Here’s how my 2010 Instant Karma Resolution works. Each day, I will randomly draw a name from my Friends List and make that person the subject of a status update where I will cull from memory some funny or interesting anecdote about the person. I’ll do this once a day until I work my way through the entire list. When you’ve been selected, I will also post this note to your wall and tag 5 of our mutual acquaintances in the hopes it will spur some nostalgic commentary.
Today I drew #8 – my friend Chris Kiatos.
So far, this project has drawn friends from various stages of my life. We’ve had the old high school pals. The college buddies. The prison bunkmates and Alaskan Governors? You betcha’. People who at some point in the last three decades plus stepped onto the stage and made a mark on this boy’s life.
Of course, where the first two decades find us forging those friendships that often times meander astray later on as the real world intrudes and sends us spinning off into completely different orbits, all of us have found that in this whiz bang world of tomorrow, social networking sites like Facebook have helped to slow the march of time or at the very least, eradicate the gulf that grew as the calendar pages flew with reckless abandon. Before getting plugged in and reconnecting with friends thought lost to the ether, most of our circles contained those compadres collected in college, the neighborhoods where we planted our stake on real life and of course, the co-workers who so often grew into a second family.
And that’s where we find ourselves today with Chris’ entrance into the story. If it weren’t for the need to make a buck post-college to keep ourselves clothed, fed and sheltered, we two dudes of similar creative interests might never had sold out to The Man and taken respectable roles in corporate America. And thus, we may never have met.
Chris went to school for media production, looking to make his mark on the entertainment biz. I followed a similar path at a different institution, majoring in Journalism while secretly harboring a desire to enter the film industry. Of course, I thought of that switch a little too late in life (literally the eve of my graduation) but regardless, creative development is something that courses deeply through our collective circuits.
So, it made sense that when Chris and I finally spun into each other’s orbits at the financial company that saw us rise from entry level to middle manager, we forged a friendship quickly. One that grew beyond the borders of the nine-to-five and saw us tipping back six or several wobbly pops on frequent occasion as we talked through the latest television obsession (at the time, The X-Files – now, Lost) and in general found a lot to laugh about.
Eventually we ended up captaining different ends of the same ship – running various components of a major customer service group dedicated to our firm’s most beloved client. We worked well together largely because we complimented each other. I’m usually one to knock myself down a few pegs but I will proudly say that both Chris and I have a very good managerial style and I think a lot of that comes down to patience, balance and a shared good nature. We’re able to balance the needs of the client and the demands of the job with the ability to look at our staff as friends and family. We’re all in it together.
Anyway, working on a tightly knit team means that you mark the important events together. Birthdays! Anniversaries!! Successful sobriety tests!!! All demand cake.
But when a major milestone, like the hurdling of a decade presents itself – Cookiepuss ain’t gotta’ cut it. With Chris turning 30, those on the Party Planning Committee gotta’ step up their A Game and get some Hos in the house. Or, if those pesky HR regulations stand in the way of a little sizzle, then at the very least, we owe this guy a Man in Gorilla Suit all up in his grill.
So, we let our fingers do the walking and found ourselves a Furry who said for $100 he could be over that afternoon to give Chris a little birthday delight. For $50 more he muttered something about a “Happy Ending” but we had already blown the remainder of the party funds on soda, streamers and Fudgie the Whale so unfortunately for Chris, we had to take a pass on that.
All I know is, we needed Gunga the Gorilla quick as the aforementioned ice cream cake was beginning to melt. With Chris’ birthday resting in the midst of Summer, and the region in the middle of one of those stifling heat waves that makes you think Al Gore and Roland Emmerich might actually be on to something, that frosty whale would be beached by noontime. So, we told Gunga we’d toss in some free market timing advice if he could make it over lickety split. Gunga thought about it a moment, mentioned something about needing to stop at the packie (although in retrospect it may have been to get an EKG) and then agreed to get over in a 1/2 hour.
Perfect! It was a Monday meaning new recruit orientation. With most of the noobs waltzing through the door for their first stint in the corporate world wearing hair down to their ankles and their pants dangling even lower, we’d have no problem getting Gunga past security. So, we etched a plan where I would keep Chris busy by running through the plan for the next Broker/Dealer Top Producers seminar, which is code for Chris and I playing “Who’d You Do, Who’d You Kill, Who’d You Marry? on Cartoon Network“. Somewhere around the point that Chris lobbed Snagglepuss, Bam-Bam and Boo-Boo at me, we were startled by a shocking site – as a dude in a hot pink and purple gorilla suit swung his girth around the corner of Chris’ cube and let loose a blood-curdling shriek.
“I’MMMMMMMM GUNGAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”, he screamed – startling the bustling Call Center around, although in retrospect he may have been trying to croak out “I’MMMMMMMMM GUNNNNNNNNNNNNAAAAA DIEEEEEEEEEEEE” as this sweaty mess of a simian was drenched from head to toe. Chris didn’t know whether to laugh or run screaming from this mottled mass of monkey fur and his head went several shades of red, which nicely accentuated Gunga’s screaming bright attire.
Then Gunga asked – “Can I sit down?”
Hell no… Not on our dime. Dance monkey, dance. So, we helpfully reminded Gunga of his civic responsibility and he did a little jig – busting a move to whatever happened to be the next hot single on the air circa’ 1998. Somewhere around the moment when he was transitioning from Cake to Smashmouth, we decided we’d seen enough. It’s as if Chris, Melissa (his future wife), our good friend and fearless leader Jean, and I shared a hive mind and instantly agreed that the last thing we needed was a capuchin corpse on our hands. So, we slapped a wad of cash in Gunga’s grip and bid him a good day.
At that point, Melissa let loose with the details. It turns out on the walk from security to our department, Gunga was regaling her with tales of his quintuple bypass operation performed the week prior. She asked why he was back in action so soon after major surgery and he simply replied that he “had to get back into the saddle. This is more than my work. It’s my life. My heart!!!”
Bless his bold and beautiful baboon heart!!!