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October 01, 2006

184. Tim

Tim was all knobby joints and bad skin. He was also witty and sympathetic but obscured in the shadows of his more handsome friends. Nevertheless, it is his voice that’s indelibly marked on my memory from hours-long daily phone calls.

October 02, 2006

185. Damon

Is Damon as superficial as he appears? Surely there is substance beneath the silk shirts, tight pants, gold chains and his favorite accessory - whatever fashionable young woman he’s lately seduced. Is his erudite conversation another façade he hides behind?

October 03, 2006

186. Laurent

Laurent is dapper. His snowy hair and silver beard frame a bright smile and expressive eyes that lead the conversation to distant lands and current topics. Even dressed casually, Laurent’s style is pressed, crisp, elegant. He ties his own bowties.

October 04, 2006

187. Mie

It’s impossible to say whether Mie’s relaxed smile or her elegance better describes who she is. Who would imagine that her French film-star sophistication and grace are backed up with a welcoming, intelligent, goofy, and caring warmth? Her friends would.

October 05, 2006

188. Jill

Jill was the multi-talented star of our high school stage. She had good looks, good grades and a good ego. She wore black to prom – and her date was black, too. Which black was more scandalous in our pale world?

October 06, 2006

189. Koyama

Koyama-san must have been high-ranking before retirement. He takes charge despite lack of expertise, then berates me, “Korean girls marry Japanese men and speak the language within a year!” If my Japanese were better he could bully me more effectively.

October 07, 2006

190. Gerard

Gerard enjoyed a tropical holiday in Fiji. Full of life’s zest, curiosity, and a down-to-earth supporter of personal liberty, he had just finished a novelisation of his family’s New Zealand immigrant history. His traveler’s stories made Namena dinner conversation lively.

October 08, 2006

191. Leee

Leee (with an extra e) collected banana labels. It seems an odd hobby but as a US naval officer, Leee had ample opportunity to find the exotic and unusual ones. Every time I unstick a banana label, I remember her.

October 09, 2006

192. Uncle Dick

Uncle Dick’s words roll out of his mouth in a molasses slow midwestern drawl that is unique among our mainly northeastern family. He’s down-to-earth, simple and no nonsense, but there’s a hint of whimsy and brotherly competitiveness behind that bluff.

October 10, 2006

193. Chinese Fortune Teller

“You should not have been born,” he proclaimed upon hearing my birth date and time. That’s a shock to hear at a social event, and I’ve never forgotten the old man who looked into my past to tell my future.

October 11, 2006

194. Sam

Tall, intelligent, fit and clever, Sam was the first man I dated, the first one I lived with, and the first one who left me for an Asian woman. I never imagined Sam would be the archetype of my heartbreak.

October 12, 2006

195. Cheryl

Chaperoning a wintertime troop outing to Manhattan, Cheryl stood in her cloth coat on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and belted out an operatic Christmas carol. Passersby dropped change at her feet. She sparkled at this dream come true.

October 13, 2006

196. Justice Longo

Nancy Longo was even-handed in her Southside duties. She convicted my classmates of public nuisance when they scaled the 10th Street bridge. She married Tod & me seventeen years ago when we eloped. Now she’s a senior magisterial district judge.

October 14, 2006

197. John

John, an actor, was the victim of my ignorance about natto when his character was force-fed soup. Soup I had bought at the conbini when I couldn’t read any Japanese. He really sputtered through that rehearsal. I’m still regretting that.

October 15, 2006

198. Sachiko

Sweet and sour, that’s Sachiko. She’s spicy, feisty and classy with calm inner beauty, curiosity, physical poise, and an immutable sense of right. There’s a warm smile when she’s your friend; the cold shoulder when she isn’t. I’ve seen both.

October 16, 2006

199. Mr. Byers

The extravagant and flamboyant Mr. Byers owned a room-filling mineral collection and a voice equally gravelly that laughed in staccato notes. He was the hippest 70s father ever; after a playdate with Stacey, he drove me home in his Ferrari.

October 17, 2006

200. Chris

In the early 90s, Chris and I hung out at his proto-hipster loft. Heir to a Pittsburgh fortune (the kind that christens buildings) he set trends, sported an early goatee, listened to electronica, and owned racks of cutting edge electronics.

October 18, 2006

201. Liz

Lizy bought a building on the fringe of gang territory and turned it into a real-life situation comedy. Her garden apartment was open to residents and coffee was always going. We all had a laugh with renovations and backyard barbecues.

October 19, 2006

202. Justin

Justin caught us rearranging furniture one evening. I handed our art student friend some computer boards; he created a wall installation signed “Justin, 9:18” I carefully documented the installation and cut the signature out of the wall when we moved.

October 20, 2006

203. Gene

Gene opened a video store when they were a fad and devised an effective catalog and filing system for the tapes. Short and balding, his week’s highlight was selecting the porn flicks. Five years later, he was divorced and bankrupt.

October 21, 2006

204. Uncle Bill

UncleBill lorded it over his backyard garden, meticulously maintaining his huge, prize-winning tomatoes. He had preciously guarded growing secrets but proudly shared his ripe produce. That was good for all of us who enjoyed them every summer when we visited.

October 22, 2006

205. Christopher

Christopher was an elementary school chum, the boy in the group who decided that everything girls said and did meant opposite. The more gently we touched him the louder he screamed. If we dared a real punch, he laughed hyseterically.

October 23, 2006

206. Christopher

Christopher freelanced as an advertising illustrator but he was a fine artist with a degree and impressive installations in his portfolio. When he moved to NYC, I helped him pack his studio. He gave me an abstract painting in return.

October 24, 2006

207. Christopher

Christopher stands towards the middle in my 3rd grade class photo. He was quiet and normal then, but must have been taking acting classes because he found childhood fame in a popular movie a year after I left that school.

October 25, 2006

208. Tom

Tom founded a luxury resort in Panama that hosted the elite and famous. His success miffed the local cartel and Tom was left for dead after a fiery raid. He recovered and opened a new resort in the South Pacific.

October 26, 2006

209. Jane

As one of the coolest moms ,Jane was one of my role models. Her kids were lively, engaged, curious and well-behaved – reflections of Jane’s personality. When the kids were grown, she divorced their father and found love with another woman.

October 27, 2006

210. Mitzi

Mitzi laughed too much for the sake of the men who surrounded her. I know that need and don’t like it in myself. I liked it even less in her when the men she was laughing for were "my" fellows.

October 28, 2006

211. Alex

Alex seemed the opposite of my niece: extroverted, athletic and sassy.. Her dark hair, olive skin, and childish curves hinted she was a Latina even at 8. At 13, her now womanly curves and interest in boys changed their friendship.

October 29, 2006

212. Frank

Frank’s personal storytelling, interspersed with commentary on popular culture, politics, and farm equipment, entertained “ his kids” (all adults and marginally adopted) at the dinner table. Splitting time between the ivory tower and his rural acreage suited him just fine.

October 30, 2006

213. Eric

The quiet member of the band, Eric was emo before it was a thing to be, but when he smiled, he was a white toothed, blonde tousled joy to behold. He coined “Crappy Shalloweener” which resonates yearly during this season.

October 31, 2006

214. Joan

Her designs were legendary and her costume shop was perfectly organized and always full of students. She knew exactly when to rework an old piece and when to build new. No show with Joan’s costumes ever failed in my eyes.