Remembering David Rakoff

A personal remembrance on the impact of the gifted humorist.



As I mentioned at the outset, his box has never left my sight in two decades. It’s not as though David and I stayed close friends, but this beautiful and yet raw creation constantly reminded me of my muse and mentor – and the great leaps he had taken in his professional life and the courage in his private one.

This morning when I slid the top of the box off I was greeted by the visage of a young, handsome cadet (neither David nor me) affixed to the interior bottom set against a gold and platinum paper patina. For the first time, I noticed the slip of a fortune cookie lying in the box. How could I have missed it all these years? Or had David magically left cookies-with-fortunes for all his friends as he passed away last night?

No matter. I picked it up and read, “The star of riches is shining upon you.” Of course, it was there all along, carefully chosen by David to implore me to believe in myself and take some risks of my own. I doubt I would have understood it at the time. But this morning as I read the yellowing paper, I understood that my sweet friend who warned on his last book jacket – “No Inspirational Life Lessons Will Be Found In These Pages” – had done just that. Thank you, David.


STEVEN PETROW is The Advocate’s manners columnist and author of Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners and can be found online at or contact him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: Books