Neil Elterman Was…

Neil Elterman was my first boyfriend when I was in 6th grade. Neil Elterman was the first boy I smoked pot with, Neil Elterman was the first boy I listened to Metallica with, Neil Elterman was the first boy who broke my heart. And, as you can imagine, at 12 years old, there were a lot of other firsts (but no, not that one).

Neil Elterman had a cultivating personality. He was the leader of a group of five heavy metal mischief makers called the Dirtbags. Everyday Neil would act as ringleader to see what kind of trouble he could get them into that day, and you can only imagine the antics he would come up with.
Neil Elterman played games with me, games that men play. I didn’t even understand it at the time, but I would later, after dating so many other men. I could only wonder how he knew to do that at such a young age, how to be a bad boy.
Neil Elterman’s mother was sick. She was older than most of the other mothers and she had cancer. Much of Neil’s life was centered around a family who were constantly caring for her. His older sister did the best she could, but I suppose there was only so much she could do.
I remember when Neil’s friend told me she died…
Neil Elterman was smart. He was precocious. He was a leader. He could have been anything he wanted to be.
I didn’t know until I posted a picture of him on my Facebook page and someone wrote RIP next to his name. I googled him but came up with nothing, no memory, no memorial, no obituary, nothing. I finally worked up the nerve to ask a friend of mine.
Neil Elterman was a drug addict. Neil Elterman was a casualty. I’m sure he thought it was very impressive at the time. I’m sure he thought he was being innovative and glamorous. I wonder how he would have felt if he knew that he would be nothing, not even a link on the internet, just nothing.

11 thoughts on “Neil Elterman Was…

  1. Thank you for writing this. Neil Elterman was my best friend. I loved him dearly, and burying him broke my heart. It was 10 years ago, and I still get misty eyed when I think about him, which is often. He was a charismatic, sharp-witted, social creature, and I have never met another who even vaguely reminded me of him. He was also someone who did not know how to control his appetites, and he paid for that with his life. At the end, Neil did not feel glamorous. He was struggling with his demons and was trying to get straight through rehab and therapy. Unfortunately, it was a fight he lost. Despite the heartbreak and loss, I feel real lucky I got to share what I did of my life with Neil. He was and always will be my brother form another mother, and I will always remember him with a laugh and a tear…

    • I would have never thought this post would get a response from someone who actually knew Neil. As you know, I lost touch with him pretty early on in his short life time. Thank you for giving me some insight to what is was like for him nearer to the end. I’m sorry for your loss.

      • Thank you for sharing your memories. I don’t think I can post pics on this, but if you were interested, I could send you some 🙂 Neil was, as Hunter S. Thompson would say, “…one of god’s own prototypes. Some high powered mutant never even considered for mass production.” Some of the personality traits that made him so unique, and fun to be around, were the same ones that contributed to his demise. It has been very tough to make sense of…

  2. That’s a good quote for Neil. I guess he didn’t change much.
    I saw that I got a lot of click throughs yesterday from FB so I figured you probably did. That is fine.
    As far as pics go, you can email them to me if it’s not a problem. I just sent an email to that Fred Strong email. Hopefully that will get to you and you can respond.

  3. The very first love of my life was named Marc. I loved him, he dumped me, I never got over him.
    He found me once through Classmates. Apologized. Wanted to rekindle. I was in shock. I was angry. I was married.
    Years later I googled him out of curiosity and found his obituary. He left behind a wife and two young girls.
    I was in shock. I was angry. I was still married.
    I am still married.

    The repetition of Neil’s name was quite haunting. Felt this in my gut.

  4. It’s almost 2022 and this article is already quite old but I hope the author Marissa gets this message. I only googled Neil Elterman because my daughter saw a unique grave stone at a funeral in New Jersey. It struck her as different and something I, as a graphic designer, might find interesting especially the font. On the grave stone I learned that this Neil Elterman died young at age 31 in 2003 and might have had a creative life, and I felt compelled to google his name and found your article which seems like it very well might be about the man buried under this grave. I found it especially poignant that you wrote you found nothing online about your friend Neil and yet because of your article, when I went searching for Neil Elterman, I found your tribute to your friend. Please let me know if it is the same Neil and if you would like to see a photo of his unique grave which seems to mirror his life. It seems like you’ll get my email address from this post. Perhaps I’m totally off and it’s a different person altogether. If so, thanks for reading this far, Ann

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