What an interesting email. Thank you.
"cc-ed this to Richard's sister Katherine (whom I visited in Rome a year ago). She, too, will surely enjoy your reminiscences."
That is lovely. Maybe I should copy the 'story' that I sent his boys about our odd meeting - perhaps she will enjoy it too, although I worry a bit that it doesn't show me in a good light - maybe I should wear my big boys boots and copy it in anyway.
Yes, you can publish my email - actually, I am very flattered by your kind request. I didn't know Laura at all, but reading your simple yet lovely Tribute page and her anguished yet bravely resolute letter, I want to put my arms around her in her picures. As a parent, knowing that she is with her boy is calming.
Dan, you have a terrific writing style. You have done a good thing here.
I met Richard Antinucci on a flight between London and New York. He wasn't sitting next to me or anything, but he nevertheless managed to introduce himself by dropping his case on my head! He was sitting a few rows away and had stowed his case in the locker above my head. Of course, I was not very pleased about having his case drop on my head, and even less pleased when I realised that he was sitting multiple rows away and thus, in my opinion, had no business storing his case above my head (a possible hand-luggage crime). This incident was followed by more than a few angry stares from me, a 22 year old aggressive salesman from London, towards him, a well dressed and irritatingly handsome 32 year old Italian looking businessman, tired from a long trip I guessed. I do remember Richard apologising, but that didn't stop my head (and pride) from being sore. The 'Mexican stand-off' continued on the connecting bus and into the terminal.
I think that my mood had been darkened earlier when I learned that, due to 'headwinds', I was going to miss my connecting flight to Washington and have an unwanted forced overnight stay in New York. My girlfriend would be wondering where I was and THEN this Italian looking chap dropped his case on my head. I was angry already and angrier afterwards.
Two years earlier, at Exeter University as a younger man, I had had the good luck to meet 'Jane from Chicago' who was spending a 'year-abroad' in the UK at our University. She was a dark-haired Italian American and unusually beautiful and very clever too ... did I mention beautiful? We were very good friends at Uni, but when she left a year later, as is so often the case, I suddenly realised, too late, what a mistake I had made. It took me quite a while to work out what was wrong with me - I flunked my exams, got kicked out of Uni and had a strange heart-burn. You know what the problem was, but I didn't. In desperation I got a job as a salesman to pay the bills; I did well and decided to go and visit Jane in Chicago. She was more beautiful than ever and the heartburn disappeared. Later she moved to Washington to work for the 'National Right to Life' organisation and it was whilst I was heading out from London to see her again, that my path crossed with Richard Antinucci.
The airline put us up in a hotel - it was nice. The irritating Italian chap had come too! He was obviously going to Washington as well.
The next morning, I came down to breakfast late. The breakfast lounge was full and there was a very hurried feel to the service. I grabbed the last table for two. I was just about to tuck in to my scrambled eggs and tinned pears, hoping that a stunning beauty would waft into the dining room and join me for breakfast, when I saw him appear at the bottom of the stairs in the lobby pulling his case urgently behind him - yes, the Italian was the only person to be later than my tardy self. I frantically waved the waitress over and asked her to remove the cutlery and chair from in front of me. He saw what I had done; I didn't care, I was still mad - remember. I feel guilty now, but I didn't then. After all, he had assaulted me ... well, almost.
The breakfast lounge cleared quickly. The Italian got a seat at the other end near the windows and I quickly finished my meal and dashed outside to find just one yellow cab left. I had gotten the last yellow cab. Immediately I knew what that meant for the Italian - who, let's not forget, had assaulted me, given me some dirty looks on the plane and on the bus and in the breakfast lounge. I loaded my bag in the boot, climbed into the back seat and we moved quietly away. I glanced over my shoulder in time to see the Italian rushing out of the hotel, yanking his case behind him, with a look of disbelief on his face. I settled back comfortably into my seat ... and then it happened. It was as if time froze, just like the movies, and I had this overpowering feeling that I had just taken things too far - he was going to miss his flight. That was a punishment too far. I immediately stopped the cab, jumped out and waved to him to join me. I was still mad with him; just not mad enough to make him miss his flight. After I had loaded his bag into the boot we both quickly jumped in to the back seat and I looked at him with my most furious expression and said "I am very cross with you" and he said "I know you are" and we both burst out laughing. We didn't stop laughing for 3 days. From that second we 'hit it off' - it was amazingly weird for me. Probably for him too. We managed to sit next to each other on the plane to Washington and we really had fun chatting. I took a chance and invited him and his wife over for dinner - I hadn't seen my girlfriends flat, or met her flat-mate or even asked her permission - all a bit of a risk. He didn't bat an eyelid, we agreed that if it went wrong we would 'roll with the blows'.
When I met Jane, I explained about the handsome Italian American and that I had invited him and his wife over for dinner. She and her flat-mate were so excited. Two beautiful 23 year old Italian American girls making proper Italian pasta all day - they hung it up all around the flat to dry?? On clothes-horses and rails in the bathroom.
