David Drake was the only good teacher I ever had, or at least the only teacher I was glad to run into later in life. David was a college English II professor of mine back in Florida. He was youngish then, 31 maybe, feathered hair, smart and funny as hell. He introduced me to Guided By Voices via a full 90-minute tape he dubbed just for me. He was the first to push Bukowski on me — Bukowski, who would later help to try and kill David.
David was a great teacher, convincingly passionate, simultaneously cynical and hopeful. A thin sheen of whiskers shadowed his neatly trimmed face. He smelled not too much like nice cologne and was clearly into personal perfection. He was never without a tie. I would sometimes see David Drake out in the world partying very hard with his “older” friends, and even then he always wore a tie, with tucked in dress shirt.
In David’s class in Florida, I wrote a paper about Kate Chopin’s famous Louisiana novel, “The Awakening” wherein I “proved” that the main character actually didn’t [SPOILER ALERT] kill herself in the waters of Grande Isle, a treatment David loved; technically he was the first person to ever tell me that I should try and get something published. I ignored his advice for a long time though and focused on music until I graduated and moved away from Florida to Louisiana.
In 2001, I am living in New Orleans and writing my first novel (something neither David nor any other teacher of mine would’ve ever predicted). Just as I begin looking for an editor to read my final draft in a town where I know no one, I receive an email from David Drake, who’d seen my name on a New Orleans byline. We hadn’t spoken in seven years. He now lived in the French Quarter, about a mile from my apartment. No shit.
We meet up and hit it off even deeper, because now we’re both grown. He is very excited to help me with my novel, and invites me over to his microscopic, book-crammed but impeccably neat French Quarter apartment for weekly editing sessions. He walks me through changes he’s annotated in each chapter. During every visit he is always tucked in with tie. I wonder if he removes it after I leave each night around midnight, before he turns his small couch into his small bed. CLICK HERE to read the rest of this emotional story at Medium…