As part of my birthday present this year, Benjamin coordinated a Roast. In Benjamin’s own words (via his email sent out to friends):
I am planning on putting together either a slide show or a “roast” activity for the party. (For those who don’t know what a “roast” is…. It’s basically a time for people to share their favorite/funniest/most sincere stories about that person.) I will then present Casey with these stories on each of your behalves. So – if you wish to participate (there’s no obligation) please send me those stories no later than this Wednesday November 5. I would really appreciate it, and I KNOW that it would mean the world to him if he could at least “hear” from you on his birthday.
Many people responded. Benjamin collated all the responses together, placed them on note cards, and brought them to the dinner. During dinner folks would select a card and read it out loud. It was amazing to hear these stories and perspectives from friends and family. At first I was concerned that some of the stories would bore some of the friends at the table but instead they were interested to learn about a side of me they hadn’t seen before!
I’ve reproduced a copy of all the responses for the Roast that were sent to Benjamin below in semi-chronological order in which they were received.
Keep in mind that these are just the folks that responded to the Roast, it doesn’t include the many birthday cards, emails, phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages that I received! All combined this was one of my best birthdays ever due in no small part to all of you and my wonderful husband.
I’ll never forget the 1st time I danced with Casey (at Marissa’s Quinceanera). I loved the way Casey danced. He was sooooo sweet talking to me and all I could do was shake my head “yes.” I was so embarrassed because I had not taken a breath mint and I know “smoker’s breath” stinks, so I didn’t want to talk. I wanted to so bad, but I just couldn’t do that to him.
I love you Casey and I am so happy and proud to have you as a member of our family.
My favorite Casey story (I told it at your wedding) is that he once described himself to me as a “minimalist” and then he proposes to Benjamin on the Eiffel Tower.
I think Casey was about 16 years old when I met him. Being an older and wiser person (that one year really did the trick), I took him under my wing. If I recall correctly, he used to refer to me as “Mom.” We were both students at the Texas Academy of Math and Science and were living away from home despite being teenagers. I remember him being enthusiastic, demonstrative, and prone to the “crazy eyes.” :) (I have pictures.) But I also remember wanting to protect him and shield him from all of the terrible things in the world. There was something about him that I didn’t want to be ruined.
At the time, I had only been a Christian for two years. I wasn’t from the right side of town, my family didn’t fit the mold that I saw around me, and I had to work hard to keep my rough edges hidden from the people I met at church. But Casey was different from the “religious types.” He genuinely accepted and loved me. It didn’t matter if I didn’t know all of the right answers or look like everyone else. He was one of the few people that showed me I had worth for who I was, not just what I did.
That’s not always easy to find. I am so glad that we have been able to stay in touch after all of these years.
Now both well into our adult years, Casey hasn’t changed too much. He still loves and accepts me. He is still enthusiastic and demonstrative. And I still want to protect and shield him from the terrible things in the world. But instead of being the mom figure, I know there are things I have yet to learn from him. I am privileged and honored to have him as my friend.
And Casey, 30 isn’t all that bad. In fact, I’ve decided that since the 20’s were tumultuous and hard and confusing, my 30’s are going to rock. :) Hope yours do, too.
Casey and his dad helped me break the law. When we were on a trip out to his place, we wanted to go dancing in Lubbock but I wasn’t 18 yet so I couldn’t get into the clubs. So they made me a fake ID, complete with the seal of the state of Texas. And you thought he was such a good law-abiding boy.
How about Casey misspelling “donor” on a *cough* Temporary ID for Jodi. “D-o-n-e-r”. Oh well it worked didn’t it :)
Happy 30th Casey – I’m not buying you a Corvette yet.
Casey, I know that since you’ve come into Ben’s life that you’ve brought something special, that brings out the best in Ben. As a couple you both have experienced things in your lives together. As somone who has been with the same person for thirteen years, I can say when you have to experience anything, good or bad, you want to experience everything with your best friend the person you care about most and cares most about you. You and Ben are lucky to have each other to go through those experiences together. I am proud of all you both have done and all that you continue and aspire to do. Casey, you are such a positive influence in Ben’s life and you are the reason for his happiness. Congratulations on your 30th Birthday. Believe me when I say that you are in a new category, but I think it is an AWESOME one. Make 30 FABULOUS!!!!
