How could he be leaving so soon? Why, it seems like only yesterday he was brought up on those indecency charges. And how could he be leaving without letting me know? I thought we were friends. Maybe even more than friends, especially after that drunken weekend we spent at John Travolta's beach house celebrating Tom Cruise's birthday, where... well, let's just say that you're not allowed to ask and I don't have to tell. Though I will say this: if Richard Gere ever wants to show you his disappearing gerbil trick, just say no.
So I went to Chris' favorite spot in the city, where he enjoys collecting empty aluminum cans as a hobby ("It relaxes me."), and, sure enough, there he was. Collecting cans, and putting little rocks inside of them.
"Did I ever tell you that I'm originally from Alamosa, Colorado?" Chris asked me.
"Yeah, but only fourteen times. Tell me again."
"It used to get so cold in Colorado my parents would wet my lips and stick me to the town's flagpole. It saved them a fortune on babysitting fees."
"Your parents were poor?"
"No, just cheap."
One thing about Chris, it doesn't take much to get him yammering about himself. Getting him to stop, well, that's another matter. He told me that he's wanted to be in the newspaper biz ever since he picked up his first pencil. Later, after jabbing his little sister with that same pencil, he considered a career as an interrogator for the CIA.
In grade school, while the other boys were playing baseball, football, and basketball, Chris was busy being made fun of for the way he played baseball, football, and basketball.
"We're not laughing at you," his coach explained. "We're laughing with you."
"Really?" Chris asked, hopefully.
"Nah, we were laughing at you."
In high school, his and his brother's hearts were broken when their dates to the prom wouldn't answer the door ("We're not home!"). In retrospect, Chris and his brother should have cancelled the romantic horse-drawn carriage ride to the dance. Maybe that way they would have avoided all those cruel rumors.
His college years were a definite improvement. His face--which earned him the affectionate nick-name of "Pizza Face" from his friend, the janitor--finally cleared up. He also decided to join a sorority. He thought it would increase his chances for getting a date. It didn't, and thus was born the expression: "You couldn't get a date in a woman's prison with a fistfull of pardons."
After college, Chris realized his dream and became a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper in Pueblo, Colorado. He handily met their high standard of "anyone who will work for free."
His years in the newspaper business had its share of ups and downs. Victories and defeats. Abbotts and Costellos.
I met him when he came to work for the El Paso Times in October of 2008 ("You missed a spot." "Thanks.").
I recently asked Sergio H. Salinas, El Paso Times President and Publisher, what he saw in Chris. He answered: "I saw in Chris a willingness to work for free."
It's going to be sad to see our beloved editor, Chris Lopez, go, but we all respect his decision and desire to build a second career.
"So, what are you going to do now?" I asked him.
He lifted his plastic Wal-Mart bag, full of empty beer and soda cans, and bounced it happily up and down.
"You're looking at it!"
Fifty Shades of Funny