The Palm Beach Post's Mark Schwed died unexpectedly at the age of 52. He called in sick Monday, wasn't heard from, and was found today by a coworker. Cause of death hasn't been determined. Scott Eyman wrote the obit and here's a guest book for him that includes a photo.
Schwed was a feature writer who used to work for TV Guide. I never met him, but we communicated a time or two. He was a reader of this blog; we once had a friendly spat in the comments (no one else knew it was Schwed). We also happened to have both shared a choice for best Super Bowl commercial from last year's game. I also once praised a great story he wrote about a man lost at sea and directed y'all to a story he wrote about the plight of gays in the closet.
I'm going now to raise a glass to Mark Scwed and his work -- and I'm going to leave you with the top of the closet story:
There are as many ways to come out of the closet as there are colors in the rainbow.
But always, it begins as a secret. This is Dale Pflum's truth. Even he didn't know he was gay.
Pflum grew up a farm boy, the member of a conservative Catholic family in rural Appleton, Wis.
"It was just something that was unacceptable," says Pflum, 65, of Boynton Beach.
And yet, he knew he was different.
"I can remember back in high school, even grade school, I'd look at some guy, and I'd get a flutter in my heart. And I never got that flutter when I looked at a girl."
But he did not act on his feelings. He joined the military, and when he came home, at 27, he married a nice girl because that's what men in Appleton did. He and his wife had two children. He worked tirelessly to make a good life for his family. But something was very wrong.
He was depressed, lonely, bitter. His marriage began to fall apart. His wife told him to get help. But for what?
Finally, he came up with a plan. He would kill himself.
He entered the barn, duct-taped the windows of his car, hooked up a hose to the exhaust, switched on the engine and waited to die.
He blacked out. His wife found him unconscious on the floor.
"She said, 'Whatever your problem is, I will accept it.' "
There were two more suicide attempts, hospitalizations for depression and years of therapy until the truth came bursting forth.
"I finally told her that I was gay. I will always remember what she said: 'If I can accept it, why can't you?' "
If only it were that easy.