I’ve emerged this Monday morning with a gleeful baseball hangover. The Red Sox took two out of three against the Yankees this weekend, and sure, we could have swept the series, and sure, we’re still 1.5 games out of first place, but it was still a great set of baseball games to watch. Every inning, every hit really seemed to mean something and the excitement was almost like the playoffs. It’s a rare treat to get three straight games like that.

All of it was rendered moot, however, during the third inning of last night’s game when my phone rang and my friend Dave was on the other line. I met Dave, who is from the Chicago area, via my good friend Leo in the hotel bar at the Sheraton Hotel in Boxborough, Massachusetts one night in the early winter of 1996. I’ve just realized that so far, this story sounds like the beginnings of a gay romance novel. It’s not. Anyway, within the first hour, I knew we’d be good friends because he has a large pompadour and we talked endlessly about music and the record label we were about to launch. At the time, most of my life was centered around music. Rarely was I doing something that didn’t have to do with music, in fact. So we struck up a friendship that remains strong to this day. Dave’s wife is graciously handing our mortgage and Dave still sends me approximately 4,345 burned CD’s per week and we still always email back and forth about new bands, old bands, upcoming shows and “can you believe how good that record is?”

One other thing about Dave: he has Crohn’s Disease. Without going into too much detail, it’s basically a disease where your intestines get inflammed, and it causes all kinds of horrendous problems. It’s painful, it’s chronic, you’re pretty much limited to a very few options for eating food – and there’s no cure. I’ve known about Dave’s condition for years. He’s had several surgeries since I’ve met him and dozens of surgeries before I met him. Last week, though, he had an 8-hour surgery – the biggest and most complicated one yet, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the guy. Although he’s been in his worst pain of his life over the past few months, you’d never know it by talking to him or by the sometimes hilarious emails the guy sends me from time to time, detailing with his condition, his young son or anything else that may come up. But he doesn’t seem to let it affect his sense of humor or his attitude. I must say that if I had such a debilitating disease, I’d probably be an insuffereable little brat, since that’s what I am most of the time without a debilitating disease. But he soldiers on and I admire him so much for it and if I could wish for stuff, one of the first things I’d wish for would be a pain-free life for my friend. His genuine goodness deserves it.

I mentioned a few weeks ago about waking up being glad to have everything in your body functional, and this is another example. I feel sad sometimes because it takes stories like these to make me realize how easy I have it. I should feel like that every day, and I try to. So last night when that phone rang and I heard Dave’s voice on the other line – tired, sore and hurting, it was probably the most uplifting one hour of conversation I’ve had in quite some time. I had to quiz him about his surgery, but eventually the conversation turned to music. The Pernice Brothers show I saw last week. The new Drive-By-Truckers album. The Cubs. Visiting Chicago sometime soon. His son. His wife. Life. It was just awesome to hear his voice and to know that despite his longest incision yet and his most painful surgery to date, the guy will continue to soldier on, keep smiling and keep making me laugh with his gigantic personality. I suspect he’ll keep sending me mountains of new music, too, without me asking for it, which is fine. I never asked for it, but he still gives it and that’s just the way he is. I could go on for pages and pages about things that have happened over the years, and the small things about Dave’s personality and habits, but I’ll stop here for now. Suffice it to say, there are some people out there who transcend the normal bounds, gestures and details of everyday life. He just smashes it. So here’s to ya, Dave. You are one of the best.

Song now playing: Pavement – “Date with IKEA”