I met Dan through Jim, who I met through Chris in the basement of a frat party. Dan made friends with Jim as a regular in the sub-shop, where Jim worked, in Pittsburgh. We all wound up living together along with Greg, his dog, and my two cats.
I started going out with Dan for drinks on my days off. He was quiet, had a Christian Slater quality to him, drank canned beer, and fried everything he ate.
Dan moved out to a small apartment on the South Side Flats, and rarely had company. He had a Metallica poster tacked-up in his kitchen, featuring the band waving their middle fingers at the camera. He was a guy’s guy, his apartment full of CDs, unfolded laundry, bright light.
Many years later, after I moved to Seattle, I got an email from Dan at work. I started reading, and realized it was one of those emails he had cut and paste for a large audience. It detailed the fact that Dan was getting a sex change, and the reasons why. He explained that he was a woman born into a man’s body, due to a chromosomal mishap at a vital time in his development, while in utero. Something didn’t happen the way it should have at the right moment.
I read the message, and tried to call to say I was happy for him, to say whatever I could say, but didn’t know how. I got his answering machine and it was the same old Dan, with his upstate New York, ‘dis-is-Dan greeting.
Then it was like the end of the movie The Sixth Sense, where all the previous details start to connect: Dan at the Halloween party that year, dressing up as a woman, and how everyone remarked the next day, how weird that he looked as good as he did.
Dan, quiet and skating the periphery of the social scenes, seeming distracted as he drank, seeming far-off. The night we got into a spat in some strange bar with a couple guys in referee uniforms, watching The History Channel, and how we were convinced the woman at the door had a bug’s face. The intricate mix tapes he made, was he trying to tell me something?
Now, Dan was changing his name to Dana and beginning estrogen treatments, required to work as the opposite sex for a minimum of one year in the state of New York before they’d let him get the procedure.
That was nine years ago, and we haven’t talked since. We were good friends. I found Dana online and saw pictures of her, and I’m going to contact her to reconnect and see if she wants to be friends, still.
Note: I wrote a post about another friend named Dan earlier this week. They are different “Dans.”