Classic Andrew Dorff
I can see his smile. The kind of smile that can only be described as a kid on Christmas morning. Eyes bright, mouth open. A stemless wine glass in his left hand with a cigar tucked between his fingers. The other hand wrapping around your neck for a hug, and a kiss that would be inappropriate coming from anyone else.
I can hear his voice in my mind and in my memory.
He’d say your name over and over, like a little soft tug on your sweater until you stopped whatever you were doing and focused your attention to him.
And when you finally looked over – he usually had some simple question.
Head down, eyes peaking over his shaded glasses, he’d say: “You liked my song, right? You liked it?”
Or his favorite game: “Do you still love me?”
And I'd say - Yes, I still love you, buddy. Everybody loves you.
And he’d go “hmmp” under his breath, nodding his head, satisfied with the answer. Pleased to be loved.
And then he’d smile, with his head cocked to the side, leaned back in a front porch chair.
That’s all Andrew wanted – he wanted to be loved.
Just like everyone else does. But unlike the rest of us – he wasn’t afraid to say it out loud. He wore it, like those soft gray t-shirts. He wasn’t ashamed to tell everyone or to ask you directly if you loved him, taking an inventory.
And as great as his desire was to be loved – his ability to give that kind of love was even greater. If he gave love, then he would get love, he knew. And so he did.
He gave his love and thoughtfulness and time to his friends. He gave it to strangers. And sometimes he gave it to people who didn’t know how to be loved in his special way. Then he’d gather us up and colorfully tell of his latest attempts in love – like falling off a bike he’d never learned to ride. And then he’d try again.
I’ll remember so many hours on that front porch, dogs running all around, how he’d pour you another glass of wine and how it was never graceful. You’d laugh and say “Whoa -Ok! That’s good! That’s too much!” and he’d laugh as it glugged out of the bottle, filling your cup. Because if your glass was full, you wouldn’t leave. A Classic Dorff pour, we’d say.
I’ll remember sitting with him at the old Edgehill Cafe, me googling images for his next tattoo and him showing up inked the next day, proud. How he'd move his elbow up and down to make the tattoo lady dance and how funny he thought that was. I did too. Classic Dorff.
I’ll remember so many brunches at Bricktops and dinners at The Palm, a scene we’ve all been a part of. You’d sit in a booth tucked away in the bar, beneath his face painted on the wall – he’d call over his favorite waiter to sing to you in a low, operatic voice, arms flailing - he’d laugh and you’d hide your face and then you’d walk over to a Preds game. I never had a desire to go for the sport, but for Andrew and with Andrew, it was like going to Cirque du Soleil. You were going to have a good time, you were going to get a souvenir, and you were going to remember that night forever. Classic Dorff.
I’ll remember so many holidays spent with Andrew. He loved big celebrations for Easter and hiding eggs for us, and for neighbor’s kids. Thanksgivings spent with just a couple of us and Andrew. And Christmastime, spent shopping with him at Nordstrom and later exchanging gifts by the tree he was so proud of, showing me again the popsicle stick ornament he’d made as a child. Andrew loved Christmas. I laugh when I think about his annual photo with the mall Santa Clause, and how he’d give them away to all of his friends. Classic Dorff.
When he’d call, my screen would light up with an old-fashioned photo of Santa and read: Santa Claus or Andrew Dorff. Everytime he’d call I’d pick up and say - “SANTA?!” And he’d laugh. I’d changed his contact image one Christmas when I’d decided to find out what mutt-breed Mali was, and give the results as a fun gift to Brad. Ridiculous – I know, but not to a dog-lover like Andrew, and the person who helped us name her that very first night. There was a note from “Santa” to call him regarding important information about our dog. When we did, Andrew picked up in character. “HO! HO! HO! Whew, I’m so exhausted from delivering all those presents. Mrs. Clause! Bring me a mimosa!” And the conversation went on. Andrew was always down for a surprise. Any way to make someone feel special, he wanted to participate… if not facilitate the whole thing. Classic Dorff.
My favorite New York City night, the smell of cologne and cigar smoke that lingered on your clothes after just one hug, the best lazy Sundays, the facetime calls and slow and lengthy voice messages, the favorite hoodie he’d give you to wear if you were cold, the dance moves, the pants he was always tugging up, the boxers he was always flashing, the old framed photographs of his mom that lined the walls, the desserts he'd always order just for others to eat, the Christmas Story leg-lamp tattoo, the take-out sushi and the turkey sandwiches, the baguettes he’d buy just for Marshall...all the little habits he made and the little traditions he’d stick to.
We each have our memories of what made him so classically Andrew Dorff – and as I list a few I realize listing them all would be a novel and it would break my heart to write it.
He made a career out of his desire to be loved with words that he crafted in a way only he could. Gifted with vulnerability – the emotion that would leave him hurt by some, was his greatest gift to others. He’d write about that hurt, and the cycle continued. And we’d hear a song and pull out a lyric, and we’d say…“Classic Dorff.”
Monday, life took us by the collar and shook us hard. Telling us to wake-up, to be present, to be here now, to give love and ask to be loved. Reminding us that time on earth is precious and should be spent in love or chasing after it, in all it's different forms.
Andrew would always say, and eventually got tattooed with the phrase: “If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.”
The world fell in love with Andrew Dorff, and so he lives on. In songs, in stories, in memories and in all of us. May we remember the way he laughed and the extravagant way that he loved, and each try our best to love each other the way that Andrew did.
My friend, my brother, my champion…rest easy now. I miss you, and yes – I still love you, buddy. Everybody loves you.