Near the end of March, 2005, a friend of mine called me up and gave me grief for not calling her on her birthday. My professing that "I don't know what your birthday is!" meant nothing to her, and on the spot, I put an entry in my Outlook calendar to remind me on March 24th, 2006 to wish Katie Pettengill a happy birthday.
Although she passed away suddenly before I'd have a chance to show her I was good to my word, it naturally seemed like the right thing to do on that day to just take a few minutes and remember a good friend, and so, it became a bit of a tradition for me to do so on March 24th. There are far worse ways to start a day, after all.
For those who hadn't heard, I met Katie through my Magic: the Gathering articles I wrote for Brainburst years ago. I had asked my readers to summarize me and my mannerisms in a Magic card in the gazillion-to-one chance I ever won the Invitational (and the winner would appear in a card, you see).
2U, Tap: Say the longest word you know. If no opponent knows what that word means, you may pay (1) to bitch-slap that player.
The picture provided has unfortunately been lost to time, but it was priceless. Painstakingly drawn in MS Paint, it featured a man in a Team Canada hockey jersey, standing on an actual factual "SOAPBOX", standing in front of a math chalkboard full of equations, and holding a pointer to the bottom right corner which stated, plainly, "= I'M RIGHT!"
Even this early on, I could see that she had a keen eye for detail and appreciated my wit enough to return it in kind. I responded to this email, and her reply came back with a joke, the first of many she'd share with me:
How many existentialists does it take to change a light bulb? ...None, existentialists like their voids nice and dark! By the way, never tell that joke while drinking, it just doesn't come out well.
.. the first joke of many, I might add, that would redefine everything from nursing homes to fluctuations to Richard Simmons over the years.
Happy Birthday, Katie; thanks for the good times!