Amber & Jonathan Hartje
Last November, Jonathan and I were married. Casey was kind enough to come all the way down from Colorado to attend our wedding. Not only did it mean a lot to us that he had come so far, but he went above and beyond. He came hours early to help set up for the wedding and reception. He pretty much devoted his entire day to our wedding. It was so generous and kind of him. Everyone was so thankful to have him there. He was an angel and a part of why our wedding turned out as wonderfully as it did.
Happy Birthday Casey, we wish you all the happiness in the world!
Ken Greenfield & Mark Trubell
I was lucky enough to represent Casey and Benjamin on the purchase of their new Denver home. After finding out all of their requirements for the new home I searched the MLS data base for homes that would qualify for their “Dream Home” in Stapleton. After emailing listing back and forth we compiled a list of homes that might work out. I noticed that there were a few homes missing that I thought should be on the list. These homes were really nice, fit all of the parameters of our search and were in good locations in the neighborhood. It was then that I found out that Casey does not like homes that are painted blue. He said that although he likes the color blue, he didn’t want to live in a “Smurf’s house”! This didn’t really pose a problem because we had several other terrific homes to check out. As we worked our way through the list, we added a few additional homes as they came available. One in particular was a town house that had been just above their price point, but the sellers were motivated and looking for a contract. It was the last home we were looking at on that particular day and we were anxious to see if it was as nice as it seemed to be online. We walked through the first floor and you could feel the excitement in the air. Benjamin was leading the way through the house. When he walked into the kitchen, he turned around and looked at Casey with a big smile. I knew that he was sold and would be willing to write an offer on the spot. Casey calmly suggested that we continue through the house to make sure it met all of their requirements. The rest of the house was just as nice as the first impression and I could see that Casey was joining Benjamin in the mental game of arranging their furniture in their new home. We talked about all of the details of making an offer and came up with a game plan. When it was time to leave the house, I went through the back door to make sure that we had locked the garage door. As I turned to walk in the back door, I was hit like a ton of lead bricks by a new realization. How had we missed it? We had driven up to this beautiful brick town house. We had carefully checked off everything on the list of non-negotiable requirements for the new home. The ever level-headed Casey made sure that no detail was over looked. Both he and Benjamin had mentally purchased this house, moved in and settled down. And yet there it was, staring me in the face. A two story wall, the color of blue that would make any Smurf proud. I called the guys outside to share my discovery with them. Their breaking hearts were clearly visible on their faces. Determined not to lose his new home, Benjamin began to attack this problem as any good event coordinator would. He suggested repainting the side of the house. Or maybe they could install plants. If that didn’t work, he might have some décor items leftover from a past event that could be attached to the home with a glue gun (Martha would have been very proud)! He was willing to make any sacrifice to keep “his new home”. I explained to them that the HOA would have to approve any exterior changes to the town home and many of his suggestions might not fit with the other home owner’s ideas of what their block of homes should look like. The ever practical Casey decided that they would have to sleep on it and call me back the next day.
The next day I got a call from Casey. He and Benjamin would like to see the house again that afternoon. He had come to the solution like any software engineer. You go from point A to point B, a sequence of events to arrive at the desired solution. If he could get all of their future guests to arrive to their “new home” as he and Benjamin did, they would approach the house from the direction where they would see the lovely brick front of the house not the Smurf blue! With the house being on a divided street, that was the only practical way to approach the house. This was an acceptable solution to the Smurf blue problem! We tested his theory on our next visit to the house. Virtually no blue was visible as we drove up to and entered the house. Thanks to his great education and his years of experience at IBM, Casey, and Benjamin have a beautiful townhome in Stapleton.
I want to join in with all of his family and friends in wishing Casey a very Happy 30th Birthday! The events above did really happen to the best of my recollection but I may have taken some poetic license in the retelling of the story in honor of this grand birthday occasion. If any of you visit Casey and Benjamin’s home, please as a 30th birthday present to Casey, do not mention the color blue or talk about a Smurf for any reason!
