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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A friend from down the hall

Two AM on a Thursday morning sometimes brings difficult choices.  I have an exam in a few hours in macro-economics that I will almost certainly tank.  I am also the executive editor of the Commentator, Yeshiva University's undergraduate newspaper, and we need to have our final edits (saved on a 5.25” floppy!) to the printer first thing in the morning or we won’t have the printed paper back on schedule.  It’s my senior year at YU and I’m sitting in the Commentator Suite, a dorm room shared by Lance Hirt and Danny Mann, the Co-Editors-in-Chief of the paper, and the Macro-Ec test is taking a back seat.

Lance is slaving away on a balky 386 computer, putting the finishing touches on an editorial… and Danny and I are going over lists of articles to make sure nothing has been left out or overlooked (something is always overlooked).

As quiet and intense as Lance is over there driving the 386, that’s how excited and animated Danny is across the desk from me, checking and re-checking his lists.   To watch him on deadline night is like snacking on coffee grounds and sugary food.  As he reads through his list he repeatedly bounces a tennis ball off the wall, catching it effortlessly time after time without actually looking up.  He’s a bundle of highly focused energy, humming like a live wire.   And he occasionally grabs my list to cross-check something… giving the ball an extra bounce off the floor or ceiling in order to buy the extra few split seconds while both his hands will be engaged.

During that wonderful year that I lived down the hall from Danny on the second floor of the ‘morgue’ (a shortening of the name of the family who donated the money for the building), and served with him on the Commentator staff, I got to see him in every mode and mood imaginable; exited, sad, gleeful, tense.  But always Danny was going places… headed in a definite direction.

It is now 2008 and I once again find myself ‘down the hall’ from Danny with an important deadline looming.   And as always, Danny is going places.

We are both on board the August 18th Nefesh B’Nefesh flight from JFK to Ben Gurion, and Danny is sitting a few rows behind me with his wife and four kids, heading towards their new life in Israel.  I wander by a few times during the flight to see how they’re doing, and his wife Cindy, and their kids seem as relaxed as if they are on their way to a long-anticipated vacation.  But Danny, as intense and excited as ever, is the same bundle of energy I remember from our undergraduate days.

In the intervening years Danny’s natural intellect and focus have served him well as a partner with a high profile New York law firm.  But, with lots of close family and friends living in Israel, the dream of Aliyah apparently loomed large for him and his family.

As we pass over the coast of Turkey on the final leg of our shared flight to Israel, I watch Danny flipping through the channels of his in-flight entertainment system and I can clearly picture his younger incarnation mentally preparing to muscle through the next challenge… and the next and the next. 

And as always, I know he’ll be fine.  Danny is more than up to the challenge.  I just wish I’d brought along a tennis ball to give him for the flight.

Posted by David Bogner on August 19, 2008 | Permalink

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If you ever get around to writing a novel, I will like all the characters in it. I can see Danny clearly, as I can picture everything in the Commentator Suite. In few words, you make the reader want to know what the next issue of the paper will look like, what will happen with the exam, and what will happen in the lives of these people. The fact that they are real doesn't change the brilliance with which they are drawn. Talk to Robert. I am sure he will encourage you. I will sit in the wings with the rest of the Fangirls and Fanboys, and await a really good read.

Welcome HOME, Danny and Cindy and kids.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Aug 20, 2008 8:17:40 AM

As a closet reader of your blog- and I love it- its so funny that you and my amazing brother are friends from the Commie days. Thanks for your post.

Posted by: Dave | Aug 20, 2008 12:15:48 PM

You were great! I can't wait to read what you write about it!

Posted by: Juggling Frogs | Aug 21, 2008 2:24:12 AM

Oh my G-d Dave..you just took me back 22 years..I was across the hall

Jerry

Posted by: Jerry | Dec 17, 2008 6:38:46 AM

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