Paul Michael Johnson
10/7/1976 – 3/19/2017
Paul was one of the funniest, kindest, and most frustrating people I’ve ever met. He had this disarming quality about him that put you at ease right away, and he had the best laugh you’d ever hear.
We met in 1996 at the UCLA Extension Audio Visual Department, where we worked setting up audiovisual equipment around campus. It was a bizarre, overpaid, crap job that we both got while still in college at UCLA. He was 19. I was 21.
We were roommates twice. Once for a summer when I turned 23 and again when I was 27, this time for three years.
Paul was from Los Angeles, and I was not. Whenever I’d be driving and get lost, which happened a lot, he’d just shake his head and say, “How your people ever found the New World is beyond me.”
I remember the first time I heard that laugh. We were talking about jogging with some of our coworkers. One of them ashed out a cigarette and declared, “Jogging’s not healthy, man. It jiggles your internal organs.” He was dead serious. Paul burst out laughing.
Forever more, when he laughed, I laughed.
He was an easy guy to like. I think anyone who ever met him would agree. He just seemed so comfortable around everyone.
I met his whole family one Thanksgiving. We went out to his parents’ house in Moreno Valley. I remember him saying, “I’m not sure how to introduce you. I’m going to say you’re my roommate, but they’re going to think we’re gay lovers.”
He had theories on a lot of things. My favorite was his take on bagels – “They’re dry, stale, tasteless donuts!” – though his opinion on tea was a close second. “It’s hot water poured over grass clippings. You put milk in it and sugar, and guess what? It still sucks!”
I can still hear him say that. It still makes me smile.
I’d like to see him one more time and see him smile as he said “Fisk,” and I replied with “Johnson.” I’d like one more night at Canter’s deli eating the awful food, drinking the crap coffee, and talking about life.
To quote someone much smarter than me: “The place you live in is that much more drab and empty now that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”
Rest in peace, my brother.