With all of our love and wishes for a fantastic 30th Birthday.
Bruce & Terri Peel
How many Aggies does it take to synchronize a watch?
Soon after Casey graduated from Texas A&M and moved to Austin, he and his younger brother, Kelly, who was still a student at A&M decided that they would fly home to Littlefield to attend their younger brother, Jonathan’s football game. The airline reservations were made, and the trip was set. Kelly drove from College Station to Austin to spend the night, and the next morning on the way to the airport, they synchronized their watches.
They arrived at the airport and boarded their plane. Things were simpler then. It was pre-911. The Austin to Dallas flight was non eventful, but when they landed in Dallas they suddenly realized that they were going to be late for their connecting flight to Lubbock. They rushed to the departing terminal and found the flight already boarded, but low and behold to their amazement standing behind the counter was their old high school classmate, Dezi Vargas. “Don’t worry about it guys,” he said, “I’ll get you on.”
Because the plane was almost full when they boarded, finding two seats together was difficult. They got stuck at the front of the plane with two seats each facing each other. It was an emergency exit row. They buckled their seatbelts and settled in for the flight. They were a little flustered, but thankful that they had actually made the connection. Before take-off, as the stewardess was making her rounds, she noticed the two lads sitting in the exit row. Without batting an eye, she looked directly at Casey and said, “Excuse me, you’re sitting in an emergency exit row. You must be at least 14 to sit here. Are you 14?” Casey had turned 22 just 2 days prior. His younger brother, Kelly, sitting across from him, busted out laughing.
Casey displayed his ID and was able to keep his seat, and soon the plane was in the air. They settled in for the short flight to Lubbock when they suddenly realized that they were not on their scheduled flight. Dezi had squeezed them on this plane off of the standby list. They were headed to Lubbock, but they were an hour earlier than what they were supposed to be. They checked their watches again and realized that neither Aggie had changed their watch since daylight savings time had ended two weeks earlier.
When they got to the Lubbock airport, Casey called their mom.
“We’re here!” he said.
“How did you get here so quick?” she asked. “You’re an hour early.”
“Well” he replied. “It’s a long story, but guess what — I’m growing a beard.”
I first met Casey when we attended the same church. Casey was an interpreter, and my daughter has a slight hearing impairment. So I got in the habit of sitting near the interpreters, which led to chit chat before and after the services. A general acquaintance began. One morning Casey stopped by where I was working at the information booth to talk and introduce me to his friend Benjamin. During our chat, we learned that Casey and I work for the same employer. We started having lunch together monthly. A real friendship started to grow. Later we learned we lived in the same neighborhood. We formed a dinner party club, and the feeling of kinship soared. We’ve since all moved from the neighborhood, but the relationship is still growing.
I love Casey and Benjamin and count them as favorite friends, as dear to me as family. I miss you guys, but appreciate so much that you do a great job of staying in touch! Much love and best wishes on your birthday, Casey. Take it from someone more than twice your age, life can keep getting better and better. A number (such as the number of birthdays you’ve had) does not deter us for doing what we want to do in life. It’s our attitudes and the choices we make every day that either enable or limit us in reaching our goals!
To Casey….The oldest! As you turn 30, I thought I should commemorate your entrance into your fourth decade of life by remembering some times of each of your three decades! So let’s begin a trip down memory lane…
Decade One – Well, there are so many fun memories, it’s hard to nail down just one. I have very fond memories of playing at your house with you and Kelly. We’d spend hours in your backyard (which was the coolest of all backyards!) and watching He-Man. It was so great to have a great friend to pass the summer hours with! I remember you taking pride in showing me your collection of books, too! I also have wonderful memories of our weeks at the lake house with Granny and Papa. Oh, my gosh – we had so much fun! You hated touching the worms or the fish when we were fishing so Kelly or I had to do it. Then we thought we were such hot stuff driving the small tractor and the little boat!
Decade Two – Well, these primarily come from college, and there are many! Both of us going to A&M was a nice surprise since neither of us knew many people. We took each other in and tried to take care of each other. For me, you watched out for me while I was getting dumped by my boyfriend. I called you and you walked across campus to come rescue me from my sorrow. That weekend, you took me to the lake with Kim so that we could all enjoy the beauty of the lake and Granny’s good food! I also remember going dancing and taking dancing classes together! It was so much fun to hit the clubs!
