This man is Joseph Cunningham. He was my best friend and he died in 2006.
He called himself the Blegic (pronounced Bleejik) or Begic (pronounced Beejik) for short. Its a long and interesting story, but I will make it short. I met Joe when I was about 8, he was 42. He had just recently moved from Brooklyn and was now living across the street from me with his brother and sister-in-law. He used to stand outside on the corner for hours. So naturally I used to hide behind my fence and throw rocks at him with my friends lol. This rock throwing eventually led to conversation with Joe. Eventually we would see Joe outside everyday. The more we talked, the more I started to realize that something was a little off. I became aware very early on that Joe was a little slow mentally. Nothing drastic or outright, but if you talked with him for a little you would sense something.
It was definelty strange for a bunch of 8 and 9 year olds to be hanging out with a 42 year old. From an outside perspective there were about 10 red flags. But early on it seemed that Joe was essentially growing up with us. As we entered middle school and our mentalities started to shift, so did his. When we went to High School, mentally so did he. He still wasn’t always the sharpest tool in the shed, but he always made things interesting. And boy did we love playing jokes and pranks on him. The beauty in the friendship was that even though he was a little mentally behind us, we treated him no different that anyone else in the group.
Eventually we began to hang out with Joe pretty much daily. He was incredible to be around. We took him to high school parties, football games, basketball games, WWE Wrestling events, everything. And then there were times where we would just sit in the garage and make stupid and funny videos with him. I cherish these videos and wish I had more. These are the videos that you randomly see on Tough Table. We used to refer to them as “Exclusive Footage”. “Yo Begic, do an exclusive !”
What made Joe amazing was how much he cared for me and my group of friends. He always went above and beyond to make us laugh, make things fun, and get us either in or out of trouble. I loved him because he always had my best interest at heart. His simplistic way of thinking and understanding sometimes was his biggest strength. He never had an agenda, and I knew I could always count on him. He was always there to help me make a tough decision. If I was torn between two good or two bad choices he was always my tie breaker. I miss that.
And then one day he was gone. I look at pictures and old video of Joe very often. They make me happy, they make me laugh, but they also make me sad that he is not here with me now. This man meant the world to me and I cherish the time I had with him. Using him for Tough Table is my attempt to immortalize him, to preserve his memory, and share some of the great experiences my friends and I had with him. He was a great man, and an even better friend, you would of loved him. >BsQ<
RIP Joe “Blegic” Cunningham
– Written by Ryan Sullivan, SUF