Top Ten Things I Love About Lee Dirks by Kim Yi
(see next post for the top Ten things I love about Judy Lew)
There are of course a million and one wonderful things that I love about Lee and Judy. But in the interest of brevity, I’ve narrowed it down.
He appreciated the importance of great food. I love to eat and Lee loved to eat. And we also loved to talk about eating. We both loved BBQ–he of course came by it by birth, being a Southerner, and I married into the love (John is from Georgia). He made his Dirks family BBQ when we were out in Seattle a few years ago, which was a treat. In fact, in planning our trip out, most of my sight-seeing requests involved food, which Lee totally appreciated and had a ton of suggestions and recommendations for where we must go. And honestly, there is no more satisfying a day than one spent sharing happy hour drinks and oysters on the half shell with Lee and Judy at the Brooklyn bar in Seattle.
He also appreciated bad food. As much as they loved great food, they weren’t food snobs. I remember once Lee and I had a talk about the finer points of making a sauce from a balsamic reduction and shallots, but he also could appreciate bad, bad food. One year he asked where John and I were going to celebrate our anniversary and I told him I had a craving for Red Lobster. Now, New York has some of the best restaurants in the world, and we’ve been to them. But I told him how I hadn’t had Red Lobster in years and for some reason, just had a craving for it. He totally got it and loved that I would choose Red Lobster over some 5-course tasting menu. And he told me how Judy had the same cravings, except usually for Sizzler and Malibu Chicken.
He and Judy both got how the fun of nostalgia and memory can be as important in food cravings as actual taste buds.
He was thoughtful about the little things. Lee was always super busy but he often remembered to email to say happy birthday, or to remind us of our wedding anniversary. And this was before facebook.
There were times when I would even forget when our anniversary was coming up, but Lee would send a quick email either on the day or around the time to say he was thinking about us.
He was the kind of guy who always let people know how much he appreciated them. There are some friends who are never good at expressing how much you mean to them, or you never really know where you stand. But Lee was always saying and showing how much he cared about his friends. Perhaps when he lost his father, maybe that made him realize how important it is to let people know how you felt about them. But for whatever reason, Lee always made it very clear how awesome he thought you were.
Lee made everything more exciting, and knew how to share his anticipation and excitement. I remember when Lee was helping plan John’s bachelor party, for weeks building up to the event, Lee sent a postcard in the mail–a vintage pulp-fiction book cover from the 40s, 50s, or 60s. It was so much fun to get a new one every few days, each with a different wanton woman on the cover–promising torrid adventures and days of shame! I have to admit, toward the end, I was starting to feel a little sad about the impending bachelor party. And it wasn’t because as the bride-to-be, I was worried about all the trouble Lee would get John into. Nope, actually, I was really bummed because as the bride-to-be, *I* DIDN’T get to spend a weekend getting into trouble with Lee in Atlantic City.
He was passionate about music. Everyone knows how much Lee loved music, and again, Lee loved to share that passion. Throughout the years, Lee would give John CDs of music he loved, whether it be Gypsy Kings or Joan Armatrading or the Breeders back in the day, or more recently the Silversun Pickups. And he was so excited to to take us to see Hell’s Belles, the all-female AC/DC cover band he loved and knew we absolutely would love as well. I always invited Lee to John’s birthday party (we have a big bash and a theme each year). For John’s 45th birthday, the theme was “Your First 45”–I wanted everyone to share their stories of the first 45-single they ever bought, wanting a playlist of music of everyone’s choices. Lee got so excited about that! He so wanted to be there but just couldn’t swing it. But in his absence, he conspired with another good friend, Justine Trubey, to have a birthday singing gorilla deliver their birthday wishes. Oh, and the first 45 Lee could remember buying was “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” by Electric Light Orchestra. He said he remembered it so vividly because it was pressed on this really cool, vibrant purple vinyl. To use Lee’s words, “how cool is that?! And man, such memorable lyrics…” He quoted these himself saying, “they don’t write them like that anymore. No wait, they do.”:
You gotta slow down SLOW DOWN
Sweet talkin’ woman SLOW DOWN
You got me runnin’ RUN RUN
You got me searchin’
Hold on HOLD ON
Sweet talkin’ lover HOLD ON
He was thorough, very good with his research, and persuasive. I’m sure this was very evident to his coworkers at Microsoft but I have a more personal example. Lee and Judy wanted us to move out to Seattle.
Folks are always trying to lure us to one city or another, but no one could do it the way Lee did. When he finally got us to Seattle for a visit, he applied his skills and resources as only Lee could. He picked the neighborhood that he thought we’d want to live: Ballard, driving us around it, giving us the history, the current makeup of residents, and reasons why John and Kim specifically would fit right in. And of course he took us to several key bars that he knew we’d become regulars in. He did a cost comparison of the price of living in Seattle vs. NYC. This is how I learned that Seattle has no city income tax. He made a very convincing case and *almost* had us leaving our beloved New York City.
For Lee, friends and SEC football trump marathon glory. In 2002, Lee ran the NYC marathon and he stayed with us. I remember the night before the marathon, there was some SEC game on and Lee and John stayed up to watch way later than Lee should have. I remember very distinctly thinking: this can’t be good. Now, most guys who run marathons would be thinking about doing anything they could to improve their time–it’s all about the time. But for Lee, it was just as important to share the game with his friend and fellow avid SEC fan than worry too much about how it would affect his running time.
He was so happy being a parent, he showed how much fun it could be.
And he was so excited for us when we decided to become parents too.
And of course he helped build that excitement and fun throughout the pregnancy. Lee shared funny books: the line of Baby Be Useful books were hilarious, especially, “Baby Fix Me a Drink,” and books on fatherhood, and he sent cool clothes for our son insisting that our “Peanut is a Playa!” Lee had known John through so many years and knew what a HUGE step it was for him, and he was so proud of John. When Bogart was born, he shared our joy–the only slightly disappointing thing for him was that Bogart wasn’t a girl, so that we could use the name he wanted: Mahalia Ladybird Porter.
And the number 1 thing I loved about Lee Dirks: he married Judy Lew. I always think that the person you choose to marry says a lot about who you are. Lee Dirks loved and appreciated strong, supersmart, capable women. Judy represents this so completely. I remember once he told me how much he loved the show “King of Queens” because he identified with the schlubby, overweight lead character who was married to the hot woman who was smarter and better than him in every way. Now, we all know he was selling himself short in his humble way. But I loved how much he appreciated having Judy in his life, how much he respected, loved, and valued her. It says a lot about the kind of man he was.