In my most recent blog post, I listed five people whom I have not heard of in any way, shape or form in many, many, many years, five people whose absence from my life really hurts.
Now, I’ll list some people whom I hope never, ever appear on that list. If they are on the list at any time, the quality of my life will be extremely diminished.
Lisa (Toebben) Daniels
How we met: Lisa began working at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa in March 2014. Worked there through June 2015.
Lisa was impressed with my knowledge about trivia, especially sports and history. I always tried to sit in her section when she was working, except the times when I would sit in Liz’s section. I tried to even it out between them.
Lisa quickly found out I really liked Liz, and there were times Lisa had to calm me down when I was upset about Liz. I liked Lisa too, but she told me about her boyfriend (now her husband), Jeffrey Daniels. Turns out they had been dating since 2010, long before Buffalo Wild Wings opened in Zona Rosa, and long before I knew any of our paths would cross.
In August 2014, she issued the Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook to me. I tried to get out of it at first, but then gave in and did it. Two young ladies from closer to where I live, Mindy Gower (Phillipsburg) and Addison Kingsbury (Smith Center) also challenged me. Liz poured the bucket.
Unfortunately, Lisa had to put up with a lot of the bad things in my life. She saw me melt down far too often, and I know it angered her. She did all she could to keep that anger from bubbling over, but there were times I pushed her too far.
Lisa and another Buffalo Wild Wings worker, Shannon Swanson, beseeched me to get help. I stalled and stalled until both Lisa and Shannon told me to either get help or they would stop being friends.
I wish I had listened to Lisa and Shannon sooner. I first started seeing Crista near the end of 2014, and I’ve been going to her ever since.
Lisa and Jeff welcomed a son, Liam Gearhart Daniels, into the world on December 30, 2015. They were living in Jeff’s native Chicago at the time, but later moved back to Kansas City, where they still live. They were wed this past October 7 in the St. Louis suburb of Arnold.
I don’t see enough of Lisa, but I understand. She’s doing wonderful things. I’m glad we’ve been able to stay friends even though I gave her too many reasons not to.
Dr. Stacey (Day) Jones
How we met: Dr. Jones has been my opthamologist since moving to Kansas.
In October 2005, once my new health insurance policy through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas kicked in, I figured I would attempt to find new doctors. One of the worst things that happend with Katrina was losing the great doctors I had in Louisiana.
My opthamologist in Louisiana, Dr. Martin Schoenberger, had a medical degree from the University of Virigina and studied at Johns Hopkins, a university in Baltimore recognized as one of the world’s most pretigious medical schools. He performed numerous pioneering eye surgeries and proudly displayed those articles from medical journals. He was also a regular participant in the Crescent City Classic, the 10-kilometer race in New Orleans every spring.
Losing Dr. Schoenberger was a blow for me, but Dr. Jones has been absolutely wonderful. She is a very compassionate lady who cares so much about her patients. She has to get on me at times to keep my blood sugar under control, but I know she does it because she doesn’t want to be treating me for cataracts and/or glaucoma later in life.
Her partner in Hays, Dr. Kendall Krug, has drawn rave reviews from his patients, too. I’m in good hands. Hopefully that won’t change.
Dr. Shanon Custer
How we met: Dr. Custer has been my primary care physician since moving to Kansas.
I had no clue what to do for a new doctor once I moved. I was VERY LUCKY my m other’s physician, Dr. Joe Johnson, took care of me when I fell very ill with pneumonia and a collapsed lung near Thanksgiving 2004. If my mother had not insisted on taking me to see Dr. Johnson, I never would have made it to Kansas, much less be sitting here more than 12 years later.
I wish I could have taken Dr. Johnson and Dr. Schoenberger with me (and my dentist, C.J. Steeg) to Kansas, but I couldn’t. The only thing I looked for when I hunted for a new doctor in Kansas was (a).an internal medicine specialist and (b) preferralbly, a female.
Thank God for Dr. Custer.
My first appointment with her was about three months after my last with Dr. Johnson. She has taken very good care of me, even if I don’t want to follow her admonitions to exercise and eat better.
Dr. Custer has been very understanding with my Asperger’s and emotional trouble. She, in fact, referred me to High Plains Mental Health, which started me on the road to seeing Crista.
We are the same age. Dr. Custer was born four months before me, so as long as we’re both in Hays and Russell, respectively, I will keep going to see her. I wouldn’t trust my health to anyone else.
How we met: Liz was working at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa when I started to come regularly in the spring of 2013. She started talking to me when she mentioned how much she liked the music I was selecting to play on the store’s jukebox. The song she really liked was Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”.
