14 February 2012


For the past two years, I've made Valentine's Day posts. I'm not sure why, except maybe I'm secretly such a sap that some manufactured holidays puts me in the vortex of deep contemplation. Then you'd read the post from last Valentine's Day and realize that's definitely not the case. It's probably just a manufactured tradition, just like the holiday itself right!? Hating it is still cool, right?!


Anyway last year's post sucked so much that I'm pulling out all the stops this year and telling some neat and appropriate themed stories for you read in whatever mental voice you use to read my blog (Barry White suggested).

Girls Wanted, Enquire Within
I want to say I heard this story during the cross-country roadtrip that my dad and I took for me to move to Seattle. I have no idea if there's embellishment or outright fiction in this tale, or if I'm betraying the confidence of the very people who put me on this earth, but here goes:

Both my mother's family and my father's family owned cottages in erstwhile sleepy beachside town Marshfield, Massachusetts when they were kids. One summer, I think when my dad was 16 he and a brother or a cousin or a friend were hanging around and cooked up a scheme. This part I'm speculating on, but they probably managed to wrangle up some beers and played some music and put together the very foundations of a little party in the back yard of the cottage. But they didn't stop there. They put out a sign in front reading:


At this point in his telling of the story, my dad pointed out that he meant 'inquire' and spelled it wrong, not that I would have given him the benefit of the doubt. His spelling is atrocious. But actually both inquire and enquire are acceptable for this. Way to go dad.

It just so happened that my mother and her friend were walking through town and noticed this sign. They decided to follow the advice on the sign and went around to the back yard.

Now in this back yard, and I'm shamelessly and perhaps incorrectly combining this with another story that my mother told me. My dad and his friend or cousin or brother or some other actor in this mishmash story were sitting at a chessboard. Using comic accents, they were reenacting some famous US/USSR match. This was somehow found compelling and my mom and dad hit it off well, and the rest, they say, is history.


The moral of the story: put creepy signs in front of your cottage or blog.

Pokemon Chick
This is a story that I that I enjoy much more telling in person, but I got a request to blog about it. My verbal stories are pieces of incoherent shit anyway, so here's the written treatment:

It was a warm day in May at UMass Amherst in my first year of graduate school. I remember it clearly, I was in the science and engineering library photocopying something, when I got a fateful text from my friend Eric:

"Hot chick in pokemon shirt at learning commons."

The learning commons is a basement area in the main UMass library, about 10 minutes tops from where I was. I responded as any sane person would: "On my way".

I have a long and complicated relationship with the game of Pokemon, but let's just say it's kinda my thing. Since I was introduced to the game in March of 1999, it has had an undeniable impact on the direction of my life. Pokemon was the game that got me interested in programming, interacting with people on the internet, and spending insane amounts of time on projects that benefit very few people. I'm a Pokemon nerd, plain and simple. I really only care about the original games--not the anime, not the cards, not even the newer games--but I know them inside and out. But it's a cultural, almost spiritual thing to me--say what you will, skeptics. Any old person who'd wear a Pokemon shirt someone with whom I'd immediately feel a sense of community. A hot chick in a Pokemon shirt is my future wife.

I got there and I met Eric on the main floor of the library. He said he was about to go, but I convinced him to stick around. I ask him where I could find this Pokemon-shirted angel and he told me she was in the basement, near the photocopiers.

I went down there and sat down at a computer, no intentions whatsoever to use it. I scanned the room and then I found her. She was wearing a medium blue shirt, the original starter Pokemon and Ash (something I was willing to overlook) on her back. She was wearing black athletic shorts and had dirty blonde hair a little over shoulder length. She'd be gorgeous wearing anything, and the whole package was something to behold. I got scared.

But then again, maybe she was wearing it because she just thought it was some great thrift-store find. Maybe she wasn't really a 'moner, just nostalgic. Maybe she bought it for a 90s party and it was the only shirt she had clean; she didn't really care at all. But still: Pokemon shirt.

I went back the stairs to try to straighten out my thoughts. I had to do something. So I asked Eric, if it were weird if I told her I liked her shirt. He said it wouldn't except...he had done this already. Now it would seem weird if two people did this in such a quick time interval, especially if she saw us hanging out. I shouldn't do this. I allowed myself to believe this was the right choice. Defeated, and only half-jokingly ragging on Eric for being a total cockblock ("why the hell do you care about a girl in a Pokemon shirt you piece of shit, that's my thing"), we decided to chill on the ledge outside the library for a bit. I certainly couldn't go back to work.

Not soon later, she walked out of the library, texting. Once she got out of earshot, I mumbled "well there goes the future Mrs. Matthew Laquidara". Was it in jest? I think so, but I myself am not even sure. Eric immediately pointed to her texting as her probably texting her boyfriend. I felt so much better.

As she walked further off, I started to panic. I had to follow her--engineer some random seeming meet-up. As I expressed these thoughts in a crazed rush, Eric, uncharacteristically, told me that was really creepy and I absolutely shouldn't. I knew in my heart that was true.

So it's no surprise that when I did get back to the lab, I posted the first and likely only Craigslist missed connection of my life. It mysteriously failed screening and never appeared publicly on the site. Just like how all good love stories end.

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