Richard and Rochelle arrived early to the girls fright and my delight. Richard was enchanted - two Italian beauties creating an authentic Italian meal, fussing around us boys as we drank beers and the laughter rolled. Rochelle was very indulgent of our youthful foolishness. It was a tiny flat and there was lots of noise and activity from the girls and it was a very happy night. I was particularly struck at how Richard was wriggling with pleasure - the food, the ladies, the music and the laughter. It was an awesome evening for us boys. The girls too, I am sure.
Richard invited the three of us over for dinner at his house the next evening, but I was the only one free. So the next day he picked me up and I visited his and Rochelle's home - and oh wow, was I blown away. It was HUGE. Remember, I was a little Englander from a modest middle-class background - everything is tiny over here; houses, cars, hotel rooms, steaks. I thought I had seen it all, when Richard revealed his Heli-pad! (or is that my memory embellishing my young awestruck recollections?)
Time moved on and I had to return to London. Before I left, Richard and I met up for a last beer and, out of the blue he said, "look, I want you to come and work for me. I want you to look after my business in Saudi Arabia". I was shocked by the expansive offer - I hadn't expected anything like that. I asked if I could "think about it" - he said yes. Richard seemed a lot older than me, yet he was only 32. Life moved on, Jane and I split up and I politely declined Richard's kind offer (something I have long since wondered about). If I am honest, I was intimidated by the idea of Saudi Arabia, also I was too young to realise that that sort of 'getting on well' is too rare to ignore.
The irony is, that less than a year later I would join one of the largest 'Marketing and Distribution' companies in the Middle East and then work in Dubai, Oman and Bahrain. I always wondered if I was unwittingly coming across Richard's business. Occasionally, I would look through the business directories of the Middle East for the name Richard Antinucci, but I never found it.
Lots of strange stuff there. A really lovely man; a really lovely time. An amazing instant friendship (after a tricky start). Powerful and fond memories.
Recently, on one of my searches, I came across this website:
https://dan-keller.com/laura/ ... and my heart sank. I am so very sorry to learn of his passing. Very sorry indeed. What a lovely father he must have been though.
Richard brought immense fun and joy into my life during a strange week that I have never forgotten.
On Wed, Nov 13, 2019, at 8:49 PM, Dan Keller wrote:
> Hi Charles --
> That is a remarkable story! Especially that Richard
> left such a deep impression. He was a good man
> and he is missed.
> As a boy (which is when I knew him; in adulthood,
> our paths crossed only a couple of times) he was
> the class cut-up; always joking and laughing.
> I don't remember whether his drumming was good
> (my guitar playing certainly wasn't) but we had
> lots of fun with our silly little high school rock
> As an adult, he undertook several business
> ventures and I guess he thrived, at least judging
> from the style of life he was able to conduct.
> He had a beautiful apartment in Rome, and
> raced Formula 1 cars.
> The last time I saw him, in the early 2000s, he
> already had the brain cancer although I didn't yet
> know it, and I don't know whether he did, either.
> I visited him in his apartment in Rome and his
> manner was odd; he wasn't his cheerful self.
> The cancer was affecting his behavior and
> personality. It was very sad.
> But anyway I've enjoyed reading your memories of him
> and thank you for reaching out and for sharing them.
> I have cc-ed this to Richard's sister Katherine
> (whom I visited in Rome a year ago).
> She, too, will surely enjoy your reminiscences.
> Would it be ok with you if I added the words you've
> written to the web page (remembering Laurie) that
> you found?
> Best wishes,
> Dan Keller RN MS
> (415) 861-4500
> On 13/11/2019 08:47, Charles B. wrote:
>> Hi Dan,
>> You don't know me. I am writing a quick note to say a very big thank you to you for hosting the lovely tribute page to Laura Antinucci. Funny - I didn't know Laura either!
>> I met a chap 31 years ago on an aeroplane from London to New York. We had a disagreement - he dropped his case on my head (it wasn't as funny then as it is now). Anyway, after 18hrs of dirty looks and bad behavior (mostly from me) we became friends - unfortunately I lost contact with Richard Antinucci and have long since fondly wondered about him - what he was up to etc.
>> After a lot of searching and many stops and starts over the years, I eventually found your web-site and the very sad answer to my question.
>> I have since contacted his two sons Chris and Richard M and recounted the strange and yet powerful meeting and subsequent friendship.
>> So once again, thank you. Although I am very sad that the world lost someone that was such a 'bright star' I am very happy to pass on to his two sons what a high regard that I held their father in and what a powerful impression he made on me as a young (23) man.
>> As a very odd aside, when I first came across your website, I was breath-taken that you had pictures of my niece and a picture that looked strikingly like my wife in her teens. Of course, these were both pictures of a young Laurie. How very odd indeed. Maybe there was more to my very odd meeting with Richard then I can possibly know. Life is sometimes a mystery.
>> Feet firmly back on the ground to say one big last thank you. I admire people like you Dan, with passion and creative flair - that page to Laura is simple and yet deeply lovely.
>> in thanks
>> Bon voyage!