Every day we meet people. Most are just that, people we meet and forget about, but sometimes a meeting becomes a relationship. And, if we're lucky, that relationship might become a friendship.
I was lucky to consider Mike Theis a friend. We met while working for a local magazine. It was my first real job and Mike was a force of nature. He seemed to know everyone, and everyone seemed to have an opinion of him. He knew every piece of gossip and handed these tidbits out like morsels of decadent chocolate.
Though he could often be brash and sometimes seem cutting, beneath his carefully crafted exterior lied a generous spirit and huge heart.
That exterior often included jeans and cowboy boots and, after an accident years ago, a very stylish hat. My favorite of Mike’s outfits included a (possibly taffeta but definitely shiny) boldly colored plaid sports coat in shades of purple, orange and red. And, you’ll have to trust me on this, he’s the only man I’ve ever met who could rock a Texas tuxedo (for those uninitiated, that’s denim from top to bottom).
That Texas-ness – cowboy boots, pressed jeans and a love of denim – was something that brought us together. Both Mike and I considered Dallas our home before New Orleans took that title. We bonded over a love of true Tex-Mex and barbecue, which we had trouble finding here. We often would drink margaritas (not his favorite Chardonnay) and make up stories about the people who passed.
For a man who was known to gossip, he was also someone I trusted with my secrets, my worries, my faults – knowing that he’d give me one of his trademark cheek-kiss-hugs at the end. And the man could dance.
A dear friend of both of ours, Jude Swenson, generously hosted a wedding shower for my now-husband and I. I expected a very swanky and fun evening at her beautiful home. What I didn’t expect was to find Mike, Virginia Saussy and my mother on a couch trading the dirtiest jokes they know. I also didn’t expect to see him boogieing my mother around the pool to the music of Rockin’ Dopsie Jr.
I was lucky to meet his sister Shellie when Mike was honored as one of New Orleans’ “Best Dressed” on April 11 at the Prix d’Elegance Awards Luncheon presented by Men and Women of Fashion. That was the last time I saw him – strutting his stuff down the catwalk to hoots and hollers of many who cared about him.
Let’s raise a glass of his favorite chardonnay to an irreplaceable man.
Rest in peace, my friend.
Services for Michael Bert Theis will be held Sat., Sept. 8 at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd., New Orleans. Gathering at 3 p.m. with services at 4 p.m.