Quid Pro Quo: 20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

Recently, I came across a blog post over at Amber Naslund’s Brass Tack Thinking blog titled “What I Wish More People Knew About Me”. The post goes on to talk about the superficial nature of online relationships and how “so much nuance can be lost in the midst of snippets of electronic and fleeting communication” (that Amber has got such a way with words, yes?). She then goes on to share with her audience several personal things she wished people knew about her. The post has spawned a number of guest posts titled "What I Wish People Knew", where other people also share information about themselves they, for whatever reason, wish people knew.

Now, I’m not real big on talking about myself or even caring what people know or don’t know about me. I find it (as even Amber admittedly did) a tad self-serving and narcissistic. The people who matter, know me. Period. Those who don’t can figure it out based on the “snippets of electronic and fleeting communication” I share on twitter and facebook, my films, video productions, and blog posts. I don’t care to bore anyone with the details of my life and I’m sure as hell not very interested in other people’s hopes, dreams, and fears (nothing personal). But the posts did get me thinking a bit about what people might find interesting about my life (damn you, Amber!).

Then I came across another post which asked the question: “Do Online Friends Matter As Much As Real Ones?” A pretty silly question, if you ask me because the answer is quite simple: no. Online “friends” are fleeting and relatively low-risk. You can barely grasp the shadow of a person online; much less the substance. Could one of your online friends one day become a “real friend”? Sure. But that’s gonna take a lot more than a handshake and a few chuckles at a local tweetup. As far as online relationships go, I really don’t care who you are or who you’re pretending to be – just don’t say anything stupid and we'll be cool.

What I did find interesting about the post was the idea of a day to “cruise each others’ blogs” (today, July 25th) and “come together, put the marketplace on hold and have a day of Show and Tell”; a day where people can share a little about who they really are in an effort to “deepen their communication and become friends”. Corny, I know. But coupled with Amber’s posts, I started to think that maybe I could have some fun with this whole concept.

Quid Pro Quo

As I started to conjure up ideas on how to spoof the “What I Wish More People Knew About Me” and the “Show and Tell” concepts, I kept finding myself reluctant to sit down and write a bunch of things about myself for the amusement of other people. It seemed rather desperate to me and quite lame. Just as I was about to give up, however, I recalled the exchange of information between Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. Quid pro quo, "what for what", something given or received for something else. Why should I invest any time sharing information about my stupid life without getting anything in return? I preferred sharing and getting.

I then decided to just play it straight. Skip all the lame stuff about what an awesome father/husband I am, how I have recurring nightmares that I’m being chased by fire-breathing turtles, or how I sometimes cry myself to sleep because I never became a Canine Psychologist. Yawn. I’ll leave the syrupy stuff to everyone else. I’m gonna stick to the facts and try real hard to keep them interesting and make the information worth your while.

So here are 20 different things about me (and my family) that will either amuse, entertain, or bore the hell out of you. But wait…there is a catch! Then I’m gonna ask for something from you. Quid pro quo, “what for what”. Ready? Here goes:

1]  First things first: I hate stupidity (most of you already knew that so let's move on).

2] I was born in the Bronx where I lived for the first 27 years of my life.

3] I’m one of seven children (second oldest). My mother was a homemaker and my father worked in a factory.

4] I got my first job when I was 13 years old handing out flyers on the street for RBS Furniture on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. I made a buck an hour.

5] I grew up listening to Heavy Metal (mostly Death Metal) – I saw Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Manowar, Motorhead, Overkill, and Iron Maiden live.

6] I’ll blow anyone away on air guitar. My favorite is Van Halen’s “Ice Cream Man”.

7] When I was 18, a friend got me a job working in the mailroom of the New York Public Library on 42nd & 5th. I worked there for the next 9 years.

8] I worked evenings and weekends for a whole year (1991-1992) at Tower Records on West 4th & Broadway. To this day, the most fun I ever had “working”.

9) My three favorite films (based more on the influence they had on me) would probably be Alan Parker’s “Angel Heart”, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, & Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”.

10] I went to see jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis (who I was a big fan of) at the Bottom Line in NYC (circa 1988?). Opening up for him was an unknown New Orleans singer who performed an extremely memorable set with just his voice and a piano. His name was Harry Connick Jr. Later that week, I picked up his album, “20”. Still have it on vinyl today.

11] Growing up, we had only one TV (a 19” b&w). After dinner, my father would go to the living room, sit down on his spot on the couch, and watch the New York Mets games on WOR-TV (called by the great Ralph Kiner). That left the rest of us with two choices: watch the Mets game or go to our rooms and read a book. Needless to say, I’ve been a Mets fan since as far back as I can remember.

