Archive | Dan Wakefield


Last Saturday morning, Dan Wakefield and I had just been seated at Cafe Patachou when I saw a woman seated at the bar who looked nearly identical in profile, even in 3/4 profile, to a museum laboratory scientist that I recently interviewed.

(full disclosure: I did not have my glasses on)

I told Dan I needed to say hello quickly and asked if I should introduce him. He shook his head with an expression of “Please, do not do that to me”.

As I was just about to tap the woman on the shoulder, I hear her say to a staff member across the bar and to her left (all I had was the back of her head at this moment),

“Please tell him my ass doesn’t look like a waffle iron.”

All rightly then…I clearly had the wrong woman.

So she turns and I politely introduce myself and tell her she looks very familiar and expressed my apologies for realizing when it was too late that she was not whom I thought she was but it was worth the risk of embarrassment.

She says, “Well at least you didn’t tell me that I looked like the dead, homeless woman you stepped over on your walk over here.” (2 for 2)

I told her that indeed, she did not and quickly left her side. I shared it with Dan after I could speak again.

A couple nights later, I was with Dan again, this time attending his Uncle Dan’s Story Hour, a radio show recorded in Dan’s beloved watering hole, The Red Key Tavern. His featured guest was Mark Vonnegut, Kurt’s oldest son. Dan was friends with Mark’s father and it seems only natural that Mark would have an affinity for Dan, especially in the wake of Kurt’s passing. However, I believe the two would be friends, irregardless of the friendship Dan shared with Mark’s famous father.

My relationship with Dan is one of friends, as I have written about before, but Dan is one of my closest friends, a best friend. He’s trustworthy and a great listener, which is what every great friendship should be based upon. Dan is also one of the funniest people I know, in his own way of course. He speaks volumes with an expression, he can react with sincere annoyance, such as the poor crop of movies he’s receiving right now from the Screenwriter’s Guild (Oscar contenders) and trigger my laughter.

To be clear, I am not laughing at him, but his outbursts are funny, even when he is not trying to be. He doesn’t get annoyed with me for laughing (note: another friend trait). Both of my grandfathers died prior to my 6th birthday, so it seems natural for me to have a relationship like this with Dan, although he prefers “mature father figure” to that of “grandfather”. Watching Mark reach over and touch Dan’s back during the taping of the show, or as evidenced in the photo where I stand in the middle, is an act of affection by Mark.

I get it. I feel it, too. and if you don’t think an 84-year old is on Twitter, guess again: @DanWakefieldInk

Dan Wakefield

Dan Wakefield

Ok, so Dan Wakefield and I share a meal frequently. He’s a mentor of mine and we enjoy finding quiet restaurants with good food where the tables are not too close together so we can talk.

On Friday, April 1st, we planned to go out to dinner. Midday I receive an email from Dan that we have been invited to a gallery exhibit of his friend, Will Higgins, who is a writer for the Indy Star.

En route to The Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (IMOCA), Dan offers full disclosure of the exhibit. “It’s a collection of presidential urine samples that Will has amassed. I hear Bill Clinton’s is the largest bottle.”

WHAT?! I thought perhaps Will had a hobby of painting or photography, but urine collection? Presidential urine specimens?

Dan and I find a place to park and proceed around the block to the assumed location of IMOCA, per my GPS. We search the Murphy Building in Fountain Square, which hosts an array of artists and restaurants. We pass a gaggle of people gawking at a window, but they look as if they are overflow from one of the popular restaurants along the strip waiting for a table. We finally locate the IMOCA and enter.

Alas, where is the urine?

Accepting the inevitable conclusion that we have been taken for April Fools, we cross the street to a restaurant appropriately titled End of the Line (where the street trolley ended back in the day) and commiserated about the prank. At Dan’s behest, I email Will from my phone to enquire about the location of his urine, copying another friend of Dan’s, Travis Dinacola. Travis was also invited, yet declined (the smart one at this point).

During dinner, I erupt in spontaneous fits of laughter given the circumstances. Dan holds up his glass and says, “Look, I have found the urine of President Buchanan!”

Dan and Mike

Dan and Will

Walking back to the car, we pass along the Murphy Building frontage. Immediately in front of the IMOCA was a large display window with the entire collection of Presidential urine! The gawkers I noticed earlier may have been waiting for a dining table, but they were certainly entertained by the exhibit behind glass (which is as close to Presidential urine as I’d like to be).

Celebrating 100 Years of Presidential Urine: a salute to the ASPUC (American Society of Presidential Urine Collection. Mission statement: To foster integrity, cohesion and (where possible) dignity within the U.S. Presidential urine collecting community.

Curator: Will Higgins


Presidential UrineWhen was the ASPUC founded?

Presidential urine collecting began in earnest right after the Civil War and became a source of status among wealthy New York families. The ASPUC, however, was not formed until August 9, 1916.

Why not until then?

The discovery nearly 1915 of a previously unknown vat of Martin Van Buren caused widespread excitement, but later when it was revealed as a hoax, public outcry threatened to undermine presidential urine collecting. Amid calls for strict government regulation, or even a total ban, and in the absence of an over-arching sanctioning body, leading urine collectors gathered at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. July 4-6, 1916 to hammer out best practices. The ASPUC was incorporated one month later.

Who collects presidential urine?

Our members are cross-section of America. They include doctors, lawyers, firefighters, civil servants, clergy, and shoe sales personnel.

What does a membership cost?

Dues are just $10 a year, which entitles members to a subscription to ASPUC’s semi-annual electronic newsletter.

Can anyone join?

Sure. We welcome anyone with a sincere interest in presidential urine, whether they be serious collectors, scholars or just interested members of the public.

Dear God. I thought I did crazy things to entertain myself. It’s time to up my game!