When I lived in Baton Rouge, I frequented Ivar’s Sports Bar near the LSU campus. I got to meet quite a few of the lovely waitresses, as well ast he managers, Pat Quigley and the late Larry Stolzfus. However, I didn’t get to know them nearly as well as I have gotten to know Liz.
Four and a half years later, I can’t imagine life without Liz.
Liz accepted me for who I was. I explained to her I suffer from Aspeger’s Syndrome. It might have scared some other people away, but it seemed to draw Liz closer.
She moved to Colorado Springs in August 2015. I miss her very, very much. I saw her earlier this year for a couple of days, and it brought back a flood of very good memories.
Liz has told me more than once that we would be friends until we were old and gray and using walkers to get around. I certainly hope that comes to pass.
How we met: In January 2015, Dawn and her then-husband, Robb, came into Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa to play trivia on a Monday night. Their visits became more and more frequent, and we got to know one another better.
Dawn and Robb lived in south Florida before coming to Kansas City. At first, I was suspicious of them, as I am with most new people. There were some ugly incidents playing trivia, especially on Opening Day 2015, when the Royals were beating the pants off the White Sox and I was pissed off when they were beating me. I swore never to come back. Tori was bartending that day and her parents happened to be there. Tori’s father, Shane, was extremely angry with me. If he would have punched me, I would have deserved it.
Thankfully, I’ve patched things up with Shane and Terri, Tori, and Robb and Dawn.
Dawn is a certified event planner. She is a very kind, very beautiful and very intelligent lady. I think the world of her.
One of the best nights I’ve had came on my 41st birthday, when I drove her home. We were able to have a very intimate, very deep conversation, one which I will always treasure. I hope to have more of those.
Dawn, I love you. Very much!
How we met: See above with Dawn.
Robb, who is almost halfway between the ages of Dawn and I, grew up in Kansas City.
In years past, I would probably not have considered being a friend of Robb. Robb and Dawn both sit on the left of the political spectrum, in stark contrast to most of the people who live in northwest Kansas. Russell is Republican to the core, thanks to longtime U.S. Senator Bob Dole having grown up in the town. In fact, Dole and my grandfather were elementary school classmates; Elmer Steinle is only five months older than Bob.
Robb and Dawn knew I was conservative, but I listened to their point of view. Slowly over time, I began to respect what they had to say and just not dismiss everything they talked about as hogwash. I found myself open to more positions across the spectrum and not just accepting the gospel of the Republican National Committee, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and other conservative talking heads.
In the days after the 2016 presidential election, I did my best to console Robb and Dawn. They were hard for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, and really hated Trump. I got sick of Trump, too. I won’t reveal who I voted for, sorry.
I cheered them up with a case of Abita beer from Louisiana. They were very appreciative.
I feel kind of guilty that I went to Kentucky and wasn’t in Kansas City as much as I could have been when Robb was first having trouble with Dawn. He said it was fine, but I kind of wish I could have helped him.
Also, I’ve bitched to him way, way, way too much. That shouldn’t be. That’s what I pay Crista for (see below).
We talk about music all the time. Good music. Not the music some people like to play at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Robb is my best male friend. I won’t say best friend, but I don’t have close relationships with many other males, save for Bill Franques (see below) and a few others. I don’t want to screw it up.
How we met: Crista has been my therapist for the last three years. She keeps her life pretty private, and she needs to given her position. I don’t blame her. I do know her husband, Lance, is the director of the Hays Kids Wrestling Club, because she brags about watching wrestling quite a bit. They have a four-year old daughter.
When I returned to High Plains Mental Health, I told the staff I wanted to see a female therapist. Crista drew the short straw.
Best luck I’ve ever had.
Crista has gone above and beyond to improve my quality of life. She has been very patient with me, even though I have made her mad more than once. I fear there will come a day when she will no longer want to be my therapist. I have told Peggy more than a few times how much I fear it.
(This section is short because (a) I want to protect Crista’s privacy and (b) it’s not something that needs to be on the blog. The good readers have their own problems and don’t want to read too much about mine)
How we met: Bill has been the public relations director for the LSU baseball program since August 1988. I met Bill when I first came to LSU in 1994. I helped him a lot with baseball, first in 1998 and 1999 as a student, then in 2001, ’02 and ’03 when I was freelancing for The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s daily newspaper.
When I first met Bill, he wasn’t seeing anyone. He was a little difficult, in my opinion, to get a read on. However, we got along fairly well, except the thousands of times I screwed up in my first year at LSU.
