So all I ask you for is to Be Like Dean, Call Somebody. You will not regret it.
I’ll admit it, I’ve been putting this post off for over a month now. For one we lost a great friend last month but also because distilling a friendship into words is a daunting task. How do you sum up someone’s impact on your life in just a few paragraphs? The answer is, you can’t. So I stalled and thought and stalled and thought and stalled some more. And here I am.
I did write something in his memorial section, yes. But there is a greater message I’d like to pass on to anyone willing to read this. Something that Dean taught me, without ever trying to teach me anything. So for perspective’s sake, I’d like to talk a little bit about our friendship and weave that into the purpose of this post if you don’t mind.
I knew Dean from Twitter, just an avatar and a name that I’d see mostly during the Jay Mohr Sports show. As stated by many before, he started doing avatars for people (completely on his own usually a complete surprise to most people). The avatars always included something personal about the person. Sometimes he’d quiz someone but a lot of times he’d just kind of research the person and boom! there it was. He did this all the time, without asking for a thing. Also stated by many, he made t-shirts for the winners of the daily Twitter Hat Trick Club. It wasn’t a money making venture or anything to self promote. It was just Dean contributing to something bigger than himself. After my first Hat Trick win, within minutes he posted my pig/Twitter Hat Trick Club avatar and it’s stayed that way since. Over the course of the next hour thanking people for congratulating me while I’m trying to come down from the adrenaline rush of finally winning after trying for a year and a half I think he sent me 3 other variations including my hobby of BBQ or relating to my job. All unrequested, all free with zero asked in return. I didn’t initially get a t-shirt though. No real reason, I just didn’t get around to it for several months. We’d DM each other on twitter about it, but mostly we’d just talk about stuff related to the show: pretty light stuff, just acquaintances talking via social media.
Finally just over a year ago I finally decided that I needed to get one of those shirts. So Dean and I exchanged a few DMs about sizes, prices, etc. But he said there was one requirement: I had to call him and discuss it because he wanted to make sure it was exactly what I wanted. This was an exciting moment for me, my home town doesn’t have a Fox Sports Radio affiliate, so there isn’t a big fan community here and I found it when he took over Rome’s time slot. Most of my friends listen to local sports talk or no sports talk at all, but I was always kind of a junky for it and I followed Jay to FSR. So I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about the show let alone talk to someone that I saw daily in the world of the internet. And Dean would be the first. And I remember that call very clearly because the moment he answered the phone I just started laughing because instantly I was connecting with a friend. It was tangible, tactile and very evident. I wanted to spit out everything right then and there because I hadn’t got to talk to anyone in any detail about this show that had become such a big part of my life. And he said something that was profoundly observant: “Man, I’ve talked to all kinds of people from the show and we are all cut from the same cloth”. And he was right.
On paper, I’m not sure how similar Dean and I are. But one thing I’ve learned is what something seems to be on paper or in text on the internet is utterly superficial because once we got talking the similarities started pouring in. Both of us were long time Stern listeners, Southern, sports fans, similar sense of humor, similar tastes in many things. (And plenty of differences too) But there was a thread, the thread of the show, the thing that makes one person a casual listener and another a Mohrrior. And whatever equation it was through the weird alchemy of life experiences and a comedy sports talk radio show we were indeed cut by the same cloth. We talked that night I think for 4 hours. And we talked on the phone probably twice a week for the next year. A lot of it was show related, but we did touch on what was going on with our lives, our past, our future….you know….friend stuff. I’d made a friend; someone that turned out to be a very good friend through a radio show and social media and we’d never even met in person.
Now I need you to stop for a second and appreciate something. I’m not here patting myself on the back for my friendship with someone that tragically passed too soon. My story isn’t special or unique. You see, I’m far from the only one that could say the same exact thing about Dean. When you talk to people about Dean, you start hearing recurring things. He had this kind of relationship with dozens and dozens of people all over the country (even internationally). So no, my friendship with him is not what I’m holding up for display here. I’m not special, Dean was. Some people may not realize that Dean was suffering from significant chronic back pain for a while. But you’d probably never know that because he was always interested in learning stuff about people. Sure the big stuff, but sometimes he would get caught up in minutiae, things you would never think were interesting about you and he’d just talk and talk and talk about it. He had a real thirst for learning about people and connecting. And boy could that man talk. When I saw him come up on caller ID, I always plugged my phone in before answering. But again, if you’ve talked to Dean once you already know all of this.
I don’t want to get too deep into philosophy or theology or anything like that. You believe what you want when it comes to the metaphysics of what happens to us at the end. I do though want to talk about the pragmatic aspect of mortality. When someone leaves the world they leave an imprint on the world through their actions. They live on through the people and institutions they came in contact with. No one is without an imprint on our world and those things lend to a form of immortality that is tangible….real….here and now. Dean had that impact on me and I’m here to pass that on to anyone willing to listen.
Through simple phone calls Dean cast a net so wide to so many people for one singular purpose: connection. And through his connections he connected people to each other. And through that bonds and friendships are formed that will affect people for the rest of their lives. That’s profound. That’s unique. So what I ask you now, is strip away any reservations you may have, any shyness or any cynicism you may feel about what I’ve had to say. Open yourself up to possibility of making connections to someone you may only know superficially and get to know them. Have a conversation. Ask questions. Talk until your phone battery dies or just for five minutes. But make those connections in your life. You will be shocked, sincerely shocked how easy and fulfilling it will be. Besides, the worst thing that could happen is you make a new friend. OR without even knowing it you might make someone’s life a little better. You might help get someone through a rough patch without even knowing it. Or you might even teach someone something that will affect them the rest of their lives. Because that’s what he did for me. I have since spoken with several other Mohrriors on the phone and even in person. The conversations are light and easy and you almost instantly feel like you are talking with a life long friend even if you only know them through an avatar and text. Through Dean’s influence the net is getting wider and more connections are being made every day. And Dean was absolutely correct: We are all cut from the same cloth.
So all I ask you for is to Be Like Dean, Call Somebody. You will not regret it.
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