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Writing 101, Assignment 6                                                                        9/23/14

Character Study of someone I met this year.


In fairness, I can’t recall when I first met Ito, a long time friend of my best friend; spending time back in the valley. I can vaguely recall his short, lithe body curled up in the big chair, or on a corner of the carpet by the T.V., in the ‘small house’ where we all gather to smoke; filling the air with giggles and green haze. His only interaction a shy smile and occasional head nod as he passed the pipe.

It’s not surprising that he’d be shy at first; our odd clan of gregarious introverts can be overwhelming for some. Our loving insults, in-jokes and terms of endearment are a language all their own; “Darmok and Jalad… at Tanagra”, it can take a while for ‘outsider’s’ to mesh.

Yet, after a while, he loosened up and finally knocked a chunk out of the ‘I don’t care what you think’ walls that I keep up – mostly to contain my own shyness and fears. Not surprisingly it started with alcohol. We were having an impromptu cider tasting to celebrate our mutual friend’s birthday, which then turned into a hard liquor ‘tasting’, whiskey for our friends, and tequila for us.

I offered Ito a shot which he gladly accepted as the 8 or so of us sat around the porch chain-smoking cigarettes, sipping booze and trading stories while another buddy strummed his guitar quietly, adding an enchantment to the coziness of the day.

I was delighted to find that we shared a similar sense of humor, Ito and I, and that one of his nicknames was ‘little, strange and yellow’. I loved seeing his not quite fully Korean eyes crinkle in joy as a wide smile eclipsed his face – which seems to happen every time he laughs heartily; hearing this laugh became my goal for the evening.

I stopped offering shots of tequila and just poured, handing one off to him each time. He’d accept almost without thinking, one hand rested on his thigh as he pounded the shot; his mouth twisting in a parody of a grimace and a long ‘whooooooo’ escaping his lips, eyes shut so tightly that his new eyebrow piercings shook a bit.

I notice that while we’re both clearly intoxicated, we’re also both energized, trading jokes and friendly slurs, finding common ground in comedy. Getting high off the energy created when new friends truly meet; friend-crush pheromones.

He can’t sit still, always a foot tapping or hands moving – the old trope comes to mind “if we tied your hands down you wouldn’t be able to say a word” I share my thoughts and am rewarded with that maniacally musical laughter and head-bobs of agreement.

I see him again a few days later, sober now, caffeinated. His greeting is warm and true as we pass pleasantries back and forth. His attention is taken by talk of video games, discussed by others on the porch. His back straightens in his seat as he leans in, elbows on knees, discussing with all seriousness the intricacies of whatever virtual world is the topic at hand but, now I can see he’s comfortable in the group. He wears his ease and humor like a sword and shield, always at the ready.

He catches my eye and asks if I want a smoke, several of us amble to the little house where he curls up in the big chair; his small form now takes up more space, his energy engaging and inescapable.