By Andy “Cowboy” McCloy
Some people are illuminated from within. You know it the moment you meet them — there is a spark, an essence, a twinkle in the eye, that sets them apart from the rest.
Rick Kaloust glowed with this inner light. He celebrated life. Never one to stay down for long, Rick was always quick with a laugh or up for having some fun. You would never place the word “boring” in the same sentence with Rick Kaloust.
If you were one of the many fortunate to have known him and called him your friend, you know of his big heart, his loyalty, and his fun-loving spirit. In the days since he died on Jan. 9, so many people have come forth to express how much Rick meant to them and the many ways that he touched them. He made all of us feel special. We all know how fortunate we are to have called him “friend.”
My memories of Rick go back to childhood. He was this dark haired, chocolate-eyed kid who played on the Little League team that my father coached in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Even then, he had this energy about him, something special and soulful that you wanted to be around and try to absorb. Later, when he moved to Gloucester, we became good friends during high school. We were all crazy — and carefree — back then. To the consternation and endless worry of our parents, we had a blast. And the memories were forged, indelible and life-long.
Everyone had a nickname that remains with us to this day. Rick was “Kahlua” or “Guido the Killer Pimp.” I was “The Cowboy.” Paul Murphy was “Puddles” or “Francis.” Ricky Schrafft was “Dicka.” Kevin Warde was “The Wonder.” Don Riley was “Don Juan.” What I remember most was the laughter, much of it completely silly and inane, but laughter that would bowl you over and make your insides churn. It was humor that was understood by us, that only good friends can share, like a code or a foreign language to which only we had access and meaning. The banter was constant:
“We are all very proud of you.”
“What up? Cut up! Shut the f—up!”
“My Corp, your Corp, Marine Corp.”
“Give your president respect.”
“It’s Guido, the Killer Pimp.”
“Paco Robano on ice.”
“Eddie’s on the warpath.”
“Wearing the spurs.”
“The Mighty Atlantic.”
“Cowboy jumped the marsh!”
“Is the Wonder still doing the Wonder?”
“Dicka’s Number One.”
“Murphy, what is your fascination with Gay Paris?”
“She’s livin’ out on the island. Tell her to come home.”
And on and on and on.
Truth be told, we all benefited from his loving and generous parents, who, like Rick, were always welcoming people into their home. There was love there and laughter. Sometimes the love was tough, but it was good and pure, and unwavering. Ed and Joyce Kaloust are beautiful human beings. If you love Rick, you know why he is such a good soul; he came from good stock. And there are his brothers and sisters, Donna, Kim, John, and Derek. They each have that same spark within them. If you know them, you understand what I am talking about. They are authentic people, with good hearts and a loyalty that runs deep.
In recent years, Rick and I stayed in touch every week, and I visited him a handful of times in Florida. He lived in Tampa and I was in Rockport, but thanks to cell phones, we would check in all of the time. He was there for me, and he gave it away. We would end our conversation with “I love you,” a phrase that is not something I give away freely. But we both knew what that meant — that life was precious and friendships like ours were rare, and life-long friendships ever more so.
I could mention all of the good times in detail, but Joey C., another good soul who shines that inner light, captured it so eloquently in his tribute.
One memory that does come to mind somehow seems appropriate today. It was October in Gloucester in the early 1980s. The Kaloust’s power boat was still on the mooring off Eastern Point. Of course, we all decided, about seven or eight of us, after dark, to head down by boat to Salem’s Pickering Wharf for some drinks. We left Gloucester Harbor, and the seas were raging. The boat was a 24-footer with a great deal of horsepower, but we were being tossed about right outside the breakwater near Norman’s Woe. I thought we were going to capsize and drown. At the helm, Rick, of course, was laughing and pushing onward, feet solidly apart and hands steady on the wheel. Eventually, off Magnolia, the seas flattened and we made our way down the North Shore coast to Salem Harbor.
Who knows how long we stayed, and how many drinks and laughs we had, but I do remember this: Upon our return, the moon was glowing white on the water and the sea was as still as glass. I stood beside Rick at the wheel. We felt the icy October air in our faces and in our hair and we smiled silently at each other as we flew across the calm water, free and beautiful and full of light, heading home.