Warning: corny. Fifteen years ago, I threw a surprise birthday/going-away party for Leslie, who was turning 22 and headed to London for the summer. I invited lots of people we knew, as well as some new friends she'd made during the semester I'd been in Costa Rica, plus her friends from various clubs, activities, associations and the like (Leslie was a "joiner" and is an amazing connector of people).
One of her "joiner" friends was none other than Jason Sugawa, whose name I had heard for years, such that it had begun to grate on my nerves like a badly tuned instrument. I remember saying to Leslie in the Cactus yearbook office (younger readers, I can dust off some old yearbooks to show you since I am told they don't make them anymore), "God, who is this Jason Sugawa? What's his deal? He's Japanese?" Leslie said, "No, I think he's Mexican. He's from El Paso. I don't know. Why?" "I don't know, he just sounds so annoying."
Throughout my senior year of college, his name was a sharp note, but I'd managed to avoid meeting him. So when I had the chance to invite him to Leslie's party, I was...intrigued? He came. We met. We had a rousing argument about the relative merits of Quark Xpress (me) over Pagemaker (him), waxed on about our favorite segments of All Things Considered and got to know each other in a dorky haze while the rest of the party faded away. I still have the notebook where I wrote down his phone number — on what pretense, I can't remember. Maybe paying off the bet about which would win — Quark or PageMaker? Jason was prescient (PageMaker = InDesign, m-effers!). I married him, so I guess he won.
Fifteen years ago, we had our first date, which wasn't even a date. It was a conversation. And it's one we're still having.
Thanks, Leslie. Happy birthday.