Eulogy for a hero

January 19, 2021 § 16 Comments

Priest and corpse

Dearly Beloved–

We are gathered here today to celebrate the life and the death of the reputation of Jay LaPlante, a/k/a Manslaughter. Few reputations lived so fully, so completely, so utterly without excuse or apology as the reputation of Manslaughter. As we sit here, led to the brink of despair as we consider the premature, the far too premature, end of this stellar reputation, I ask each of you to consider that with every death there is a life, with every loss there is a gain, and with every end there is a new beginning more glorious than any that can be seen by the eye of man.

Manslaughter’s reputation was born on a mayonnaise farm in New South Wales, where it grew to manhood working the mayonnaise plants that grow so plentifully in this luscious part of Singapore. Fighting off mayonnaise sharks, protecting the tender shoots from tsunamis, and harvesting the tender and delicate mayonnaise buds by hand, hard though it was, made Manslaughter’s reputation fierce, canny, unyielding, and courageous at an extremely early age. After the collapse of the global mayonnaise market in the Great Mayonnaise Crash of 1987, Manslaughter’s reputation relocated to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where it became a brain surgeon, curer of cancer, and ace sailor.

After several years cruising the Minnesota Main in HMS (His Manslaughter’s Ship) That’s Dumb, Manslaughter’s reputation left off raiding ski boats and fishermen and set off for the South Pacific. Many whales were harpooned, many ships and cabin girls were boarded, and Manslaughter’s reputation grew yet bigger, stronger, hungrier for new fields of conquest. Shortly after its final voyage to Fiji, Manslaughter’s reputation sailed to the California coast and took up residence in Hermosa Beach, where it purchased a bicycle, a terribly ugly orange bicycling outfit, and established itself as the reputation that none could match.

Whether it was almost killing its good friend Wanky on the NPR, winning belt buckles at Leadville, winning MTB races, sailing off high jumps onto its face or skidding out on wet pavement and shredding off half his skin, Manslaughter’s reputation knew no fear, left no challenge untaken, and preferred a good ol’ fashioned faceplant rather than giving up and quitting. Many a cyclist in the South Bay met Manslaughter’s reputation like this:

Reputation: Hey! Let’s go ride off road!

Sucker: I don’t have an MTB.

Reputation: No prob. I’ll lend you one of mine.

Sucker: I’m afraid of dirt.

Reputation: We’ll only ride gravel, hardest packed.

Sucker: I’m a terrible bike handler.

Reputation: I’ll teach you how to hop a tennis ball.

Sucker: I’m afraid.

Reputation: I’ll be gentle.

Suckers of all stripes found themselves staring down into ravines, over cliff ledges, or onto shoals far below once they rode with Manslaughter’s reputation. No climb was too steep, no drop too terrifying, no uncharged pit of quicksand too deathly for Manslaughter to attack, jump, and vanquish, even though Tri-Dork and Chris Downs were frequently led off the field of battle in an ambulance.

And then, dearly beloved, began what we all now sorrowfully know as the gradual and painful decline of Manslaughter’s reputation. Some said it was having an actual job. Some said it was old age. Some said it no longer had the killer edge. Most, however, agreed that it was the Twinkies, and month by month, year by year, Manslaughter’s reputation sunk until that fateful moment when it tried to transplant a lemon tree without a shovel and threw out its back worse than a third string junior high quarterback’s wobbly spiral into the basketball net.

Manslaughter’s reputation would not have wanted this story of a life well lived to end here, and it will not. As painful as it was for Boozy P., Chris D., Adam “Lurch,” K-Vine, and Wanky to see the death of Manslaughter’s reputation, we will share it with you, dearly beloved, as Manslaughter’s reputation would have wished.

It was a sunny January morning on the Peninsula, and Manslaughter’s reputation sent out the call for a few trusted friends to come do a slow ride around the hill so that it could begin getting back into shape, despite the fact that round already is a shape. These trusty friends gathered, and seeing Manslaughter’s reputation bulging at the seams of his kit, they realized that it would take the combined efforts of good and loving friends to assist in this seemingly impossible task. After a short conference, the trusty friends decided that gentle would be best, and so it was decided to begin with the Cove Climb as a leg-opener, followed by the Alley, Millionaires, Forrestal-Ganado, and Crest.

At some point in this gentle, mostly flat ride, Manslaughter’s reputation began tacking back and forth, mistaking the bicycle for a sailboat. As the flatness became slightly less so, Manslaughter’s reputation vanished. It was found at Marymount College lying on the sidewalk, a paler shade of gray. “You okay, dude?” it was asked by loving and concerned friends.

“I don’t feel so great,” it said.

“That Manslaughter’s reputation! Always joking!”

The loving friends continued down the hill, turned left onto PV Drive North, and rode for a couple of miles. “Hey!” said Chris. “Where’s Manslaughter’s reputation?”

No one knew. Retracing the route, Manslaughter’s tattered reputation was found lying on a bus bench, a few moments from the end of its long and illustrious, nay, legendary life. A priest was called who administered first rites, then middle rites, and then last ones, which sounded a lot like “So long, motherfucker.”

I ask each of you to bow your heads for a moment and ponder what the death of Manslaughter’s reputation means for each of us, to consider how that the hard stone, on which we tread and goon, yet wasteth it as it lieth by the way. This world is but a thoroughfare full of woe, and we are but pilgrims passing to and fro. Death is an end of every worldly sore, and over all this could I yet say much more.

To this effect: dearest Manslaughter’s reputation, you were mighty in your time, and you fell manfully in your prime. So long, motherfucker.


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