Just got the sad news that the mom of my friend Danny Goodwin passed away yesterday. No doubt he could use some bucking up right now, so here’s my contribution…
I periodically write about friends who have helped me heal and deal over the years and Danny is one of them. It didn’t seem that way at first, because when we first met I was busy trying to be someone else.
I was night editor at The Eagle-Tribune and he was the obituary writer. Early on in my time there, Danny was out sick for a few days. When the obit writer calls out sick, the night editor has to find someone to replace him for the night. Nobody ever wanted to volunteer for that task.
One day during his illness, I was ordered to call him and lay down the law, so I did. Danny wasn’t taking it. He didn’t call me any names, but his tone had “You’re a dick-head” all over it.
After that, we had an uneasy yet peaceful co-existence in the newsroom.
I backed off, because if he quit, I would probably be writing the obits myself. I wasn’t about to let that happen.
Besides, other editors were already pushing him to the brink. One particularly snotty editor was marking up his obits with red pen every day, and, of course, I had to show him the markup and tell him to clean it up.
The top editor at the time, Steve Lambert, was writing a daily narrative of kudos and criticisms for the newsroom staff, praising the wins of the day and pointing out things that could have been done better. One such note proclaimed: “This obit page needed Last Rites.”
Steve, if you read this and still have copies of that one, I want it. I’ve been meaning to frame it and give it to Danny. I bring it up every time I see him, because it was one of those classic moments.
It took a couple years, but me and Danny started to grow on each other like mold. We bonded over music and shared newsroom stress. The most fun I had as night editor was in that period just after midnight Saturday, once the paper had gone to the printer. Me, Danny, John Sullivan and John O’Neil would sit there and slay each other with our witty newsroom observations of the day as we waited for the first papers to come off the press.
I remember a lot of laughter, pizza and boxes of MSG-laden food from China Wok. I always binged on extra helpings when no one was looking. On my last Friday night there, I downed 2 of the five boxes of pizza by myself, one piece at a time when heads were turned the other way.
By then, my unhinging at the hands of OCD, fear-anxiety-depression and addiction was well under way, and sometimes the only thing that got me through it all were those early-morning newsroom hangouts.
He stuck around at The Eagle-Tribune for a few months after I left, and it was around this time that we met his wife, Danielle, who we love. Every time they’re in town we have dinner. Those two have lived all over the country since then: Texas, Florida, California, South Dakota (or is it North Dakota?), Pennsylvania and Indiana.
Danny eventually started working for the company Erin worked for. In fact, Erin was one of the people he reported to.
“Give him hell,” I’d tell her. “The more you do it, the more fun it is.”
It’s really something when you think about how some friendships evolve.
That the friendship between me and Danny developed out of the initial distrust is one of the greatest blessings for me.
Thanks, Danny. Thanks, Danielle. Erin and I will be thinking of you in the coming days.