It came as a shock to me two nights ago, when I read Scott Bickel's updated facebook status. I read it moments after he put it up. My eyes scanned the text carefully, but I knew well before I reached the end what was on his mind.
The first comments trickled in, people connected to him who couldn't believe the worst, who couldn't believe that the end of the road had come for such an energetic young man. Scott was known for hyperbole. Nevertheless, I felt inside me that it was serious. It wasn't poetic license.
My connection to Scott is tenuous at best. He rose to prominence in competitive eating circles last year, seemingly out of nowhere in such a short space of time. You couldn't miss his exploits. The guy was over the top, which I certainly admired. If people are going to criticize you anyway, it makes a certain amount of sense to give them the ammunition.
You gotta admire the bravado of someone who predicted he would defeat Patrick Bertoletti (one of the eating world's best) in a hot dog eating contest. The man influenced me much more than I realized. We shared only one conversation but I never forgot it. I will never forget him.
It seemed unreal, how much his death really affected me. Maybe it's because he was my brother's age, and it reminded me that you really can die any day. Maybe I'm not so young anymore myself.