12] My most memorable sports moment was a Mets game back in October of 1985 where Darryl Strawberry hit a monstrous homerun off St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Ken Dayley in the 11th inning to give the Mets a 1-0 victory. My father, a man of few words, jumped up from the couch, leaned over to me with a huge grin on his face, and stuck his hand out to me to give him “five”. Me and my dad watched a lot of Mets games together but that was the first and only time he would ever do that. Not even when Ray Knight scrambled home in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series was my father that excited about a Mets win.

13] My father died in the summer of 1991 of a heart attack. He was only 50 years old.

14] The person who I call my “best friend”, Elvin Torres, sat right next to me during our first day in Kindergarten (I remember we were both mortified). After 37 years (and counting) of putting up with me, I can state without reservation that he is truly the best friend a person could have (trust me, none of your best friends even come close).

15] When my daughter Miranda was born and I first held her in my arms, I told my wife that they could put her among a hundred other babies and that I would pick her out in a minute – that’s how beautiful she was. She’s gonna be famous one day.

16] My daughter is the real owner of Buddy the mischievous pug.

17] I’m generally unimpressed by most people.

18] I relocated my family to South Florida from New York back in 2003 to take a position as Director of Sales & Marketing for a 60-acre Family Entertainment Center. A year later, I was fired. I think I was too "New York" for them.

19] Shortly thereafter, my wife was diagnosed with a large aneurysm in her heart. Her ascending aortic valve needed to be replaced and we were told that there wasn’t a surgeon in the state of Florida who could perform that particular surgery. We were referred to a doctor in New York named Mehmet C. Oz. We flew to New York and in April 2004, Dr. Oz performed the surgery on my wife at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. When my wife awoke from the surgery several hours later, she was hooked up to a respirator and her hands were strapped to her sides (so that she wouldn’t tear the respirator out of her mouth). She looked terrified. She couldn’t speak and I really didn’t know what to say to her; it broke my heart to see her that way. She signaled with her bound left hand to bring my hand down to hers and then used her fingers to turn my hand around so that she could scribble on my palm with her finger. She began to spell out: D-O-N-T-W-O-R-R-Y. I’ll never forget that. This may help you understand #17.

20] My wife is also a two-time kidney transplant recipient. She received her first kidney transplant back in 1990. That kidney lasted her 7 years but failed a few months after our daughter was born. For 9 of the first 10 years of our marriage, my wife had to undergo 3 hour dialysis treatments three times a week. Those were tough years. My wife barely slept more than three hours a night, was limited to 32 ounces of fluid daily and had many restrictions on the types of foods she could eat. She also had to take an absurd amount of medications several times throughout the day. We had to arrange for dialysis treatments when we traveled to visit our families in New York or Puerto Rico, even when we spent a long weekend at Disney World. After her heart surgery, Dr. Oz told my wife that it was imperative that she receive a kidney transplant within the year to give her new aortic valve a good chance at long-term success. But after her heart surgery, her nephrologist gave her a very slim chance of ever finding a matching kidney.

During all those difficult years, my wife never felt sorry for herself; never asked God why He seemed to be picking on her. She showed me that you deal with the crap life throws at you by waking up every morning, getting dressed, putting a smile on your face, going about your business, and telling life to go fly a kite. She’ll never take credit for it but she made me stronger; her daughter stronger.

In March of 2007, my wife received a perfectly matched kidney less than five months after she was put back on the transplant list; less than five months after her nephrologist told her not to hold her breath. She deserved it.

With her new kidney, my wife became a new person. The weekly dialysis treatments that were wearing her body down were over; she could eat or drink anything she wanted; she slept better at night; she had a new energy. We could go away for a week without arranging dialysis treatments; we became a new family.

Organ Transplants save lives. They affect not only the lives of the transplant recipient but their families as well. It’s a once in a lifetime gift (sometimes, twice) that nothing can ever compare to.

Are You an Organ Donor?

Every day, 18 people die while waiting for a transplant of a vital organ, such as a heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lung or bone marrow. Are you an organ donor? Have you decided that when you die, you’re going to give life to another human being? Transform the lives of an entire family for the better? When you die, you’re not going to need your organs anyway, right? Why bury them in the ground to be eaten by worms when more than 4,000 new patients are being added to the waiting list for organ donations each month?

“But Dan, I don’t know what I gotta do to become an organ donor!” Well, it’s easy and free and will only take a few minutes of your time. Go HERE and register.

Share and Get?

Quid pro quo. I shared a little something about me, yes? Fortunately for you, I’m not that interested in your life (again, see #17). My only hope is that after reading this post you sign up to become an organ donor. Then I want you to go and tell your family and friends to sign up to become organ donors as well. And then I want you to come back here and let me know that you (and your friends and your family members) all signed up to become organ donors. That way, I can feel like this whole self-serving post that was very uncomfortable for me to write wasn’t all in vain.

Can you do that for me?


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