This is true: Daniel “Dandy Dan” DiGiacomo once saved my life at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). We were sitting in a small, private room set up by the people at TDK. Dan and I were sitting on a sofa, and Dan had the great misfortune of playing Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis for the Xbox. Dan was taking one for the team when, all of a sudden, the room’s massive steel door forgot its hinges and began to fall. The door was heavy and potentially brainsmashing, but Dan, in one fluid movement, dropped the controller, twisted his body to the left, and caught the door before it lobotomized us. They say there are no miracles, and maybe that’s so. But there was Dan, and he caught the door before it killed us, and that’s damn all right in my book.
Dan died last night. He was a great friend.
We competed at everything at Wizard Entertainment, maker of magazines such as ToyFare and Wizard: The Comics Magazine. We had competitive leagues for foosball, pinball, and Magic: The Gathering. They once took us to White Castle to see who could eat the most belly bombs. When we had Unity Day lunches, the fat boys at the collectible card game magazine would race to beat everyone to the front of the line in case, I don’t know, the abundance of food meant to feed 50 or so people fell into a black hole before they could take forks to it. And with the competitiveness came a certain meanspiritedness. We had taken our games, our quest to beat the other guy to a sad level. Wizard birthed jerks, and I witnessed it firsthand when a manchild who couldn’t tolerate losing grabbed a video game controller out of my hands in anger, cutting me with his hoary, disgusting, and overgrown nails in the process.
There was none of that in Dandy Dan. Dan was a big man. Do not misconstrue: I am not talking about his imposing presence and physical size, but rather his generosity, his spirit, and his kindness. When I arrived, Dan already had plenty of friends, but he was always ready to add one more. I will never forget that he reached out, invited me into his lunch circle, and made me feel at home. I was surprised at this, but I shouldn’t have been. That was Dan.
I imagined we’d grow old together. Grow senile together. Laugh at the same dumb stories until we forgot the context or the players. We always had stories to tell, but now, now the stories seem to be breaking down, the words failing.
You deserve better, Dan. I will always remember you.