Tanner, I would like to take this moment to ask everyone to hold his or her breath for 20 minutes. Let Digby Tanner's rebellion live on!

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