From Bestie to Business Partner: Making Waves In Taiwan
He doesn’t wear shoes often, he’s Steph Curry’s doppelgänger, he's easily distracted by bright lights and loud colors, and is terrified of bees, but that’s my bestie though. He wasn’t always my bestie though.
A peculiar yet thought provoking friendship in college at DePauw University led to a truly unexpected and amazing broship experience in Taiwan and beyond. It began like this:
October 2011 via Yahoo Messenger
Carl, in Taiwan- “ Hey Patrick, what you up to?”
Patrick - “Nothing, sitting at home doing some writing and on Twitter”
Carl - “You got a job?”
Patrick - “Nah. No one does”
Carl - “ You wanna come out here and work and teach in Taiwan?”
Patrick - “ Yeah sure”
Carl - “ Okay. I'm gonna send you a list of things you need to get. You have two weeks to get it all though, I'm playing this close to the chest.”
Patrick - “Cool. See you in two weeks”
Patrick arrived in Taiwan about a week before Halloween. Those moments leading up to, during, and after halloween is when I knew for sure that he was not only one of my best friends but also someone whom I could imagine a long future with.
Halloween night arrives and the other coworkers from our job and I were sitting around finalizing costumes for the huge party in Taipei that we were going to attend.
Patrick and I, in typical fashion, had waited until the last minute to try to figure out our costumes. By waiting to the last minute I mean, we literally waited until the night of the big party. While everyone else was in the room designing and adding the final touches to their costumes, we walked in and asked if anyone could help us throw something together right fast.
It was decided that I'd be a kissing booth costume and charge 25NT (almost $1USD) per kiss because, let’s be honest, these lips are to die for and I ain’t passing them out for free. Patrick, being ever so true to himself, found a long piece of unused plastic and a sharpie, cut a square hole out of the middle of the plastic, and scribbled “take a picture with a black guy” at the bottom.
Since we were in Taiwan, we had our Taiwanese friend help us write the caption in mandarin Chinese so that the majority of the people we encountered would be able to understand it as well. We quickly taught Patrick how to say it in Chinese, "Ni yao gen wo pai zhao ma", and immediately regretted the decision as he proceeded to say it ALL night. It’s important to remember that this was before Instagram and Snapchat, so at the time this was a unique idea that no one, at least no one I had ever seen, had done.
Skeptical about the costume, we all rolled with it. Since we knew we’d be having a few adult beverages, we took public transportation. From the bus stop, the hour long train ride, and the 15 minute walk to our final destination, Patrick took nearly 1,000 photos. We could barely take five steps without someone asking to "take a picture with the black guy." The costume was a hit, and was perfect for the unique zest for photography that's shared by a lot of people on the island. From the youth to the elderly, everybody and they mama was trying to get into a picture with Patrick.
Patrick didn’t have a phone, but he made it work. By nights end the back of his board was plastered in phone numbers, email addresses, nicknames, Facebook names, and a few social security numbers (we never used them). The costume and our group were friendly and engaging which allowed us to meet some amazing people along the way who grew to become really good lifetime friends of ours.
It wasn’t the costume itself that made for the experience. It was his personality, charisma, and youthful exuberance that made it as impactful as it had become that night. Not to say that I lack those things, but he exhibits them in a way far beyond my spectrum of control. The night was epic and only a small glimpse of what potentially could and eventually did come to pass when the two of us set out on an adventure..
At the end of the day, as he slobbered on the window during the 45 minute cab ride back to Tamsui from Taipei, he suddenly wakes up, looks across the cab and says, “So this might have been a good costume. What you think?” A humbly ridiculous question that paved the way for amazing adventures and infinite memories.
To be continued….