Jeff Rake reflects on fatty4ksu
I was at Hale Library one night, tired and cranky because I had to grade papers for my job as a teaching assistant, and that’s when I heard a voice behind me.
I checked the time. It was 1 a.m.
“Rake,” the voice said.
The place was empty. I didn’t recognize the voice.
I turned around and it was Fatty.
“You’re a counterpuncher, Rake!” he said. “A counterpuncher!”
I had no earthly idea what he was talking about.
“You’re a counterpuncher in tennis,” he said. “I hate counterpunchers!”
We had met just one previous time at the rec center tennis courts. Fatty watched me play for three or four points — maybe five. And somehow, in that short amount of time, he had figured out that I was a “counterpuncher,” his way of saying that I do nothing but play defense.
“Well,” I told him, “I do play fairly conservatively.”
“You’re a counterpuncher!” he said again.
* * *
I would estimate that I’ve had a dozen encounters with Fatty. There was the time at the tennis courts (he was practicing his serve by himself), and then there was a time at the Cat’s Den convenience store when he criticized my purchase of a bottled Diet Mountain Dew. (“Rake,” he said. “Fountain Drinks are cheaper. And you get more for less. And ice!”)
The other 10 encounters were at Hale Library.
“Look at this place,” he told me during one conversation. “I mean, how awesome is it here?”
“At the library?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “It has, like, everything.”
He then proceeded to point out all that the library had to offer: Hundreds of computers (“Both PC and Mac”), scanners, PDF creators, millions of books, journals, magazines, a coffee place, a bagel shop, a 24/7 study area, couches, atriums, secret mystery rooms. Oh, and also: It looks like a castle.
“What, no love for interlibrary loan?” I asked.
“Everything,” he said. “This place has everything.”
Our conversations weren’t conversations. They were quiz shows. Fatty would ask me a question, I would provide an answer, and then he’d interrupt.
“Wait” he’d say. “How do you not like to fly?”
Or, “How do you not like Frank Martin?”
He’d answer questions with questions and statements with questions and would question my statements. He’d finish my sentences and he would spot my insecurities — in much the same way that he was able to quickly identify my style of tennis.
Fatty was brilliant.
And now he’s gone.
When I first got the news, I was profoundly sad. Fatty loved his life and he loved Kansas State and he loved to make people laugh — on message boards, where he became somewhat of a celebrity, but also in person, where he touched so many people in so many ways.
Our conversations were always a joy. Sometimes we’d talk for 20 minutes. Sometimes a half hour. Once, we must have talked for two hours.
He did not change my life, but he made it better.
He will be missed.