Dance like the Hirschhorns

Dan and Ronnie (back to camera) Hirschhorn tear it up in 2002.

So yesterday morning my mom texted me about the passing of Dan Hirschhorn.

And the name probably means nothing here, because Dan Hirschhorn wasn’t famous. He didn’t play in the NFL, or star on Broadway, or start a riot, or run for office. Just a guy.

He was, according to his obituary, a graphic designer—something I never actually knew. In his spare time he enjoyed sculpting—also something I never knew. He was, the obit said, a tremendous husband to his wife, Ronnie—he “supported Ronnie in her many endeavors and took great pride in making her life as pleasant and easy as possible. Not a moment went by without hearing in the background, ‘Ronnie, don’t worry, I got it.'”

I digress.

I knew Dan Hirschhorn because, growing up, he was a parent and volunteer teacher at my tiny synagogue in Somers, N.Y. He was a friendly guy; a jovial guy; one of the core group of members. He and Ronnie were pals with my parents, and I attended Hebrew School with their two kids, Jeremy and Zev. I can still hear their voices. Clearly.

But here, in the wake of Dan Hirschhorn’s death, is what sticks with me …

The last time I saw the Hirschhorns was in 2002, at my wedding. And, to be honest, the Hirschhorns were those guests—which is to say, invites of my parents who I rarely saw and who the soon-to-be-wife didn’t know. And we’ve all been those guests before. All of us. Invites of invites. Or invites of invites of invites. The friend of friend. The Plus One. There, but not inner-circle there.

Usually, those guests vanish into the mist, and we forget they ever attended whatever function they were invited to. That’s what should have happened to Dan and Ronnie Hirschhorn—the wedding guests time forgot. Then, years later, we look through our wedding albums and think, “Wow, they were there? I don’t remember that …”

But here’s what actually happened: Our wedding featured an outstanding DJ, and Dan and Ronnie Hirschhorn danced and danced and danced their fucking asses off. They danced early, they danced late. They danced as much as anyone at my wedding danced—and we had a good number of dancers.

And toward the end of the night, Dan and Ronnie Hirschhorn approached the new wife and I. They were coated with sweat, and I remember receiving the farewell/congrats cheek smooch and thinking, “Well, that was sorta … eh … moist.”

But sitting here now, digesting the passing of Dan Hirschhorn, I see it differently. I envy people who dance and dance and dance, and walk off the floor exhausted and drenched.

It’s not merely the way to enjoy a party.

It’s the way to live.