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September 01, 2006

154. Stacey

She somersaulted over her bed with her cat in her arms. “Smews loves it See?” The cat looked dizzy. I dreaded the thought of playing with her while our parents visited, but always ended up having fun. Stacey was infectious.

September 02, 2006

155. Mark

Mark studies film and therefore has a bottomless reserve of discussion topics. But he’s not always aware of his connection with his listeners, and conversations sometimes become monologues. I can’t keep up with him intellectually but I like him anyway.

September 03, 2006

156. Simon

A new acquaintance, Simon fit right into the camping circle. We chatted about travel, books, food while we shared sunscreen. We touched on our backgrounds and our futures and forged a fragile bond. Back in town, we haven’t seen him.

September 04, 2006

157. Jim

Jim is a man who knows right from wrong. He’d never do wrong but when required, he might skirt the edge of right pretty closely. His body went through the hell of war, but his spirit survived with bombastic joy.

September 05, 2006

158. Kimie

At her table, Kimie refuses to take no for an answer. Indicate that you like her cooking and she contentedly beams. Praise a particular dish and she fills another serving bowl from the kitchen. She always eats last and least.

September 06, 2006

159. Patty

Patty was my smart-girl best friend from second to fourth grade. She wore her hair short, walked fast in the halls and challenged convention. Boys weren’t so tough – she had brothers – and they were susceptible to poisoning with girl cooties.

September 07, 2006

160. Pete

I met Pete when he was a puddle of grief, struggling with huge guilt and emotions. We bonded then. A year later, he had masked loving sentiment with hardened, bitter feelings and experience. Overcompensating? Or is that the real Pete?

September 08, 2006

161. Sekiya-san

When she smiles, her teeth shine golden like a trophy prize. Merry and mischievous, Seikiya-san wears her old age like a beauty pageant banner. She is rewarded for her bold Congeniality, and practice wins her Poise on the dance floor.

September 09, 2006

162. Mami

She trained in architecture but became a jewelry maker. She creates great beauty from elemental parts. Her setting designs look like houses – solid, strong and well supported but with a delicacy and openness that lets the light refract and reflect.

September 10, 2006

163. Gary

Ah! Gary was the reason trigonometry was interesting. I completed homework so I could murmur answers to him in class though mainly we whispered about everything but the math. His snooty friends teased him so he dated another Kris instead.

September 11, 2006

164. Motohei

Smiling for the camera, he slid his hand down my back a little lower than propriety suggests. In Japanese he told me that he was surprised that we’d been able to develop such a good relationship. Cheeky Motohei is 82.

September 12, 2006

165. JJ

JJ is an economist and like other economists I’ve met, he’s terribly charming. When his talk goes over my head, his winsome smile makes me not mind much. I just steer the conversation back to our shared interest in gastronomy.

September 13, 2006

166. Jason

Jason, blonde, strapping and country-boy friendly, understood what motivated his team and gave it to us while keeping the administration off our backs. When he couldn’t, he cheered us on with staff lunches and silliness. He was an ideal leader.

September 14, 2006

167. "Cookie"

Related to the owner, “Cookie” ruled the second floor kitchen of Dees, cranking out Coquille St. Jacques in between cigarette breaks and his smoker’s cough. He knew his stuff in the kitchen, dishing up catered banquets and blue plate specials.

September 15, 2006

168. Akira

Akira is a farmer with a winning grin and smiling eyes. He held an elected office and his sitting room displays pictures of his victory celebration and the Japanese Diet building. Every day, he disappears for a nap after lunch.

September 16, 2006

169. Mandy

Girl of a hundred tattoos, Mandy first got inked after seeing mine. She never stopped. Every one seems to have a story, often tragic, her life story gone askew. Her arms are a private memorial to loved ones recently passed.

September 17, 2006

170. Mr. A

Mr. A, rounded tummy overhanging sienna poly pants, coached thespians with spiteful zeal void of craftsmanship. He carped when I cropped my hair post-play – its length was the only reason he’d cast me. I never spoke on his stage again.

September 18, 2006

171. Frank

Telerama rented its first office above this Italian stonemason-turned-restauranteur’s first bistro. Frank’s kitchen kept the Telerama crew well fed through many long days. Our lease was signed in his home kitchen, shots of espresso and homemade biscotti on the table.

September 19, 2006

172. Safeblade

Dave’s surname was his usual moniker. He inhabited the basement apartment in Tod’s building, delivering homemade soup and doing odd jobs for money while studying. We discussed philosophy and politics during backyard barbecues and over cervesas on the Yucatan Peninsula.

September 20, 2006

173. Heidi's Dad

Heidi’s dad took us trick or treating in the rich kid’s neighborhood one Halloween. He insisted we give the residents a treat before we accepted their candy. He played the accordion while we sang and danced. A very wise lesson.

September 21, 2006

174. Yoshino

Motohei’s son, Yoshino, inherited all of his dad’s cheekiness. During the Matsudai festival, we sat together and shared food, drink and smiling flirtation. At the prize booth, he claimed a fuchsia monkey for which I pecked him on the cheek.

September 22, 2006

175. Aunt Vi

Nervous Aunt Vi fluttered around her kitchen, wiping, rinsing, wiping, rinsing. She always separated her towels by color and never washed kitchen towels with bath towels. She probably had a point, though when I was ten it seemed rather silly.

September 23, 2006

176. Aunt Mae

In a family of amusingly flighty sisters, Mae was the goofiest one. She signed her notes ‘Me,’ explaining that she just forgot the ‘a.’ Aunt Mae always made a jolly entrance to family gatherings, planting wet cheek kisses all around.

September 24, 2006

177. Principal Okaya

Principal Okaya steers the Matsudai elementary students through their studies. At the festival, he moved among tables, greeting friends and ensuring everyone had a good time. When the dancing began, he taught Tod all the steps. Truly a town father.

September 25, 2006

178. Rajeev

Rajeev and I sat together entering data part-time in Singapore. He was a slight man with an astonishingly beaky nose. We got along well, but I didn’t understand why he tried to keep in touch after he returned to India.

September 26, 2006

179. The Dentist

Though Matsudai folks called him “the bad dentist,” he was kind to the artists next door. He invited us for a beer one evening, then loaned us his hose and gave us ice cream as we packed up the gallery.

September 27, 2006

180. Mr. Wunner

Mr. Wunner made 4th grade science fascinating plus he was better than handsome, he was smart and funny. He asked riddles and played games. We built atomic models. When I moved away in November, I cried over leaving his class.

September 28, 2006

181. Stoney

His spine-tinglng rendition of U2’s MLK got him the part, but the director wondered if he could sing with accompaniment. Stoney was a notorious ladies’ man but when we caught a cross-state bus, I napped innocently on his bony shoulder.

September 29, 2006

182. John

John is the no-nonsense, practical brother in the McQuillin family. He takes after his father – solid & reliable. He gets things done, even the difficult stuff, without complaint. But he also has an easy smile and good sense of humour.

September 30, 2006

183. Egon

Egon caused huge pain for himself through relationship blunders and missteps: flashy girlfriends, covert lovers, and a wife who didn’t appreciate the other women. He’s slowly come around to taking better care of himself and the people he cares about.