When I came back to LSU in 1997 after a year and a half in exile back in New Orleans, I started working more closely with the baseball team. I was his right hand man in 1998 and ’99, two years which I really enjoyed, but two years which had to be hell for him. I really regret causing him such pain and headaches.
He apparently held no grudges, or else he would not have invited me to his November 1999 wedding to Yvette Lemoine in Bunkie, a small Louisiana town about 100 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. I made the drive even though I was feeling quite sick that day. Probably would not have done it for anyone else (fortunately, I was feeling physically fine on Lisa’s big day earlier this year).
From 2001-03, when I helped Bill again, it was more of the same. I was a pain in the ass. Bill got angry at me more than.a few times. Every time was completely justified. I screwed up, not him.
When I moved to Kansas, I screwed things up back in Louisiana by claiming I was much better off than I had been in Louisiana, and called Michael Bonnette’s attempts to say Louisiana was still a place worth living in LSU’s media guides a bunch of bull. Michael cut me off for quite a while wen that happened, as he should have. That was totally uncalled for on my part.
I recall attempting to contact Bill in the press box at the old Alex Box Stadium in March 2006 before a game. When he answered the phone and I identified myself, he was very cold. I got the message and hung up before another word was said.
In June 2009, I was really mad about LSU winning its sixth baseball national championship. I said some really nasty things about some of Bill’s colleagues at LSU. I didn’t say much bad about Bill, but he was pretty angry about it. He should have been, and frankly, if he wanted to never speak to me again, he would have had every right to cut me off.
In November 2009, he called me on the carpet in an e-mail. It took me a few minutes to realize how wrong I was. I apologized to him, posted a public apology, then deleted the post forever. We slowly repaired our relationship, and by 2013, everything was well between us.
So well that we’ve reunited twice at Missouri (2013, 2016) and once at Kentucky (this year). Hopefully I’ll get down to Baton Rouge in 2018.
How we met: Caitlyn is Peggy and Clark Cox’s youngest child.
I first saw Caitlyn coming to watch her sisters Chelsea and Courtney play for Norton Community High School. She began her high school career in the fall of 2013 and graduated earlier this year. She recently completed her first season of playing volleyball for Johnson County Community College in Overland Park.
Of the four Cox children, I am closest to Caitlyn. She is the only blonde of the Cox kids (the others have dark hair like their parents), and she is the most outgoing by far. She is not afraid to express herself on social media, unlike Chelsea, who is much more selective, and Courtney and Conor, who are much less visible, almost off the grid, but good for them.
Caitlyn knew about me for many years having seen me at her sibling’s events, but we didn’t start talking to one another until her sophomore year. I’m so glad we have grown so close over the last three years, although there have been many times I have said and done things I should not have. Caitlyn is purely innocent in all this and never deserves my anger. Never. I have to do better with it.
Norton’s seniors usually put together a picture collage before their final home game. Caitlyn included a picture of me that we took together at Hays High in 2015 in her collages for both volleyball and basketball. I was humbled.
I’ve only seen her once recently, and fortunately, I got to treat her to lunch at Outback in Overland Park. I know she is very busy and is doing wonderfully at JCCC. Every parent should be as lucky to have a daughter like Caitlyn.
I know we might drift apart, but I hope it’s not to the point as with the people in my earlier post. Peggy told me just don’t mess up and it won’t happen.
How we met: When I was covering Peggy’s eldest child, Chelsea, compete for Norton High during the 2005-06 school year. I covered many of her matches during her two stints as the Bluejays’ volleyball coach (2007-10, 2015-16), and discussed my life endlessly with her as I was watching her children, and other Norton teams, perform.
As far as my life in Kansas goes, Peggy knows more about it than anyone else. More than my parents. More than Liz, Lisa, Robb Dawn and anyone in Kansas City. I tell Peggy as much as I can, probably too much. I probably overwhelm her, but I am beyond lucky that she is there to listen to me.
Clark is a native of the area and went to school at Norton. He does a lot of farming in Long Island, a microscopic community northeast of Norton on the Kansas-Nebraska state line. Peggy said she lived in quite a few places growing up, and told me about Sterling during her high school years. She and Clark met at Kansas State (not Fort Hays as I first posted) and married in 1985.
Peggy gets me for some reason. She really does. I never want her to refer to me as a “best friend”, because (a) I don’t want to single out one person over anyone else and (b) she has known quite a few people much, much longer than I.
I love Peggy very much. She would leave a gigantic hole in my heart if we were ever to part ways. I would eventually get over it, but it would very difficult. Outside of my family, she means more to me than anyone.
These people are always in my thoughts and prayers. I love them more than life itself and would give anything I could to help them. They deserve at least that. And probably much more.