Thursday, March 8, 2018
I have worked with him for roughly 15 years and I have been writing about him for a few months, ever since, through the agency of his flippancy, I secured his full permission to do so. But there is always something new to learn or notice. And so today I saw how Dan is like a magical singing frog.
First let's run through the fable of the singing frog. As great as any fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, or fable or magical story by Aesop or Hans Christian Andersen, the singing frog is that bitter, elegant short from the heyday of Warners Brothers' Cartoons. Known as "One Froggy Evening" this cartoon eschewed their stock of characters to present a man who finds a singing and dancing frog who, it turns out, only sings and dances in his presence. The man dreams of cashing in with this amazing frog, ultimately renting a theater to display his talents, but every time the frog is before others he reverts to bland, froggy croaking. Eventually the man is ruined by his attempts and dumps the frog who, decades later, is found again by another man seeing dollar signs, and the cycle starts anew.
So two of my colleagues were in the break room talking baseball. And they were musing over a Twins player and local boy made not quite as good as everyone dreamed, though still pretty damn good, Joe Mauer. They were discussing his family and all their history and connections in the twin cities community and it was all familiar to me. The reason it was familiar to me was because I had heard it in far more luxurious detail from Dan, who, as far as I could recall, knew all the Mauers personally.
Dan is a font of Twin Cities knowledge, geographical, historical, personal, and especially as it relates to sports. He grew up in a large Italian family in, and I love this, the Peanuts neighborhood, St Paul, right back behind where Charles Schulz's dad's barber shop once was. He follows every local sport with an almost professional attention, with a particular focus on Hockey, which he played to a College level, and Womens' Basketball. He also seems to know, or have some personal connection to every local figure who ever comes up. So somewhere I heard, perhaps a bit more than I even wanted, long tales of Joe Mauer, all the Mauers, and all their connections to all of his family.
So to my collegues, musing over the Mauers, I said "If you want to know about the Mauers ask Dan. He knows everything and more."
They were quite interested. I strove to remember what he'd told me and inform them, and as I was flailing about Dan walked in. With relief I cried out "Dan! They're talking about the Mauers and Joe Mauer. Tell them all about them!"
Dan said "What did you want to know?"
They threw him a string of information, all things I knew Dan had far deeper stories and facts about.
And Dan said "Ribbit."
Or something like it.
It is now five hours later and the library is dead quiet in a late winter snowstorm. I know for a fact I could go out to the empty front desk, where Dan currently is, and merely mention the Mauers, and Dan would talk to me for a half hour straight, or more, regaling me with tales of the storied sports family and their history.
But I won't do it. I saw that cartoon.
I know that way leads to ruin.