Decade Three – Part of decade three was still in college so here are Junior/Senior memories! Of course you remember how we’d spend hours at night playing Nertz and eating homemade cookies! Wow – talk about competition! You hated to loose back then, and would get very grumpy if someone kicked your tail! Did I mention you’d get very grumpy????? I also have great memories of helping you find an apartment in Austin and bugging the heck out of you to help me with my wedding registry once you were there and near all the great shops! Then there were your tips to come visit us in Missouri, California, Oklahoma, and Virginia! You’ve graciously traveled coast to coast to visit us, and it’s meant a ton to us that you’ve done that!
I have wonderful memories of the past 27 years that our lives have intertwined. I’m so grateful that we ended up going to A&M together so that our long term friendship could grow into the true blessing that it is right now (you know, the sisterly pestering I do so well!). I can only hope that I’ve been half as good of a friend to you as you’ve been to me. You’re a beautiful person, and I’m so grateful to have known you for so many of your 30 years! Happy Birthday!
Happy birthday, Casey! Thirty years ago, the world was given a wonderful gift and I’m confident that all who are with you in person tonight, and those of us who, thanks to your brilliant and wonderful husband, can be with you in spirit, share that sentiment. I’m grateful to have you as part of my life and feel immeasurably blessed to call you “friend.”
Enjoy your night surrounded by those who love you. Enjoy your thirties. As someone with 8 years’ experience at being 30, I can vouch for its niftiness. Thanks for being you and being such a special part of my life. I wish for you many years filled with love, laughter, peace, joy, and short sleeve shirts.
During Renee’s freshman year at A&M, there was a Garth Brooks concert in Dallas. Renee, Casey and Audra Harm drove to our home in Plano, TX to go to the concert and get some home cooking (I think they wanted to stock up on ranger cookies). Renee decided that I should take Casey shopping and “update” his wardrobe. She gave me specific instructions (no surprise) and Casey and I headed for the mall. Casey was not the most enthusiastic shopper but he rose to the occasion. We came home and got thumbs up for all the items we chose. Renee may not really be his sister but she sure treats him like a brother which isn’t really surprising since they met when they were three years old. I really enjoyed that afternoon out with Casey. Happy Birthday, Casey.
Leslie, Andy, & Alexandra Weiss-Malik
Austin just isn’t the same without y’all here! We miss you and hope you have a fabulous birthday!!! We miss going to special screening movies and coming over to your house for a FANTASTIC dinner!!!
Casey when I first met you I didn’t know that you would be the one that my brother wanted to spend the rest of his life with. It has been a long and hard road to where we are today. I could not imagine what our lives would be like without you. You are an amazing person, when I had nothing you and my brother took me in and gave me your support, love, and a home. Words can never explain how much you mean to me. Thank You for everything you have done for me over the past 5 years. On this special day I want to wish you A Happy Birthday with all my love. You’re the best Brother-In-Law ever…..
Oh man, this is tough. I really miss living in the same town. We used to get together for fun stuff. Nothing fancy really.
I taught him how to play cribbage — and I think that he is still convinced that I made up the rules as each game progressed. We used to get together for dinner and cards. Mmm. Tater tot casserole.
I remember us sitting at my coffee table playing Myst Exile on my laptop, taking tons of notes with extensive calculations about the weight of various segments of a ball for a gigantic pinball loop. We were surrounded by maps and notes and pizza and cherry cokes — the real kind, with grenadine and maraschino cherries. We were so excited when we got each puzzle figured out and could go on. Computer games just aren’t the same any more.
And of course, Hell’s Concession Stand. Hour after hour of coding and testing and documenting. Yeah, okay. We were clearly insane.
Happy birthday. I miss you.
Oh, and… Dear God, it’s really been eleven years??????
