Letter to Gino Lee

Dear Gino,

I’d hoped the news was untrue. Surely it was unbelievable: how could you die? You were only forty-nine. You are only forty-nine–I’ll keep using the present tense. You’re still alive to me.

I have vivid memories of you from over ten years ago. There you are, apparently one of the last smokers in California, cupping a cigarette in your hand, trying to keep the wind tunnel outside the Metrius office on Brannan Street from killing your smoke, your characteristic, urbane, thin-man’s slouch a welcome profile in those garish, clumsy, overconfident, dot-com boom years. I remember your voice, deliberate, drawling, as you think aloud, treating every workday as one big Harvard grad seminar. I love the cultivated, wry tone of your e-mails and chat messages, proof that a keyboard doesn’t enforce simplistic language. Your one-line musing about the impact of the Rapture on the scrapbooking industry makes me laugh to this day.

I was too coarse to appreciate that we should’ve taken all the time in the world to talk, deadlines be damned. I know we disagreed when you seemed to think my staying late at the office was so that we could discuss Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One . I profited from our acquaintance all the same.

From you I’ve learned that so much of our world can be made appealing. Your attitude towards the ugly and poorly designed isn’t snobbish condemnation, but gracious bewilderment: why use bad things? Why make them? You handled fountain pens in a world of dry erase markers.

But I and everybody saddened by this news have to let you go today, arm-in-arm with Miss Thanatogenous. I promise a longer conversation next time.