Wearing a clay derby, wielding a bottle opener. Kind of a long story.
Julian, of the Gaton family, is Filipino. That is his ancestry. You either know Filipinos or you don’t, so that opening can be interpreted as solemn, humorous, or confusing. He was in my first photography class along with Chan, though Julian lasted longer. His father owned the house that some of us art majors rented for a year. We called it “the hub,” because all of us were of different ethnicities and art majors. I lived there until there were more rats than roommates. Moving along.
Julian does impressions of people. Constantly. Some are good, and some are irritating simply because they are accurate depictions of people I don’t like. He did impressions of other Filipinos which I at first thought were really humorous and abstracted. Then I met his parents and realized that he wasn’t actually making any of it up. One time his father was talking in my general direction and began, “So, uh, are you, ehhhh,” and then just walked away. Julian quoted an enraged uncle as using the most peculiar threat I’ve ever heard: “Do you want to smoke jungle life?!” If I ever figure out what that means, it’s too late for me.
The Graphics program at UH chewed up and spit out Julian, so he and Chan jumped ship to Media Productions. Which was the wise decision, really. He eventually picked up a degree and is presently employed at Texas A&M in College Station doing things reasonably related to his major. He divides his time between living there and at “the farm,” a term which has always meant his parent’s property off to the west of Houston. The last story I heard about “the farm” involved a cousin of his leaping from a moving tractor, pulling a handgun from his pants and using it to blow away a snake he’d spotted in the tall grass. I don’t ask about the farm anymore.