True story … I met Dana Wright randomly at a regional Emmy ceremony more than ten years ago. We sat across from each other at the same table that night. She was a whirling dervish of conversation and charisma. I spent much of the evening convinced she was clinically insane. However, I could not stop listening to all the pithy banter coming out of her mouth. She was her own one-woman show. All sass, no spite.
Dana was up for an Emmy for investigative reporting and her category was towards the end of the show. Even though I didn’t know her from Adam, I stuck around for solidarity. Despite some stiff competition from several St. Louis stations, Dana won. She screamed. She whooped. She hollered. All the way to the podium. As she accepted her award, she blurted out, “You guys! I just won an Emmy! I drove here by myself in a minivan that smells like pee and stale Cheerios … and I just won an Emmy!”
I’m sure she said more poignant stuff after that … but I wasn’t listening. Why? Because at that exact moment, I was determined to become her best friend no matter what the cost – which, turns out, wasn’t that difficult of an undertaking. I merely bought her a celebratory glass of wine at the after-party. I was officially smitten by her unabashed lust for life … and the fact that she appeared to be a complete dingbat.
In the last decade, it’s been a joy to watch Dana blossom personally and profesionally. She got out of the TV biz and proceeded to find her true calling in talk radio. What makes her so engaging to listeners is that she rarely censors herself. If she thinks it, it ends up being said over the airwaves. Alongside her partner-in-crime Scott Parks, their gabfest is now the #1 radio show in the KC market. From humble beginnings, Dana has carved an unbeatable niche of being a
Cackling Chatty Cathy.
Even more impressive? Besides being a devoted, neurotic mother to what seems like 28 children, she’s the single most loyal person I know. In this day and age, there’s something to be said for that. It took a village — but she’s now in my super-secret inner sanctum of besties. Several years ago I wrote a blog entitled “Top 10 Things I Like About Dana Wright”. I penned it in about seven minutes. It quickly became the most-read thing on my website. Still is. Go figure. The #1 thing I liked about her then remains the #1 thing I cherish to this day: “She’s the one person I can call when I get weird. You know, weird-weird. Like talked-off-a-ledge-weird. Mind you, it will probably take her a few days to call you back and by that time you’re over it, but when she does – she usually has high quality, unbiased insight.”
Her cross to bear? If you don’t know her, you want to get to know her. Lord knows I’m blessed every day to have her circling my orbit. During a recent rough patch in my life I laid everything out for her – warts and all – and asked for some wisdom. Without thinking, blinking or taking a breath, she said, “Michael, here’s an analogy. Let’s picture your whole life as a pie. Like … a coconut crème pie. This time in your life when you’re struggling doesn’t even represent a teeny, tiny sliver of that pie. Nope. Right now — this rough patch is a burnt piece of coconut that fell off the top of the pie on the way to the table and on to the floor. Some guy just walked through and now it’s on the bottom of his shoe and headed out the door. That’s how insignificant this all is in the grand scheme of things. Also, we should really get some coconut crème pie.”
You know what? She was completely, 100% right.
That analogy – by the way — is the metronome to our friendship. It was rambling and semi-coherent, but heartfelt – which perfectly defines us on any given day. Even though it sounded completely nuts at the time, I think it might be the best advice anyone has ever given me in the history of ever. Lord knows I wouldn’t expect any less from Dana …
… or the voices in her head.