Mar 20 2010

Vintage photo of MadMania’s founder, c. 2002

Spring 2002, a long time ago.

I was out of work–me and everyone else but two people from my old job were laid off right before Christmas.

I’m standing in downtown Kansas City. The photo is super-grainy because we are using a 1.2 megapixel Kodak I got from the aforementioned job. The camera was as big as a medium-size hardback, and just as heavy.

I don’t know what’s in my jacket pocket there, but it’s probably clove cigarettes. I had started smoking right before Christmas; Heather and I couldn’t afford to get each other a real present, but she insisted I at least get something.

Besides, the tobacconist’s was right next door to the toy store.

I grew the massive goatee during that time, and I finally trimmed it a few months after I started my current job. The long, tangly hair stayed for another 6 years.

It’s pure Providence I got hired at all: in addition to the hair and the goatee, I wore all black to the HR interview.

I wasn’t teaching Sunday School yet–that was still another year off, and so was giving up cigarettes.

The taste for cloves still lingers, though; I put them in pie filling, French Toast, and every autumn and winter I make hot spiced cider.

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