Casey, Happy 30th Birthday. I don’t have much to write because I’m totally and completely exhausted, but I still want to wish you my best. I can’t believe we are all approaching (or at) 30… <Matt & Shaun, Happy Belated 30th birthday to you>
I was on a plane yesterday flying home from Knoxville, TN and the guy across the aisle from me was playing Warcraft… It was the newer version with the 3-D like graphics instead of the version we had back at TAMS, but it still reminded me of the good old days when we would stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing games and procrastinating our studies. Those were good times…
So the best memories I have of/with Casey are probably back at Jeff and Jonobie’s old apartment in Austin playing D&D with Sarah. Calin, Tef’na, Miriam, Gairdy, and Rurik (It’s really scary if I actually got all of those right) spent many long Sunday afternoons munching on popcorn, trail mix, and allegra to boost their fortitude checks versus poison (kitty-based). Gairdy and Miriam would spend hours paying little attention to the goings on and lots of attention to the antics and tricks they were playing on each other. Ok, so most of the antics were played by Miriam, but Gairdy got his power attacks in here and there. It’s amazing how such great times are had while trying to track such complicated rules. Looking back, I always thought that one of Casey’s best attributes was (and I’m sure still is) his ability to surround himself with wonderful people, and I felt lucky to be part of that wonderful circle.
Some quotable quotes from those days (thanks to the our beloved Hell’s Concession Stand):
- Here, roll a bosom check. (Mirian to Tef’na)
- We /need/ the badger. This may be a 6-badger fight! (Miriam to Calin)
- The goblins are humping the wooden rat! (Miriam again…anyone seeing a theme here?)
The other wonderful memory I have of Casey is completing my Chrysalis and seeing his face. After spending days as an emotional wreck and babbling on and on to some poor Christian woman about how hard it is to be gay, I was so shocked to see Casey there, hours away from home, showing up just to let me know that he cares. No one else to this day has ever done something as caring for me as that one single gesture. There was no trinket or trifle. All he gave was his agape and presence at a very rough time for me…just for me…and to this day, that gesture means the world to me.
Benjamin, you’re a lucky man. Casey, I find it hard to believe in heroes these days, but I’ve never found it hard to believe in you. My best wishes to you on your 30th birthday, and I hope you have many more wonderful years to come.
I only have good thoughts when I think about Casey…like what an amazing man of character who is very smart are caring about others. He’s a wonderful husband, friend and son.
Spending time with Casey with always refreshing to ones spirit and encouraging. Casey always brightens my day.
When I first met Casey I was struck by a few anecdotal personality and life traits. He was spiritual but in the most peaceful way. He did not have a TV and to someone like me with such a simple upbringing this seemed strange but awe inspiring. He had that “hair” the spikey hair and refused to do anything other than let it dry and head out the door, he was adorable. The way he danced to country music was glorious, he just knew how and I remember Danny B and I watching him thinking… HOW DOES HE DO THAT! I remember when Casey bought his house, this was the next Ahhhh ha moment in my experience with him. He had wired the whole house with Ethernet cable making every room network access friendly. Casey has always been one of the most consistent, trust worthy, generous, calm people I know and I continue to appreciate him for these and many other things he brings to his and the lives of everyone around him. Happy 30th Birthday Casey A. Peel!
One of my favorite memories of Casey was when I first met him when we were both in Irvine, CA on IBM business in November of 2002.
I didn’t really think that he was gay, and when I made a comment to him that I was going out to West Hollywood two-stepping and country line-dancing, he asked, “Do you lead or follow?” to which I replied, “Actually, both. To which he answered, “Me, too.”
That’s how I knew for sure that he was gay. Well, that and the spiked hair. :-)
HAPPY 30TH CASEY! Wish I could be there to celebrate with you!
Casey was one of the first people I met when I moved to Austin, TX back in 2002. I remember seeing him for the first time as a Interpreter for the Deaf at a church I visited one random Sunday. I remember thinking, “this guy has to be one of the best ‘signers’ that I have ever seen, not to mention, the cutest.” It was after that, I would see Casey here and there around town – no, I wasn’t stalking him!!! Over the years, he has become someone that I greatly respect and I’m proud to call a friend. I believe it is easy to meet people these days, but not easy to find quality peeps like Casey and Benjamin. I am honored to be invited to celebrate this special time in your life. 30’s huh?? It only gets better from here!!!!