Ah, the rewards of being borderline recognizable:
I'm crossing a street in the Upper Market area of San Fran, wondering what happened to a jacket button that had been dangling loosely for a week or so. Behind me, a man shouts, "Mr. Torres! Mr. Torres!"
I look back and a stranger is holding up an item: my button. "I saw this fall from you," he says. I thank him and silently wonder how this sharp-eyed dude knew me. Of course, he did call me by the wrong name. But, hey, I did say borderline recognizable.
Same day, or maybe the day before. Google Alert, which usually leads to stories or books of mine, alerted me to a campaign to raise money for medical expenses of a dying cat named Ben Fong-Torres.
I know what curiosity did to the cat, but I had to go to the Facebook page. Sure enough, there was the cat. He was a black and white cutie, and, according to his owners and friends, was down to his last hours. I sent in a few bucks and words of encouragement.
Days later, I got a card from Maria and Luke Montoya. In long hand (a rarity these tweety days), Maria explained the naming of their pet, who was "Mortimer" when she adopted him. He was too "cool and stylish" to be a Mortimer, she wrote. "As we are Hispanics adopting an Asian (Siamese) kitty, we playfully decided we wanted to honor his newfound 'biculturalism' with a name that reflected it. As huge music lsovers & wannabe music writers, your name was PERFECT. Illogical as it is, there's something comforting in knowing the original BFT is still around."
I am. And so is the more stylish Ben Fong-Torres, out there somewhere, doing the Stray Cat Strut.