Unexpected

December 4, 2021
Saturday

Write about an unexpected friendship.
prompt for December 4 from
A Writer’s Book of Days (Original Edition)

Yesterday I talked briefly about “friendship,” both in its traditional definition and its online definition on platforms such as Facebook. I mentioned unhappy encounters with both kinds. The first was someone I knew when she was a student at the high school where I taught. Some 20 years after she graduated, she initiated contact with me on Facebook, and the acquaintance grew to a friendship which included many in-person meetings. That was unexpected, and has been cherished, despite a few bumps in the road.

The second was with someone I am certain I have never met, although I could be wrong about that. She has almost 5,000 friends (Facebook’s limit), of whom there are 18 in common with me, all of them writers, but from different areas of my writing world. Maybe I met her at Bread Loaf, or Sewanee, or knew her through a now-defunct email discussion group once sponsored by Poets & Writers. Chances are she friends everybody she comes across in writerly circles, to broaden her reach, to muster interest in her books. (She’s a poet and the author or editor of a number of collections, and the writer of at least one how-to book I know I should invest in.) So that’s not only an unexpected acquaintance/friendship, but a serious snag in a fabric that might not be readily mended.

When I read the prompt this morning, however, I knew instantly what unexpected friendship I would write about, and it astonished me to see that on December 4, 2006, I had the first of many face-to-face, in-person, hours-long conversations with Dan Good, whom I greeted at the beginning of his great career fifteen years ago today. (Read that piece here.)

The circumstance that established our first contact was a chiding, carping response from me, an almost 60-year-old retired English teacher who happened upon a piece in the student newspaper of my undergraduate university that raised my hackles for its foolishness and its blasé plagiarism. My remarks were addressed to the student author (whose name I have since forgotten), but the staff response to me was handled by the 23-year-old editor. What should have been a brief email exchange turned into several emails, and then the special edition of the newspaper that caught my very positive attention, and then . . .

And here we are. The great career has moved through several iterations. Dan has married. His wife is Susan Lulgjuraj, a talented sports journalist who has moved onward and upward in her own great career. They have a son who was born a month after my first grandson was, and so considered my third grandson. He’s moved from a cramped bachelor’s studio near the beach in New Jersey to a condo in Scarsdale. Dan and Suzy are not just my friends, they’re my family

The great career continues. In May of 2022, Dan’s first book will be published: Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession that Changed Baseball Forever. His persistence on this project through ten years has been an inspiration to me. I’ve preordered my copy. You can, too!

Thank you for fifteen years, Dan. Here’s to a lot more, and more books, from both of us.



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